ADVANCED DISC TOOLKIT
BRIAN JACKS SUPERSTAR CHALLENGE
THE GREEDY DWARF
READ RIGHT AWAY (READING PACK 3, 4)
READ RIGHT AWAY (READING PACK 1)
RING OF TIME
ADT is a ROM compatible with both the Electron and the BBC Micros and
designed to be used with either an ordinary disc filing system or the
advanced disc filing system.
The ROM adds 32 new * commands which are available from within a
program or directly from the keyboard.
Most of these commands use the disc filing system, but several don't,
although I wouldn't really recommend it if you haven't yet upgraded to
ADT is available as a ROM cartridge which plugs into the Plus 1 or as
a bare ROM. This could be plugged into something like Slogger's ROMBOX,
tested in the August issue of Electron User.
*HELP ADT reveals all the extra commands and their syntax.
Several commands, *BACKUP, *BUILD, *FORM, *TYPE and *CATALL should be
familiar. These have been included in the ROM as they aren't in the ADFS
but are on the Welcome disc supplied with the Plus 3.
*BACKUP copies the contents of one disc to another. *BUILD creates a
file, usually text, which can be executed when the disc is booted with
SHIFT and BREAK.
*CATALL catalogues the whole disc and *FORM formats a new disc. *TYPE
displays a text file without line numbers.
There are several useful search commands. *DFIND searches a disc,
*MFIND searches the memory and *BFIND searches a Basic program, printing
out the address of all occurrences of a given string. The search can be
for a hex or Ascii string.
Programs can be loaded and run at any address, relocation is auto-
*MLOAD loads a program while *MRUN loads, relocates and runs a prog-
ram. This saves a lot of fiddling about with programs that have to run
with PAGE set to &E00 for example.
Memory contents can be examined in hex, Ascii or assembly language
The disassembler is excellent and is the best I have seen so far on
the Electron. It allows you to follow subroutines and branches by press-
ing the RETURN key when one is encountered. It even disassembles back-
A disc can be examined and edited with *DEX and sectors loaded and
dumped with *SECTORS. *DUMP displays the contents of a file.
I didn't realise how important these commands were until I accident-
ally saved one file with the same name as another.
By examining the disc, I found the old program and used *SECTORS to
load it back to PAGE and OLD to restore it.
*LIST lists a text file like *TYPE but adds line numbers. *VERIFY
checks that a disc is OK.
*FCOMP compares two files to see if they are the same and *DCOMP com-
pares two discs.
*SETADR changes the load and execution address of a file and *FCOPY
makes a copy of a file.
Several commands act on ROMs. *ROMS prints all the ROMs present and
*UNPLUG turns off a particular ROM.
This is necessary if one ROM is interfacing with the operation of
another and can happen if two ROMs have the same name for two entirely
different commands. Simply *UNPLUG the one you don't want.
*FREE displays the amount of free space on a disc and *MAP displays
a map of free space.
*FSN tells you which filing system is active and *XFER will copy a
file from one filing system to another.
I've only briefly mentioned each command and given an indication of
what it does.
Many of the commands have several options and functions which are
invoked by passing parameters and I haven't the space to explain in
detail the full capability of such a comprehensive toolkit.
Suffice it to say that it has just about every utility you're likely
None of the utilities is new - they're all old hat on the BBC Micro.
It is new on the Electron, however.
The big plus point for this toolkit is that it's compatible with an
ordinary DFS, the ADFS, the Electron, BBC Micro, and most commands work
across the Tube.
One point worth mentioning though is that for some of the utilities
to work in Modes 0 to 3, a link may need soldering inside the Plus 3 on
the circuit board.
However, all the commands work in Mode 6 whether the link has been
made or not, so it's not all that important.
I found the ADT an invaluable tool. It saved time and effort and
helped saved the day on several occasions.
If you have discs, then you'll need a toolkit. Take a close look at
ADVANCED DISC TOOLKIT - it's superb.
IT'S time to get your tin hats out and lead the assault on the enemy
territory in BEACH-HEAD.
This is one of the first conversions of US Gold's legendary Commo-
dore 64 software, and it's great.
By moving the cursor which represents your forces, you can select one
of two opening scenarios.
In the first you must guide your fleet through a narrow channel which
is mined and is constantly criss-crossed by enemy torpedoes.
You score for every ship successfully negotiating the channel, but
you inevitably lose a few ships.
The second option is to skip this section and proceed with a full
complement of ten ships to the anti-aircraft game.
This part of the game is great fun - enemy aircraft dive at your ship
with guns blazing.
You now take on the tole of gunner, moving the gun up, down, left and
right, pumping out shells at wave after wave of fighters.
Speed and accuracy are essential here, as with each hit from the
enemy your damage points increase.
Each time the total reaches 20 damage points, you lose another ship.
The enemy places defeated, their fleet now comes into play.
My first attempts at lobbing shells at silhouettes of enemy vessels
I then noticed a small notice on the display informing me of how long
or short was - aren't computers wonderful?
Having survived this melee, the surviving ships head for the beach
and land their cargo of tanks - the number of tanks landed being propor-
tional to the number of surviving ships.
The tanks must be guided through a tortuous maze of tank traps and
Finally they reach their target - a huge gun mounted on top of a
hill. The hill is protected by numerous guns which must be eliminated
before the large gun is destroyed.
The graphics are excellent, and the fact that your performance on
each level determines your fire-power on the next is a great idea.
WITH BERT BOOT, Highlight Software have attempted to brighten up
straightforward multiplication and division practice.
The start of the program is a boot called Bert.
Bert's passion in life is squashing insects. You can choose to prac-
tice multiplication, you are told how many insects Bert can crush in one
You then watch him do it - and afterwards you are asked how many he
can squash in a certain number of seconds.
