8-Bit Software

The BBC and Master Computer Public Domain Library

Reviews From TBI 150-5
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Supplier : Softek
Available on 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
THE last Softek adventure I reviewed - EYE OF ZOLTAN - was very good. So
it was with some interest that I loaded in THE FIVE STONES OF ANADON.
I think that if anything, this is a better adventure than the last
Your local wizard is dying and it is up to you to recover the ring of
five stones that are scattered about the kingdom.
You start your quest in the wizard's house surrounded by a plethora
of objects - a dust-pan, a broom, a fountain pen, keys, a crowbar and
gloves to name but a few.
You discover the wizard, though why anyone should lock him in his own
bedroom is a mystery to me. You soon come across a cemetery with grave
advice and a cellar with a rather cross ghost.
Further explorations lead you to a dragon and a black knight. The
solution to the problem posed by the dragon requires knowledge of an old
adage about making cakes. The result is invisibility.
An inconsistency here however is that while you are invisible you can
get past the dragon, but the knight can somehow still see you.
One other thing that came as a surprise is that as the wizard
weakens, the stones become invisible. Luckily though, you can still col-
lect them if you know where they are.
You are also limited to a set number of moves after the stones have
become invisible because eventually the wizard dies and then the game is
One slight niggle I have is that you have to QUIT in order to LOAD a
saved position. It is all too easy to load in the wrong data file. It
isn't difficult to implement this and I am surprised Softek has not done
Aside from that we have an adventure that is a joy to play. Most of
the most frequently used word parts are tokenised and thus, although
written in Basic, the adventure is fast.
Overall, a very good attractively packaged adventure that is highly

Available on Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 1 No. 12
THIS series of programs was first designed for the over twelves. This
latest version is for 6 to 11-year-olds and contains a completely new
range of topics.
On the cassette are the master program and fifteen files of questions
each containing fifty programs on the particular topic.
Topics included on the tape include: nature, music and nursery rhy-
mes, lucky dip, famous people, science, the British Isles, word fun,
around the world, brain strainers, games and sport, books and poetry,
fun-sums, TV, films and theatre, spelling and take your chance.
The master program not only presents the questions on file but
enables the user to create their own files.
This is an excellent piece of software for the home and school. It
can be modified and expanded to meet the demands of the individual user.
The various options have very clear and specific instructions and can
be used by someone not familiar with the inner workings of a computer.
They offer a flexibility not often found in such programs.
The child user also experiences a well constructed screen format with
a variety that continues to stimulate.
All questions are stored in the file with four answers - one answer
correct, the others wrong. This enables the computer to present three
different types of questions:
* Multiple choice - the user presses A, B, C or D.
* True or false - one answer appears, the user says whether it is
correct or not.
* Complete the answer - the user has to fill in the missing
In a fourth option, the computer presents a selection of different
types of questions.
If an answer is correct then the user has the opportunity of saving
the princess by dropping from the hot air balloon a sandbag to land on
top of the dragon.
This encourages children who don't like answering questions alone.
My experience has been that the killing of dragons is not necessary
but it does not distract from the quiz itself.
This is an excellent package and it should find its way into many
homes and schools.
John Woollard

Supplier: D P Publications
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Phil Tayler in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
THIS cassette and book are totally interactive and neither would make
any kind of sense without the other.
Well, perhaps the very keen student could work through the book alone
but the 55k of programs on the tape are a considerable help.
I use the word student advisedly because the pack is really aimed
around 'A' Level Computer Science exams. I confess I have never passed
an exam in computing, having learned by doing and teaching myself but
there is obviously a growing interest in formal qualifications in com-
The back cover claims the book and cassette will also be of interest
to anyone wishing to write data handling programs. I have my doubts
whether the dry approach of this volume will encourage anyone not com-
mitted to this area of study by examination.
The programs set out to demonstrate on screen what is happening in-
side the computer during sorting and related activities.
This is done by the user making inputs which are manipulated into
their correct places in the data structures while the appropriate Basic
lines are highlighted.
In this way, the use of loops is well demonstrated while conditions
are met and explained. A few terms new to my vocabulary appear in the
book as, for instance, I had never used a hash table before.
I suppose it is a measure of the style of this book that I can now
work reasonably well through examples using them.
The book is good value for those students meeting data structures
meeting data structures in their syllabuses though I cannot imagine it
becoming general reading matter among the average micro owners.
Phil Tayler

Supplier: Martech
Available on Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
THIS program takes the story of Eddie Kidd and puts it neatly into a
computer game. It is a "jump challenge" for you because each copy of the
program enables you to enter your highest score into a national compet-
The game bgins with you, the challenging stunt person, proving your
ability on a BMX. Before you are let loose trying to jump cars you have
first to try oil barrels.
To graduate from the BMX, you have to make two successful jumps over
the barrels. The first is easier than the second.
If at any time you crash you are sent back to the BMX to start again.
Assuming a little competence, you'll get to the motorbike level. The
screen display now includes a speedo, separate rev counter and a gearbox
It is vital that you use the gearbox and throttle together to gain
speed (gears are changed by pressing the corresponding number key).
Using the keyboard alone I found no difficulty, but with a joystick,
I doubt that I would manage to keep hitting the right key.
As you succeed with each jump the length increases and so does the
The Eddie Kidd Jump Challenge Competition is open to each cassette
owner. However, you may only make one entry.
If you make a jump that qualifies, the game stops and you are given
two options.
One is to continue and take the risk that you may crash on the next
round. The other is to enter the competition by inserting a blank cass-
ette and following the screen instructions.
This is a neat games package with the bonus of a free-to-enter com-
petition. It should be very popular.
John Woollard

