Your Spectrum
Issue 16, July 1985 - Joystick Jury
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J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
They came, they saw and they conked out - or rather the joysticks did. Dave Nicholls, Roger Willis and Ross Holman hung on just long enough to give the verdict on all the new games.
A'n'F Software £7.95

Ross: Hen House Harry's back but he's no longer running round collecting seed while avoiding maniac hens. Harry's chucked up his rural roots to help out in a chocolate egg factory. The ladders and platforms have partly been replaced by ropes and travelators and there's not a caged bird in sight. Harry's task now is to collect all the goodies that go into making a choccy egg as well as the pieces of the toy to go inside it.
Harry can also pick up and drop many items that may help him on his way. For example, the first problem you come up against is an outsized pooch that's far from friendly. To get past him you have to collect a bone and then drop it at his feet. The dog then turns away, his tail wagging with pleasure and lets you pass. In the next 117 screens be prepared to meet all sorts of nasties and to face many more problems.
Harry runs around and bounces off walls in the same hectic way as he did in the original Chuckie Egg, but somehow the game lacks a certain appeal. To be fair to A'n'F they haven't tried to produce a clone of CE1. But by going for a game with 120 screens, each screen lacks a lot in the way of content.
You'll find your path is generally easy and very often there are no nasties to stand in your way. Still, it's enjoyable enough, though it may not appeal to the more sophisticated games player. 3/5

Dave: Reasonable graphics, smooth movement, more platforms than Waterloo Station and about as addictive as British Rail coffee! 2/5

Roger: As platform stuff goes, this is bad enough to make a chap chuckie up. Never mind the 'henhouse', I'd put Harry in the doghouse ... 1½/5
CHUCKIE EGG 2 screen 1 Here's your first challenge - to get past the pooch in the next screen you'll need the bone from this one. It's the only way you'll get a prolonged active life.
There are extra bonus points to be had if you collect objects like this apple but they serve no other useful purpose.
You've fed Fido and you've passed the A'n'F chocolate factory, so now it's on to this screen. To get through you've got to jump from chain to chain avoiding the 'armful arachnids as you go. Watch out for your first taste of the moving meanies. You'll soon suss out that the only way to get round them is to take a running jump and hope you don't come a cropper.
CHUCKIE EGG 2 screen 2 The spiders go up and down the chains just to make life difficult for you. And they don't even travel at the same speeds - the one on the right is faster than his mate on the left. If you fail to get past them, you'll just have to try and try again.
  You can't jump over the three objects at the bottom of the screen. Well, who'd go across the top if you could?

Argus Press Software £7.99

Ross: From the same stable as Alien, here's another film follow-up that's billed as a sophisticated adventure and strategy game. The plot pursues Paul McCartney's attempt to save his band and their music from the evil financier
Rath (any relation to Rath Bone? Ed).
You take Paul's part in his last ditch bid to track down the seven people involved in producing his latest album. They're the only ones who can help reconstruct the final missing track before midnight. Problem is that the magnificent seven are spread all over London. But to help you in your search, your in-car computer tracks their movements on the London tube system so you can predict where they're off to. If you're outside the tube station as they emerge then they'll hand over a snatch of the tune. Once all seven pieces are in the bag you can trundle off to Abbey Road for the remix.
The game comes with a large scale map of London and a tube map. On the reverse you'll find full details on the people you're after. This'll help you plot their movements as the game progresses. The screen is split into 4 areas - a large section across the top of the screen
shows your car (is it a Beetle? Ed) and a small area of London's streetplan. The other three sections give the gen on the missing people's movements and more detailed info on the locality.
It's an original idea for a game but it's pretty dull in the playing. It might offer a painless way for prospective cabbies to learn abut London - but if this is how pop stars spend their time I think I'll hang up my guitar. 2/5

Roger: Another game-of-the-film of-the- book of-the-song that is best described as a spin-off that should, er spin off ... 2/5

Dave: The map is quite big (and wrong in places!), and I found it rather more interesting than the game. If you like driving around in central London (do cab drivers read YS?), then you might enjoy it, otherwise give it a Broad (St.) berth. 2/5

