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Reviews From TBI 150-6
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Product: ACES HIGH
Supplier: Oasis Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Adan Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
ACES HIGH is a compilation package of four card games. These can be
played either against the computer or between up to five opponents, de-
pending on the game selected.
Draw poker and stud poker are played by the user against as many as
five computer opponents. You are allocated `1,000 to start with, and the
game ends when one player has accumulated all the money.
The computer is always dealer and always to the same player first,
which detracts a little from the reality of the game.
You are given the opportunity to fold, check, call or raise, depend-
ing on your hand.
Don't worry if you don't understand these terms, ore ven if you don't
know how to play poker, because all is adequately explained in a very
handy, explicit booklet which is incorporated in the package.
Blackjack and Pontoon are very similar, but have subtle differences
which become clear when you use Aces High.
You win the chance to become banker if you get pontoon (in the game
pontoon, that is) or a natural (in blackjack).
Again you are given `1,000 to start, and again play continues until
one player has accumulated all the cash. All the programs are very sim-
ple to use and, as well as the booklet, instructions are given through-
out the games.
They couldn't really go wrong with the graphics, but the cards are
well depicted and the layouts good.
The games, as you would expect, are aimed at the more mature market,
but kids from about ten years old upwards will enjoy the simpler pon-
toon and blackjack.
As it is, Aces High gives all the family the chance to enjoy losing
their shirts without really noticing it.
Adam Young

Product: ADDCOMM
Supplier: Vine Micros
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 9
AS the name indicates this is a utility program which adds commands to
your Electron, giving you, in effect, an even more extended Basic.
It is stored on a ROM chip and to be able to use it you must have a
ROM card or box such as the Slogger Rombox.
The added commands fall into four categories:
* Graphics * Logo graphics * Toolkit Commands * Miscellaneous
Electron graphics are already superb, but the Addcomm commands make
them even better. There are, for example, commands for creating circles
and ellipses. They are really easy to use.
For instance:
10 MODE5
20 CIRCLE 640,512,400
will draw a circle of radius 400 screen units with its centre at the
centre of the screen. If you don't like your screen being 1280 units
across and 1024 units up, you can scale it.
SCALE 0,10,0,10
will make the screen 10 units across and 10 units down. To get a sim-
ilar circle you need:
CIRCLE 5,5,4
On the scaled screen you cannot use MOVE, DRAW or PLOT but you can
Any line in a program can mix Basic and Addcomm statements or vari-
ables. Sp:
is quite acceptable. Extra parameters give arcs.
If you've ever envied the colour fill routines you see in commercial
programs it's easy with Addcomm. The statement FILL with X and Y co-ord-
inates will fill from the point specified to the edge of the screen or
to a non-background colour.
This will fill any shape, however complex, even through text. If you
fancy patterned filling, CFILL allows you to specify a mix of colours
for individual pixels.
It's even possible to have a non-upright screen by using ROTATE, or
to shift the whole thing up or to the side with the TRANS command.
Logo graphics give you the chance to create displays with minimal use
of coordinates. It's rather more like using a pen.
First you decide where to start on the screen (LOMOVE). This sets the
position of the Logo cursor.
You choose your PEN (dots, lines or fills) and then the ANGLE to draw
and the distance to ADVANCE.
If you prefer relative rather than absolute angles, TURN can be used
to rotate a specified number of degrees. LCIRCLE and LELLIPSE draw cir-
cles/ellipses or arcs around the Logo cursor.
The Toolkit commands offer a mix of useful and informative commands.
MEM displays in decimal and hex how much memory your program takes
and what is spare. This is based on your current mode, so put yourself
into the correct mode when using it.
CHAR is a superb command enabling you to design/edit VDU 23 charac-
ters. There are dozens of programs which do this, but this one can be
used while you're actually writing your program.
GOODPROG attempts to mend a Bad Program, while FKEYS displays on
screen the contents of your function keys. Both work well, and, because
Addcomm becomes a part of your compuer they sit there waiting to be used
in crisis situations.
The same applies to LVAR, which lists all the variable names you've
used. This can really help to avoid a muddle.
VERIFY is a facility that was missed out on the Electron. It checks
that what has been saved on tape exactly matches the same program in
LLIST is a line listing command. Unlike ordinary LIST, LLIST can be
included in a program. Silly? Not at all. My error routine, when debug-
ging programs is now:
This tells me the error and displays the problem line.
Using FIND it is possible to list the whole program, including the
possibility of different list formats such as multi-statement lines
broken up.
Whenever I program I like to use meaningful variable names. It makes
life easier for me, but the computer can handle the resident integer
variables (A%-Z%) more quickly and efficiently.
* * *
[This review is continued in the file R.ADDCOM2]
*** Vine Micro's ADDCOMM Review Continuation ***
Using the Addcomm command GREPL I can ask for a variable such as
pos_of_prog and change it right through the program to F%.
SREPL finds each variable you might want to change and then gives you
the option of whether to change it or not.
I can now use variables that I understand and when the program is
fully debugged, change to short fast variables.
Not only that, I can use KILLREM to remove all REM statements and
then superb COMPACT to combine lines, thus saving more memory and pro-
cessing time.
Programs of mine that I have put through the processes save about one
third of the original memory - and run more quickly into the bargain.
For example, programs I and II are identical in what they do (select-
ing football pool numbers) but Program II has had its variables changed
and its REMs removed.
It has then been compacted and renumbered. Table I shows the differ-
ences. Imagine the effects on long programs.
Program I: Long pools selector
20REM By Rog Frost
80PRINTTAB(1,10)"Auto selection of twenty four numbers"TAB(10,13)
"for football pools"TAB(4,20)"Press space to get numbers"
100DIM choice%(55)
180IF choice%(printout%)<> 0 PRINT printout%
Program II: Compacted
10MODE1:R%=RND(-TIME):VDU19;4;0;:PRINTTAB(1,10)"Auto selection of
twenty four numbers"TAB(10,13)"for football pools"TAB(4,20)"Press sp
ace bar to get numbers":REPEATUNTILGET=32:CLS
20DIM C%(55):FORS%=1TO24
30N%=RND(55):IFC%(N%)<>0 THEN30
40C%(N%)=N%:NEXT:PRINT':FORP%=1TO55:IF C%(P%)<>0 PRINT P%
Table I: Addcomm advantages
Program I Program II
Time taken 2.1 seconds 1.9 seconds
Program length 394 bytes 246 bytes
Variable storage 291 bytes 232 bytes
Spare memory 7763 bytes 7970 bytes
So far all has been very good, but three of the miscellaneous com-
mands are dreadful. POPGOS, POPREP and POPFOR allows you to jump out of
subroutines, REPEAT/UNTIL loops and FOR/NEXT loops.
All of these make for very bad programming and should be avoided.
Another command, LGOTO is like GOTO but instead of jumping to a spec-
ified line number, you jump to a label.
It works fine, but so far I've had no particular use for it. SETWIN
allows you to predefine seven text windows which can then be edited with
the WIN command. It's easier than VDU28.
The last miscellaneous command is SORT. This can be used to sort
string arrays into alphabetical order.
In truth, it actually produces Ascii order with upper case before
lower case. It's a very fast sort taking just 0.75 seconds to sort 100
words into order.
To sum up, Addcomm is brilliant, particularly the graphics and the
toolkit, but there is a small price to pay in terms of memory.
It requires 256 bytes of RAM for its own use and so it pushes PAGE up
to &F00. If you are going to load a long commercial program it's as well
to turn Addcomm off. To do this type ADDCOMM and hit the Break key. *FX
163 will turn it on again.
Firmware like Addcomm requires good documentation, and Vine Micros
has achieved a winner here. The 72 page manual is clear, concise and
simple giving full syntax and examples for each of the forty commands.
Addcomm is the most valuable piece of software I've got. Every Elec-
tron owner who does some programming should consider getting it. It's
easily worth the `28.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Tynesoft
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Bev Friend in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
FOR any fans of the popular TV show, this may have a special appeal.
The central character in our neat little plot is Oz, the well known
loudmouth. Our Oz is put into a variety of tricky little situations over
in Dusseldorf, and it's up to you to get him out of them!
Firstly, at the building site, Oz is under instructions to build as
wide a wall as possible, and if you thought bricklaying was easy, try
As well as avoiding the watchful Erics and the falling trowels, poor
Oz must be careful not to tumble from the wall.
The more wall he builds, the more marks he earns for his night at the
bier keller.
At the bier keller, Oz must try to drink as many pints as possible
before 11.30 (clock provided). The more he drinks, the more fearsome the
barmaids become and the more numerous the tables to fall over.
If you're not full of pity already, you will be when you find he's
got to guide himself home as all the street lights in Dusseldorf flicker
and die.
He must remember the route, then try to find his way through a pitch-
black maze of lamp-posts and police-cars! Even when he gets to the hut,
he has to avoid the security guard!
Is it really worth going out? You may well ask.
Take the controls and see for yourself.
The keys are easy to operate and you will find the graphics well up
to standard. But just allow me a few grumbles, being the fusspot I am!
First, the instructions are a little harsh on the eyes in glaring
Mode 2. Mode 1 would be preferable.
Second, the game seems to be a little slow-moving in parts - parti-
cularly when the lights are going out. Finally, more adventurous sound
effects wouldn't come amiss.
All in all, though, a promising game for all ages, with plenty of
Bev Friend