Product : ELITE
Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Ian Critchley in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
IT would be an understatement to say that this game has aroused a lot of
interest in the computer world. It has already become Acornsoft's best-
selling game and is fast becoming a cult.
So much so that it has left owners of certain other machines wonder-
ing when they will get their hands on it!
It comes in the most comprehensive packaging I have ever seen for a
piece of software. Apart from the tape itself, there is a 64 page manual
giving details of the game keys (there are 47) and a short novella "The
Dark Wheel" which is meant to whet your appetite for the game.
There is even a ship identification wall chart! All this makes the
somewhat expensive price look quite reasonable.
You play the part of a space trader roaming the galaxy selling your
wares from planet to planet with the view of making as much money (or
credits) as you can.
There credits can then be used to equip your Cobra MkIII space ship.
Things to buy inlcude an extra large cargo bay, an extra energy unit and
docking computers (essential as manual docking is very long and diffi-
You can also gain credits by shooting down pirate ships and the many
asteroids that float aimlessly about.
Shooting down innocent traders or dealing in illegal items (narcotics
and slaves) reaps you large profits. Unfortunately, it also brings you
to the attention of the police Viper ships.
The kills contribute to your rating, which ranges from harmless
through mostly harmless, poor, average, above average and competent.
As your bag grows next comes dangerous, then deadly and finally,
after a lot of shooting, you become one of the elite.
Fortunately, there is a save game option, enabling you to rest your
aching fingers.
You may think that having to use 47 keys in its playing makes the
program complex and difficult. This is not so, as many keys are only
used on certain occasions.
Having said that, I must admit that I found flying my ship quite
The 3D graphics are stunning and the sound well above average.
The game has an addictive quality which keeps you at the keyboard for
hours on end in the hope of achieving elite status.
No software collection is complete without it.
Ian Critchley

Product: FRENZY
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Adam Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
HERE Micropower has chosen a format which is simplicity itself, made it
the simplest of games to use, and yet come up with what I think is one
of the most amusing and compulsive games on the market today.
Combine this with a highly colourful display, high scoring and wide
age range appeal, and you have a winner.
What has happened is that a deadly Lepton has broken free inside a
laboratory and is bouncing around inside.
Luckily it cannot penetrate the walls or pass through the ion trail
that you are about to lay inside.
To enter is certain death, so you employ a robot vehicle to do the
work of laying the trail, and you sectionalise the laboratory, thus
trapping the Lepton inside a small area.
If you cut off a small part of the laboratory but fail to trap the
Lepton, you carry on until 95 per cent of the area has been covered,
when the Lepton is eventually caught. This, however, reduces your bonus,
which decreases as time passes.
If you do trap the Lepton it is a points bonanza and a big bonus to
boot. But if the Lepton hits the robot vehicle or the ion trail before
contact is made with another wall or another part of the trail, then
it's one life lost.
As the game progresses little refinements are added, like chasers
which follow your tracks.
Needless to say, they are on the Lepton's side and contact with one
costs you a life.
At one stage the Lepton multiplies itself and all are equally deadly.
Then again it can move at double speed and you need to be very clever to
outsmart it.
Your robot vehicle has two speeds. The higher means the less time
spent in the danger area but fewer points.
A cool head, a steady hand and nerves of steel should ensure you a
top score in this excellent game.
Adam Young

Supplier: Alligata
Available on 3.5" DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
BE warned - to play this game you need keen eyesight, quick fingers and
lots of luck because here's a program that's determined to bust your
ego. Mine went with a bang.
In possession of a fast moving spaceship you've got to stop the alien
landers grabbing humans from the planet surface. If they manage to get
back into outer space they mutate into pods, swarmers and baiters and
come for you.
There's wave after wave of the nasties and you need every one of your
three lives as well as the three smart bombs to survive for any length
of time.
The more aliens you get the more you score - sadly they seem to be on
the same bonus scheme.
It's a fast moving space game with striking graphics and excellent
sound effects. Kids of all ages will love it.
Keith Young

Supplier: Software Invasion
Available on 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Nigel Peters in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
HAVE you ever had one of those days where you feel like picking up a gun
and shooting a few dozen people?
Well, with GUNSMOKE you can shoot as many as you like. But you have
to be fast on the draw and quick on the trigger.
The game starts by setting the scene, a well drawn view of one side
of a Western town with a store, saloon and sheriff's office.
You play the lawman, controlling an animated figure who walks up and
down the street.
Suddenly, you're under attack from up to sixteen baddies who appear
in the windows of buildings and shoot at you.
You have to run to avoid the bullets then fire back.
Even if you get hit you have three lives and, as a special offer, for
every sixteen gunmen you kill you get an extra life.
It's a simple game that will mostly appeal to children, The animated
man could be a little better but otherwise the graphics are excellent.
Not too difficult, it's the kind of game that has spectators looking
over your shoulder and yelling, "Saloon top qindow. Quick!"
Nigel Peters