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
THE BIZ screen

Virgin Games £6.95

Roger: Well, like, er, man, this is one tremendously bankable game even if it lacks stage presence in visual terms. Virgin has turned back to what it, like any record industry outfit
made big, does best - explaining how the completely talentless can become international megastars.
The Biz is a perfect teaching aid for bongo thumpers on the make. It leads aspirants through the rock rat race, underlining how it's much more important to know the wheeling and dealing techniques than learning a few wretched riffs to strum. Just like in real life, you can forget the E sharp and F flats because the only important notes have pictures of the Queen on 'em.
The cassette, besides carrying the necessary Spectrum-dedicated program, also has eight audio recordings including that well known smash hit "I'm in love with the girl on the Virgin Manchester Megastore checkout desk" ... No, well I've never heard of it either, but there again I've never heard of you ... If you get really good at the game, though, and become the first
person to score a No.1 hit, I might just start throwing knickers at you from the audience, along with millions of other screaming fans, because you'll actually be invited to record with Chris Sievey and The Freshies and appear live on stage. A Doo Wop, a loo bop a wham bam boom? 3/5

Dave: I'm about as musical as a prune so I thought I'd be quite good at this. Four singles and a year later I'd managed to get to number 120! Mind you, I did make a lot of money from live performances - perhaps the punters thought I was a comedy act! Horribly addictive and great fun - see you on The Tube. 4/5

Ross: If music be the way to earn a fortune, you can count me in. This really is the biz. 4/5
Ariolasoft £8.95

Ross: This is a strategy game that pits the forces of good against those of evil. You're greeted by the opposing forces lined up on either side of a board that chess players will no doubt recognise. At the start you're given the option of
controlling the good guys or the bad guys, and whether to battle it out with the computer. You've got 18 pieces at your disposal and they can all move different distances though there are no restrictions on the direction.
But that's where the similarity with chess ends. In Archon, each character earns the right to take over an occupied
square by beating the opposition in a bout of single-handed combat. There are many different forms of defence - some characters throw fireballs, some wield swords, while others generate a deadly force field. This mystic fisticuffs takes place on a separate screen with the characters' respective strengths shown by a bar at each side. Each time you're hit this strength reduces until one of the pieces is completely clobbered. Each side also has one magical being that can cast spells on the opposition. The ones to watch out for are the revive and heal spells that'll bring a defeated piece back to life or restore its strength.
To move the pieces, you must position a square on the chosen character's symbol and then press the key to pick it up. From there you can move it and drop it in the desired location. Although the board is chequered black and white, there are also some grey squares - the colour of the square a piece occupies will affect its fighting fortunes. The forces of darkness for example, do best on black squares. An added complication are the five power points positioned like a cross on the board. These squares have the power to restore strength and to protect from magic - occupy all five and you're automatically the winner.
At first, Archon appears quite simple, but there's an underlying complexity to it that offers a formidable challenge. The combat screen is marred by jerky graphics and be warned, the computer's an annoyingly good shot. But then I always was a bad loser. 3/5

Roger: More of a boring game than board game, but both? 2/5

Dave: A strategy game and an arcade game in one package can't be bad (who says? Ed). The computer plays a decent game, and I haven't yet come close to beating it. Still, it's got me hooked, so I'll crack on. 2½/5
Use the revive spell to bring back to life any of your lost characters - but make sure it's one of the strongest. There's no point in reviving a knight when you've got a wizard waiting in the wings. Don't bottle out with your strongest characters - be brash with them to take out the lesser enemies with some swift moves from the back.
ARCHON screen 1 Use this box to indicate the character you want to move - and where you want to move him. Then tap the fire button and pow!
Try this for openers - before the opposition has time to rally, take out their main man. If you get the strongest character early on, it'll give you the edge.
ARCHON screen 2 A tip if you're playing the computer - move in close and then nip in and out of your opponent's firing line. That way you'll fool him into firing and you'll have as much time as it takes his missile to reach the other side of the screen to pump him full of lead. Go on, make my day punk!
On the combat screen get your chosen battle warrior body-poppin' - the more jerky his movements are, the less chance you have of being hit. These objects just get in the way but if you use them to good effect you can use them as defence shields.

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
KOMPLEX screen

Legend £9.95

Roger: Komplex is just what it says - complex. Apparently, you can create seventy thousand million different maps if so inclined but player-
generated maps, just like the standard K.O.M.P.L.E.X. one, all have seven deck levels of a diamond shape. Changing the map is just like changing one's underpants - you don't notice after you've put your trousers back on. That, pretty much, (not that there's anything pretty about Willis's underwear. Ed) sums up the game. Despite excellent scrolling 3-D action, a high yawn factor is guaranteed by crushingly similar - and uninteresting geography.
But that's not all, because location komplexity (groan) can be safely ignored. The less-cerebral amongst us just zap about blasting the monitors and wardens with lasers and collecting and dropping Target Modules in the appropriate place. Fallen safely to sleep yet? Yes, Komplex isn't really complex (double
groan) at all because it's just another old dose of shootiebangs in space clothes.
Komplaining without kompassion about the kontent without kongratulating (kut it out! Ed), the programmer on graphical action excellence may seem unfair, but computer games are supposed to be fun, not works of art, and this ain't. Just like the last offering, The Great Space Race, it's better than Valium. 2/5

