Your Spectrum
Issue 11, February 1985 - Joystick Jury
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nbsp; JOYSTICK JURY nbsp;
All the latest software from around the houses! Passing judgement this month are Dave Nicholls, Ross Holman and Roger Willis.
Our regular crew of software screwballs are in fine form this month. Draining the dregs of Christmas spirit are Dave Nicholls, the hairy hacker; JSW champion Ross Holman; and our own two-wheeled terror, Roger Willis.
Just in case you find our scoring system too confusing, here's what it's all about. The score out of five at the end of each person's review is based on their own experience of the game. But that's pretty subjective ... so, they also use the HIT and MISS system to indicate its potential as a commercial success.
FLIP FLAP screen

Software Supersavers / £2.99

Dave Tommy fans have been quite well catered for on the Spectrum with at least two pinball games already available, including one marketed by Sinclair Research itself. This is probably why Software Projects chose to put Flip Flap in its Software Supersavers range of cheap software.
In fact, Flip Flap is just about the best all-round version that I've seen; if it had been released earlier, I reckon it would have sold quite well ... even at full price! The game includes all the features of the real thing, such as bumpers, traps, bonus scores and tilts and there's also moving targets to hit and a gamble option to give you extra points and balls. Add to this the fact that there are no less than 20
tables to play, each new table being offered after you've beaten the target score on the previous one, and you've quite a good game.
The only real minus in the game is that the ball does tend to behave a bit like a snooker ball with spin on it. It's only £2.99, so who's complaining anyway? 4/5

Ross Despite an appalling lack of instructions, a good game of pinball with different tables to give it interest. 3/5

Roger Being a bit of a pinball wizard, this one seemed right up my street ... and I wasn't disappointed either! 3/5

Abbex / £6.95

Dave This is something of an oddity in that it doesn't really fit into any one particular category of game. It's basically an arcade game, but there's also some strategic and adventure aspects.
Visually it resembles Ant Attack, in that the enemy camp you've parachuted into is shown in isometric perspective which can be viewed from different sides - but there's far more to it than that! Your mission is to rescue the secret files hidden in the camp's warehouses but first, you must find the office safe containing a gun and the key to one of the warehouses. Each warehouse contains the key to the next one along with some other useful items like bullets and explosives.
All the time you're playing, the camp's being
patrolled by guards who shoot at you, and dogs which just get in the way. Once you've found some money it's possible to bribe the guards to leave you alone for a while, but you can always tempt them to move away with a few carefully placed explosions.
All in all, this is quite a good game. I've a few reservations as to its lasting appeal, but I would recommend it. 3½/5

Ross Isometric full-colour graphics aren't such a thrill these days, but they are used well. 1/5

Roger Get ready for this death-defying program - it's quick wits all the way. 4/5
DARK STAR screen

Design Design / £7.50

Dave Design Design has taken vector graphics to a stage where the speed of the game is limited
by players' ability rather than hardware restrictions.
The game itself is basically a derivative of the Star Wars arcade game, with the trench section missing. Your task is to rid the universe of nasties by flying your spacecraft, called the Liar, through the galaxy and down on to occupied planets where you have to destroy the enemy bases; these consist of defensive rings of towers that must be shot or dodged.
Planets can have more than one base; in fact, some planets also have spaceports and energy dumps on them. Spaceports don't have to be destroyed, but the energy dumps replenish your energy supplies and become vital after a while as there are 256 sectors to clear!
Dark Star has a very versatile menu system allowing the game to be customised; for example, the speed and accuracy of the alien
weapons (as well as the keys used to control the Liar) can all be changed to suit your own requirements. Unfortunately, after the novelty of the blindingly fast graphics has worn off, the game becomes rather repetitive and loses most of its appeal. Hopefully Design Design's next offering will be a game instead of a programming exercise. 3/5

Ross An incredibly fast Star Trek variant, with the emphasis on arcade action. Setting the game controls to 'devastating' and turning off all the alien's missiles makes the game much more fun! 3/5

Roger Graphically clever stuff for the naturally trigger-happy. Apprentice gamesters will be able to hone their reaction times to perfection. 2/5

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Ocean / £6.90

Roger To be honest, my lack of infatuation with this oriental variety act is probably connected to personal taste. Legendary inscrutability, or objectivity, or something, must be maintained however.
Players are required to rush around with plates of various colours. The purpose is not to serve up two 19s, a 43 and a 27 with extra sweet-and-sour sauce, though. It's all about spinning 'em on top of sticks and keeping one's past successes going whilst doing it.
Other juggling tricks can be performed so as to change the colour of plates and increase score. Success with all eight plates spinning apparently leads to more difficult screens and less valuable dishes of a darker hue can be dumped off the back of the stage ...
With all the ingredients of success, Chinese Juggler doesn't really make it, however you look at it. It requires skill and tactical planning, sure enough - but I found the fear, panic and aggression of good arcadia to be missing. It doesn't even possess the saving grace of being weird. 2/5

