Your Spectrum is continuing to scour the country's computer clubs to get the undiluted thoughts, feelings and impressions of dedicated games enthusiasts - thus providing our readers with unbiased evaluations. Any club wishing to offer their reviewing services should contact Ron Smith, Spectrum Soft, 14 Rathbone Place, London W1P 1DE.
|This month we visited the Heald Green Computer Club (which meets fortnightly at the Public Hall, Outward Road, Heald Green, Cheadle, Cheshire, on Wednesdays from 7:30 to l0:30pm). Three of the club's leading members each played the games we gave them for review and in some cases found them so well-conceived and written, went completely over the top with the||
superlatives. In others, the games
were deemed to be re-hashes of
old ideas and evaluated
The club was formed four months ago, and has already managed to attract over 40 enthusiasts. All members are being brought up to the same standard of proficiency by the more experienced members who are running formal courses in
both Basic and machine code. |
Membership is offered at a very reasonable rate, and all enquiries should be referred to Tony Samuels on nnn-nnnnnnn (after 6pm). Tony, incidentally, is currently working on a new program for the Spectrum (called Ugh! - see Rumbles in this issue) which will be available from Softek in the near future.
Virgin Games / £5.95
Control the 'Spectron fighting robot' and avoid the various obstacles while blasting the meanie robots to bits; and all this takes place in an area that's contained by an electrified fence.
Mark This variation of Berserk is fairly fast, but doesn't seem to live up to its boast of having been written in 100 per cent machine code. And it doesn't make much use of colour or the Spectrum's graphics capabilities. 4/10
John This program's best feature is the instructions which appear on-screen at the start. These explain clearly how to play and, should the user forget, there's always the cassette insert. 4/10
Tony The idea behind this game is a variation on a simple theme, but is made more complex by having several different enemies. It's a pity only simple block graphics are used. 5/10
Silversoft / £5.95
Rioting robots run amok in this maze game, and your job is to stop them as quickly as possible by carefully controlling your robot to plant bombs that will destroy the mutinous menaces.
Tony This is essentially a Pacman game in reverse. Instead of eating dots, the player has to lay them. The theme is original and highly addictive, but in play, feels a little too slow for comfort, and the keys aren't too responsive. 7/10
Mark The player's robot is very controllable, and the first level starts at a reasonable speed - which increases with successive levels. With superb graphics and colour, this must surely be the best Pacman game ever. 8/10
John Everything involved in this game is excellent, from the impressive on-screen scoring to the cassette inlay. This is undoubtedly Silversoft's best. 9/10
Games Machine / £6.95
This is a 3D maze game in which the player has to collect coins, crosses, gemstones and keys that'll open gates. All the while one has to avoid the skulls that stay in constant pursuit.
Tony 3D maze games may not be exactly new on the Spectrum, but this idea is and it's also very exciting. Skull is not what is usually understood by the word colourful, but its use has produced some quietly stunning graphic effects. 8/10
John The skulls come close to the standard of a professional illustration. The treasure doesn't reach the same standards of excellence, although it can still be identified. 9/10
Mark The instructions on the cassette insert are very comprehensive. There's also a keyboard overlay to help the player get the hang of the controls. Highly recommended. 9/10
Games Machine / £5.95
Snails are being bred in a laboratory and two of them escape - one of which is controlled by the player. As they move they leave a trail of Super Glue. And it's your task to trap the other snail, at the same time avoiding your own trail and that of the fellow escapee - all in an effort to avoid a sticky end.
Mark The speed of this game, which can be selected by the player, ranges from very fast to unplayable. The graphics are almost non-existent... even the snail is only one pixel big. 6/10
John Use of colour is fairly dull, with the screen starting off about 80 per cent blue and two white snails leaving two white trails as they go. 5/10
Tony The speed ranges from fast to ridiculous; it's virtually unplayable, and made worse by the two-colour screen and the distinct lack of graphics. 4/10
Automata / £6.00
Automata's Pi-man is on the great slippery slope and sees life through a drunken haze. The player's job is to help him negotiate his way across a busy main road and into the nearest pub.
John This is definitely one of the most amusing new games, in concept at least, to come on to the market. Sometimes the action seemed a little too fast, especially as the Pi-man became even more inebriated. 8/10
Mark Colour was used well throughout, but not spectacularly; the pub scenes were the best in terms of graphical excellence. But the game opens a little slowly, with the keys not responding too well to the player's directions. 7/10
Tony Ten out of ten for novelty value, but as is so often the case, the novelty soon wears off. There's also an amusing little song on the reverse of the tape. 8/10
Visions / £9.95
A computer simulation of the real-life game that theoretically allows the player to enjoy snooker without the need of a cumbersome table. It's a fairly new idea on the Spectrum.
