Your Spectrum
Issue 6, August 1984 - Joystick Jury
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J O Y S T I C K   J U R Y
Evaluating the batch this month is the Gloucester Computing Club. Any club wishing to offer their services should contact Ron Smith, Your Spectrum, 14 Rathbone Place, London W1.
This month's reviewers (all ten of them!) are members of the Gloucester Computer Club and, in alphabetical order, they are: Stephen Avent (28), Andrew Base (15), Robert Ledbury (22), Mark Manning (15), Nigel Newland (13), Peter Newland (15), Johnathan Norman (15), George Price (35), Mike Skinner (30) and Richard Vernon (15). They all set to work with Spectrum, pen and paper to tell us what's right and what's not so right with the latest new releases.


In a moment we'll get on to the verdicts of our nimble-fingered, boggle-eyed band - to find out which new games are bound for the YS Top 20. But first, some details on the club. It was formed approximately eight months ago by Mr B Ledbury (who happens to be the father of Robert - one of our reviewers) and it's already built up a membership of 35 enthusiasts - ages ranging from 10 years to 'mature'. Meetings are currently held in two rooms at Mr Ledbury's home; one for games evaluation, the other for more serious studies. Membership is free and for more information, contact Mr Ledbury, 8 Linnet Close, Gloucester (telephone 0452 23186).
GRID BUG screen

Add On Electronics / £5.95

You're a little bug, and the aim is to stuff yourself full of strawberries. But take care to avoid the giant spiders because if they catch you, you're dead.
Mark: There's almost nothing to recommend this game except the speed, which is just about right. The graphics are far too small and lacking in any detail, and there's hardly any use of colour.

Mike: This is the worst game I have ever seen! The graphics are unrecognisable, the speed is too fast and it's totally lacking in originality. What's more, the sound alone is enough to make you turn off.

Robert: It's a game that's easy to control, but still challenging. The trouble is every screen is the same, soon makes play boring.
AD ASTRA screen

Gargoyle Games / £5.95

Your job is to guard and maintain the shipping lanes between the far flung Way Stations that mark the frontiers of Terran colonised space.
Johnathan: Control of this game is easy enough, but success is rather difficult because the play is quite fast. The idea isn't original, but this one takes a different angle.

Nigel: Choice of colour is just about right, and the graphics need no improvement. But the speed is a bit of a killer at times.

Mike: An excellent game, with equally excellent graphics - particularly the perspective view of the space craft and the shots. Although it's a variation on a familiar theme, the game is well- presented, well-executed, and very professional.
GLUG GLUG screen

CRL / £5.95

Down on the ocean floor are goodies like gold, jewels and silver, and it's your job to go down there and get them. Naturally. the sea is full of vicious fish so you have to shoot them first, then bring up the treasure.
Mark: One look at the loading screen and you could be forgiven for thinking that this is another Scuba Dive. But you'd be completely wrong. The idea behind this game is very original. It's easy to play, and addictive.

George: The graphics in this game are simple but very good. Although the idea isn't new, the game is still playable and worth buying.

Mike: The diver is really easy to control which makes playing the game a little more enjoyable than it might otherwise have been. The graphics are smooth and realistic.
DEFENDA screen

Interstella Software / £5.95

Landers, mutants, mine layers, pods, swarmers, baiters, humanoids, smart bombs and mines are the hazards you'll meet in this shoot-'em-down arcade extravaganza.
Johnathan: This is probably the best Defender game ever written for the Spectrum. It's really excellent, with graphics that are equal to the arcade version, and a speed that makes it very playable. The quality is stunning.

George: Graphics, speed, colour and so on are all on a par with other similar programs, but with a number of refinements.

Mike: While this is a fairly good version of the familiar Defender-type games it makes little use of sound and is virtually impossible to play without a joystick.