Supplier: Software Invasion
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Bev Friend in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
ONE of the most straightforward, yet most addictive, games I've ever had
the pleasure to meet, BLITZKRIEG is a winner.
Based on the familiar arcade game, the idea is to destroy as many
enemy tanks as you can, gaining points in the process, while sustaining
as little damage as possible.
You can receive only ten direct hits, then you're a goner.
You start out as a private, and are promoted every 10,000 points. I
won't tell you what rank I reached, though rank is probably the right
There are smaller tanks and larger ones out to get you - and watch
out, because they don't wait too long before they turn and fire, so get
your shot in first.
The graphics, with their 3D effect, are absolutely superb. Although
all in green, the detail achieved is striking and the sound effects are
also good.
However, your gun position can only sweep from left to right. It
seems a pity that it isn't more mobile and can move backwards and for-
wards too.
A First Byte joystick option is available, plus a pause facility if
the kettle boils at a particularly unnerving moment. There is also a
sound on or off option.
The keys are well placed and simple to use - kids from 9 to 90 will
find it easy and great fun.
Bev Friend

Product: BUG EYES
Supplier: Icon Software
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
IT'S amazing how much Icon have improved since their early days. BUG
EYES is their best yet.
It's described on the rather smart cassette case as a fantasy arcade
adventure. I wouldn't agree with the adventure part but it's certainly a
good game.
Your objective is to reach the master power generator at the heart of
a giant spaceship. This must be destroyed to prevent the Bug Eyes from
reaching Earth.
There are ten different levels to be negotiated within the ship.
At first it's quite easy with just a few bits of machinery to avoid.
But on later screens there are various bugs and monsters bouncing up and
down and flying around.
There are expanding and contracting platforms and disappearing walk-
ways. If you're too slow they're gone and you'll fall on to rows of
deadly spikes.
It's a fairly simple game with only two keys to control the man, left
and right. The main difficulty is timing your run across the platforms
and under the machinery so that you're not squished or hit by flying
The graphics are superb and although it's in Mode 1 with only four
colours they're very sharp and move smoothly.
The demonstration mode, which flicks through all the screens, is
quite nice to watch.
Bug Eyes is a simple but enjoyable game which will keep you amused
for a while. Arcade addicts may think it a bit too easy, but I found it
just about my level.
Roland Waddilove