Dave This is one of those games that seem great when you first start playing them, but don't hold you at the screen. 1/5

Ross A fairly inscrutable game that seemed to have a lot to do with smashing plates! The point of it all? Don't ask me - ask Confucius! 2/5

Creative Sparks / £6.95

Dave Baron Greenback is at it again - not satisfied with his conquest of TV, he's decided
to take over the VDU as well! Luckily, Danger Mouse and his trusty sidekick Penfold have got wind of his plan and have leapt into action ...
Your first objective is to fly Danger Mouse's aerocar from his hideout in Mayfair to the Baron's lair in the jungle. Aah, but the Baron knows they're coming and he's sent a fleet of flying robots to stop them. These robots can be repelled by a blast from DM's jukebox, but a different song is needed for each type of robot; on lower levels the selection is automatic, but later on the player must decide which song to use. Once in the jungle, DM and Penfold proceed on foot, jumping over crocodiles and scaring off pumas, until they reach the Baron's HQ. The final battle involves DM turning off a number of yellow lights on a grid; if he fails, an android Danger Mouse is released on an unsuspecting
world and the game is over.
Throughout the game the graphics are superb and there are lots of nice touches that mark this as a very well thought out game.
Danger Mouse In Double Trouble will probably appeal more to the younger player as it's slightly too easy for the hardened arcade freak, but the graphics are good enough for anybody. 4/5

Ross The automatic self-play facility that cuts in if you're not doing too well saves all the tedious business of actually pressing keys yourself. I thought it lacked variety. 3/5

Roger 'Oh Heck' cries the on-screen Penfold, as DM gets it wrong again. Creative Sparks hasn't got anything wrong ... 4/5
KUNG FU screen

Bug-Byte / £6.95

Roger Charmingly oriental graphics frame well-animated Bruce Lee clones trying to knock each
other senseless in this superb example of on-Spectrum violence. Stomping, rather than getting stomped, means advance as well as retreat, and there's a choice of four classic blows in the authentic 'punch-chop-kick' martial arts tradition. Your inscrutable opponent will attempt to block all your attacks and smack you in the gob. An action replay facility allows you to study the sequence leading to each terminally-successful knuckle sandwich delivery.
Acquisition of 48K black belt status eventually leads to another screen with different background and figures - but the action stays more or less the same. This is one of few action games where cursor control can be extremely accurate, simply because of Kung Fu fighting's formalised movements. Although it
initially appears simplistic, the various combinations of attack, defence and surprise can be very entertaining and it's certainly safer than the real thing! For enthusiasts of the real thing, it'll provide a chance to keep in trim while their smashed bodies heal. 3/5

Dave Kung Fu is quite a good martial arts simulation, but I'd have liked a few more possible 'moves' and a bit less randomness. 2½/5

Ross A delightful program combining humour, skill, good graphics and violence. The thrill of advancing on your opponent and knocking him down with one swift blow is fun. 3½/5

Software Supersavers / £2.99

Roger If ever there was an argument in favour of computer-controlled robots replacing human
wage slavery in factories, this appalling excuse for a 'game' is it ... So mindless is Fred's daily toil that management - which is anybody foolish enough to have bought the program - only demands that he dutifully shuffles from left to right, switching fans on and off.
The surplus value from his labour is created by blowing 'balloon men' along the various factory floors, knocking off point-scoring objects and rising inexorably towards an exit at the top of a single screen. Cheap it may be, but graphics are crude and keyboard control annoyingly imprecise. Each game-cycle, timed in numbers of available 'balloon men' and their related 'lives', is pathetically short. Given 48K of potentially creative programming space, the whole thing's nothing short of an insult!
Unfortunately, Fred showed absolutely no signs of understanding his concrete working
class conditions or historical role - he failed to go out on strike. So I pulled the plug and made him redundant instead. Machine code like this could easily change someone's hobby from computing to knitting! 0/5

Dave It might have been more fun if the instructions had explained what I was meant to be trying to do ... but I doubt it! 0/5

Ross When I first caught a glimpse of this game, I thought the idea of it was quite novel ... but after a few goes I realised that, unfortunately, it's dull, dull, dull! Moving around on-screen proves most frustrating. 1/5

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Martech / £6.95

Roger Yes, I can tell you from personal experience that leaning back or forward can
certainly affect your stability whilst jumping a motorcycle. I can also tell you that, just as in this program, getting it wrong has spectacular consequences. Here, though, Eddie always gets up and waves to the crowd - I usually stay down, screaming with pain.
Approach distance appears irrelevant, so long as the bike has climbed through its five gears and indicated speed is at its maximum when taking off from the ramp. All you really have to do is control the bike in the air and that, presumably, governs the number of cars successfully jumped. Sounds fine, doesn't it? Well, it isn't ...
Cheapskate graphics only serve to underline the fact that Eddie Kidd has attached his name to a fairly primitive arcade game that gets boring quicker than players will get good at it.
The intro - or practice - screen demands you jump a pushbike over oil drums; trouble is, you make a perfect jump every time! Oh yes, jumps beyond a certain limit produce an offer to SAVE on to blank cassette for competition entry purposes, but I can't imagine anyone bothering. 1/5