If you have opted for Easy, you are given help with how to tackle the
problem. With Medium, you get less help, and on Hard you're on your own.
The same options are available for division, except that now you are
told how many seconds it takes Bert to squash a number of insects.
Your job is to find out how many he can squash in one second.
To make the "work" more palatable, there is a reward in the form of a
game if you get at least 80 per cent of your answers right.
Now to the drawbacks. When it's said that Bert squashes eight flies
in one second, he actually takes more than two seconds.
This is not only wrong, it can also be very tedious. Watching the de-
mise of 90 insects takes over 40 seconds.
Another problem concerns the division part of the program.
The computer "beeps" every time Bert has done one second's worth of
crushing. To successfully answer the division questions, you need only
remember the number at which you heard the first "beep".
The reward game is based on the charming notion that the insects
should have a chance of outwitting streams of boots and helping themsel-
ves to some jam.
It is in fact a version of FROGGER.
It's a nice idea, but made very frustrating by the fact that the key-
board buffer isn't cleared.
This means that when you get your first insect to the jam, the second
one starts, out of control, and probably commits suicide.
Also, the keyboard delay time and auto-repeat need setting, so that
your insect doesn't start, stop and then start again.
The keys you have to use are the cursor keys. You are expected to
discover this for yourself.
These are bad keys on the Electron, being right by Break, and are
better avoided in children's programs.
These faults could easily be put right and I hope that Highlight will
amend them in future and perhaps provide an upgrade for exiting custom-
If that were done, I could recommend this educational program for
home and school use. As it stands, the idea is good and the graphics
appealing but it is too frustrating for children to use.
FOLLOWING the success of FOOTBALL MANAGER, Addictive Games has released
BOFFIN. The football game was mainly strategy, but BOFFIN is pure arcade
Professor Boffin must travel through a complex of twenty caves. I'm
not sure why, but he will need your help anyway.
The route through each cave is constructed from small ledges. The
professor can leap between some of these but others must be negotiated
by different methods.
Each cave is littered with numerous unlucky horseshoes. The professor
has to collect every one before touching the lucky owl. If you have for-
gotten any horseshoes then touching the owl isn't so lucky.
Movement consists of left, right and jump. The professr carries an
umbrella which can be raised and lowered.
The brolly is very useful when falling from great heights, and can
also be used to reach high objects.
As I said earlier, some ledges and even some horseshoes cannot be
reached by jumping.
Fortunately the previous inhabitants of the caves were trampolining
enthusiasts and they left their equipment. Great heights can be easily
reached by bouncing in the centre of a trampoline.
The straight up and down jumps are easy. Judging a trampoline jump
sideways to a ledge takes a little more practice.
Additional points can be obtained by collecting petri dishes and
tripods. An extra life is awarded for the completion of each screen and
for every 50,000 points scored.
A game of this kind would not be the same without the bad guys,
though there aren't that many around. The game's real difficulty lay in
the actual physical layout of the screen.
The only hazardous character present is an enormous tarantula. This
chap is a real humdinger. He is drawn in superb detail and the charact-
eristic jerky movement of such arachnids - not a programming defect -
Another quite daunting creature is the manta-bat. Thankfully these
are friendly and can be used as a living escalator when you can't find
The ladders and levels section of the arcade market is very crowded.
Fortunately for Addictive, I feel that Professor Boffin has sufficient
originality to succeed against all the competition.
THE object of this game is to challenge and try to beat Brian Jacks in
series of eight activities.
The skill of play is entirely dependent upon your ability to manipul-
ate five keys of the keyboard or use a joystick and fire button.
The instruction for each event are very brief and it takes several
attempts before a good technique can be developed.
The first challenge is a 50-metres swim. Using Z and X, you have to
coordinate your strokes to keep a straight line.
Periodically, you have to take a breath by tapping the RETURN key.
On the earlier rounds, it's relatively easy to beat Brian.
Still in, or on, water, canoeing follows. Although you still use the
Z and X keys to paddle, the technique is subtly different.
The archery section that follows requires you to hit a moving target
by predicting its movement and judging correct elevation of the bow. The
wind speed is given as a guide.
This challenge certainly needs practice.
A cycle race makes up the fourth section. This time the keys are used
to drive the pedals.
Careful use of the gears has to be made to enable a fast speed to be
The next event, the 100-meters sprint, is the simplest of all the
The superb graphics of many of the sections are highlighted in the
squat thrust competition.
Using the familiar Z and X kes you move the body through four stages
between being stretched fully out and the squat position.
Again, the technique requires practice and development before a high
score can be achieved.
The arm dips have equally impressive graphics. To lower the body, the
RETURN key is tapped once. Raising it requires several taps of Z and X
which are also used to arrest the fall of the body.
The final section is a football challenge. I found this most diffi-
cult to understand. The instructions with the package are extremely lim-
ited and non-existent in the program.
You first have to collect the ball, dribble it between the cones and
then into the red semi-circle.
I didn't realise when I fell over the first cone that I'd lost the
Then I tried to move the ball to the centre of the screen and not go
into the semi-circle. Once in the semi-circle you have only a few
seconds to aim your kick and fire.
Be warned - the goalkeeper is very good!
At the end of each event the scores for you and Brian are shown and
the running totals displayed before the next challenge.
Overall, this program meets the high standards set by other Martech
programs I've used.
While there's a great emphasis on key-tapping, I was pleased to see
that there were considerably different techniques to be adopted for
tackling the various challenges.
BUMPER BUNDLE is a tape collection of four programs: BUG BLASTER, LUNAR
RESCUE, HELL HOLE and CROWN JEWELS.
BUG BLASTER is an action-packed arcade game with the sole object of
blasting everything that moves - and those things that sit still!
You control the left and right motion of the zapper which fires ver-
You can push it up and down, but the window of movement is limited to
the bottom five lines of the screen.