Electric Software / £4.50

This is what you might call a sensible adventure. Instead of risking your own neck, you send out your loyal disciple Zenlya, to rid the Earth of the twin demons, Fire and Ice.
Johnathan: The program responds quickly as you command your slightly reluctant servant to carry out all sorts of dangerous deeds. The idea is not dissimilar to that of any other adventure.

George: It's just like any other adventure - except this one tends towards the sarcy. The first response I got said "I don't think you're going to be much good at this!" Good if you like adventures.

Mike: Not being a lover of adventure games, I found little in this one to commend it. In fact, I'm not sure what the object is.

J O Y S T I C K   J U R Y

Mikro-Gen / £6.95

The 'Master' has offered a challenge to you to resist his takeover of your pathetic universe. Now it's your turn to try and survive the nine waves of attack, including such horrors as Whirling Dervishes, Interstellar Pogos and Hyperspace Chickens.
Mark: The graphics in this game are quite small, but very detailed. Although the idea is just another shoot-em-up clone, the overall enjoyment is high. It's easy to reach the Master, but beating him isn't.

Johnathan: The idea is unoriginal - really just a mixture of several other games - which doesn't hold the interest.

Stephen: A lot of effort has been put into the graphics, and there are a good range of aliens. Playing is fun, and could be addictive.

Visions Software / £5.90

You've been sent to an alien world where you will be attacked by spacecraft from above and missiles. To overcome all this you have an armed moon buggy, whose only refinement is a sort of pogo stick that helps you jump across craters.
Mark: This has some of the best graphics I've seen for some time. It's a pity there's hardly any sound, but the game's very playable, and worth looking out for in the shops.

Johnathan: It's a good copy of the arcade version, with small, smooth and very detailed graphics and a high-score table that's not too difficult to get into. The idea's fun.

George: Well, aliens with three arms and hands might be able to handle the buggy with ease, but I as a human being found it virtually impossible. It's quite good fun.

Lothlorien / £5.95

As a distant cousin of Nefertiti, you have spent several peaceful millenniums in your pyramid - until, that is, you were woken by Mad Clive who is an archaeologist. Now you must find the 25 magic cartouches explaining the ritual for your burial.
George: Because of its originality it takes quite a while to work out exactly what's happening. It's not a compulsive game, but quite playable, nevertheless.

Johnathan: Graphics and colour are used moderately well, and the action is fast. But these don't help make the game more addictive.

Robert: It's a very difficult game to play, especially for the inexperienced person. However, veterans will probably love it and have no difficulty. Overall, a good game.

Anirog Software / £9.95

This is a utility program for the 48K Spectrum to help you design your own UDGs (user-defined graphics). It'll hold up to 200 UDGs in memory at any one time, and will also allow you to edit up to nine UDGs simultaneously.
George: It's a development of the character generator (Spectrum Horizon tape), and taken to the nth degree. Overall, a simple to use and useful utility for anyone wanting to design their own graphics.

Nigel: Just the thing to help with the graphics if you're writing your own game. There are already other utilities available.

Johnathan: This is a menu-driven graphics designer utility that should be a help to any programmer who's out to produce their own graphics simply and easily.

New Generation Software / £5.95

You are the dustman, and must empty all the bins into the dustcart moving slowly down the road. But watch out, some of the houses have dogs, and if they bite you the result will be a limp - slowing your progress.
Johnathan: This is a very colourful game, with excellent graphical representation. It includes some very humorous moments when you go into the houses, but it's not easy.

Mike: It's a great game with superb graphics, a new idea and an extremely enjoyable theme. You're constantly tempted to do little jobs for the householders - not always being rewarded.

Mark: This game can't be praised highly enough. It's totally original and the idea is brilliant - definitely one of this year's best programs.
TROM screen

Dk'Tronics / £5.95

Bits lurk in the corner of the screen and you must steer your bitsearcher towards them to collect them. That done, you take all the bits to the furnace to incinerate them. But watch out for the bytes and the poisonous pixels.
Stephen: The graphics are very good especially the incinerator which looks quite real. It's not too difficult to play.