Dave The BMX section gets annoying - it's so easy you can do it with your eyes closed! Jumping with cars is much more difficult and quite addictive. 4/5

Ross You can control Eddie quite well, but even after practise I found it difficult to make any successful jumps over a decent distance. The 'gusting wind' didn't help either! 2/5

Quicksilva / £6.95

Dave Oh no! Antescher has been invaded by zombies - nasty green ones that turn red with
rage and attack whenever you get too close.
To help you rid the city of this influx of Duran Duran fans, you're equipped with a helicopter which you can use to fly around in safety. But you have to leave it when you're destroying the zombies - a feat accomplished by running into them from behind! Once hit they turn all slavelike and can be led up onto any convenient wall where they will happily jump to their death to the tune of Ten Green Bottles. If you're not too confident of controlling the zombies this way, you can always fire your 'puffer' at them which'll make them run away to a safe distance.
Any architects out there will also be glad to hear that your helicopter is capable of carrying a large number of bricks around, so the city can be re-defined to suit yourself; you can also have some fun with your own brand of
"Soft Solid graffiti"!
Basically this is Ant Attack all over again and as such it will appeal to Ant Attackers everywhere - but if you found Ant Attack a tedious experience then don't bother with Zombie Zombie. For those of you who've seen neither Zombie Zombie is probably the best of the two. 2½/5

Ross This is just too similar to Ant Attack to offer anything very exciting. The tunes are OK and the ability to write obscenities on the bricks should keep you amused. 1/5

Roger Tidying up the undead can be amusing, even though I'm told it's a pastime short on originality Probably a hit. 3/5
NOAH screen

Esp Software / T.B.A.

Ross Deciding the fate of the whole animal
Kingdom is no easy task ... but as Noah, that's your lot! You've just three days to collect all 31 pairs of animals and return them to the Ark. And there are 256 screens to explore, so hunting down all the animals is a fairly daunting task!
Noah is played by a large five-by-three graphic; the cursor movement makes everything look a bit jerky, but it's perfectly adequate for a game of this type. On each screen are a number of fixed graphics (such as grass, water, fences or huts) all of which you have to manoeuvre around; the impending flood has understandably made Noah rather nervous of water! There's also a lump of food which must be eaten before you can move on to the next screen. Watch out for the lamp and key, as you'll need these to explore the caves
and the area behind the Great Wall. And if you get lost, you can access a map of the whole playing area with your position marked on it.
The game features some very nice large graphics of animals, but overall I found the whole thing just a bit too repetitive and slow. 2/5

Dave I wish software houses would test their programs properly, in this one, the Kempston routine is back to front so that to go left you push right and vice versa. Not bad for keyboard players though ... 2/5

Roger It's so slow that even the most devout games disciples will be praying for a miracle to speed things up! 1/5
TURMOIL screen

Bug-Byte / £6.95

Ross Picture a garage, our man with a spanner Mick the Mechanic, and a plague of marauding
Arabs - and you've got Turmoil! The idea of the game is to guide Mick up and down ladders and along platforms to fill his oil can with the precious black stuff. Now manoeuvre Mick over a grid in the floor and drop the oil; this makes a car appear on the conveyor belt. If you manage to complete this feat a second time, you get to move on to the next screen to build another motor.
Turmoil stands out from other 'ladder and levels' games currently flooding the market because it makes use of 'spring' power. Mick himself has no natural jumping ability, so to get him leaping on to the necessary platforms, you have to guide him over a spring ... he'll then be thrust up in the air in proportion to the 'springiness' of the spring. The Arabs, who seem to be very intelligent, also use the
springs and ladders in their efforts to thwart your plans. You can kill an Arab by spilling some oil in his path, but they're soon replaced so it hardly seems worth it!
Well, it may be just another 'platform' clone, but it's suitably different to be successful - I liked it. 3½/5

Dave A nice change from the usual selection of platform games. The springs are a great idea and the bouncing Arabs are enough to give you a case of the Sheikhs! 3/5