Supplier : Mirrorsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
MR Tickle has a problem. He is in little bits all over the screen. Well,
that's not too bad. We can soon put him together.
Mr Grumpy has problems too. The regenerated Mr Tickle keeps tickling
Mr Lazy's problems are worst. A long red worm keeps eating through
apples which then fall on his head.
In the end they all get their own back on Mr Tickle. The gang of four
go after him!
That is the storyline behind this set of four programs aimed at 4 to
8-year-olds. It may sound trivial but it certainly is not.
The plot stimulates and involves the children in decision making and
planning. The educational objectives are well defined and are met by the
activities that the programs demand.
The theme of the package is left, right, up and down. In the first
program, the user has to move a gate either left and right or up and
down to line up with parts of Mr Tickle.
The only keys used are the cursor controls and Return.
Graphics are good and produce comprehensive non-verbal cues for the
The second program allows the user to control Mr Tickle's long tickl-
ing arms and attempt to tickle Mr Grumpy.
This time the child has to plan the actions and enter a short list of
instructions such as "urd" (up-right-down) to guide Mr Tickle's arms to
Mr Grumpy's nether regions.
Again the cursor keys can be used or the letters U, D, L, R.
If your tickling ability isn't too good then Mr Grumpy tries to place
chairs in your way.
Mr Lazy appears in the third program. You control a worm that has to
climb a tree and eat a particular apple. If successful, the apple falls
onto the head of an unsuspecting Mr Lazy.
Again, a set of instructions are entered and then carried out. I feel
that this game is easier than the second, but that is a minor criticism
as a parent or teacher can decide which order a child follows the prog-
I found this program extremely difficult on a black and white monitor
but fine in colour.
The final game, similar to Fox and Hounds, is played on a chessboard.
The user controls four different Mr Men and attempts to trap Mr Tick-
le. Mr Tickle does not play the game too well and so it should be poss-
ible for most children to succeed in trapping him.
There is a comprehensive manual for an adult to read to the child.
The sound cues can be switched off.
I really enjoyed going through this package and so did the children I
tried it on!
This is the type of educational software I would like to see entering
the home market.
John Woollard

Supplier: Shards Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
THIS is an educational adventure in four parts. The purpose of the game
is to find the wreck of a ship which sank in 1767. You then have to
search the wreck and recover its cargo of gold.
You are also seeking a ruby called the Java Star which is reputed to
have strange properties.
You take the part of an adventurer in Bristol who buys an old chest
and finds the torn pieces of an ancient map and a page from a ship's
Your first task is to rearrange the pieces into something recognis-
able. When you have done this you find that you have a map of the island
where the ship sank.
There is also information on the approximate position of the ship in
relation to the island at the time it sank.
You then load in the next program and find yourself in London seeking
more information, such as ship's destination, weather conditions at the
time and cargo manifest.
On completing this stage you jet off to the Caribbean to continue
your search.
There you check various islands until you find one nearest the map
Now comes the final part of the game, where you have to use the page
from the ship's log to locate the wreck. I failed dismally.
Whatever I did, I couldn't find that wreck. I suppose that adage
about teaching old dogs new tricks applies to sea dogs as well!
As I said, this is an educational program but, above all, it's fun!
There are three skill levels and despite the fact that I stayed on
the easiest one that map was different every time.
An excellent educational program with something of interest to kids
of all ages, including big ones.

Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
THIS is a suite of three programs. The first, called Lander, is designed
as a test of multiplication and division. The aim is to answer questions
correctly, thereby boosting the lander higher into space.
Your turn ends when the lander touches down and you are given a
score. There are numerous options - multiply or divide, choice of tables
used and speed of lander.
I found the sound obtrusive and the game unexciting, but it all work-
ed smoothly enough. I'd be tempted to use pencil and paper for this kind
of task.
Game three, Number Spin, is designed to test addition and subtraction
and is based on a fruit machine. These devices with nudges and holds are
a mystery to me, and I'm not sure we should encourage youngsters into
using them. I would not use this part of the program at home or at
The tape's salvation is program two, which is designed to give prac-
tice in coordinates.
The aim is to find objects hidden in a grid. You enter X and Y coord-
inates for your guess, and then an arrow points towards the object.
Humour comes into the game, because the object, when located, could
be a treasure but might equally be an old bone or an ugly mask.
When you have found four objects, you get a score based on the value
of your finds.
In 20 minutes on this program, my seven year old son improved his
grasp of coordinates and also started to use binary chopping to locate
his objects.
He also got excited if he found a valuable treasure, which kept his
At `6.95, I feel the coordinates program is worth it, but Lander and
Number Spin are for me a waste of space.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
PLANETOID was one of the original BBC Micro games from Acornsoft and
proved to be extremely popular.
I must admit that I viewed the Electron version with some suspicion
thinking that it may be slower in action or response. I was pleased to
find that it is neither.
The game performs to expectations and in addition has some facilties
the BBC version lacked.
THe objective is to patrol the surface of a planetoid and protect its
lifeforms from the raiders. The raiders attempt to capture the life
forms and carry them into space.
By use of lasers and smart bombs the raiders must be prevented from
reaching outer space (the top of the screen).
Failure causes the raider to mutuate. Be warned. A mutated raider
makes a normal raider look passive and harmless.
As if that wasn't enough, in addition to the raiders and mutants come
the bombers, cruisers and megacytes. The latter are particularly nasty
because they burst into a cloud of spores, each spore being extremely
At the start you have three laser ships and three smart bombs, which
kill all alien forms on screen at the moment of detonation.
The screen display is excellent. In addition to the surface of the
planetoid, it also includes a long range view of the activities of the
raiders, score updates and symbols respresenting the number of laser
ships and smart bombs left.
Unlike my BBC version, this one has the ability to pause and restart
- or to press Escape and return to the start. The sound can be switched
on or off at any stage.
It's fast and fun, annyoing and addictive. In fact, it's one of the
classic micro arcade games no Electron owner should be without.
John Woollard