Mike: The idea behind the game is unusual but not particularly inspiring. There are three speeds - two are playable, but the other is far too slow. Generally, it's a very average game.

Peter: The colour here is fairly basic and doesn't change from level to level. And the graphics are startlingly dull except the incinerator. It's only compulsive at first.

J O Y S T I C K   J U R Y

Strange Loop / £4.95

The aim here is to run around a house putting out fires, using either a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher. The bucket, of course, needs filling up from the taps. You can pick things up for bonus points.
Mark: The idea of putting out fires is quite good, but the finished product doesn't really match. The speed, sound and colour can be described as pleasing.

George: This is an original scenario for a computer game, but it could have been improved by making better use of colour and graphics.

Robert: The graphics could be better, colour is used well to make the fires and all the action seems very real, but not overpowering. Unfortunately, the scoring is rather difficult to understand and, for me, still remains a mystery.
SORCERY screen

Virgin Games/ £5.95

You are the last of the great sorcerers and must travel to Stonehenge and rescue three fellow sorcerers from the evil necromancer. On your way you'll find objects that may or may not be of use. Only one of these will destroy the necromancer.
Richard: This is a really well thought-out game where you travel from screen to screen. Both graphics and colour are used well and the game responds well.

George: It's not very often we see action mixed with adventure all in one game. But this is what Virgin has done, and the result is very good indeed. This is a chart-topper.

Mark: This game reminds you of Imagine's Alchemist, and is very nearly as good. In fact, I couldn't stop playing it.
DISCO DAN screen

GEM Software / £4.95

Your mission is to de-activate some highly unstable nuclear reactors orbiting in space. You are taken to the first by a patrol ship which drops you in a hyper- tunnel.
Johnathan: The graphics in this game are none too clear; they could have done with more effort being put into their design. Perhaps a better choice of colours would have improved visibility.

Mike: Excellent graphics, very playable speed, good choice of colour, an interesting idea, and reasonable sound make this one of the best original games around.

Andrew: A fairly original game based on one of the most boring ideas I've heard of for ages. Added to this the action is much too fast, with too many instructions.

WORMS screen

K-Tel / £6.95

The aim of Defusion is to defuse a bomb that's ticking away at the centre of a number of paths, some of which are booby-trapped. Worms, on the other hand, has you controlling a growing worm.
Richard: The graphics in Defusion are fairly basic, but the use of colour makes up for it. Also, the play speeds up as successive levels are reached. It's much the same with Worms, although there the idea is not in the least original.

Robert: Defusing a bomb is a good idea for a computer game, but poor execution makes it an average offering. Worms isn't a lot better.

Stephen: Technically, there's nothing wrong with Defusion - it's simply not very addictive, and becomes boring after just a few attempts. Worms is a little better.


SCR Adventures / £6.95

You wake in a strange room that's furnished with silver and glass: out of the windows you can see landscapes of staggering beauty. However, there's a tall woman telling you to go recover the Orb from Castle Blackstar; you may keep any treasures you find - once she has cleansed them from evil.
Andrew: One of the best text-only adventures around, featuring a medieval castle and many unexpected and hidden extras.

Johnathan: If you go down to the woods today you'll get lost in this puzzling adventure.

George: There's a feeling when playing this adventure that the programmers responsible had a great deal of fun writing it. There's something of a Smart Alec tone, but it's still fun, if frustrating, to play.
APOLLO screen

Darkstar / £5.50

As pilot of a Lunar Exploration Module, your mission is to land safely on the moon. But the on-board computer has broken down, so you've got to land your craft manually.
George: This is far from being an original idea. However, the space module behaves as you would expect, and there's a sense of achievement when you to land.

Mike: There are plenty of 'lander' games around, and this one's probably one of the best. Particularly impressive is the way the screen switches to close up when you bring the craft near to the ground.

Johnathan: Landing is not very easy at all, which makes success all the sweeter when you manage it. The graphics are very smooth.
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