At the start, the display contains randomly placed mushrooms. Immed-
iately, a centipede begins crawling left then right across the screen
and slowly descending.
As you fire and hit the bug, it breaks into separate sections, each
with a life of its own.
Falling vertically down the screen and moving from left to right are
various other creatures - spiders, scorpions, dragonflies and snails.
Each of these scores points if zapped.
If you come into contact with any of the bugs there's an explosion
and one of your three lives is lost.
Your LUNAR RESCUE mission is to descend from an orbiting station,
carefully avoid the asteroids, and land.
After a man has boarded your craft, it ascends. On the way up you
have to avoid or destroy the aliens.
Eventually, you dock the rescue vehicle on the mother ship.
You have three attempts in each game. Scoring is based upon the num-
ber of aliens zapped and the difficultly of the landing site chosen.
HELL HOLE is definitely a more intellectual arcade game. I've spent
many hours working at it, but I still haven't sussed out how to trap or
capture the fiend. Please let me know if you have the answer.
Like the two other arcade games, the graphics and sound are very
good. All three are quality software.
The fourth program of the suite is an adventure game based upon the
unlikely event that a joker has stolen the CROWN JEWELS and then hidden
them at various locations in London.
The graphics are not outstanding but, as far as I could tell not
having finished it, the adventure is well worth pursuing.
I was really impressed with this collection of programs. All four
proved to be of a high standard in presentation and content. This is
truly a BUMPER BUNDLE.
IT'S no joke being a miner these days - at least not in this offering
from Kansas City Systems.
It takes you back to days of yore when gold, diamonds or coal were
hewn from the rock by pickaxe power alone.
There are no bodies to help here though. Once you've won your pre-
cious load, you pull your own truckful back to the paymaster.
Thatniggardlysoulwill notice if you haven't filled your truck and
will reward you with fewer points.
Life is cheap down the mines. The rather crude arrangement of lifts
is unguarded - one false step and you're dead. You can construct your
own ladders but, of course, heavy trucks don't go up or down them.
These accursed mines have seven levels and the Troglodyte lives on
the lowest. Once you're below the first level, it relentlessly chases
This can be to your advantage because he dies at the surface. It's
too bad that the next generation hatches out on level seven to replace
While you dig for gold and diamonds on the first two screens the mine
furnace is burning down. That's why coal is needed from the third mine.
There's no pay for coal. The instructions included in the program ex-
plain all of this. In fact they are a model that other software houses
might like to look at.
If it all sounds good, don't get too excited. The graphics, while
smooth, are very ordinary. You might even call them crude.
Some of the sound is strange to say the least, although the noise of
pick on rock is quite pleasing. There are also odd bugs.
When Troglodyte snuffs it he is not removed from the screen unless
some other object moves over him. Also it's possible to fall down non-
existent lift shafts.
It's a pity that the cursor keys are used for movement. Apart from
being too near Break, they are too cramped up for easy use.
However, I could get the game to work with my Plus 1 joystick using
the Joyplus program (Electron User, March 1985).
Kansas have a good idea here and CAVEMAN is fun to play, particularly
in outwitting the Troglodyte. The program suffers from its simple grap-
hics and from a lack of variety in the screens but makes up for it in
WHAT an absolutely brilliant game! Remember when we were children, how
we used to play with those slide puzzles where squares had to be moved
around to create a picture?
Well think of that and you've got a good idea of CONFUZION.
Dark, evil forces - the editor's friends - have set up a factory
manufacturing deadly confuzion bombs.
It's your mission to destroy all 64 levels of the factory by deto-
nating the bombs.
The screen is made up of squares, each containing a section of fuze-
wire. You have to move these squares about so that a spark can travel
along the fuzewire to ignite the bomb.
This is not as simple as it might sound. Your spark only has a limit-
ed life, as shown by the timer at the top of the screen.
Its life is made even shorter by running into a dead end - no fuze -
or off a block into open space.
Later levels become even harder as drops of water - which will ex-
tinguish your fuze - fall from the factory's sprinkler system. Each
level becomes progressively harder, with more and more bombs to detonate
and more water drops.
The keys are easy to handle and are user-definable. More than one
person can play, but there are several common features missing.
There's no sound on and off and no Hall of Fame. But to make up for
this you can skip completed screens. And the reverse side of the tape
will have you humming along as you play the game.
All in all an excellent game, guaranteed to keep you addicted for
DEATHSTAR is a super fast, all-action arcade classic. It's the sort of
game that you can't put down.
You've got to have just one more go. My dinner went cold on more than
As the name suggests, the action takes place out in space. Among the
asteroids are two types of alien ships - workers and warriors.
The workers are a pretty harmless bunch, but the warriors can be
nasty at times.
The asteroids contain valuable crystals which can be blasted free and
picked up by both you and the aliens.
The aliens use them to build a huge battle ship, virtually indes-
tructable. You convert them into starbombs, the only defence against the
If you manage to make it until the Deathstar has been completed, then
the only way to survive is to release all your starbombs.
If you've managed to collect enough, the Deathstar will be destroyed.
If not, it'll catch you up and destroy your ship.
Destroying the Deathstar takes you on to the next screen. The warr-
iors harrass you more and it's difficult to mine the asteroids for cry-
If you manage to destroy the Deathstar again, it's into warp drive
and off to the next screen.
As you progress, the number of asteroids become fewer and they become
more difficult to mine. To make matters worse, the warriors become more
aggressive as well.
The graphics are excellent and the scrolling is very smooth in all
four directions. The pace is fast and furious even on the starting
This action-packed game is recommended for all arcade gamers.
WHEN I first loaded this game into my computer, I wasn't particularly
impressed. It appeared to have shades of KILLER GORILLA, although in a
Since then, however, playing it and getting the hang of it rather
better, I have rapidly become hooked on this game.