John The speed is very irregular. Still, it's not easy to adequately reproduce the movement of a ball on screen. More effort could have gone into the graphics; the balls are not very well defined. 6/10
Tony Problems occur with colour. For example, it's not possible to have a green ball on a green table. Some of the balls are therefore represented by non-standard colours. 6/10
Mark Comprehensive instructions appear on the cassette insert, as you'd never remember them all straight away. The program has one slight technical problem - if the ZX Interface 1 is connected, it doesn't work. 7/10
HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Phipps Associates / £5.95
Another maze game where each maze represents (at a guess) a floor in a haunted hotel. The aim is to tear around picking up the four sections of a key, and assembling them while avoiding the evil spirits. This done, the player can move on to a harder level with more sprites.
John This game has a highly original theme but looks rather like Pacman without the dots. The graphics are extremely good, with flapping bats and a skeleton with a funny walk. 7/10
Tony Instructions were a little scarce, screen layout is exceptional but there could have been a greater variety of monsters in a 48K program. 8/10
Mark The speed of this game is just about right and colour has been used to good effect, enhancing the well-defined graphics. It also includes a very nice loading display. 8/10
Mikro-Gen / £5.95
A pet monkey is hiding up a tree and mischievously trying to drop both bananas and coconuts on to its owner's head. All the player has to do is stand on the ground endeavouring to catch as many bananas as possible, while carefully avoiding the heavy coconuts.
Tony A highly original game, but one that falls short of being addictive because not a lot seems to happen. The other problem is that the choice of colours is not as good as it could be. 5/10
John A fast, uncontrollable game that uses cyan as its main colour - which doesn't help the tedium. The graphics are good, especially when the monkey's owner slips on the bananas. 6/10
Mark It's a pity that the playing speed can't be altered, because the game often seems too fast to control properly. You can, however, define your own keys. 6/10
Postern / £6.95
This looks like some sort of educational cross between Hangman, anagrams and crosswords. The game begins with a line of dashes that show where the letters go, with the letters appearing - jumbled up - on the right-hand side of the screen.
Tony There's minimal use of colour, but that's not surprising in a text-only game. But more use of it might just have encouraged the very young to play the game a little longer. 6/10
John This is a user-friendly program with a well laid-out screen that's easy to see and a useful Help option. An enjoyable game to play. 7/10
Mark This is a fairly interesting program to play - especially so if you like your word games even more difficult, with the clues being given as a jumbled-up mess! Overall, absorbing and good to while away a few hours. 7/10
Incentive Software / £5.50
A game of government management that asks the player to use their judgement on the complex inter-related issues that govern the performance of the national economy. As the British Prime Minister, all you have to do is stay in power until 1999!
Tony Speed, although not particularly important, could probably have been improved upon; the program looks as though it's been written in Basic. But the real enjoyment comes from the daunting task of running the country. 7/10
John Being more or less a text-only game, colour and speed are of little importance; but they're used to good effect in both cases. 8/10
Mark The idea behind this game is both topical and interesting; it's ideal for economists and anyone else who would like to have a go. 7/10
Postern / £6.95
The player takes on the role of the Dinky Digger, whose job it is to dig his way underground and eat all the cherries. At the same time, irate chasers are desperately trying to halt your progress, and these need to be stopped.
John When playing, it soon becomes clear that the baddies move a lot faster than the Dinky Digger - which makes the securing of their destruction virtually impossible. 5/10
Tony The main fault with this game is that it's simply too hard. The poor presentation spoils the overall appearance of what is essentially a good idea. 6/10
Mark The idea behind this game is a good one but it gets lost somewhere, due to the unsophisticated and unpolished finished product. Nevertheless, it's playable and moderately enjoyable. 6/10
CDS Microsystems / £5.95
This is one of those tunnelling maze games where the player's character - a wizard - makes his own maze as he goes. The idea is to defeat the magic meanies whilst picking up all the lead which can be transformed into gold.
Mark There are already a few games of this type, but this is one of the better ones. Nine speed levels are included, and these begin quite easily, increasing to a level where a high degree of manual dexterity is required. 8/10
John Colour and graphics, although not spectacular, are certainly adequate, giving a reasonable amount of enjoyment The plot is rather silly, but the game's very addictive. 7/10
Tony The graphics used in this game are a little limited - because they're one graphic block in size, and move only one block at a time. 8/10
CP Software / £5.95
The title really speaks for itself; a simulation of the old arcade favourite, and a rather complex one at that, complete with flippers, spring action firing, bumpers, and many others.
Tony This game is so well written that everything works as it does on a real pinball machine. The flippers move instantaneously, and the scoring makes excellent use of sound. 9/10
Mark The perfect choice of colour and superb graphics all go to make this a most amazing simulation. Ball movement is impressive and very realistic. 10/10
John A brilliant idea that's totally absorbing and so addictive it makes this game one of the best to have been put on the Spectrum. Only one thing: perhaps it would have been nice if a change of scenery had been included. 10/10
Ocean / £6.90
Based on a classic theme, the player's job is to enact the part of Quasimodo and rescue the beautiful Esmerelda while avoiding the guards and fireballs, and having to jump over pits of fire. At the end of each screen Quasimodo must ring 'the bells, the bells'.