Supplier: Squirrel Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Nigel Peters in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
WHAT'S your attitude to polar bears? Do you think that they're sweet,
cuddly things, wrapped up snugly in white fur jackets looking like some-
thing off a Christmas card? That used to be my opinion until I played
The action is set in the Arctic and your job is to guide your eskimo
through the icy wastes, safely. Easier said than done!
The first screen has the eskimo at the top of the screen facing the
cold Arctic waters. He has to get to the other side by leaping onto a
passing ice floe.
The trouble is that these floes move randomly and there's no guar-
antee that the one chosen will take the eskimo within leaping distance
of the other shore.
Happily you do have three eskimos, but it's amazing how fast you use
them up.
To make things worse a polar bear is also leaping from floe to floe
looking for its dinner (the eskimo).
You have to guide your little man to one of the two islands, grab the
spear you will find there and kill the bear.
Next comes a trip across the ice, which is so thin that in places it
can't bear the eskimo's weight.
The bears can't wait either and try to devour him while he's attept-
ing to collect rocks which can be used to map out a path through the
thin ice and so to the other side.
Once there the eskimo faces a journey in a fragile keyak through ice-
berg infested waters. Apparently, he has to collect six blocks of ice to
build an igloo but I've never got that far (thanks to the bears).
It's a smashing game; addictive, irritating, amusing and frustrating
in turns, the sort that has your family giving you queer looks as you
scream at the Electron.
I can't remember when reviewing a game gave me so much pleasure. Tho-
roughly recommended.
Nigel Peters

Supplier: Lothlorien
Available on 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
THIS comes from Lothlorien's "Warmaster" series of strategy games. It is
set during the American War of Independence and is for one or two play-
On loading you're presented with a menu which gives you the option of
creating your own battle or loading in one of five scenarios already de-
These are re-creations of battles that actually took place and are
spread over the period of the war. They present combinations of scenery
and variations in the type and numbers of regiments involved.
Background information on each of the five battles, as well as full
playing instructions, are given in the cassette insert.
I decided to see how Lothlorien did things before attempting to make
my own maps, and so I pressed L from the menu to load the first battle.
When it loaded the menu was again presented. Incidentally, pressing
Escape at any time will bring you back to the menu - especially useful
if you are getting beaten.
On pressing P you are given the option of a one or two player game,
whether you want to command the British or American forces if opting for
the one player game, and the difficulty level you want to play at.
Throughout the games I played I could not detect any significant diff-
erences between any of the difficulty levels. The map is quickly drawn
and each side then makes a move for each of their units.
There are four types of units, though the numbers of each vary with
each battle. These are calvary, artillery, riflemen and musketeers. The
advantages and disadvantages of each are fully explained in the cassette
The musketeers and riflemen can move - in which case a direction and
distance is prompted for - fire or charge.
In the latter two instances the enemy unit that is nearest is the one
which is attacked. The calvary also move as above but, since they only
carry sabres, they cannot fire at the enemy. But they can charge and in
doing so nearly always win.
The artillery fires at the nearest enemy unit but then uses one turn
to reload.
If you want to move your artillery one turn is needed to get limbered
up, one to move and then one to unlimber before it can fire again.
It's also possible to do nothing and, since I could rarely figure out
what devilish plan the Electron was putting into operation, this was the
command I tended to make most use of.
When planning your own battle scene the other options in the menu are
used. The first thing to do is draw your map.
The numeric keys are used for this and each one is programmed for a
specific item, such as walls, trees and so on.
After your drawing your map you choose the composition of your armies
and various factors which determine its effectiveness, like strength and
You then deploy your units on the map, deciding whether they will
adopt a position now or be reinforcements that will make an appearance
during the course of the battle.
Once you're satisfied with the disposition of your forces you can
save the scenario to tape and then play it out. If using the two player
option, you will obviously need to confer on the map and deploy your
armies separately. At the end of each battle, casualty figures are given
and the winner gets their score.
With the Lothlorien games General Electron usually turns out to be a
wily old bird who is difficult to beat. With Redcoats, I found it fairly
easy to win.
The two player game proved to be more interesting and challenging and
generally a lot more fun.
Overall, another good strategy game. If you haven't got one then I
can recommend this one.
If you have, then you know what to expect and Redcoats is up to the
level of the others in the series. Recommended.

Supplier: Lothlorien
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Adam Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
HERE is a chance to turn the clock back 2,000 years and try your luck at
conquering the world.
The nine armies of Rome, each commanded by a great general, consist
of 18 legions, each with 5,000 legionnaires.
You must decide how they will be divided among the armies and which
country each army will attack.
You can display at any time the state of each army, its manpower,
fighting ability, morale and strength, and also the deployment if your
legions and their current manpower.
Also available at any stage is a map of the world, showing the count-
ries which you have conquered to date.
Another display gives the strength of your opposition.
Using all the information available, you decide who to attack and the
optimum size of your army.
An attack is then launched and continued until either the opposition
is subdued or your army is wiped out (if you are anything like me, it
will be all the latter).
The foregoing sounds simple, but tactics are everything. Also the
world is a big place, and the object of the game is to conquer the
world, nothing less.
While you're going this you also have to defend home against the bar-
barians who are just waiting for the defence to become weakened by ex-
cessive conquering and pillaging.
I had great fun switching my armies around, sending battle-weary
troops home and replacing them with fresh men and launching raids to
harass and weaken the defending armies.
I also found a way to conquer the world and lose hardly a man in the
process, without cheating, but I'm keeping that to myself.
The game involves a lot of text and few graphics. I found it extreme-
LY intriguing, and it passes away the hours on a rainy afternoon.
A game, I think, for the mature player, who likes to use his head
rather than shoot from the hip.
Adam Young