It has that fatal quality of all super games - it becomes truly ad-
dictive, being easy to play yet difficult to master.
The rather unusual scenario is a system of underground sewers in
which our hero, Theodore, has to counter the attentions of such noxious
creatures as Inky, Dinky and Pinky.
There are platforms on to and ffrom which Theo can leap with either a
small or a large leap.
Movement is also possible to the left or right, and these keys may be
selected once only during the loading of the game.
Moving from the initial platform, which promptly vanishes, Theo has a
habit of travelling continously. But with practice, his speed can be ad-
justed, and he can even come to rest.
As the creatures bounce their way from top to the bottom of the
screen, there are two courses of action open to the player.
You can merely avoid them, or gain points and sweet revenge by jump-
ing up and knocking the creature above off its feet. But some need
rather more persuasion than others to topple.
If Theo can then leap on to that level and kick the stranded creature
off, there are bonus points to be had. But too long a delay brings a
metamorphosis into an even more deadly beast.
The authors have also kindly included a Zap button which, on being
headbutted, has the effect of scoring for all the animals currently on
the screen, and also any coins.
These tend to appear in the oddest places and bring you further
However, this little kindness on their part is countered by the
malign water balls, which bounce strangely around on the more difficult
It's a little strange to begin with, but it will soon become a
favourite in your collection.
EIFFEL TOWER is a program designed to help tourists in France or people
studying the French language.
The basic idea is that you are given a French word and you have to
type in its English equivalent.
If you get the correct answer, a small piece of well-known Paris
landmark is constructed on your screen. if you're wrong the correct
answer is given and you are asked the same question again.
The program ends when you have built the Eiffel Tower, which requires
21 correct responses.
Before the program starts you can choose which of twenty different
topics you wish to translate. There are ten on each side of the cass-
One of the options is to put in your own set of words. It's a pity no
documentation tells you what the topics are before you load them.
This program is really a disappointment. The graphics are of a fairly
mediocre standard. And, as is often the case in educational programs,
the noise annoys. Fortunately, there is a silent option.
The words - 420 in all - cover a fair vocabulary in basic French and
the arrangement of words in groups should aid revision. The graphic re-
ward of the Eiffel Tower would only keep young children happy. It
doesn't really tie up with the questions.
There is nothing wrong with the structure of the program. It runs
smoothly without any hitches.
However it is not up to Chalksoft's normal high standards. Unless you
are really addicted to computer learning, a good phrase book might do
just as well.
FIRIENWOOD is a 100 per cent machine code adventure which makes up in
presentation and speed what it lacks in difficulty.
An evil wizard gas stolen the fabled Golden Bird of Paradise.
Your task is to search Firienwood in order to find and enter the
If you can then overcome the wizard and free the golden bird, you
will receive untold riches and happiness for the rest of your life, plus
an invitation to play the adventure again.
The game seems to concentrate more on difficulties than problems.
For instance, you have to cross a river, but the boat you wish to use
will only hold you and a certain number of objects. There are more ob-
jects than you can take with you, so what do you take?
M & P tell me there are a few ways of solving the game. I only used
one - but, from the number of locations and puzzles that seemed to have
no bearing on my solution to the adventure, I think they must be right.
The vocabulary is fairly extensive and most of the GET, DROP and
EXAMINE type of verbs are recognised as well as a few you wouldn't ex-
The only drawback to this adventure is the market it seems to be aim-
I can't see an experienced adventurer taking more than a couple of
hours to solve the game - and surely there aren't that many novice ad-
However, if you ARE a novice - better yet, if you have never tried an
adventure before and are wondering where to start - then this is the ad-
venture for you!
It is free from spelling mistakes that sometimes plague even the more
Also the on-screen display is not off-putting, which novices some-
times find to be the case with the normal black-and-white display that
we purists prefer.
Overall, definitely for the beginner, but should not be completely
dismissed by the more experienced player.
THE object in this text adventure is to aid King Ardanga, Indomitable
Lord of the Fiery Kingdoms.
Somehow, Arfa, the greedy dwarf, has stolen three jewels. What the
noble king wants is his treasure returned and the evidence of Arfa's
You start at the top of a staircase leading down to the caverns where
the dwarf is thought to live and the problems start at once.
Some of there are very straightforward, but it won't be long before
you're falling through trap-doors or having stalactites drop on you.
It's a well written adventure with a fast response time and great
attention paid to creating atmosphere.
This starts with the booklet which comes with the program. It not on-
ly gives adventuring hints but also contains a proclamation from the
King and details of your quest, the dwarf Arfa and the castle.
The graphics in the booklet are excellent and this is a better place
for them than in the game itself. The quality continues with the loca-
tion descriptions which are varied and interesting.
The program knows around 230 words and these are not just verbs and
nouns. There are also adverbs and adjectives. Commands such as "CRAWL
EAST QUIETLY" are understood.
I have to confess I haven't found Arfa or any jewels, but it's a
program I can't resist and I keep having another try.
I'm certainly pleased that the load and save position facilities
work smoothly and easily.
This is a program for the more experienced adventurer and it scores
highly in my top ten adventures.
THIS was one of the first languages to appear on cassette for the Elec-
tron, and at last the full implementation is available on ROM Cartridge
for the Plus 1.
Priced at 29.95, it may seem expensive, but represents a considerable
advance on the tape version reviewed in Electron User, February 1985.
The LISP cartridge takes precedence on power-up, and typing VERSION
tells us that this is version 5.
Turnonthe garbage collector messages and force a collection, and we
will find we have 16.6k available in Mode 6. The extra memory available
to the ROB mased LISP allows several enhancements - larger programs,
graphics, neater recursive functions instead of loops, and less time
Apart from these benefits of extra memory, how much more do you get
for your well-earned money?