Supplier: Durrell Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Adan Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
IN COMBAT LYNX, Durrell Software have come up with a unique and exciting
war game.
As the pilot of a fully-armed and potentially lethal Lynx helicopter,
you are required to provide air support for four bases. These are con-
stantly under threat of attack by enemy ground forces.
You have a whole arsenal of weapons at your disposal, including land-
mines, wire-guided and anti-tank missiles, air-to-air missiles, and gun
You can select any mix of weapons systems or a standard load.
Your defence can be offensive or defensive and, to help you in this,
you've access to a constantly updated intelligence map.
This shows the ground contours, the positions of your bases and the
dispositions of enemy forces.
From this you can decide where best to lay your mines and where to
find the enemy vehicles which you can then strafe with your guns or des-
troy with your missiles.
While this is going on, you're constantly under attack by enemy miss-
iles. Luckily these aren't guided, and can be easily avoided once you
get the hang of the controls.
They're not the only hazards, however - because, like any flying mac-
hine, you have a limited range and need to keep a watchful eye on the
fuel and temperature gauges.
The instrument panel also incorporates an airspeed indicator, alti-
meter, compass, and a very useful map co-ordinates indicator which re-
lates directly to the intelligence map.
You can preset the co-ordinates of a particular target and then watch
as your position winds down to coincide with them as you guide your mac-
hine towards it.
Don't do as I did and become so interested in this that you fly into
a hillside!
There's more to the game than merely zapping the enemy.
Your bases sustain damage and casualties occur in the defence. The
wounded have to be taken to hospital (Base No 1) and movements of fresh
troops are undertaken by means of your helicopter.
Equally inevitable is the fact that as you get airborne with a heli-
copter full of wounded, a desperate call for help comes through from a
base under heavy attack. What do you do?
It's not for the young or slow of reflex, as flying the helicopter,
avoiding missiles and firing the weapons takes a great deal of acquired
There are at least fifteen separate keys to use, some having dual
and triple function depending on the situation. But I do feel that some
of these could have been situated in a slightly more convenient way.
The graphics are highly detailed, extremely colourful and very well
defined, and I was particularly impressed with the realistic way in
which the weapons systems worked.
There are four levels. The "easy" still required a great deal of
skill and the "hardest" was, for me, virtually impossible.
Together with the very professional packaging, this all adds up to a
superb game, thoroughly recommended.
Adam Young

Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 9
ONE of the main uses of home computers, apart from alien zapping, is the
storage and retrieval of information in databases.
These can be based on any topic and the COMPLETE COCKTAIL MAKER is a
database concerned with that complex set of drinks.
It contains information in over 300 with details of how much of each
ingredient is needed.
Not only that, but it tells you how to mix them and what type of
glass to serve them in.
On loading, you are presented with the command menu which gives you
four options.
Browse allows you to look through all the recipes in alphabetical or-
der. For each drink you are given the liqueur flavour needed, the spirit
required as well as any other ingredients.
The recipe also suggests what decorations to use and the mixing
method. A picture is drawn of the type of glass to use which also gives
some idea of the final colour of the drink.
Option two is A Drink Containing. You specify which ingredients you
want, chosen from four different lists. Any cocktail containing your
specified substances is then displayed on the screen.
In the event of none being found the program reverts to Browse mode.
A Drink Made Using sounds almost identical, but in fact means that
not all of the ingredients have to be used in the cocktails.
You could enter the entire stock of your drinks cabinet and find all
the cocktails you could make.
The final option allows you to enter the name of a cocktail and the
computer will display its recipe. If you enter part of the name, all
drinks containing the letters you entered will be found.
The program comes with a twelve page booklet which clearly explains
how to use the program. The whole package is well produced and, if you
are into cocktails, it's very useful.
The trouble is, it contains no samples.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Slogger
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
ELKMAN is a sideways ROM designed for use with an external ROM expansion
board such as Slogger's own Rombox (Not the Plus 1), and is identical to
the ROMs that BBC owners have been using for years.
ElkMan is a ROM manager so needs to have priority over all other ROMs
present to operate properly. This means that it is best placed so that
it appears as ROM 15 to the operating system.
Placing it in the rightmost socket on Slogger's Rombox achieves this.
You'll have to check the manual on other systems.
ElkMan is a service ROM, which means that all its commands are avail-
able while another ROM is in use, using a * command.
These commands can even be used within a Basic program.
While writing this review using View I can test each function without
leaving the Word Processor.
*HELP ElkMan reveals the ROMs 16 commands and their syntax. One of
the simplest is *PROMS which lists all the ROMs present, their state and
ROMs can be in one of three states. They are either on, off or kill-
ed. *OFFROM and *ONROM can be used to enable or disable a ROM.
If it has been disabled it will not respond to any commands and can-
not be used. This is useful if two ROMs have the same name for different
commands. The offending ROM taking the command can be switched off.
Even though a ROM may be off, it can still reserve memory. *KILLROM
is equivalent to physically removing a ROM. I found it useful for dis-
abling the Plus 3 when playing games on tape.
*PEEK is a memory lister which can be used to display any section of
memory, even sideways ROMs. The output is in hexadecimal and Ascii.
*POKE will place a series of bytes or a string anywhere in memory.
ElkMan contains a complete 6502 disassembler, which again is capable
of operating on sideways ROMs. The hex address, object code, mnemonics
and Ascii codes are listed.
There are several commands which operate on sideways RAM. These can
clear the RAM if fitted, load it with data from memory, tape or disc,
and save it to memory tape or disc.
ElkMan is well written and simple to use. The documentation is ex-
cellent. It comes with a very smart 21-page manual which explains fit-
ting and use in a clear and easy-to-read manner.
Even if it's the only ROM you have, you'll still find most of the
utlities useful. I can recommend ElkMan to all serious Electron users.
Roland Waddilove