Supplier: Micro Power
Available on 3.5" ADFS "Pres 2" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
HAVE you ever felt the irresistable urge to pick a fight with a Krackat?
No? Then for a new experience, try this game for size.
The world's a mess after a nuclear holocaust and things aren't made
any better by mutant flesh-eating turtles called Krackats.
As seems to be the way of things in computer games, you find yourself
in a maze, the walls of which are made of boulders.
Your only hope of survival is to crush the little nasties and so gain
As if this wasn't enough, a little gauge at the top of your screen
tells you the background radiation level. When this gets too high, it's
curtains for you. Time is of the essence.
You can push a boulder unless it's blocked by another. In which case,
the boulder itself will be crushed. Beware if you miss a Krackat, as the
boulder will bounce back and crush your frail bones.
Also avoid boulders marked D, as these contain a bomb and don't like
being pushed around. Should you survive all this, a bonus life is given
at 6,000 points.
The keys are standard - Z and X are for left and right, : and / for
up and down. To push a boulder, just stand next to it and hit your
There are three levels, one of which is ominously entitled the Van-
ishing Maze.
It's a game to keep all ages amused for hours on end. The first rate
graphics really enhance its enjoyment and the sound effects are part-
icularly good as is the music accompanying the instructions.
Despite the dreadful scenario, it's a great game.
Keith Young

Supplier: M P Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
IT'S three in the morning and I've just had my throat cut for the ump-
teenth time.
I've said before that these MP adventures are getting better, and
they are.
How the notting hill do I get through the gates? Why can't I get the
shotgun off the farmer? Why don't I just give up and go to bed.
NEXT DAY: Aah...That's how it's done! What? Not again. Right. This
time I give up. If anyone out there can solve this adventure - tell me
A long time ago Lady Leonara was left at home while her husband went
off to war.
While he was gone she took a lover. But, alas, she was caught by Lord
Salim upon his return.
The enraged lord sealed her in her room and left her to die.
Many years later Lord Sadim is killed in an accident. As he lies
dying, a woman in white is seen laughing all over his corpse.
Frequent sightings of this mysterious woman over the ensuing years
convince the locals that she is the ghost of the Lady Lenora.
Seeing as how you flunked out with the Blue Dragon the locals offer
you one final chance - redeem yourself or retire.
Can you enter the castle, overcome the dangers and give the lady her
final peace? Probably not, but at least you can have fun trying.
You find yourself outside the west gate of the castle and your night-
mare begins...
The game follows the usual MP style of coloured messages and long
descriptions. A departure from the norm is the use of real-time and
character interaction.
If you sit pondering what to do you invariably see a "Time passes..."
message. This instils a feeling of panic.
The first time the monk "smiles sadly, blesses you and moves on"
you'll be racing after him to try and find out what you should've done!
Two things I found while nosying through the program were the two
commands VERSION and MODE. VERSION gave, "Version 1.1 MP Software".
MODE was a funny one, but it seems to switch between Mode 6 and Mode 7.
Yes, I know we don't have Mode 7! Makes you think though, doesn't it?
I'm not sure I can give a valid verdict on this game as I didn't get
far enough.
It seems quite hard and is therefore worth recommending but, and
it's a big but, you get your throat slit far too often for my liking.
At any rate it compares very well with similar types of adventures
and, on balance, is a worthwhile addition to the collection.
Overall, MP adventures are always reasonably priced and as such, are
definitely worth buying. Recommended.

Supplier: Comsoft
Available on 3.5 Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Trevor Roberts in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 5
I MUST admit that when I first say the title of Comosoft's latest offer-
ing all my finely-honed, Guardian-reading hackles rose.
Another arcade anthem to macho man? More bodies littered across the
screen? I was dead against it.
That is I was until I started playing it, and then I was hooked.
The idea is quite simple. A group of urban terrorists has infiltrated
three streets. There are ten to each street and your job is to root them
However it's not that easy. As you tote your gun along the terrorised
terraces, the terrorists appear at the windows blasting away at you.
Of course you can dodge their fire and shoot back (each terrorist
killed increases your points score) but beware. Some of the terrorists
have taken hostages and are hiding behind them, sniping at you. Hit a
hostage and you're drummed out of the game.
It's gory but great fun. Well worth looking at.
Trevor Roberts

