Your Spectrum
Issue 10, December 1984 - Joystick Jury
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What's on your software shopping list for Christmas? Let Ross Holman, Dave Nicholls and Roger Willis help you make your mind up!
This month, our motley crew of Joystick Jurors include Dave Nicholls, a self- confessed adventure fanatic and seasoned hacker; Ross Holman, ace games player and winner of the Jet Set Willy prize; and, last but by no means least, Roger Willis, a relative newcomer to the Spectrum scene.
Dave and Ross you'll already know from our monthly major games reviews. Roger Willis, on the other hand, is probably more at home in the saddle of a massive motorbike ... but that was before he discovered the thrills and spills of the Spectrum.
Check out what they thought of the latest in games software ...
THE PRIZE screen

Arcade Software / £5.50

Dave The Prize is a variation on the maze theme. You have to control your spacecraft through the maze, collecting 'code pods' as you go. The pods are numbered and must be gathered in the correct order; reaching number five promotes you to the next level.
Those hitting the fourth level are asked to find the 'special code', photograph it, and send the evidence to Arcade Software. This entitles you to enter the competition that goes with the game. The competition has a prize (cunning title isn't it!) of £5000, but the catch is that the money will be divided between all the people who send in correct answers before January 1985.
On the game front The Prize is quite good, the maze is very large and your ship moves nice and smoothly. This is, however, really a game
that will appeal more to cartographers than to shoot 'em up freaks. 2/5

Ross A very colourful maze game with a large prize for the winner. The nasties aren't that clever, so only the overall size poses a problem. It loses its appeal very rapidly. 2/5

Roger Being quite unable to imagine what five thousand folding green drink vouchers will look like stacked next to my keyboard and as I've never had that much wonga in my short and miserable life, I find it hard to imagine this game holding anybody's interest ... 1/5

Ocean / £6.90

Dave Daley's Decathlon is, of course, one of the several attempts to transfer the arcade
game Track and Field onto the Spectrum. In fact, it's just about the best attempt so far. The object of the game (in case there's anyone out there who doesn't know!!) is to compete in each of the ten decathlon events scoring points for speed, height jumped and so on.
In the running events movement is accomplished, as usual, by either hitting two keys alternately or wiggling a joystick back and forth; a further key is used to throw or jump in the other events. Graphically, Decathlon is very good, the only problem being the rather stiff running motions of your man. Ocean's logo scrolls past at the top and a crowd applauds when you do well. Although there are a few small bugs (for example, I have it from a reliable source that it's possible to
clear over 400 metres in the long jump!) the game simulates all of the events very well, including an energy limit on the 1500m.
For anyone on the look-out for a Track and Field -type game, this is the best buy at the moment. 4/5

Ross Certainly the best track and field game for the Spectrum, although it doesn't contain some of the nicer touches in other versions. 3½/5

Roger Put a few quid in a deserving shamateur's pocket. After all, our boy Daley must've flogged the right to use his name. Good luck to 'im, too, because Decathlon earns its keep in screen time and gave me a lot of much- needed exercise. 3/5

Creative Sparks / £6.95

Roger This was the one that kept me up at nights - not that I broke any 'high scores'. Delta Wing is definitely a game for patient technocrats.
It's based on only two screens, but these are complicated and composite. Simulator tendencies are confirmed by the continuous presence of cockpit instrumentation across the bottom. Altitude, air-speed, fuel gauge, radar and artificial horizon add in to a total of 14 informative variables to complement the pilot's hand moving the on-screen joystick according to player instruction.
All it takes is a tweak of the old handlebar moustache and there you are, blasting 'em out of the sky or bombing their bases. The second screen flashes up on request and is made up of a map showing your bases (which can be landed at for fuel and ammunition), their bases (which can be bombed), and the current position of enemy planes (which got me reciting 'Tally Ho' and 'Wizard Prang' epithets ...).
A significant attention span and a great deal of
perseverance are vital though, because in this game nothing comes easily. Just taking off, involving correct ground speed related to flap position and timed pull-back on the joystick, is a thoroughly skilful operation. Being honest, I could barely get off the runway but I felt like an RAF pilot! 4/5

Ross Slightly simpler controls here than with other flight games. It's good and fast, but too similar to existing products to sell that well. 3/5

