'Sticks at the ready, the Chiltern Computer Club buckled down to some concentrated critique as they sifted through the latest bundle of software to give us their unbiased evaluations. Any club wishing to offer their reviewing services should contact Ron Smith, Spectrum Soft, 14 Rathbone Place, London W1P 1DE.
|This month, the reviewers in the YS jury hot-seat are all members of Chiltern Computer Club, Eaton Bray, near Dunstable. They are (in alphabetical order) Simon Cox, Ian Simmonds and Jon Warner. To be honest it wasn't an easy job for them, with many of the latest offerings falling short of an acceptable level - in fact,||
sheer crud in some cases. Read on to find out what (and what
not) to buy. |
The Chiltern Computer Club was formed around two years ago, and usually it manages to attract about 35 members - ages ranging from 13 years to near senility. Membership is currently £4 per year, for which potential members can expect
practical help with their computer problems, and guest
speakers and lecturers from
time to time. |
Club contacts can be made via Steve Betts, nn xxxxxxx xxxx, xxxxx xxxx, xxxx xxxxxxxxx, xxxx - telephone (nnnn) nnnnnn. Finally thanks go to Steve for the ultra-fast speed at which he pulled the test together.
Phipps Associates / £5.95
As a prisoner in the infamous Second World War camp, you must make your escape through the network of tunnels, rooms and chambers, all the time evading your captors.
Ian The quarter screen displays of the graphics locations are often very detailed, and they're drawn in approximately one second - thanks to machine code. Also very rapid is the game's response to your commands, which all goes to make this one of the more enjoyable adventures around. 6/10
Jon The colour used in this game is quite realistic, and both the drawing of locations and the command response time is surprisingly quick. 6/10
Simon The game is nicely presented, with the instructions loaded from tape. Overall, it's a well-written, well thought-out and enjoyable game. 8/10
Digital Integration / £6.95
An arcade game with a Second World War scenario in which you must defend your plane against attack from enemy aircraft as you try to destroy ground targets.
Simon Some of the best features of this game are the effects, which reproduce the sounds of the plane's engine, guns firing and bombs exploding. It also includes very smooth sprite graphics and well-defined aeroplanes. 7/10
Ian This is really just another shoot-em- up game, but because this one features good old aeroplanes instead of aliens, it doesn't seem quite so unoriginal. Choice of colour is above average, as are the graphics and sound. 7/10
Jon The well-defined graphics, superb choice of colour and very playable speed, make this an excellent game to both play and watch. 8/10
Hewson Consultants / £5.95
A 'plan view' racing game in which you carefully steer the car left and right, accelerate and decelerate to keep it on the track.
Ian The speed is fast enough to make this game addictive, but it's a pity that the track only takes up about a quarter of the screen - the rest is given over to instructions, fuel gauges and so on. 4/10
Jon While the colour and speed are reasonable, the graphics are too large, and this tends to spoil the effect. But it's still a well thought-out and highly enjoyable game, with some exciting effects. 6/10
Simon It's a pity that the best use of colour happens to be on the three- quarters of the screen that contain the instructions and the instrument panel. It's an easy game to control, but difficult to win. 6/10
Hewson Consultants / £7.95
An adventure in which you have to retrieve the magnificent Fantasia Diamond, a family heirloom, from the imposing fortress across the river. Now it's up to you.
Simon This one has above average graphical representation, it's fun to play, and the theme is thoroughly exciting. Good use of the Spectrum's capabilities is made even better by a very good idea. One of Hewson's best. 7/10
Jon The overall effect of well-defined graphics, and a good choice of colour is very pleasing. And you can add to that the speedy checking of commands against the large vocabulary, and rapid picture drawing. 6/10
Ian Nice use of colour, pleasant but basic graphics and quite fast. Only thing is, it seems to resemble The Hobbit on just a few too many occasions. 5/10
Add On Electronics / £5.95
Another Centipede game in which the object is to shoot a millypede that's crawling down through a mushroom patch, all the while avoiding the spider and hitting snails for bonus points.
Simon In addition to being just another Centipede game, this one suffers from poor graphics and a sound output that isn't worth amplifying. However, the speed is just about right, and the choice of colours is impressive. 3/10
Jon Good overall screen effect, but the speed is perhaps a little too fast - especially the spider. Control is a bit difficult because the game control keys are too close together. 6/10
Ian Graphics definition is run-of-the- mill, and movement is one character block at a time. But the overall display is improved by the choice of colours which contrast well enough. 4/10
Software Projects / £5.95
After an attack by the Dark Horde, 100 of your Beta Class androids were kidnapped. Your mission is to rescue them from the maze of underground passages beneath the palace of Nedab, leader of the Horde.
Ian This uses well-defined sprites which move just a fraction jerkily on the left-hand side of the screen - and shows such information as score, high score and time left on the other. 7/10
Jon This game has a well laid out screen display, and the sound output is of a reasonable quality. However, the speed is a bit slow, which is a let-down. 6/10
Simon A rather uninteresting game, with poorly defined graphics and below average choice of colours, which fails to keep your attention. Rather a poor effort from the people who put out Manic Miner. 5/10
Automata / £6.00
You, as the Pi-Man, must compete in five events at the Olympics in an effort to win as many gold medals as you can.