I knew that LISP came on a 16k ROM and was surprised to see the cart-
ridge contained ten example programs, including games, educational prog-
rams, utilities and graphics. I was even more surprised when I couldn't
find these programs in the ROM on disassembly. Efficient packaging?
Tokenising? No, the cartridge also contains a 16k serial ROM.
The examples are all taken from the Acornsoft book, which must be
bought separately, and are loaded by selecting the ROM filing system and
*EXECing the file.
When you need, say, a sort function, this can be read from ROM as if
it were typed from the keyboard, thus saving time and energy.
In a language where every machine has its own dialect, Acornsoft LISP
could well set some form of standard for micro-Lisps.
There's no PROG function but LISP being the friendly, flexible lang-
uage it is, this can be defined if you simply cannot do without GOTOs.
The OBLIST contains 130 indentifiers, compared to 114 for the tape.
Extra facilities include MODE, USR, binary operators, TIME/CLOCK func-
tions, warm or cold start from a break, and textual error messages.
The lack of a MODE command was the only serious drawback of the cass-
ette, which included lots of functions (ONEP, ZEROP, ADD1, SUB1, CAR/CDR
combinations) which are very easily defined in LISP.
The VDU22 command can be used to change from one mode to another that
use the same amount of RAM, say from 4 to 5, but not from Mode 6 to 3.
Since MODE has a delayed effect - it waits until the next 'Evaluate:'
prompt is displayed - there may still be occasions when VDU22 is needed,
but in general MODE is a very useful function to have.
There is, however, a serious problem with this LISP - it is extremely
difficult to get hold of.
This is a great shame, because it is a superb implementation of an
exceptionally interesting computer language, and 32k of ROM at this
price is a real bargain.
WE'VE all heard about a manic character who has been very popular on
other micros and many people have wondered whether such a game was
available for the Electron.
The search is now over because Durell have come up with MINESHAFT.
Your job is to collect the coal that has been left scattered about in
each of twenty different rooms and then make your way to the next room.
The controls are simple - just left, right and jump - which makes the
game easy to learn.
Like all good games though, it's a tough one to master. There are
many problems to overcome. These range from water drops to furnaces and
from mutant matches to mine trucks.
To make matters worse, you're running out of air and some of the
jumps you have to perform are, to say the least, near suicidal.
As you learn the game you'll probably need the three lives you are
given for each level but with practice some screens become possible.
Having said that, "The Impossible Screen" still beats me but my son,
aged eight, says it's easy.
All the rooms have interesting names such as The Pink Grotto or
Should you manage to complete all twenty screens, you start again but
due to your state of exhaustion you use your air more quickly.
Techincally the game is excellent, with smooth flicker-free graphics
which make good use of Mode 5 colour but are also quite clear in mono-
A very pleasant rendition of Greensleeves is available as an option
but there is no other sound.
A particular plus with MINESHAFT is that by pressing ESCAPE you move
on to the next screen with a full set of lives again.
Just occasionally though, the program is seized by a little devil who
covers the screen with blobs. Pressing ESCAPE seems to sort out this
In short, MINESHAFT is a quality game which is simple in concept but
absolutely addictive. Strongly recommended.
HERE'S a game for all you budding world champions out there, just itch-
ing to climb into the seat of a fast, powerful car and drive to victory!
In this motor racing simulation from Superior Software, you are in
control of a potential race-winning car weaving through a seemingly end-
less field of cars through five different stages - rolling fields,
night, snow, desert and riverside scenes.
Sounds easy? Well, believe me it isn't. To qualify for each stage you
must finish within the top twelve, which is signified by the bonus going
into the blue region of the indicator at the top of the screen.
This is no easy task. To qualify, you will have to compromise between
speed and avoiding crashes which will reset your speed to zero, leaving
you to start once more the steady acceleration up to a stomach-churning
225 miles an hour to reach the elusive goal.
To add to this the stages get progressively harder with the realistic
effect of skidding on the snow and riverside scenes.
The 3D graphic effects are superbly executed with sharply drawn moun-
tains and pyramids staying elusively in the distance as your car eats up
The animation of the cars' movement is smooth and the good use of
colours greatly enhances the effect, making your red car easy to pick
out amongst your blue opponents.
The screen display is also very neatly set out with various indicat-
ors showing your speed, score and bonus.
However, despite this I do have a few minor criticisms to make. The
fact that I was given no option to turn the sound off proved to quite an
annoyance, as when you accelerate and decelerate there are sounds moving
accordingly in a chromatic scale.
If you leave your speed constant the sound too remains constant,
leaving an often piercing noise ringing constantly in your ears while
This is my main criticism although I would have also liked to have
seen a few bends to negotiate and would have preferred a name input in
the five-place high score table.
Nevertheless these criticisms do not detract from the enjoyment of
the game. Although obviously it does not provide the realism of a steer-
ing wheel, the game controls are very simple. There are four keys - Z
for left, X for right, * and ? for acceleration and deceleration.
This ease of use and the smooth, well-executed graphics, together
with it being, to my knowledge, the only motor-racing simulation on the
Electron market, make OVERDRIVE well worth a look.
BEEBUGSOFT have steadily gained a good reputation among owners of the
BBC and Electron micros, and so I was pleased to receive this cassette
There have been other drawing packages for the Electron, and it is
perhaps important to look for enhancements and original features.
One telling point for this program is that there are too many options
to fit into the main menu, and so there are some placed in a secondary
menu which has to accessed from the first.
The options are "acquired" in a rather IKON-like style, with the cur-
sor being moved by the keyboard or joystick to the symbol.
Certain "dangerous" options have to be acquired twice by the Space
bar, thus providing a safety net for unwary users.
Working in Mode 0, 1 or 2, there is a wide range of colours available
with the most colourful screens being of course in Mode 2.