Dave This game drops in somewhere between the flight simulators and Zzoom. It's quite playable and easier to fly than most others of its type. If you want to fly, but don't want to be able to tell your flaps from your ailerons then this is the one for you. 3/5


Elite / £5.95

Ross Elite has taken the little white man out of the realm of the superhuman jumper and more
into that of winged avenger; he's now a decidedly unheavenly- looking angel! Wilf can be made to move left, right or flap up the screen; the 'flap' key repeats so you don't have to wear out your keyboard.
Kokotoni Wilf is a game of 60 screens divided into six time zones. To progress from one to the next, you have to collect a number of flashing pieces of an amulet - and then find a time gate. Incidentally, Elite forgets to mention that you can start in any of the first three time zones by pressing keys '1-3' and then you'll find that all the objects on the previous levels will be credited to you.
Each screen consists of large fixtures like trees or dinosaurs (some of which may animate a little) and smaller, moving graphics. Tunnels and recesses have tended to replace the
familiar platforms. The graphics aren't really up to Jet Set Willy standards and the difficulty I had controlling Wilf's spritely extravagances spoiled any appeal that the game had. 2/5

Dave This is a reasonable game with above average graphics, but it gets annoying after a while because the controls are not precise enough. Elite advertise this as the successor to Jet Set Willy. It's good, but not that good! 3/5

Roger Maybe 'Flapping Fred' would have been a better name, or perhaps 'Blundering Budgie', because our hero Wilf's mishaps can't all be blamed on Spectrum keyboard insensitivity. Shame 'cos there's enough screens to last a long time. 3/5

Micromega / £6.95

Roger Mission Control, Houston, heaved a collective sigh of relief the day my careers master decided I was much too stupid to
become a space pilot because - as this game finally proves - I would have been very bad at it. Nevertheless, tantrums at my inability to land the naffin' rescue pod on the planet Prolon were unavoidable. I couldn't get past the first three superb screens in Braxx Bluff ... who knows how many more I missed!
Moving 3D graphics are 'the biz' right from the beginning of this rescue mission. The screens I actually got at involve descending from the mother ship's orbit down to skimming the planet's atmosphere, before diving towards a landing - the point where you'll need fine stabilising control to score sufficient points to achieve a safe descent.
Getting onto the planet and beginning the search for the three crewmen, trapped in a stranded hydro-crawler by alien lifeforms, means acquiring eight points during 'Lander Phase'. I only managed to clock a maximum of
four and a bit. All the same, expert space jockeys can move on to Walker Phase, Land-Crawler Phases, Sea-Crawler Phases and a finale where the Commander's 'enigmatic' boat race appears on-screen to say 'Ta very much' ... Pass the joystick, Gladys! 5/5

Ross Definitely a disappointment after the last few Micromega games. The 3D effect is not very awe-inspiring and the supposed finale is dull. If it didn't have a 'save to tape' facility, I wouldn't have played it for very long. 2/5

Dave The 3D graphics are unconvincing and the game is quite easy to beat. Even so, the last stage goes so long that I was just crashing into rocks on purpose for excitement! 1/5
BEATCHA screen

Romik Software / £6.99

Dave At first glance, Beatcha looks a bit like Gulpman, which was one of the first Pacman-type games to come out on the Spectrum. It takes, however, a few more glances to realise just how similar they actually are!!
The object of the game is to move around various 'classrooms' and collect keys. When all the keys are collected you have to reach the main door and escape. Your man is a single cursor 'Smiley' face which moves at a ridiculous rate and is chased by unhappy little faces (the teachers) which in some cases move so fast that you lose several of your 26 lives before you can get out of the way. In fact the game's only redeeming feature is that there are quite a few classrooms to be killed in.
In short this game is about as much fun as a three-hour 'partly predictable' broadcast on behalf of any party you care to mention. It might make a useful dustbin filler. 0/5

Ross This is a standard maze-type game which proves difficult merely due to the speed and persistence of the chasers. I don't think it has much going for it. 0/5.