Jon Every screen in this totally original game is both colourful and clear, and the graphics are extremely well-defined and very smooth. Overall, a well thought-out and well represented game. 8/10
Simon Four of the events in these games are amusingly called Pi Jump, Alpi Skiing, Steepichase and Butterpi - all of which resemble one another to some extent. But with smooth, flicker-free graphics, and contrasting colours, the game is still fun. 6/10
Ian This one is fairly easy to play - only three keys are used - and the program responds quickly when they're pressed. But at times, the speed can be a little too fast, making success frustratingly difficult. 8/10
Imagine / £5.50
Protect your flower bed from invading bugs by jumping on them, or blocking their paths with compost or bricks. But if things get too bad, you can always plant more seeds.
Ian The well-defined sprites used in this game are sometimes difficult to make out, because the choice of colour is not always suitable. However, the game is fairly fast and there's an excellent machine code tune. 4/10
Simon The choice of colour isn't too bad, but the character movement is poor and the speed feels too slow. It gives a good impression at first, but becomes boring very quickly because although the idea is good, the execution isn't. 4/10
Jon This is a difficult game to play in the latter stages, because it gets too fast. The best part about it is the opening tune, which is very well written. 4/10
TWO GUN TURTLE
Lothlorien / £5.95
An arcade game, similar to Pssst by Ultimate, where you defend a strawberry patch situated in the middle of the screen from marauding bugs, by blasting them with your six-shooter.
Ian The fast smooth graphics in this game are almost of arcade quality. And the idea of a pistol packing turtle is good fun, if not original; it's been available for the Oric for some time. 4/10
Simon Good use of colour and the sprites stand out well on the background, but it's a bit too fast for the player to be successful. A reasonably addictive game that's fun to play. A supple wrist is needed for this game! 5/10
Jon The game includes some pleasing tunes, and the explosions are reproduced well. It's a very colourful game that would be improved if the graphics didn't flicker so much. 3/10
Dk'Tronics / £5.95
A maze game with 30 screens in which you must track down androids and interrogate them for the special code that will allow you to progress to the next level.
Ian The speed is much faster than with other maze games, with drawing of the next position taking place almost instantaneously. This is really just a common-or-garden maze game, but it's still appealing and holds your attention for some time. 5/10
Simon Well executed sprite movement, playable speed and a pleasant colour selection all go to make this game fun and interesting to play. 5/10
Jon This game includes excellent 3D effects which are both smooth and well- defined. And the choice of colours is effective - they nicely complement one another. 6/10
3D STAR WARS
Custom Cables International (CCI) / £5.95
A 3D game where you take the part of Luke Clearthinker and re-enact the battle of the Jedi, taking on the entire rebel fleet on your own. This task is made easier as you have at your disposal an up-to-date star fighter.
Jon The graphics in this game are jumpy, and the colours don't contrast well. It's interesting enough to start with, but soon becomes boring because there's too much on-screen. 5/10.
Simon Colour is used fairly well, but the graphics are wobbly and don't really resemble what they're supposed to. And come to that, the idea is fairly unoriginal and uninteresting. 6/10.
Ian The game is colourful, with good 3D effects when you encounter a meteor storm. But the idea is far from original, and there's not much variation - which makes things rather tedious. 5/10.
Arcade Software / £5.50
A maze game which involves stealing money, etc, while avoiding the pursuing bubbles whose sole aim is to suffocate you on contact.
Ian While the graphics in this game are adequate, they don't really alter very much. And the same can be said for the choice of colours which is disappointing, especially when there are 50 screens to work through. 4/10
Simon Visually, the effect is quite pleasing, with sprite movement and well-defined characters that are clearly visible - which is partly due to the choice of colours. 5/10
Jon The lowest speed level is reasonable, but the higher levels are far too slow, which is surprising when you consider the game is written in machine code. Generally, it's just another Pacman variation. 3/10
Visions / £6.95
A 3D noughts and crosses game, where the plot is to enslave the free world by making us devote all our incredible mental resources to solving Arcturun's ultimate mental challenge.
Jon The idea behind this game isn't bad, but it's certainly not new. Also the representation of the supposedly 3D grid is very poor. The whole thing could have been made better if the colours had been more thoughtfully selected. 3/10
Simon Something that should appeal to anyone who likes mind games, and made better by its fast response time, and reasonable use of colour. 4/10
Ian The cubes are poorly represented, and the choice of colours is very disappointing. This game's best feature is its response time but, to be honest, your time would be better rewarded with pencil and paper. 4/10
Virgin Games / £5.95
Take the part of a James Bond-type spy as you work through this text-only adventure that's interspersed with three arcade games.
Ian This game responds to commands almost instantaneously, and the arcade sections are just as good. While the choice of white characters on a black background for the adventure part is quite dull, colour is well used in other ways. 7/10
Simon It's nice to see an adventure with an original theme, and making the best of some good ideas. Text-only adventures can be fun, and this one proves it. Its original theme makes it fun to play, and the overall effect is enjoyable. Very addictive. 8/10
Jon The arcade parts of this adventure are very simple, and their use of colour is limited. 6/10
CAESAR THE CAT
Mirrorsoft / £6.95
You, as Caesar the Cat, must chase mice from the well-stocked larder before they start nibbling the food, and without knocking stuff off the shelf - especially the crockery.
Ian This game makes excellent use of the Spectrum's graphics potential with huge sprites moving smoothly, without a trace of flicker. 9/10
Jon The speed is entirely suited to the style of play, with the mice getting faster as the game progresses (although the cat's speed remains constant throughout). And the bright, colourful display is so good that the overall effect looks more like a photograph than a graphics display. 9/10
Simon A highly original game for young and old alike, but it would have been nice if mews and squeaks could have been included. 9/l0