Roger It's a tried and tested formula ... with a few dirty tricks thrown in. 4/5

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FREEX screen

Software Supersavers / £2.99

Ross Freex is an Invaders/Galaxians clone with
some 60 different stages. The display's split into two parts with a status panel (showing the score, lives left, and position in the game) on the left, and the playing area on the right. You control a gun ship which sits at the bottom of the screen with controls to move it left, right, up or down and, of course, fire. The ship will only go about half-way up the screen, but this is good enough to escape from most tricky situations.
The aliens usually descend in groups of three or four and exhibit some very bizarre behaviour; some are easy to kill and some are not. After ten waves of attack, you move on to the next phase and get a credit life; here you face a whole new batch of aliens ... and this lot shoot back!
On loading, you can choose to see a
demonstration game; what you're not told, however, is that the demo takes about 50 minutes in all!
It's good to see a company like Software Supersavers supporting not brilliant, but reasonable, pieces of software. Hopefully, it'll encourage the authors to produce better games. 2/5

Dave Not another Space Invaders clone!! Still, it's a cheap and cheerful variation on a theme - a Scrooge special, maybe? 1½/5

Roger A throw-back to the happily forgotten days of computing coconut shies. 0/5

Melbourne House / £5.95

Ross This is a simplified Manic Miner-type
game that packs an incredible 24 screens into a 16K Spectrum. The idea behind the game is fairly unoriginal - collect the flashing objects on each screen to make an exit appear that's used to get on to the next level - but the actual implementation is quite cute. Your little Lancelot figure runs around at a fairly hectic pace, and all the spare Lancelots march in unison to and fro across the bottom of the screen. (Ring any bells yet?)
The aim of the game is to progress through all the rooms of the castle in search of the Holy Grail. A menagerie of animals patrol the various key points, although memory does rather restrict their number. Lancelot jumps gaps, moves left or right (even when falling) and has no problem surviving even the longest of falls.
The graphics appear to move in four- pixel stages, which means that it's slightly less precise than I would have liked - but the obstacles and objects have been carefully placed to pose maximum problems. 3/5

Dave Lancelot is one of the best platform games I've seen for Miner Willy starved 16K owners. Melbourne House has done well to fit it all in, but the sprites leave a lot to be desired. 3/5

Roger Hunting the Holy Grail is good, if simplistic, sport. But it's difficult to cope with a fevered imagination like mine in just 16K! 3/5

Quicksilva / £6.95

Ross This is the Atari approved version and as such, is a very competent copy of the original. Quicksilva must be on its knees praying there's still someone left who's waited for the 'official' Battlezone, but after all the copies there've been, there can't be many!
The game itself contains all the features you'd expect, including some very clever missiles. You get to control a tank, trundling across a flat plain that's occasionally littered with large cubes and pyramids. A radar at the top of the screen shows the position of approaching enemy vehicles, and messages pop up on the left to let you know when an enemy is in range (although they'll probably send you an explosive reminder!).
The controls take a little getting used to; they simulate the two-level controls as used by the arcade game, rather than the standard joystick layout. The line drawing of the graphics is, as Quicksilva claims, fast - and this is probably the best version I've played on the Spectrum. Honest! 3/5

Dave Well, if you haven't already got a copy of this game, this is the one to get. Not only is it the 'official' Atari version ... but it's as good as any I've seen! 2½/5

Roger Quite a reasonable training aid for both Panzer crews and London's taxi drivers. Definitely a hit. 3/5
JASPER screen

Micromega / £6.95

Roger Forget the nonsensical storyline - "mummy rat warning young Jasper about how dangerous the jungle becomes after the 'Furt is Wangled'" - because this superb offering is
obviously intended as a covert training aid to Central American guerrillas. Twenty-two screens of lethal shrubbery, wildlife and obstacles have to be negotiated successfully, to recover the key and get safely back indoors ... to continue one's studies of Che Guevara's Collected Works in Basic, no doubt!
Everything kills with gory certainty, but a smart rat can collect all sorts of useful tackle along the way. Pacifists will relish Jasper's inability to slaughter vindictive rabbits, spiders, wasps, dogs, bears, scorpions, frogs and monkeys (not to mention the odd 'Contra' chucking spears and the sinister helicopter buzzing through some frames, blasting away at our Jasp). Avoidance and survival skills are the name of this game.
Assault course simulation is a strong feature, with ropes in situ to swing on and others lying about in handy coils for later use. Picking flowers helps jumping ability, food can be picked up for score and sustenance, umbrellas
stored for cliff descent and the occasional aerosol spray used for dodgy weed disposal. Acquisition of Magic Potion restores lives, too. If you can handle attractive cartoon graphics, excellent arcade tactics and essential adventure strategy, then an awful lot of practice with Jasper could get you a decent job as a full-time guerrilla. 5/5

Dave Jasper has a lot of very pretty graphics, but technically the game's a bit naff. Swinging on the ropes makes the tune slow down and the attribute problems are awful. 1/5

Ross Another 'jumping/platform' game where you utilise various objects to aid your progress. Jasper's ability to crawl, use ropes and perform extra long jumps adds to the thrill, but not enough to keep me interested. 2½/5
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