Roger Why did I used to fall asleep at school? Why does this game remind me of what fanciful commentators refer to as 'the best days of my life'? Beatcha, in relation to teacha(s), is as boring as the real thing. 1/5
H.E.R.O. screen

Activision / £7.99

Dave H.E.R.0. is a game in which, as the name implies, you get to play the hero - Roderick Hero
to be precise. Roderick's job is to rescue trapped miners caught when Mount Leone erupted.
To help him he has a miniature helicopter thing strapped to his back which allows him to fly up and down the vertical shafts, a microlaser helmet for shooting nasties, and several sticks of dynamite which are capable of 'removing' any thin walls that happen to get in the way (if necessary the laser can also be used to break through walls, but this uses up a lot of power). As well as having to shoot his way past spiders, bats and other mine- dwelling creatures, Roderick also has to contend with lamps that can be put out by careless shooting or flying and, in the later stages, 'molten lava' walls that kill on contact.
Graphically the game is simple. The walls are large blocks, and the control of the backpack
leaves a lot to be desired. But it has got that 'one more time' addictive quality that keeps you playing and, because after level 17 the mines are randomly generated, there's no way it'll be mastered. 4/5

Ross The delay on our hero's contraption makes control tricky - though not to a detrimental extent. But the plain blocky graphics for the cave walls are very dull. 2/5

Roger Wot is Roderick Hero doing with this 'rescuing miners' stuff? Doesn't he know the political consequences? Being an 'all-round Good Guy' does have its advantages and sleep inducement seems to be one of them, despite increasing difficulty. 1/5


Mikro-Gen / £6.95

Ross Pyjamarama is the second of Mikro- Gen's games to feature the infamous 'Wally'. This
time, our Wal' is having a nightmare (He'd dreamt he'd just bought a CBM 64? Ed.) and the only way he's going to be able to wake himself up is to find the key to his alarm clock and wind it into action. The setting for the game is Wally's home, each screen representing one room and each filled with beautifully drawn and coloured furniture. In a way that's similar to Atic Atac, you guide our sleeping hero through the rooms - this time seen from the side; just like Jet Set Willy, you can move left, right or jump. Only a few screens have things for Wally to jump on - chairs, tables or staircase.
Each room of Wally's house has a number of doors. Some can be opened just by jumping at the handle but to get through others you need to be carrying certain 'objects'.
You also have a limited amount of energy per life which decreases each time a moving graphic hits you ... so watch out for the hands which burst from the floor and grab you! Touches like this make Pyjamarama a humourous and enjoyable game. 4½/5.

Dave Mikro-Gen says you'll never dream a program could be this good, and for once the advert is right. It's worth buying for the games room. 5/5

Roger It's hard to play but easy to watch. Wally's nightmare won't put you to sleep - just the opposite. It's both pretty and pretty funny, err, if you know what I mean ... 4/5
HUSTLER screen

Bubble Bus / £6.99

Ross Is there really a market for another pool
game? Answer ... probably only if it's sufficiently different from the others to maintain interest. Bubble Bus must have recognized this because Hustler provides six different games to choose from.
Having selected your particular poison, you see on-screen the table, balls and a status line at the bottom. The screen is white with green bars representing the cushions, and the balls are black - thus avoiding attribute corruption problems; they also have their numbers on them. To make a shot you move a cross to some point along the desired line between cue ball and object ball, and hit the 'fire' key. The speed of the shot is controlled by a strength indicator. Unfortunately, the speed of the balls never gets much beyond sluggish ... they just bounce for longer. An added refinement is the
kind and strength of spin.
If you haven't got a pool game then this isn't bad. 2/5

Dave The balls move accurately, but rather too slowly for my liking. The choice of games keeps it interesting for a while but isn't good enough to knock CDS's Pool from the top of the Spectrum pool game league. 2/5

Roger It's impossible for me to be objective about this pool package because I find the original game as objectionable as any programmed simulation. Trying desperately to be fair, I can only say that it must be possible to create better visual representation and action than this offering. 0/5
EYE OF BAIN screen