Product: FREE FALL
Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 9
THE storyline goes "When the Alphoid battleship attacked Deep Space
Station Coriolis and Alphoid lifeforms injected the air supplies with
their own cyanide-based morphine, only one crew member managed to don
his space suit in time.
"Unable to reach the armoury, he must face the Alphoid warriors bare-
handed to defend not only his own life but also the vital computer re-
cords which the Space Station contains."
The object of FREE FALL is to control that sole crewman to help him
survive as long as possible and to kill as many Alphoids as he can. It
sounds easy.
However there are a few nasty creatures lurking around bent on get-
ting our lone spaceman - the Craboids, Lobstoids, Batoids and Waspoids.
Craboids are pleasant little creatures that will bite through a
space suit and poison the occupant with a nerve toxin. As you might
guess, this causes our spaceman to lose all control and to thrash about
with convulsions.
As light relief, Lobstoids breathe fire and use up the oxygen supply.
They also burn whoever comes in range.
The Batoids are nice fellows who fly around catching and throwing
Last, but far from least, the deadliest of them all are the Waspoids.
"They have a sting which is worse than the bite of a Craboid, they can
breathe fire like the Lobstoid and they can fly as well as the Batoid."
To control the spaceman requires dexterity of three fingers on each
hand and a thumb for the space bar.
Catching a bomb requires another finger. This might sound a bit
difficult, but the keys are well positioned and control is soon gained.
Several features are so good that, hopefully, they'll become standard
on all games.
There are two panic buttons that can be operated at any time. (I did.
Often!) The ESCAPE key causes the game to be aborted and the program re-
started, while the COPY key is used to hold the game. This can be for an
indefinite time, the DELETE key being used to restart the action.
Sound can be switched on or switched off at any stage.
One excellent aspect of this program is the screen display. Not only
are the characters and their movement of a high standard but there are
also displays showing heart rate, air supply, high score and present
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with this value for money pack-
age. Recommended.
John Woollard

Supplier: Century Software
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
THIS is a sparkling collection of 20 strategy and arcade type games, all
written in Basic for the Electron. An accompanying book gives full inst-
ructions and detailed descriptions explaining how the programs work.
However, although there is a great variety of arcade games their speed
is generally slow.
Their appeal is not great compared with the more sophisticated mach-
ine code games available, but they do provide a good insight into prog-
ramming games in Basic.
It is an intention of the publishers that users would use the list-
ings to pick up expert hints on programming their Electrons. The variety
makes up for any loss in quality.
The strategy games are not affected detrimentally by the fact that
they are programmed in Basic and not machine code. Speed of presentation
and response is not important.
The programs are available elsewhere in various forms; the ideas are
not new.
This collection enables users to find out how the programs work so I
would seriously recommend it for budding programmers.
Euler's Touring Knight is a particular favourite of mine. The prob-
lem is to move a knight about a chess board calling in at each and every
possible square.
The computer is programmed to demonstrate a solution then the user
can try it out.
One of the other programs, Robotank, requires Logo-type commands.
Ace High is a patience card game. Instead of manipulating your own
pack you press a letter to deal and another to move the cards.
I think I prefer to use real cards, but the simulation is a good one.
I can recommend this collection for those people who wish to increase
their powers of programming by seeing how others do it.
John Woollard

Supplier: Micro Power
Available on 3.5" DFS Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
FOR anyone who likes the traditional arcade type games, this is one for
you. You're given sole control of an X15 space fighter and as you're
zooming along over a decidedly hostile-looking terrain you find that
your airspace isn't exactly friendly either.
Endless battalions of Reegs seem intent on knocking the living day-
lights out of you as well as stealing the precious cannisters of...well,
what it is that they're trying to steal is not quite clear, but it must
be mighty important as your mission is to rescue as much of it as poss-
Happily, you're not totally defenceless, as you can fire back at the
Reegs. I advise you to do this, quickly and smartly. If you see a Reeg
making off with a cannister shoot him and rescue the cannister. Placing
it on the ground can be very point-profitable.
If the Reeg gets the cannister to the top of the screen, it develops
into a mutant and they're very hard to shake off.
As you go through waves of attack your problems become more and more
frustrating. Mine layers, cruisers, buzzers and crawlers are just some
of the nasties you'll meet appearing out of nowhere.
And by the way, don't let all your cannisters be destroyed, or every-
thing will disintegrate and you'll have a swarm of mutants on your
Should all else fail your smart bomb blows everything to smithereens.
All in all it's an enjoyable game for all the family. Graphics are
well up to standard and the keys are simple to handle: A and Z for up
and down, SHIFT for thrust, RETURN for fire and CAPS LK for the smart
Good stuff. A must for arcade freaks.
Keith Young