Shapes can be drawn using a continuous row of dots, using any colour,
with colour changes easily being made at any point.
The dot can be replaced by a brush of variable width, and also vari-
able shape, including a very powerful option to define your own shape of
Just these few options kept me occupied for quite a while as I ex-
plored their potential by drawing variations of triangles, rectangles,
circles and more complex shapes.
As is almost standard now, there's a rubber band facility. This
allows for accurate placement of shapes by showing what is about to
appear on-screen just before the final selection is made.
Indeed, another colour may still be chosen while in this mode, thus
increasing the possibilities.
Shapes can be infilled, although complex shapes tend to need several
Text can easily be interspersed with the graphics, and this is just
one of the range of features whose use is clearly displayed in the
accompanying 48-page booklet.
This is essential reading if the true potential of this system is to
be fully exploited and explored.
With GCOL options available, and the colour palette changeable,
there is enough to bewilder or excite any user.
I have used other drawing packages on the Electron, but I haven't
found a better one yet.
YOU don't have to be a wizard to play the latest pinball.
This is a simulation of the classic pre-electronic arcade game known
I dimly remember spending my school lunch hours battling forth, pit-
ting my wits against the machine. The ring of bells and beep of buzzers
Since then I've grown old on Bar Billiards, then Space Invaders, and
lately the dreaded adventure game - but mention pinball and my eyes mist
If you don't remember pinball or if you're of the Space Invader gen-
eration, then here's the problem.
A silver ball bounces its way around obstacles on the top of a tilted
table. Using two flippers, you have to stp the silver ball falling out
of play at the bottom of the table.
By skilfully controlling them you can guide it towards the high-scor-
ing areas. Lights, buzzers and bells show when and where the points are
This program has excellent graphics that bring the alive the thrill
of the game. The ball moves realistically from buffer to buffer with
that element of randomness always present in the original machines.
Unfortunately, the sounds don't reflect the true pinball. I suppose
that is the price of progress.
Gone are the solenoids and bells, buzzers and bumpers, and in return
we have electronic noise.
My great enthusiasm for this game was slightly marred by the apparent
slowness of its response. However, I feel that the computer is truly re-
flecting the pinball machine.
I regret to say that the first pinball was slow compared to our elec-
I guess it must have been the endurance of our concentration over
spans of inactive observation that made it a challenge.
There's no tilt to the game, so key-bashing won't be penalised.
There's no need for joysticks but it would've been better if the two
fire buttons were used to operate the flippers.
Generally this is a good game, certainly different from the usual ar-
cade action. Disappointing to my sensitive memories, but entertaining
all the same.
READ RIGHT AWAY is a series of four packs each containing two programs
designed to give children pracitce in reading. Here I'll be reviewing
the packs for older children.
Pack 3, aimed at ages 7-10, contains two programs, Magic E and Break-
The two programs in Pack 4, Sortout and Letterbugs, are aimed at 8-11
The teaching is based upon the phonics approach of sounding out in-
dividual letters to make a complete word.
The first pack I tried had an exercise with magic e's, that trailing
vowel that changes the vowel sounds of bit into bite and hat into hate.
The object of the game is to rescue a damsel from the top of a tower
by building a ladder of four of these magic e words.
The program contains a vocabulary of over a hundred words, divided
into fifteen groups.
The random selection guaranteed that repetition was not a real prob-
The sexist nature of the presentation appals me and is quite un-
necessary. The teaching of reading does not have to portray the inequal-
ities of sexual stereotypes.
Break-in, on the other hand, makes a mockery of the police. If the
child succeeds in helping them capture the four burglars, the policemen
dance up and down the screen...
The educational principle is sound. The child has to discriminate be-
tween the soft and hard g and c sounds.
This program, like the others, requires the use of the RETURN and
However, there's been no attempt to protect the BREAK key. Touching
it causes the program to be totally lost, not even OLD and RUN will res-
This is very poor as the program is designed for use by young
The fourth pack in the series follows the same format as the others.
The two programs are contained on both sides of a cassette.
The box, although of a high professional standard, contains only the
minimum of details.
There is no information about the number, variety and selection of
words within the programs.
However, the screen displays are of the same bold, clear and inter-
esting format. Sound is used throughout to stimulate and help the user
of the program.
Sortout is an exercise in putting letters and words into alphabetical
sequence. The child has to control a lift using the up and down cursor
There are three types of problems and two levels of difficulty.
As with the other games, up to four children can play in competition
with each other. However, all players must be at the same level - it's
not possible for an older child to play with a younger in fair com-
I found the Letterbug program most frustrating.
Seven words on a particular theme are represented as blocks - one for
each letter. The child has to guess at the letters.
I found that when more than one player was using the program attempts
to complete words low down on the screen wiped out the words above.
This made it nearly impossible to complete the exercise.
I had to introduce the rule that each word had to be tried in turn
starting at the top. It's obvious that such a restriction was not in-
tended by the designers of the package.
Delving into the program itself, I discovered the extent of its
There are fourteen sets of words with between eight and eleven words
in each set. The topics include trees, boys' names, metals, pets, in-
sects, countries and planets.
The variety and grouping of words is rather restricted. It would have
been an advantage if phonically related words had been grouped together.
There is no facility for new sets of words to be added to the prog-
Computers have a lot to offer the teachers of reading. They should
also play an important role in the home.
This program has some serious drawbacks that professionally-produced,
teacher-inspired programs should not have.
However, it's better than nothing. If the program creates a situation
where parent and child work together in reading, where the child can
show off his or her ability and where reading can be fun, then that must
be a good thing.
Despite my reservations, I'll use these programs with my kids.
HIGHLIGHT Software aims this pack at five to eight year olds and it's
designed to help develop reading skills.
There are two programs on the tape, and each can be played by an in-
dividual or by up to four people in competition.