Artic / £6.95

Ross The task set in Artic's Eye of Bain is to locate and hang on to a priceless emerald. You
don't, however, start off in the easiest of circumstances. At first you seem to be in a hut, and typing 'Look' will instigate the drawing of a full screen picture of your surroundings. It's not until you start to try and move around that you're told a chain is clamped to your leg - which in turn is attached to a pole. To free yourself you have to type in two absolutely correct words. This problem of syntax and vocabulary is one that I find very annoying with adventures in general and Eye of Bain is no exception. For example, words that are used to describe objects at a location are not recognised if you try to use them yourself.
All the locations I visited had an associated picture and most had some useful objects, or tasks that needed to be performed. The top few lines of the screen are devoted to describing the location ... its exits and objects.
This is quite useful but my more hardened adventuring friends suggested that it detracted from the atmosphere of the game.
A reasonable adventure, but I got stuck because I hadn't quite got the language right. 2/5

Dave It took me about ten minutes to get started and I'm nowhere near finished yet. The game is interesting enough for me to keep on trying. 3/5

Roger Tarl the mighty warrior turned out to be a bit of a wimp thanks to my erratic, misspelt or incomplete commandments. Adventurers should have patience with the lame lexicon, though, because I haven't declared the sacred emerald on my tax return yet ... 3/5

Cheetahsoft / £7.95

Roger Prefaced with barking hokum about militant rebels and their house-trained dragons depriving young Prince William of his treasure,
this program is enough to put even you off royalty for life.
Our regal hero begins his attempt at regaining his birthright on the first screen depicting the castle gates and drawbridge. All the young lad has to do is nip across quick, dodging the odd gob of lethal dragon fire, to gain entry to the treasure.
So far, so good, and on to the second screen, which has even cruder graphics. The noble prince can be shuffled round safely out of dragon-range and the relevant goodies scooped up into His Highness's Post Office account - or wherever yer Royals keep their negotiables. Prince and player should then be trembling at the dire warning about how hard life gets after the second level ...
Although there's a voluntary choice of four difficulty levels, the game automatically gets more serious with success - but the grandiose let-down is that there isn't anything past the
second level. That's your lot, mate! It's back to the first screen ... it just gets harder.
What we're actually looking at is a stunning lack of program content and detail. Boredom grows faster than skill rating and, quite frankly, Dragonfire has got about as much future as the feudal system. 1/5

Ross How they ever managed to write this code in such a way that you need 48K to run it, I'll never know. This is one that wouldn't have been well received two years ago! 0/5

Dave A real contender for the Turkey of the Year Award is this one, the graphics are awful (the jumps are particularly hilarious) and the game has no real challenge to it. 0/5


Durell Software / £8.95

Dave Combat Lynx is a battle simulation program that has you flying your Lynx helicopter around a three-dimensional battlefield (which is randomly created for each game); you have to perform the dual function of destroying enemy forces and supplying your bases.
Controlling your helicopter can be a bit of a nightmare, because there are four command modes and some keys are used in more than one mode to perform different functions. Even allowing for this, there are nearly 30 control keys (most are re-definable) although any keyboard reading joystick can be used for five of them.
The screen shows your flight instruments and a rather peculiar view of your helicopter. It's strange because, although you can fly in any direction, the view of the landscape is always
North, South, East or West, with the helicopter graphic turning through up to 45 degrees. When you turn far enough, the screen blacks out and re-draws with the landscape turned through 90 degrees. These factors neatly conspire to turn what is basically a very good game into a mess. 2/5

Ross The representation of the hills and valleys is well performed and fast. 2/5

Roger Sorry Colonel, but it ain't simulator material for hackers with Falklands Factor aspirations and it ain't simple enough for all us conscientious objectors still hiding in arcades. 2/5

Silversoft / £5.95

Ross Silversoft's more recent output has tended to be colourful, well written and fun to play - and Hyperaction is no exception. At first glance it seems a sort of cross between Pacman and Pengo, but it's actually different again. To begin with, each screen cleared means another almost totally different game, strategy-wise.
In screen one you're a spider in a maze consisting of blocks of greenery separated by patches of mushrooms. Also tucked up inside the maze are four 'ZX' symbols and the object is to collect all of them and return pronto to the centre of the maze. The only problem is that Pacmen also live in said maze and if they touch you - whoops, there goes another life. You can push around the blocks of greenery to alter the maze and block in the Pacmen - but watch out!
The next game has you trying to destroy all the blue maze pathways by walking over them. The following screens are variations that get increasingly more difficult. I couldn't get past screen five, where marauding 6502 chips soon polished me off.
Good graphics and a fun game. Careful thought is needed if you're going to be good at it. 4/5