Supplier: Kay-Ess Computer Products
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
AFTER climbing a rocky path to the old house you pass through the rusty
gates and enter a creepy mansion. Your task is to recover the golden
keys which are spread over the five floors.
The house is haunted by a variety of ghosts, zombies, werewolves,
vampires and mummies. To make matters worse each floor is like a maze,
with rooms, corridors, secret passages and rotten floorboards which
collapse when you walk on them.
Each floor is drawn as a plan showing the rooms and corridors, the
keys, floorboards, passages and the house's horrors.
You start by the staircase and your task is to collect the two keys
and return without bumping into any of the inhabitants.
There is no time limit, so you can plan your route. If you succeed,
you move on to the next level.
The options available at the start are sound on/off, keyboard/joy-
stick and start level. It is also possible to freeze the game at any
All the characters are single colour, user defined graphics char-
acters. The monsters all move in fixed patterns and their movement is
very jerky - one character position at a time.
This gives the game an amateurish look.
I think you will be disappointed with HOUSE OF HORRORS and cannot
really recommend it.
Roland Waddilove

Supplier: Incentive
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
HERE you play a home computer programmer who has decided to go into bus-
iness selling your own products.
Since the program typifies the decisions that have to be made in real
life you'll soon be wishing you hadn't bothered!
You start by deciding what kind of programs you want to write - ar-
cade games, adventures, educational programs and so on. Naturally I de-
cided on adventures.
You then have to decide what aspects of your programming you want to
highlight. To do this you have twenty points that have to be allocated
to different features, quality of programming, addictiveness, packaging
and such like.
Since I had chosen adventures, I gave the maximum eight points to
programming, five to packaging and seven to addictiveness.
I can definitely say that judging from my performance this is not the
right way to allocate your points.
You are then given an option to sell your program to raise money to
add to your original investment of five hundred pounds. The decision
made, you enter into the game.
The game is cycled monthly until you are either bankrupt or have made
a quarter of a million pounds profit. If this figure is reached, the
Electron assumes you have the financial acumen to be a millionaire and
ends the game.
At least I assume it does. I couldn't get that far. Each month you
make decisions which are totalled to give a monthly run down on the
state of your business.
This shows the number of programs you have on the market, your sales,
stock, rates payable, assets and any outstanding loans.
You are then given the options for the month. You can write a prog-
ram, sell your products to retailers, convert your existing programs to
other computers, try to obtain a loan, sell out - which will give you
your score - or see Honest Harry, who will undoubtedly try to sell you a
load of cheap cassettes at a bargain price.
To increase your profit, you are asked how much you wish to spend on
advertising, how much you wish to spend on duplicating cassettes and how
many you want duplicated.
Your decisions are evaluated and the program then gives you a news
sheet - which in my case always seemed to mean bad news.
Then you are shown a graph displaying your sales figures for the
year, and finally the run down of your business again.
It generally took me between one and two years to need a bank loan.
This is where I discovered the only bug in an otherwise professional
program. You are allowed to borrow a thousand pounds each month.
Once you take out a loan you are charged ten per cent interest each
month. I borrowed `1,000 and six months later owed `7,600!
I've heard of inflation but this is ridiculous!
It appears that if you borrow money one month and do not pay it off
the next you are treated as if you borrow money EACH month, though you
don't, at least, pay interest on all of it.
This program has been available on at least one other computer for a
while. Although a truly professional job it is not that different from
other similar games already available.
Overall, somewhat marred by that bug discussed earlier. The rest of
the program is superior, though similar, to other strategy games cur-
rently available.

Product: ROBOTRON 2084
Supplier: Atarisoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
WHAT an absolutely brilliant game! This must be the ultimate in high
speed arcade action. The sound is excellent and the graphics superb.
The screen is filled with laser bolts, flying debris, brain waves,
mutating monsters and robots. It's got to be seen to be believed.
There are nine screens full of various nasties to be disposed of and
people to be rescued. As you progress through each screen, the number of
nasties increase and they get meaner and meaner.
You start off positioned in the centre, surrounded by assorted robots
and monsters with nowhere to hide and only a laser pistol with which to
defend yourself.
On screen one there are only robots plus a few obstacles. These can
be quickly dealt with, in fact if you don't blast everything in sight
within about five seconds then you have had it.
Bonus points are gained if you pick up the two humans wandering
Screen two starts with ordinary robots, large indestructable robots,
pulsating rings, people and more obstacles. After a short while the pul-
sating rings mutate into machines which hover about the screen firing
spinners at you, so speed is essential.
Screens three and four are the same - only worse, that is there are
twice as many robots and machines.
Screen five is a bit tricky. In addition to all the other obstacles
and nasties, there are giant brains with tiny bodies and legs. These
fire thought bolts or brain waves which home in on you and then mutate
into another indescribable form.
Six is the same as four, which is a bit of a relief after the
struggle to blast your way through five.
Seven is nearly impossible. There are pulsating rings - different to
the previous ones - bouncing about the screen at high speed. They quick-
ly mutate into giant frogmen's heads on tank tracks which emit spinning
Eight and nine are like three except that there are far more robots -
over 40!
There are the usual options available before the game starts - sound
on/off, set start level, keyboard/joysticks and a two player game. Once
the game has started there is a pause facility so you can stop for a
second to get your breath back.
To play Robotron properly you will need a pair of joysticks (Plus 1
type). There is a keyboard option but it is impossible as there are four
keys to move and another four to fire in each direction.
The only way to play is to use the two joystick option. One joystick
is for moving and the other to fire. You can actually run one way and
fire the another.
The problem with two joysticks is how to hold them though. I ended up
strapping one to each leg!
ROBOTRON is a highly recommended action packed arcade classic. On a
scale of 1 to 10, I would give it 11 for addictiveness.
Roland Waddilove