The first game is called Splashdown and the idea is to collect a let-
ter to complete a three letter word.
You have a boat with two letters already in it. When an aeroplane
flies over, flashing in your colour, you must press a letter that will
complete a word.
If correct, the letter drops into the boat, which then sinks. Sink
five boats and you are the winner.
Any player who completes five words in the same round is a winner,
and is rewarded by having a submarine pull a "win" banner to his name.
This program is well constructed and seems to have a good vocabulary.
Different skill levels refer to the number of permitted mistakes.
There is also an option to give each player the same two letters -
all of which make a different word when completed.
One other very useful option is the choice of which of the three let-
ters is missing from a word.
The graphics are pleasing and good use is made of double-sized letter-
ing. A good program.
The second program, Firefight, is probably aimed at the eight year
olds rather than the fives.
You play the part of a fireman who must rescue a girl from a burning
house. To reach her you must cross some burning gaps.
These can be bridged by selecting the appropriate two letters to com-
plete a word.
There are four gaps to fill, and then the fireman can reach the girl
and carry her to safety.
As in the first game, there are good graphics and double-height text
and a useful range of consonant blends to practice with.
One gripe with this program is the use of cursor keys, which are too
near Break. This is a bad mistake in software designed for young child-
A problem with both programs is that the auto repeat is left on.
Again, youngsters are inclined to be heavy-handed on the keyboard and
this little bug can cause frustration.
Overall, though, this is a good package.
It appeals to children, and people looking for educational software
could well consider this one, especially as there are three more packs
in the series. These aim to develop word-building skills with six to
eleven year olds.
REPTON is the latest, and claims to be the best, release from Superior
Software, one of the leading Electron software houses.
In short, it is.
It's one of those arcade-style adventure games with you playing the
part of our hero, Repton.
His mission is to retrieve all the diamonds from a series of twist-
ing underground caves.
Unfortunately, the caverns are also full of precariously-balanced
rocks that tend to drop on you if you dig under them.
They're often arranged so that if you loosen some before others, they
fall in the wrong order and seal off the passage to certain diamonds
In later caverns the diamonds lie underneath giant eggs which fall
and hatch into ferocious reptiles when you take the diamond.
Needless to say, they then spend all their time chasing after you.
In even later caverns, you have to open a safe using a special key
that you must find.
Now for the technical side. The entire screen acts as a window on to
the area of the cavern you're in, so that you can only see a sixteenth
of the cavern.
As you move, the view through the window scrolls very smoothly in
the appropriate direction.
Repton is a colourful green-headed character and is beautifully an-
imated. If you don't move him, he starts looking round of his own
Not to be outdone, the reptiles strike a fearsome pose with their
webbed feet and yellow bellies.
At any time during play you can look at a map of the entire cavern to
see where the remaining diamonds are.
After completing each screen you're given a password enabling you to
skip that screen in the future.
There are twelve caverns in all, getting progressively harder.
This is an astounding game reaching new heights in Electron arcade
So if you feel that you're an Indiana Jones type then go out and buy
THIS is the first Kansas adventure I've managed to get a look at and I'm
Although written in Basic, the responses are excellent and a peek at
the listing shows that a lot of work has gone into producing the prog-
Right. Now for the plot.
Legend tells of a "timering" belonging to Zor, an evil magician of
the Middle Ages. Your task is to search for and find the ring. No easy
task, I can assure you.
I won't reveal too much about the game. There is one problem, how-
ever, that is likely to stump you - how to get past the crocodiles.
This is a bit nasty, but man's best friend should come in handy here.
The other problems are totally logical (in retrospect).
A good atmosphere is generated by wise use of room descriptions, but
don't try TAKEing the things you are told about, most of them aren't
Incidentally, Kansas gives a lifetime guarantee on its cassettes.
This, along with the reasonable price of the game seems quite good to
There is a superb puzzle involving a locked door and a piece of par-
chment that isn't all it seems. But I'll leave the pleasure of finding
out exactly what I mean for you to discover.
The program itself does get a bit frustrating in that it doesn't
recognise GET and all the verbs I tried had to be typed in full.
For instance, you have to type in EXAMINE, EXAM isn't recognised.
Possibly I'm just getting lazy.
The actual level of the adventure is aimed at the average player.
However I think beginners will find it interesting, though the more ex-
perienced player shouldn't take all that long to solve it.
Overall, a well-linked plot that's very nice to play, and a well-
priced product that's good value for money. More please.
SOME while ago, when computers were things owned by rather strange peo-
ple with more money than sense, I went to see a program called ELIZA.
It was almost the first program I can remember seeing, and it made a
great impression on me.
It seemed that the computer could be spoken to through the keyboard,
and that it actually answered back in an intelligent manner.
Such programs are old hat now, but this cassette might be interesting
for those keen on artificial intelligence, for it gives a marvellous
insight into the way such a program is written.
The main menu allows several options, one of which is to load a
character from tape.
Two are provided, ASTRO and BOMB, and fans of the film and book Dark
Star will have the opportunity to convince the bomb to return to the
The accompanying booklet gives quite detailed instructions on how to
decide the characteristics of the other people, through the examples of
HELEN and RON.
Creating or altering a characters is fairly straightforward once a
little familiarity is gained.
Keywords - including short phrases - and responses can be entered or
altered, so that fairly predictable conversations can be held, either
between the two selected characters, or between the user and one of
The same keyword could provoke differing responses, but there is a
priority system which decides which response should occur.
Actually, I found the conversations themselves to be rather repeti-
tive and bland, and I was much more interested in designing characters.
However, the booklet does include a rather amusing list of possible
conversations, such as the one between a marriage guidance counsellor
and King Henry VIII.
The average Electron owner will probably get fed up with the possi-
bilities fairly quickly, but those with a particular interest in this
area will find it most worthwhile.
I can also see some value in computer studies lessons in schools.