Dave: Will Legend ever release a good game? This one's just as boring as TGSR though the graphics are a bit better. Basically a komplete waste of time and money. 0/5

Ross: Is it me? I couldn't make head or tail of this and when I did I realised it was a waste of time. Nope, it was them! 1/5
FLAK screen

Funsoft £7.95

Dave: Right from the start the signs aren't at all promising. There on the inlay card is a screen
shot from the Commie 64 version. When you've loaded up you can see why they decided against printing a Speccy shot. There you are, a badly drawn sprite with an attribute problem flickering across a charmless landscape made up of character squares. Now that's not really a big enough inducement to put on the cover to persuade me to part with the readies.
The game's really just a rip-off of the arcade classic Xevious that offers a trip out in an 'advanced AGX hypersonic fighter' - that's the flickering sprite. Occasionally another sprite flickers up to you and that usually triggers off a dull looking cyan explosion. The screen scrolls more slowly than a C5 at top speed and your hypersonic wotsit flies at such a snail's pace that it's impossible to dodge the barrage
of missiles blasted at you. Consequently, each game lasts about 10 seconds and can only be stretched out should you really want to, by using the one obvious bug - keep your finger on the fire button at take-off and you're invincible for a few seconds.
All in all, one that should've been drowned at birth. 0/5

Roger: The player may hope to 'take over the universe' but this game won't. 1½/5

Ross: How could they do this to one of my fave arcade games? The 'awe-inspiring' scenery only inspired me to turn the Speccy off. 1/5
New Generation £7.95

Roger: I'd always thought that squash was a silly game played by overweight and middle-aged executive types to burn off the worst effects of their business lunches. The obvious reason for playing
it inside a big indoor 'box' is to stop the rest of us from seeing them at it and cracking up in helpless mirth ... That's still probably a fairly accurate description of the real thing but the Speccy version is something else.
It features all the basic elements of the sport with two players on court, one of whom can be computer controlled. The
only thankful absence is the wobbling bellies and puffing and panting.
The graphics and ball movement are realistic but the computer chooses stroke for you if the player has been positioned with some reasonable degree of accuracy. There are four options of difficulty and I can say, from experience, that it's easily possible to beat the Spectrum at the easier levels. Squash is a well-crafted chunk of sporting software which, usually, isn't boring to non- enthusiasts of the aforesaid physical pursuit.
It won't cut down on the jolly old midriff bulge, but then nobody will laugh at you either. 4/5

Dave: It felt a bit strange playing squash and not ending up drenched in sweat and gasping for air. Still, the graphics are good and the game's addictive. I also found out that Jonah Barrington is mike shy - the voice synthesis sounds like he spent hours down the pub getting his courage up ... 3/5

Ross: Master the techniques necessary for hitting the ball against the wall and you'll find this an enjoyable game. The lack of diagonal movement though is a pain, but not as much of a pain as playing the real thing. It's a pity that Jonah Barrington sounds like he's got a squash ball in his throat. 3½/5
To put some spin on your serve, try pushing the joystick forward as you press fire. It's not in the instructions but it seems to work for us! JB's SQUASH screen
As soon as you've returned a serve, leg it to the front of the court. That way you're in charge of the action.
While your opponent's serving, you'd be well advised to take up a position at the back of the court. Nine out of ten times this is where the ball ends up. You can choose one of six different angles to hit the ball by holding down the fire button for different lengths of time. Phew this is nearly as tiring as the real thing! The computer automatically moves your racquet from one side to the other to strike the ball. Make sure you press the fire button only when you're on the side you want to play from.

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
CHAOS screen

Games Workshop £7.95

Dave: This one's subtitled 'Magic and Death on the Plane of Limbo' which makes it sound like an
occult version of Airplane II. In fact, it's another magical mystery tour-type strategy game that's enlivened by some creative touches of animation.
At the off, you can choose up to eight different wizards any or all of whom can come under the control of the computer. If you're feeling really limbo-like, it's a wheeze to set them all off and sit back to watch them slug it out. There's also a random hand-out of spells that allow you to summon monsters and call up a plethora of peculiar weapons. Luckily, they're all spelled out in the manual.
There are eight different difficulty levels for you to choose so it'll take more than a morning to master. And the game's fast enough to provide a satisfying slugfest for all but the most hardened arcader, plus the animated
graphics make it constantly entertaining to watch - well, what d'you think a Gooey Blob looks like?
Chaos offers enough magical unpleasantness to keep swords and sorcery fans in a teeth gnashing frenzy - just what the dentist ordered. So grab your box of magic tricks and do it to them before they do it to you ... 4/5