Supplier: Comsoft
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
THIS adventure program is designed to be used by children in the age
range seven to twelve. It concerns the rather unpleasant Princess Am-
brosia who was sent on a mission to find the King's treasure.
The trouble is she found a good sweet shop in Bognor Regis and there
she stopped, stuffing herself with sweets.
Guess what? You are sent in her place, equipped with a magic carpet.
Most unusually for an adventure, the action takes place on planet
Earth, with geographical locations such as Loch Ness, the Arizona Desert
and Indonesia. Many of these places are drawn out in high resolution
colour graphics.
The locations are in their (reasonably) correct geographical posi-
tions so that if you go east from London you will get to Egypt or west
from Japan takes you to India.
It is recommended in the instructions that the game is played with an
atlas, and this, of course, gives the program some educational value.
A number of animals are met on the way, ranging from polar bears to
tarantula spiders (again, mostly in their correct regions) and it is
necessary to aid these or outwit them.
An experienced adventurer would solve the problems with ease. They
are designed to be easy, so that when the tiger wants meat it will be
found near at hand.
My own son, aged seven, got tremendous satisfaction from working out
how to get past the Comodo Dragon.
The program comes with a couple of sheets of paper which give you the
story so far, and some general instructions for getting going. These are
invaluable to the novice adventurer.
There is also a function key strip; the keys being set up for ten
common commands.
There seemed to be one bug here as the GET command did not work.
You are even given the phone number of Comsoft's chief adventurer
which you can phone if stuck.
My family nearly resorted to this service to solve the riddle of the
This is a most satisfying program. It offers a gentle introduction to
adventurers and could well suit many adults as well as children.
It was thoroughly enjoyed by my son, who took three days, with help,
to solve it.
The package is priced very reasonably and the program loads and runs
just as well on a BBC Micro and could be of interest to the growing num-
ber of schools which use both machines.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Acornsoft
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
SPHINX ADVENTURE was the first adventure to be released by Acornsoft and
is, to my knowledge, still the only one available on cassette for the
It's modelled very generally on the original Crowther and Woods' Col-
ossal Caves.
You'll meet some familiar characters in it, though, to be fair, it is
nothing like Colossal Caves and is a very worthy adventure in its own
Your task is to search an underground complex to add yet more trea-
sures to the pile you have built up from previous adventures.
You start your quest on a well-trodden road and a quick search of the
countryside should find you equipped for the start of your quest.
Then it's off to the Valley of Doom and down the Hall of Spirits for
the start of your perils.
You'll soon come across a pirate and a dwarf who will leave you an
Your first major problem is likely to be in getting past the fiery
passage - this is where you find out whether you have the bottle for
this adventure!
Later you'll need to escape from a sea-serpent - match that if you
The troll shouldn't prove to be much of a problem. You should be able
to discover where he puts his loot.
Right! That's enough clues!
One thing I couldn't discover was whether there was any meaning to
the graffiti in the Inner Sanctum. I'm sure that there are more loca-
tions to be discovered here. Please let me know if you have figured it
I've managed to map more than 100 locations so it is a big adventure.
In fact I must confess that it is one of those games that keeps you up
until the small hours. Five o' clock in my case.
Overall, an extremely good adventure and one that I can wholehearted-
ly recommend. Let's hope Acornsoft do conversions for their other adven-
tures. Excellent stuff.

Supplier : Century Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
THIS BBC/Electron program is described as a starfinder and home planet-
arium. It comes in a very plush library case, complete with a book of
about 140 pages.
Chapter one in the book is designed to help you with the software
(you'll certainly need that). The bulk of the book is a treatise on
astronomy. Most of the text could be read by an intelligent older teen-
The program itself loads very smoothly to present a menu of options.
To start with you enter date, time, position and which way you wish to
look. This is fairly straightforward.
You may then look at a section of sky. This rather untidy screen
plots stars very slowly. It takes about a minute to complete.
Using the "space probe" (a small cross) you may identify any star
shown by positioning the probe on the star. The screen displays infor-
mation in the form Az=W15 Alt=31 Omicron Cet!!! This cryptic clue is
somewhat explained is somewhat explained in the text.
Incidentally, the program includes planets, the Sun and Moon and even
Halley's Comet as well as stars.
Having got your display you can change your direction of view left or
right by 45 degrees or look up instead of along (with a one minute
pause). You can also move forward in time.
Returning to the menu (ESCAPE) gives you the chance to search for any
of the heavenly bodies contained in the program. The computer will dis-
play them at your specified time or at their highest point in the sky.
This can be of great interest. For example, as you eat your Christmas
tea in 1985, Halley's Comet will be at a height of 36 deg between south
and west and Jupiter will be beneath it. While search and time stepping
facilties are excellent, the screen star maps take a lot of getting used
to, but with perseverence constellations can eventually be learned.
One particularly useful function for the lucky few is the ability to
print a star map at the touch of P. This produces a high quality screen
dump on Epson-compatible printers.
Overall this seems a worthwhile program for the enthusiastic astro-
nomer, but perhaps rather overpriced at `12.95.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Beebug
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
LET'S face it, the User Guide that comes with the Electron isn't the
easiest of books to understand. Many people get frustrated if they find
programming a problem and can't find the answer in it.
Beebug have attempted to help them with their STARTER PACK.
What you get in the pack is a slim, but well-written, booklet ex-
plaining how to use the features of the micro that beginners want most -
graphics and sound.
There is a strong emphasis on the structured approach to programming,
with not a GOTO in sight.
The booklet also has a hotch-potch of hints, which almost everybody
should find interesting.
These cover features of Basic, the operating system and memory, as
well as books toread and where to find help if you have a problem.
The pack is aimed at both the BBC Micro and the Electron. One chapter
is concerned solely with Mode 7. However, it's clearly marked BBC only,
so should not cause any problem.
It also contains a cassette of programs (described in the book).
There are eight games programs and six utilities.
The utilities include a "Bag Program" aid and a character definer.
In theory, these are useful, but the other utilities - a function key
editor, a memory display, a utility editor and a sound wizard - are
rather poor.
Having two different programs in memory is never easy.
The games are a varied and tidy selection of arcade-type and strategy
Old favourites are there such as Life, Galaxians, Connect 4, Reversi
and Marslander. There is a version of Zombies and a football game.
The pick of the bunch is Blockblitz, which provides all the frustrat-
ion and irritation to make you play it again and again.
To complete the pack, you also get a screen planning sheet, some
character planning sheets and a function key strip.
The trouble with the package is that the cassette and booklet don't
complement one another.
If you are a real beginner, the booklet may be beyond you, but then
the tape provides a selection of good magazine-type games to keep you
However, if you wish to dabble in programming, then the booklet is
useful, and, if you want the programs as well, the whole package repre-
sents good value.
Rog Frost