Dave A nice Pengo variation with good graphics. Possibly a bit too fast but very addictive. 3/5

Roger I'd like to say it only had one screen, but that'd just be an excuse for my bad play! Pure arcadia in the best sense of the word. 3/5

Micromega / £6.95

Dave Kentilla is a text and graphics adventure by Derek Brewster, and a follow-up to his very
successful Velnor's Lair. The story follows on from the previous adventure with 'baddie' Grako taking over from Velnor; he's hungry for the Moonstone of Algrath - the source of Velnor's power. Mr Brewster writes an adventure column for a certain Spectrum games review magazine, where he gives each adventure a rating under five different headings. It seems fair, therefore to rate his own adventure in the same way.
Atmosphere: The graphics are good but, as Derek has himself said, most graphics are no substitute for good text; his are no exception.
Vocabulary: Kentilla has a very good input editor which behaves rather like the Basic line editor.
Logic: After some three hours of play I was still stuck within a 10-location section while trying everything I could think of to progress. I must have missed something but either it's
too obvious to notice (if so, then apologies to Mr Brewster) or it's completely illogical.
Debugging: Very good.
Overall: I'd have expected something better from someone who tells people what's wrong with their adventures. 2/5

Ross A reasonable enough adventure with good edit and recall facilities. I didn't like the way it lists out objects, exits and so on, and the puzzles were a bit too puzzling for me. 2/5

Roger Is our hero's surname meant to be Livingstone or do we need to move further North and interpret this as a mystical allegory on a quiet day at the National Union of Miners? Did Grako cross picket lines when he returned to the abyss? Am I mad? 4/5
ENDURO screen

Activision / £7.99

Roger Although we're talking racing cars here rather than motorbikes, the scenario and
practical action of Enduro is very similar to Micromega's Full Throttle. The player uses a pair of keys to steer, and has both throttle and brakes on the keyboard. Joystick control is easier and obviously more instinctive, with a simple pull-back on the stick to hang out the anchors.
The challenge is to keep on going in any weather or visibility condition, overtaking the requisite number of other cars each 'day'. During the first cycle, 200 cars must be passed and in subsequent 'days', the opposition increases to 300. Apart from 'day' and 'night' driving conditions - only tail lights are visible during the latter - ice and fog also appear, demanding slower, more careful and precise car control.
The essential similarities to Full Throttle are tracking control and graphics, in as much as the visuals are dominated by a wiggling ribbon
representing the road, tapering off to the horizon. I suppose it's got the same ability to excite, amuse and addict 'go-faster' merchants, but it ain't sufficiently different to justify acquisition if that other program's been LOADed in the recent past.
To be honest, I got quickly tired of it, but there again, I've been tired all my life ... 3/5

Ross Very similar to the VCS version. An outdated game more like a dodging blobs session. 1/5

Dave The graphics are quite good. The cars coming towards you are not exactly perfect but they're reasonable and they move fast. It seems quite easy to master and will probably get tedious once you get the hang of it. 3/5


Silversoft / £5.95

Roger Never mind Trouble Brewin', I had
trouble playing this game! Typically, most of the aggro came from a complete lack of instructions or explanations with the test sample, which meant that I had to suss out the required action on each of five screens. Fortunately, a 'practice' facility accesses any of the screens and erratic key-stroking soon identified the point of it all.
Imagery is mostly concerned with alcoholic beverages, a subject extremely dear to my heart. Barrels, vats and glasses of bubbly proliferate. In the first screen, a deadly corkscrew is just one of the things to be avoided and in the fifth, the champagne realistically knocks you out - well, it always makes me comatose!
Altogether, despite my 'orrible suspicion of things arcade, I must say that the game did
seem a bit - dare I say - easy. The mobile nasties and fixed obstacles are far too predictable and crude.
Maybe it'll be a big success with Real Ale' freaks, but I think I'll stick to lager. 2/5

Ross Silversoft has come up with more pretty graphics. It also seems to have the knack of making the nasties just intelligent enough to cause problems, but not so you can't escape. 3/5

