Your Spectrum
Issue 4, June 1984 - Rumbles
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You could be forgiven for thinking that producing a successful computer game depends merely upon writing any old piece of code, slapping it on to a tape, packaging it in an attractive box and making exaggerated claims in the advertisements - especially when you see so many Space Invader, Frogger and Pacman clones still being written. However, Mr Chip Software rather likes introducing the odd note of variety.
Some time ago, it released a sort of government management strategy game called Westminster, where the player takes on the role of Prime Minister (not an enviable position) and tries to run the country by juggling with the economy and dealing with the various opposition groups. It was written originally for the Commodore 64, but so pleased are they all with the finished product at Mr Chip's factory, the news is they've decided to re-write it for the Spectrum.
But all is not well! According to Mr Chip's Doug Brainsby, "although the game got a good response from both the public and the press, the distributors were unwilling to take it. And if their minds remain unchanged, this could lead to an even bigger problem now that we've decided to go for the (potentially) much larger Spectrum market." Distributor reactions are awaited with interest.


The latest word from Carnell Software concerns the long-awaited Wrath of Magra adventure, forming part of a series that includes Volcanic Dungeon and Black Crystal. It was announced some time ago as "coming soon", but it's still not appeared in the shops. Carnell's Simon Bassett says,

Battle Zone is an arcade-style game currently being evaluated by Quicksilva. Basically, you just have to blast those enemy tanks off the face of the Earth.
"the program's going through its final testing stage at the moment, but this is causing me all sorts of problems. It's so complex and difficult to play that it takes ages to work out exactly what's going on". So hang on in there - it should be available over the next few weeks.
As well as trying to get to grips with the Wrath of Magra, Carnell is also revamping Volcanic Dungeon, so that it'll now include high resolution graphics. And what's more, there'll be the added advantage (?) of its being compatible with Currah's MicroSpeech unit, allowing you the dubious pleasure of being able to sit back and listen to the game's vocabulary of over 100 words in electronic tones.


Moving on, Durrel Software's Harrier Attack program, although successful, apparently received a mixed reaction from the punters. A spokesperson said, "we had people complaining about it, because of the weapons, the violence and all that shooting. So, in our latest game, Scuba Dive (as featured in last issue. Ed.) we didn't even allow the odd harpoon to be fired. But still people complained." Anyway, ignoring the criticism, Durrel has decided to revert to its original theme and is currently planning a follow-up to Harrier Attack. In fact, to get it really realistic, the company is actually sending off a team of programmers to Westmoreland so they can get a feel of flying before sitting down to write their sequel.


In an effort to come up with original ideas for new computer games, some software houses are turning to familiar comic strip characters and giving them a new angle. This is just what Channel 8 Software is planning to do, anyway.
Spokesperson, John Williams, tells us that "negotiations with IPC Magazines are currently in progress. But I can't go into details at the moment as this could affect the deal." However, Mr Williams was able to confirm that Channel 8 has an idea for a program, and it's quite clear this requires the use of one of said IPC's characters. Perhaps negotiations are
faltering for he added, somewhat defiantly, "the program will still appear, even if the talks turn out to be fruitless. But that'll mean it will have to take on a slightly different form".
Could this be the start of a whole new area of computer games software?


Quicksilva is also kicking around ideas for using fictional characters but, as usual, the best that Mark Eyles could come up with was the boring "nothing's been signed yet, and it could be some time before we reach that stage". He was equally cagey about a follow-up to the company's highly successful and original Ant Attack - you know, player pitted against giant ants in an attempt to save mate, etc, etc. Mark does say that "Sandy White (the Ant Attacker himself) is coming to see us soon, so it's quite likely that a new program will be discussed." Well, well, well - what a surprise! Will the nice Mr Eyles kindly 'open up' a little more in the future ... 'Ve haf vays ov making you tok' you know.


Rabbit Software is planning a new game that will feature a fairly unlikely collection of enemies. Provisionally entitled The Pit, it's quite likely it will be called something like Vortex once it gets out of the testing stage.
According to Rabbit director, Terry Grant, "the game is set in a cavern with the player taking control of a ship". Among the obstacles to overcome will be "witches, bunnies, ghosts, televisions and funny white blobs - but I don't know quite what they are." Neither did Mr Grant seem to know the exact aim of the game, but he was sure that it was very good.
But whatever its final qualities, Rabbit is planning the added attraction of giving away a free blank tape with each copy of The Pit (or Vortex, or whatever it is going to be called). This might, of course, be quite a convenient carrot to dangle since the company's just acquired a tape duplication machine - which probably means it's got a cheap, bulk- buying deal worked out for raw tape.
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