John 'Quasi' is quite easy to control, but the 3D effect sometimes makes it a bit difficult to judge when to jump and so on. Nevertheless, that's not really a problem, and the speed of the game is quite comfortable throughout. 8/10
Tony One really amusing thing about the game is that 'Quasi' looks like he's wearing high heels, and the guard seems to be doing a goose-step. 8/10
Mark One teeny weeny 'bug' seems to be present - 'Quasi' can't use the bridges the knight builds. Still, it doesn't spoil the player's enjoyment one bit. 9/10
Hewson Consultants / £5.95
This is another flight simulator package, but one that is able to fit into 16K. You take the controls of a 'Cessna'-type plane and negotiate a safe landing.
Tony Two outstanding features of this game are the speed at which it responds to your commands, and the choice of colour. Both are so good, that they make flying this plane less difficult than those found in other simulators. 9/10
John A very useful feature is the clear 3D representation of the runway; apart from this, though, nothing else can be seen from the cockpit as you're flying at night. 8/10
Mark The program offers as many as seven options; such as looking at your position or going into training mode. The colour is used well, but not extensively and the graphics are superb. It's also joystick compatible. 9/10
[The screenshot in the magazine was taken from Nightflite I, not Nightflite II - and they also got the spelling wrong. I've corrected them both here.]
Gem Software / £5.95
You're on an expedition to the ancient Pharaoh's tomb, to control a party of explorers so that they bump into five royal mummies. You do this by finding keys, treasure and magic scrolls, all the time avoiding the tomb's guards.
John This game has five speeds which range from fast to virtually impossible. Although all the colours of the spectrum (no pun intended) are used, the overall effect is a sort of orange haze - making its use average but not spectacular. 6/10
Mark The guards and yourself are represented by simple block graphics which give little detail; however, the various artefacts are better defined. 7/10
Tony Despite the simple but pleasant little tune that's played at the start, the overall effect could have been far better. The picture on the cassette insert, however, is excellent. 6/10
Imagine Soffware / £5.50
A graphic adventure game where the player takes on the role of an alchemist, and must collect various objects and the four parts of the destruction spell to aid him in his quest to kill the evil warlock.
John This is certainly the most original game to come from Imagine. Its use of colour must have stretched the Spectrum to its limits (if not beyond), and includes the smoothest, flicker-free, high resolution graphics ever produced on this machine. 9/10
Tony The eagle looks like an eagle, the wizard's movement is realistic and the use of sound is excellent. There's only one small problem - the 'baddies' move too fast. 9/10
Mark The speed of this game is just right when you first play it, but seems a little slow as your expertise increases. Highly recommended. 9/10
Bug-Byte / £5.95
The aim of the game is to protect Watford from hostile attack (Why bother? Ed.), and this is done by taking control of a Gamma 14 flight craft and winging your way through long narrow caverns, shotting out the enemy rockets' fuel dumps and destroying meteors.
Tony This is an incredibly fast game considering the amount going on, but the graphics aren't very appealing, neither is the choice of colour. 5/10
John It's a bit quick in the early stages, but this is far from a disadvantage. On the contrary, it quickly makes the player more skilful, and better prepared for the later stages. 7/10
Mark Colour is well used which makes the player's own craft, as well as the assorted aliens, stand out against the background. The graphics are smooth and fast. 8/10
Dk'Tronics / £6.95
This is one of those slide puzzles, the kind that used to be found in Christmas stockings and crackers every year. You start with a picture grid, and all the squares jumbled up; your job is to put them back in order.
Tony The pictures generated are of a particularly high standard and use colour to the best advantage. But needless to say, they are generally static and, therefore, this is less of a plus. 6/10
John Having instructed the program to move one of the squares, it shifts to the new position very quickly. Sometimes the response to the player's commands is so good, the wrong section moves. 7/10
Mark The pictures generated are superb, and the speed of the program is very fast, giving a good response time - apart from when it's jumbling the letters which takes about 15 seconds. 8/10
Melbourne House / £5.95
This is a copy of the first ever text adventure game which was written to run on a large mainframe computer. The aim of the game is to search for hidden treasure, which is often guarded, and then return it to your home base.
Tony The program responds almost immediately. And with your commands appearing in yellow and the program's messages in white, the game is fairly simple to play. 7/10
John This is a good conversion of the original which requires plenty of concentration and practice to be successful. The cassette insert is colourful and includes very comprehensive instructions. 8/10
Mark An adventure that has an extensive vocabulary, always keeps you interested and puts your brain to work. A good adaptation of the original. 9/10
Quicksilva / £6.95
You are Fred, a fearless archaeologist, and must work your way round the pyramid in search of ancient treasure. It's not quite that simple as there are ghosts, vampires and acid drops which all try to hinder your progress.
Mark This is quite an original maze game that has an unusual twist. The speed is just about right - fast enough to keep you on your toes. 8/10
Tony A game which includes many novel twists. Its use of graphics and colour is very good and the overall appearance is just about perfect. 9/10
John This is not a particularly new idea for a game, but it does have superb graphics which are large and well-formed. The instructions on the insert, are very clear and precise, and this makes the game addictive, easy to play and very user-friendly. 8/10