Dave Just the job if you're looking for another 'jumping around and collecting' game. It has nicer graphics than most but calls for arcade skill rather than planning. 3/5
ZENJI screen

Activision / £7.99

Dave Zenji is the latest in a long line of computerised puzzles and it comes complete
with the obligatory mish-mash of philosophical bits and pieces that are traditionally used to jazz up this type of program.
In order to achieve 'Zenji' you must rotate the maze 'elements' (straight lines, corner pieces and 'T' shapes) so that they all join up with a particular element known as the 'source'. Rotation is achieved by moving your face-shaped player to the centre of the element you wish to turn and pressing a special key (or the joystick button) along with a rotation key. In normal use the rotation keys move you left and right, with two more keys for up and down. There's a time limit for the completion of each maze (which get bigger as the game progresses) and 'Flames of Desire' appear which follow you around and quite rightly provoke fatal consequences if touched.
Zenji will appeal mostly to puzzle enthusiasts
but on the higher levels it becomes quite a test of arcade skill. As the cassette sleeve says, you have to 'let go' and leave your fingers to do the work on their own. 3/5

Ross Quite an intriguing little mind-twister with reasonable graphics and easy-to understand instructions. However, that's not saying it's easy to play. If you like 'thinking' games, then this could be worth a look. 2/5

Roger The 'Flames Of Desire' are not a threat I learned to fancy much but that's not because I suffer 'illusions' ... Lust for success and puzzling enlightenment failed to overcome my lack of skill, Oh Grey One ... 4/5

US Gold - Ocean / £7.95

Ross One of the Commodore 64 gamester's most popular releases, Beach-Head has now been implemented on the 48K Spectrum - courtesy of
the combined might of US Gold and Ocean. Personally, I never found it that brilliant on the 64, but certainly it's easily as good on the Speccy.
Beach-Head is a multi-screened (six in all) arcade/war game where the aim is to penetrate the defensive power protecting a piece of coastline, and capture the enemy fortress. The first screen is a plan view of the coast you're going to attack; you move a cross (representing your fleet) through a secret passage and into combat with the opposing forces. The other five screens are rather more lively. They involve steering your ships through a barrage of torpedoes, shooting down attacking planes, sinking the enemy ships, guiding your tanks through the shore defences and finally blowing up the enemy's Big Gun.
This is definitely the best piece of code ever
written by Ocean. It has good instructions, comprehensive player and control options and a good range of skill levels 3/5

Dave Ocean has done well in converting this from the Commodore 64 version. The game is very playable and the graphics are good, especially the plane attack phase Even so, it hasn't got very much lasting appeal. 3/5

Roger Not enough authentic strategy to please committed wargames recruits and not enough zap-splat-kapoww! to satisfy the electronic bloodlust of trigger happy arcade troopers. Nevertheless it's got sufficient entertainment and complexity value. 2/5

The Edge / £7.95

Roger A sample tape with hardly any instructions didn't increase the likelihood of my establishing instant rapport with this game. I'm
still not completely sure what you're supposed to achieve and/or whether there are hidden programming secrets that incompetence and general lack of Willis-interest failed to unlock.
If my eyes haven't deceived me - which is always possible - the on-screen action occurs on a circuit board and involves the usual four-key control of movement plus the ability to zap any opposition with what one can only assume are graphic attempts to represent electro-magnetic energy.
I would call it a one-screen stand even though it's claimed to have over 1000! It's not that other screens didn't exist, they're just not that different. The graphics are abysmal - unclear and unoriginal. The screens seemed to suggest the programmer had defined a few characters at the most, and then used them around the edge.
If your vocabulary in Basic is even smaller
than your basic vocabulary, then it might just hold your interest for longer than it did mine, but I doubt it. I'm afraid I have to report that this is one of the most boring and overrated games I've had the misfortune to play since an old school friend brought out his conkers! 1/5

Ross A competent piece of software but rather dull in play and certainly not original. If you like mapping games, look no further. 3/5

Dave Very like Atic Atac in approach but with less interesting graphics. The Edge is claiming a new programming technique called Synergy allowing it to get over 1000 screens in 48K; Similar would probably be a better name 'cos that's what the rooms are. 2/5
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