Supplier: LCL Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
THIS is a graphic adventure game stimulating the voyages of Sir Francis
Drake in the Pacific Ocean.
Having taken the cassette from its attractive library case, the first
thing I noticed was that the program was almost impossible to load.
LCL have put the program on both sides of the cassette, but both
proved difficult and required adjustments to tone and volume of my tape
recorder for almost every block.
I took the only way out, struggled to load the program once and re-
saved it onto my own cassette. It took over an hour to achieve.
The loading program presents a title sheet and sound that's meant to
be the sea, and then draws a map of the Pacific Ocean. The second loads
and then takes about thirty seconds to initialise.
Your boat starts at Lima and you must follow Drake's route via New
Albion - California - across the Pacific to Java. On the way you commit
acts of piracy so that you may bring riches back to your queen.
The boat is steered using the cursor keys and you have a permanent
status record of cargo, supplies, crew number, cannon balls and damage.
As you sail you will encounter hazards such as rocks and reefs and
may need to put into an unknown port for repair. The sea bed awaits any-
one whose damage reaches 10.
If you see a Spanish ship, you may attack or ignore. If the ship has
a name, attack it. You always win. If it does not, winning or losing is
Incidentally, a ship you beat has more cargo to steal. If you move
away and come back, you can quickly gain your required cargo.
Winning is quite difficult and needs careful mapping and it is in
this that the program has its value. A keen child would need to keep a
chart - sample included with the program - and would thus practice re-
cord keeping, coordinates and map work.
A big snag is that if the player loses, the whole program has to be
It is not very well written in many ways and rather easy to cheat the
system. Documentation is poor, keywords that are needed are not given
but nonetheless at its lowish price - about six pounds - it could be
considered for primary schools.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Superior Software
Available on 3.5" ADFS 'Superior Collection 3' Compilation, Tape
Reviewed by Jon Revis in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
WITH a swift kick you send the police traffic cone crashing through the
bank window. Bags of money begin to fall from the broken window and
drift gently down towards the river below...
In SMASH AND GRAB, your job as the villain is to catch the falling
loot before it reaches the river.
As is always the case in these ladders and levels games, there is a
snag. In this one it is in the shape of PC Plod, your local neighbour-
hood bobby.
This particular policeman would be more at home in the Sweeney than
pounding the beat.
Should you be running along the level directly above him, he is quite
likely to leap upwards and thrust his truncheon through the floor into
your nether regions.
When he is on the upper level his actions are even more dramatic as
he falls flat on his face and batters you around the head.
To complicate things even further, the occasional trio of flying
traffic cones will wing their way along one of the levels in your dir-
ection. These can be dealt with by either getting out of the way, or by
kicking each one in turn by pressing Return.
Although it may sound that odds aren't exactly in your favour you do
have one trick up your sleeve. Should you kick one of the four police
boxes when the light on top is flashing the traffic light at the top of
the screen changes to red.
Immediately the bags of money stop falling, and any physical contact
with the policeman will send him plunging into the water below.
If you can collect eight bags of money you progress to the next
screen. However as each missed bag of loot hits the water an alarm bell
appears at the top of the screen. Five alarm bells and a life is lost.
Jon Revis

Supplier: English Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
AS Spaceman Sid, you're sent to the planet Tribos to attempt to recap-
ture the Martian-occupied dilithium crystal mines which are essential
for Earth's defence.
Your only protection on this barren landscape is your XRS laser-armed
Combat Rover.
As you proceed cautiously, jumping over pits, you are confronted by
endless hazards - drones and enemy scout ships are only two of the Mar-
tian dangers.
Land mines abound too, and there's nothing so unnerving as seeing
your wheels dance into the air with gay abandon as you trip over an
innocent-looking explosive.
And just wait until you get into the further sectors, where you're
finally confronted by the dreaded bases of your fiery enemy.
Tempted? You should be. Any potential Sids out there will be positiv-
ely riveted by this tricky little game.
The keys are easy to use. X speeds you forward, Z slows you down
while Shift certainly makes you jump. You tend to use Shift a lot.
Return releases the laser beam to burn the nasty green machines from
The three progressive levels of play and five sectors, combined with
convincing graphics which give a 3D effect to the heavens, produce a
fascinating and frustrating game which can keep the family amused for
Keith Young