Supplier: Potter Programs
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
THE first thing that strikes you about SUPER AGENT FLINT is the reason-
ableness of its price - an example I hope other software houses will
When you load the program, you find that your task is to infiltrate
a secret TERD base to capture their evil plans for world domination.
Your only means of escape is a rocket which you must use to dock with
a British space station.
Happily for those of you who lack astronaut experience, the game
assumes tat successfully firing the rocket is enough.
The adventure begins in an aeroplane over the South Pacific, You've
got a parachute and there's a green light showing, so your next move is
fairly obvious.
Once you've landed you can start to explore the surrounding country-
side. A submarine and a helicopter will help you in your travels, though
the cable car is more useful in keeping things dry.
The rocket is soon found, but getting it started is something else.
You need to find four things to operate the rocket successfully and fin-
ish the game.
Although there are only about forty locations, don't expect these
four objects to be easy to find.
As is beginning to seem usual with Potter Programs, there's no save-
game facility, though there are spelling mistakes.
What there is is quite a lot of program protection, including a rou-
tine to intercept a CTRL-BREAK.
At the price of these programs, the programming involved might be put
to better use writing a save-game routine.
Overall, although it's in Basic, it's quite fast and fun to play. At
the price I must recommend it.

Product: TEMPEST
Supplier: Superior Software
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Roland Waddilove in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 9
YES, this is the superb arcade game of the same name, converted by
Superior for the Electron, and released with the full approval of Atari
who created the original.
It involves protecting the universe from aliens who are swarming
through the star gates.
Your ship, armed with a blaster and super zapper, can skip round the
rim of the star gate in clockwise or anti clockwise gates.
As the flippers, spikers, flipper tankers, fuseballs and pulsars em-
erge they can be destroyed with a quick spray of missiles from your
blaster - well, theoretically anyway, it's not quite so easy in prac-
The aliens are semi-intelligent and tend to move in your general dir-
ection if they can, so you have to watch out for any that make it
through the star gate.
If you get in a really tight spot, you can use your super zapped
which destroys all the aliens in the gate. However, it can only be used
once per screen.
When most of the aliens have been destroyed, your ship enters the
star gate to proceed to the next. At this point there may well be sev-
eral spikers left which must be avoided by blasting a clear route when
the message "Avoid Spikes" appears.
There are eight star gate patterns and 255 levels of play. At the
start of each game there is the option of one or two players and any odd
numbered star gate can be selected.
The sound and graphics are excellent and it's quite an exciting game
to play. Also it is quite an original idea.
My only criticism is that there isn't a high score table or a joy-
stick option - but is compatible with the Plus 1 and 3.
Arcade fans will thoroughly enjoy this classic.
Roland Waddilove

Supplier : Bug Byte
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Merlin in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 9
THIS graphical adventure combines some of the better elements of mon-
ster-bashing with the puzzles usually associated with text-only adven-
There are 175 "pictures" in the adventure and since you can "look" at
some of the objects within the locations this leads me to assume that
there are about 160 actual locations.
You play the typical greedy adventurer and the object of your quest
is to collect all the treasure you can find and deposit it safely. When
you've scored the maximum points of 1024 you will find that you have a
further problem. What to do next.
The program loads in several parts and full loading instructions are
given during loading.
When the adventure starts you're asked to choose one of six options.
These determine whether you have the graphics displayed or not and the
type of messages you want about your location.
You can alter these during the course of the game by typing OPTION.
As soon as you have made your choice the adventure proper begins.
You find yourself on a road outside the cabin. Inside the cabin are
three objects that will come in handy.
At this point I would suggest that you save the game as should you
die the program simply ends.
If you have a game saved you can restart by using *LOAD otherwise
you have to load the game back in from the start.
I think it is quite inexcusable for Bug-Byte not to have given you
the option of playing another game. On saving the game, using SAVE,
you will see that you're in fact saving three programs, one of which is
24 blocks long.
Anyway, back to the game. You'll find that over 100 locations are
readily accessible and are generally logical.
For example, moving North and then South brings you back to the
location you started from. However, this isn't always the case, espec-
ially when underground, so making a map is a must.
You will meet varius characters most of whom, if armed, will attack
you on sight.
An elf will carry things for you, but is sometimes reluctant to let
you have them back. This same elf is also a positive nuisance when map-
ping underground - he kept picking up the objects I was dropping in
order to make my map!
It is possible to frighten off or kill the characters you meet but
you need to be at maximum strength (190 points) and armed with a better
weapon than them.
This is also a good way of obtaining any treasure they may be carry-
ing since they quite often drop them if you are winning.
Watch out for your strength points after doing battle, they will be
very low and any further combat will probably finish you off.
A good tip if your strength is low is to WAIT for a bit since every
command you give builds up your strength. If you are near Watersmeet, a
quick dip will work wonders.
On the subject of strength points, don't drink too much ale in the
local inn - it's definitely not good for you.
The graphics are excellent and quickly drawn but tend to slow the
game down a lot, so doubtless you'll do the same as me and use the Op-
tion command to turn them off.
I've mapped about 140 locations and collected a few treasures but
frankly, I don't think I'm nearer to finishing than when I started.
I've tried giving the crystal ball to the castle witch but keep
getting killed.
I've tried throwing water, oil and everything else at the dragon but
still can't get the master key.
I'm afraid that the adventure doesn't generate enough atmosphere for
me to want to persevere with it.
Having said that, if anyone has completed it and would like to send
me a map of it I will mention them in my bedtime prayers.
Overall, TWIN KINGDOM VALLEY is impressive. It is extremely well-
programed and packaged. However, the save game facility and the abrupt
ending, along with the characters in the program, who are more of an
impediment than a problem, tend to make me reluctant to recommend it.
Yet the mail I've received about it tends to indicate that a lot of
people do like it. My advice therefore is to go to your friendly com-
puter dealer, grovel and try before you buy!