THIS is a four screen arcade game set deep in the jungle. You take the
part of Tarzan and the object is to find Jane.
Tarzan starts on the first screen and Jane is on the last. All you
need to do is follow the arrow signs which will take you to her.
It might not sound difficult but, after an hour's play I had only
managed to master screen one - and that's the easiest.
All the dangers to be found in the jungle are here - gorillas will
crush you, poisonous snakes will bite you and monkeys will drop coconuts
on your head.
There are also waterfalls, rivers with floating logs and crocodiles
In addition to these obstacles are the usual collection of mean-look-
Screen one invloves ducking under a snake slithering down from a
tree. Just past this are several lifts which you up to different plat-
Next you have to leap across a deep chasm to another platform. Watch
out for the monkey with coconuts here.
Then jump the next chasm, up the lift and wait for a particularly
nasty disembodied head with gnashing teeth to move to the correct posi-
A couple of leaps and it's on to the next screen.
TARZAN BOY is a Mode 2 game with a surprising number of moving ob-
jects. The Electron isn't noted for its speed in this mode, but although
Tarzan moves a little slowly, generally the animation is fast and
You won't be disappointed with TARZAN BOY. It's one of the best
levels-type of games released in the past couple of months.
IF you spend a lot of time at a typewriter, and if your typing is any-
thing like mine, you'd be better off with a word processor.
Basically, this enables you to type your letter or document directly
into your Electron.
The text can then be altered, corrected and manipulated very easily
and then, when it's finished, it can be printed out.
Acornsoft have converted the BBCs word processor, VIEW, for the
Electron to take advantage of the Plus 1.
It's a ROM cartirdge which means that all of the Electron's RAM is
available for storing the text.
VIEW is selected in preference to Basic on powerup or alter a hard
break. A * command such as *BASIC can be used to leave VIEW. Peculiarly
though *WORD is used to select VIEW.
Initially you are in command mode and there are twenty five commands
available. NEW, LOAD, SAVE and MODE are fairly obvious. LOAD won't work
with cassette, however - you have to READ it in instead.
Other straightforward commands are PRINT which prints the text using
the printer, SCREEN which prints the text on the screen, and COUNT
counts the number of words.
The maximum amount of RAM available for text is about 16k if you have
a Plus 3 disc drive and about 20k with tape or a Cumana system. This is
in Mode 6.
If you like working in Mode 0 though, there can be as little as 4k of
memory left to hold your masterpiece.
The amount of memory free isn't really a problem. Files that are too
large to fit in the memory can easily be worked on using the EDIT com-
mand. This reads in a more manageable chunk of the text.
When you've finished editing the section, typing MORE will save it
and load in the next chunk of text. When you have completely finished,
just type FINISH. It's really quite simple.
Escape toggles between text mode and command mode.
On entering text mode, you find yourself faced with a rather bewild-
ering array of commands. There are 44 immediate commands and 23 other
commands that can be stored in the text.
Virtually every key on the keyboard does something. At first I was
afraid to touch the keyboard for fear of destroying any text I had typed
Even after using it for several months, I still have to consult the
function key strip supplied with VIEW.
One of the advantages of VIEW over some other word processors is that
what appears on the screen is what appears on the paper.
It's very easy to lay out the text exactly how you want it to be
printed and see what it looks like.
Another plus is that the text stays where it is - whenever possible -
and it's the cursor that moves.
This is more natural than having the cursor fixed on a line and the
text continuously scrolling up and down, as with some word processors.
VIEW works in any mode and as printers generally print in 80 columns
it's convenient to work in Mode 3 if you have a monitor.
Any string of characters can be CHANGEd to any other string of char-
acters or searched for. Non printable characters and wild cards can be
Any string of characters can also be selectively REPLACEd by any
Either Y or N must be pressed to indicate whether each match found is
to be replaced or not.
All the stored commands affect the way text is printed out.
The text can be placed anywhere on the page. Left and right margins
can be set and headers and footers defined. The two letter commands to
do this are placed in the margin - they won't be printed out of course.
The immediate commands act, as the name suggests, immediately on the
text. They are accessed by holding the CAPS LK/FUNC key down and press-
ing one of the other keys.
The cursor can be moved anywhere on the screen and the text scrolled
forwards and backwards and text can be entered in insert or overwrite
In insert mode, the text is pushed along and the text inserted. In
overwrite mode, text is written over what is currently at the cursor.
Blank lines can be inserted and lines can be deleted with a single
keypress. Lines can also be split to form new paragraphss and concate-
nated to join them again.
There are several commands which act on a block.
To define a section of text as a block, markers are placed at the
start and end.
The block can then be deleted, moved to a different part of the text,
copied, formatted, saved, counted, searched, changed and loaded.
VIEW has a macro facility. This means that any section of text can be
given a two-letter name.
* * *
[This review is continued in the file R.VIEW2]
*** Acornsoft's VIEW Review Continuation ***
Whenever this text is needed, there's no need to type it in - just enter
the name in the margin instead. This is very useful for standard letters
which may have the same address and text.
My only criticisms are thatit is sometimes slow in Modes 0 to 3.
This isn't serious though, and is partly the Electron's fault anyway.
What is serious is the total lack of any means of inserting printer
The printer must be set up before entering VIEW. If you've entered
VIEW and loaded your text file, then there isn't any way of altering the
It is often necessary to swap between the different styles of print
within a document. The title may be in bold, the points needing empha-
sising in italics, and other important bits may need underlining. This
is impossible with VIEW.
There is a printer driver program available, though, but you
shouldn't need a program to patch up what should've been included
Apart from these grumbles, I like VIEW.
It's easy to use, very powerful and flexible.
For a straight printout it is excellent, but if you need to swap
print styles within the text it isn't so good.
It's probably my most used ROM. Recommended.