Product: S-PASCAL
Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 6
PASCAL is the latest in a series of programming languages from Acorn-
soft. It arose from investigations into possible developments resulting
from the inclusion of data structuring facilities in an ALGOL-60 like
It was designed around 1970 mainly by Professor Niklaus Wirth working
at the Institute for Informatics in Zurich, but also benefited by the
inclusion of some of the ideas of C. A. R. Hoare who was also working on
data structuring facilities in programming languages.
He published his language in 1971 and named it after the great seven-
teenth century French philosopher Blaise Pascal, who invented one of the
earliest known calculators.
Two years later, in 1973, Hoare and Wirth attempted a formal defini-
tion of the language in response to user experience to shed light on
areas of uncertainty. This led to a revision and extension of the origi-
nal language.
As with all computer languages, Pascal was designed for a specific
purpose. Niklaus Wirth's main objective was a language better suited to
teaching programming than any existing language at the time.
He was successful in his aims and it soon became popular as a teach-
ing language.
Very quickly, user groups sprang up in several countries to exchange
information and ideas on Pascal and the language was adopted by the Un-
iversity of California, San Diego in 1973/4 as their main teaching
UCSD were responsible for a implementing Pascal for a wide range of
One of the main reasons for Pascal catching on so quickly is that it
is concise - the rules of grammar can be written down on just four or
five pages.
Pascal is fairly simple to learn although complete beginners may have
trouble initially as the knowledge required to write your first program
is greater than for Basic.
Pascal is a highly structured language with a rigid format that the
programmer is required to adhere to. Everything is laid out so neatly
and logically that it is difficult to go wrong.
It encourages a style of programming in whic programs are built up
step by step from small well defined procedures.
All programs start with the word 'program' followed by the name of
the program. All the constants and variables used must be declared
after the title, plus their type - for example, integer.
Any procedures used are defined following the variables and constants
and the action part of the program commences with 'begin' and finishes
with 'end'.
Pascal programs are very readable, being almost self documenting and
needing very few comments. The program flow is easy to follow and the
structure clear; making alterations, improvements and debugging very sim-
Lisp is quite interesting, Forth is fast and powerful, Basic just a
Mickey Mouse toy for kids - but Pascal is a real programmer's language
and a delight to use.
Pascal is a complied language, not an interpreted one like Basic
which means that Pascal programs run many times faster than their Basic
There are two popular ways of implementing Pascal, each with its own
advantages. Either the text of the source code can be decompiled to pure
machine code - which makes it very fast but specific to that machine -
or it can be compiled to P-Code which is then interpreted when run, not
unlike Forth.
This is slower but more easily transferred to other machines.
Acornsoft's S-Pascal is not a full blown version but contains a sub-
set of Pascal to teach the language and provide an introduction to
structured programming.
It is designed for people who know little or nothing about Pascal but
are familiar with Basic. It allows short programs of up to 1.25k to be
written, compiled and executed.
There are several important differences between this latest language
from Acornsoft and the previous ones.
The first is noticed immediately on opening the box - which is
slightly larger than normal. Inside is the cassette and manual whereas
with the other languages, the manual had to be purchased separately on
top of the cassette. This makes S-Pascal some seven pounds cheaper than
the others.
The second difference is noticed when S-Pascal is loaded and totally
confused me at first - it wouldn't have if I'd read the instructions,
but who does?
When loading is complete, after about five minutes, the Electron is
still in Basic. The loader can be listed and Basic programs typed in and
run. I thought that it hadn't loaded and wondered where the Pascal prog-
ram was.
S-Pascal is a compiler only - not an interpreter - so commands cannot
be entered in direct mode. What you get are several new * commands to
enable you to write, compile and run Pascal programs.
* * *
[This review is continued in the file R.SPASCA2]
*** Acornsoft's S-PASCAL Review Continuation ***
To type in a Pascal program *NEW is entered. Programs can be typed in,
edited and listed as with Basic, but using lower case characters so as
not to confuse the compiler when it is run with Basic keywords which are
stored as tokens.
*COMPILE will activate the compiler producing code which is stored in
a reserved area of memory. It can then be executed with *GO.
Pascal programmers will be disappointed with Acornsoft's S-Pascal as
there are so many omissions compared to a full implementation and they
will feel very restricted with the subset. However, this is only design-
ed to be a simple, limited version to give people an insight into how
Pascal works.
Most Pascal reserved words are present with procedures, functions and
arrays being possible, and all the mathematical operators are available.
However, hardly any of the predefined functions or procedures have been
included such as SIN, COS and ABS.
Variables can be character, Boolean or integer, but not real, which
explains why many of the functions are not available.
Call has been added - not a standard Pascal word - to allow machine
code routines and the operating system to be accessed from within
Acornsoft have chosen to compile the source text directly to machine
code instead of P-Code as with many implementations.
The code is placed at &1100 and there is enough room for about 2.5k.
The source text can be saved in the same way as basic and the object
code produced, saved with *SAVE.
Compiling the source text directly to machine code has several ad-
vantages over compiling to P-Code. After compiling, the compiler -
actually a Basic program 11k long plus 4k workspace, residing at &1F00 -
is no longer needed.
This means the object code can be *RUN on its own, or the compiler
space used for a Basic program which calls the machine code, or high
resolution graphics - for example Mode 0.
Instead of using a Basic compiler program, why not write in Pascal, a
far superior language and compile that? A Pascal compiler is far more
powerful than a Basic equivalent, with far fewer restrictions.
Can a Basic compiler cope with multi-dimensional arrays, procedures
and functions to which parameters are passed and that have local vari-
ables? Acornsoft's S-Pascal can.
The compiler uses a two pass assembly, printing the mnemonics and ob-
ject code each time, and if the printer is enabled, it can be listed.
Errors are spotted on the second pass and the appropriate line listed
with an arrow pointing to the mistake, and a message is printed saying
what the error number is and where it occurred in the line.
The error can then be looked up in the manual or on the reference
card supplied.
I was curious to find out just how fast Pascal was. How efficient is
the machine code? So I wrote equivalent - or near enough - programs in
Basic, Forth, Lisp, Pascal and assembly language.
It simply involved setting a variable to zero, then going round a
loop 30,000 times, incrementing the variable by one each time.
The speed test results are shown below:
Assembler ................... 1.4 seconds
Pascal ..................... 11.3 seconds
Forth ...................... 12.5 seconds
Basic ...................... 34.9 seconds
Lisp ...................... 285.0 seconds
The test showed Pascal to be up to three times as fast as Basic and
marginally faster than Forth, which is generally reckoned to be a fast
language itself.
The test also highlighted the incredible inefficiency of the code
produced - Pascal taking some eight times longer than the specifically
written machine code routine.
This is not a criticism of S-Pascal but is just a fact of life. Com-
pilers cannot hope to be as efficient as a purpose written machine code
Acornsoft has achieved their main objective of producing a simple
subset of Pascal for teaching the language and structured programming.
The compiler is straightforward to use and the manual is short - 67
pages - but clear, and covers every aspect in detail.
The tape, and manual, contain seven demonstration programs showing
what the system is capable of, which is quite a lot.
S-Pascal has a further function as a tool for writing short machine
code routines which can be *RUN or called from within a Basic program.
This is probably more useful to the experienced programmer.
Programmers are strongly recommended to look at Pascal - especially
those writing so called 'spaghetti' programs full of GOTOs. It will
improve their structure no end. If you already write structured prog-
rams, then learning Pascal will be a doddle.
S-Pascal is a welcome addition to the list of programming languages
for the Electron, and if they even bring out a full blown version on a
ROM Cartridge you can bet that I will be one of the first to get it.
Roland Waddilove