Product: ULTRON
Supplier: Icon Software
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Adan Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 11
ULTRON is another game of the Space Invaders school.
Although highly colourful and with a certain variety in that the
aliens sometimes move across the screen instead of down, sadly there
isn't a lot of originality in it.
There are four stages in the game, each one slightly harder than the
previous one.
Your laser base moves along the bottom, knocking off the aliens and
avoiding the bombs.
The third screen has a 3D effect in that the Space Invaders seem to
appear out of the distance in ones and twos, and the fourth has one huge
alien with a smaller alien inside.
You have to chip your way through the thick outer skin to get at the
points inside. If you manage to do this, you are given an opportunity to
earn a bonus.
While the average arcade game fan has long since left this sort of
thing behind, I feel that ULTRON may appeal to the younger user.
Certainly the keys are easily manageable and the screen layouts sim-
ple, with explicit instructions on an accompanying leaflet.
Adam Young

Product: WHERE?
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by John Woollard in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
THIS is an excellent little program for testing general knowledge of
places, rivers, cities, hills etc in Britain.
The format is simple. A place is indicated on the map and a choice of
four answers is given. The user presses the number key corresponding to
the answer chosen.
If the answer is wrong the correct answer is given. After ten quest-
ions, the score is displayed. It is based on the number of correct an-
swers plus the speed of response.
It is not stimulating enough to teach on its own, but it is a good
program for revision.
John Woollard

Product: WHICH SALT?
Supplier: Micro Power
Available on Tape
Reviewed by Rog Frost in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 8
THIS program is designed to be used to help students revising for O
level or CSE exams in Chemistry. It provides practice in that well-known
bane of chemists known as qualitative analysis.
After loading - a long process, but with no hitches - you are shown a
picture of a reagent bottle containing a salt, together with some infor-
mation on colour and solubility in water.
You are given 100 points to start with as you begin a series of
tests. First comes the flame test, which, like all the rest is shown
graphically, but with a sentence of explanation of well - vital for
those with monochrome monitors.
Then you are shown the effect of heat on your salt, with further
tests offered if any gas is evolved. Ten points are lost if any of these
tests are needed.
Next you find the effect of adding alkali and ammonia. The final set
of tests are for anions (the non-metal part of your salt). Again points
are lost for using these.
It is now assumed that you will know your salt and you check your re-
sult by picking one of the nine cations and one of the seven anions used
in the program.
Entering these is done by pressing Space at the correct time, so
there is no chance of poor spelling being a stumbling block.
When you have selected the salt correctly, a summary sheet gives de-
tails of the chemistry of the tests used. You also get a score and a
message such as "Seek help", "Boffin" and "Einstein".
A quibble on these messages is that scoring 100 per cent earns you
My other two criticisms are that the prompt "Press Space to continue"
is forgotten at times, and more seriously that it is not possible to re-
peat a test, which can reduce you to wild guessing.
That apart, this is an excellent program. The graphics are tidy and
fast, good use is made of the computer's colour and, thankfully, the
program is silent.
It is packaged with details of the chemical knowledge required for
the program and also a single copy of a worksheet which may be photo-
At `6.95 this is a very cheap educational program and definitely
worth getting for home revision.
Rog Frost

Product: WONGO
Supplier: Icon
Available on 3.5" Disk, Tape
Reviewed by Keith Young in Electron User Vol. 2 No. 10
IF you want a game with superb colour graphics and reasonable sound
effects with an almost irritating addictive quality thrown in, then
WONGO is the game for you.
Some grovelling nasties have planted bombs along the length of the
Great Wall of China and it's up to bouncing little Wongo the Chinaman to
defuse them.
However, it's not as simple as all that, as poor dutiful Wongo also
has to avoid a constant barrage of rocks, arrows and a particularly nas-
ty kind of creature, the jumping gremlin.
Not only does he have to face all this, but the Great Wall itself,
being a little older than most of use here (except possibly the editor)
is in a sorry state.
Parts of it have crumbled away. This leaves a gaping gap which can
only be crossed by a rather bloody-minded flying ferry which simple
doesn't want to wait for you. Timing is of the essence.
It's a fast-moving game with three levels of difficulty and a pause
facility should you develop finger cramp.
The keys are easy to use, the instructions clear and you have the
option of having the sound on or off.
If you defuse five bombs without losing a life (you have three) you
get a bonus score. There's also an extra life after every 20,000 points.
A Hall of Fame is available for good scores.
Keith Young

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