Product : STAFF OF LAW
Supplier: Potter Programs
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
STOP! Hands up those of you who have never heard of Thomas Covenant.
Right! I hereby banish you from this review. Read the next one. It's
about frogs or gorillas or something.
As the rest of you are aware, Stephen Donaldson is the best writer of
the century and the Thomas Covenant books are the greatest works of fic-
tion ever.
Who? Tolkien? Never heard of him.
Anyway, take another look at the title of this adventure. Ring any
bells? Correct. Well, the bad news is that although the story-line orig-
inates from the Unbeliever series, it is not about him.
You will meet Mhoram, or Moran as he is called here, and the Des-
piser, but Hile Troy, Elena, the Forestals, Ravers and the rest are
You play the part of the "Chosen" (minus ring). You've been summoned
by the high coucil where you're informed that you are the only one who
can defeat the Despiser and return the Staff of Law to Andelain. I mean,
Here all the similarities between the books and this game end. You're
now faced with an extremely fiendish adventure during which you'll learn
to wire-walk and dive from great heights.
I won't give you any clues, but you will need to know what a dumb
waiter is.
There were, however, several things I didn't like. Mode 4 for
example. What's wrong with Mode 6?
Also there's no save game facility, surely a definite must for an ad-
venture? And you have to type in nouns in full, for example DRAWBRIDGE.
Try typing that in a few times.
Also there are spelling mistakes: 'Suddenly you hear a LOAD crash'!
Mind you, the way my cassette recorder's been playing up recently, they
could be right.
If it seems that I've pulled this adventure to bits, rest assured
that, considering the complexity of the plot, these criticisms are a
minor consideration.
Also the program is written in Basic and therefore fairly easy to
change anyway.
On the plus side is the skill and inventiveness shown by the prog-
rammers. Solving this game requires a great deal of thought, as most of
the problems will be new to you.
Happily, Potter Programs offers a help service for this and their
other adventures - one that I expect will be much used.
An excellent adventure that, although it would benefit from tidying
up, is still well worth buying.

Supplier: Software Invasion
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Adam Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
HAVE you ever sneered when Steve Davis missed a shot and announced to
all and sundry "Even I wouldn't have missed that!"? I know I have.
Well here's your chance to put your cue where your mouth is, because
Software Invasion is giving you the opportunity to play Superpool.
Although not quite in the style or atmosphere of the Crucible Theat-
re, the game represents a pretty accurate simulation of a game of pool,
with six balls, coloured and numbered, and a plan view of a pool table.
All these go to make an attractive and uncomplicated display, with
the scoreboard along the top edge of your screen.
You sight your cue ball by moving an indicator along the cushion, and
this is where the ball will strike, provided, of course, that there is
not a ball in between, which is in fact your aim.
You select the strength of your shot, press Fire and, if you're like
me, the white ball then goes into a pocket. Of course a coloured ball
should go in, but then I don't need to explain the rules to you, I'm
In the first frame it's made easy, and you can pot any ball in any
order. In the second frame, you have to pot the balls in number order.
In both these frames it doesn't matter if you hit any other ball, but
in the third frame you may only hit and pot the balls in number order.
There are keyboard or joystick options, and your shot is on a timed
bais - run out of time and you lose a life.
All in all this is a very good game, but some things I found offputt-
ing. I would have liked the option to remove the timer, because it's not
always appreciated, especially in the beginner's game.
I was also a bit dubious about where the balls ended up when certain
strengths were selected, and they also have a tendency to suddenly speed
up when no other balls are involved.
Taking everything into consideration, the pros outweigh the cons and
if you want a game that will keep you interested for hours on end you
have to go far to find one better than this.
Adam Young

Product: ZALAGA
Supplier: Aardvark
Available on 3.5" DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 7
MY first reaction to this excellent game was "I'm not sure what's
happening but it's fast". And that's my considered opinion as well.
The reason I'm not sure what's happening is that neither the cassette
insert nor the program instructions give you any idea of the scenario.
Having said that, it doesn't take a lot of K to realise that the
amazingly animated, ferociously fast objects swirling and swooping down
from the top of the screen are nasties.
And any arcade novice should be able to realise that the laser base
at the bottom of the screen can be moved from side to side, avoiding
bombs and replying in kind with lasers.
No, there's no problem with the game itself, a really fast example of
ultimate Electron arcade action. It's just that the instructions are a
bit of a puzzle.
You can have the sound on or off, decide whether you want the one or
two player game, keyboard or joystick.
You can pick the start screen, whether you want automatic fire or not
or even set the reload speed.
But you have to discover for yourself what such things as automatic
fire and the reload speed actually mean.
Not that you have much time to spend trying to find out, the game is
too good for that.
It's entrancing. The graphics are superb, fast and effective. The
control keys are easy to use and (remarkably) well explained and the
game concept simple but appealing.
The idea of aliens dropping from the sky may be old fashioned but in
ZALAGA it reaches the state of the art.
It's a superb action game, flawed only by the lack of explanation.
Even so, it's thoroughly recommended.
Keith Young

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