Roger: The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives a variety of meanings to this game title, many of which are applicable to content. 2/5

Ross: It takes a while to get into the swing of this game but once you've sussed the sorcery, it'll have you under its spell. 3/5
SNAFFLE screen

Longman £9.95

Dave: Here's a word game that bears a
remarkable resemblance to another word game called Sc ... well, let's just say that any resemblance between the two is probably purely intentional. This one's described as a fast and furious game for all the family. Mmmm. Fast, maybe but furious, almost certainly - one of those games that's likely to have everyone from 8 to 80 arguing like good'uns.
Certainly, the booklet that comes with it, isn't bad so what about the game? Well, on loading you're first asked how many players there are. At the last count there was only one of me, so I shall invent a chum called Bob. In go our initials and away we go. I press a key until a letter appears. Bob presses one, another letter. And so it goes on until one of us spots a word. We then use the Pick key to regroup the letters
and the word's made. I'm then asked if I agree that Bob's word 'Blitnung' is valid. If Bob's happy with it, so am I!
The booklet suggests that we keep a dictionary handy. I agree. Word games on the computer will always seem a bit pointless until they have a dictionary built in. This game should aid the decline of literacy no end. 2/5

Roger: There's a word to describe this game but the Ed would only cross it. Suffice it to say I wasn't impressed. 1/5

Ross: There's no reason to put this on computer at all. In fact, there's no reason for the game at all. Bored then snored! 1/5
GYRON screen

Firebird £9.95

Roger: Any lump of software that gets
nominated as a legend in its own lunchtime, is in serious danger of a generally rocky ride. Well, Gyron cannot escape completely. The ten battalions of mathematical geniuses who took about seven trillion light years to carve the game out of living machine code have created some stunning visual effects but they haven't come up with the game content.
Gyron is best described as a 3D maze of considerable complexity. The quality of the graphics is certainly exceptional as you trundle through the corridors of alien power pursued by giant spheres. But this is no variety act. It could take another trillion years to suss out the maze exits and the scenery will still stay the same. A small hint that some smart marketing kiddie has sussed the problem comes with
Gyron's attachment to a spiffing competition - the winner gets a Porsche 924 just like the ones we had on YS before we got our Rollers. Pass me the joystick and, er, wish me luck! 2½/5

Ross: This is impressive - until you start playing. Then it's just a question of slowly trundling round a 3D maze trying to justify forking out a tenner on this tedium. 2/5

Dave: Firebird says that the changing elements of the maze repeat every 100,000 years - that means they'll be coming round again just about the time I next load the game up. 1/5

Incentive Software £6.95

Ross: Haven't we been here before? This puzzle-type game's very similar to Zenji by Activision
and will appeal to much the same people. The game's built up of fuses, bombs and sparks and the idea is simply to arrange the fuses so that they lead the sparks to the bombs. Explosive stuff, eh? Well, not quite. The fuses are split into curved sections so they can be rotated through 90 degrees and joined in a multitude of ways. To make life trickier you've only a limited time to complete each grid.
The number of bombs you have to blow up and the complexity of their fuses range from the 'possible to the close your eyes and hope for the best'. The controls are a synch and you can use the joystick to highlight a large portion of the fuse-ways - the fire button then rotates that bit.
The difficulties begin when you attempt to usefully direct the constantly moving spark. By
luck rather than judgement, I managed to clear a few screens. Nevertheless, you will develop a feel for the game and I don't doubt that with some thought you could work out a perfect system. The graphics and sound are reasonable so if you fancy blowing cobwebs from some of those dormant brain cells check it out. But don't expect the big bang. 2/5

Roger: Read the name and then agree that yes it is, isn't it! 2/5

Dave: I do have rather a soft spot for puzzles and this one isn't at all bad. It'd be nice if you could slow it down a touch though - my brain just can't keep up - and I don't want any sarky Ed's comments. (As if! Ed). 3/5

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
CCS £7.95

Dave: At last - a wargame that's both playable and makes full use of the Speccy's graphics. If I've been hard on this type of game in the past it's because none I've seen has yet come up to this standard.
First off, you're given the choice of four basic scenarios. If you're new to the game it's an idea to go for the easy option, a seven turn reccy round the battlefield. The next three cover specific operations that take more time but should turn you into a battle scarred veteran. Only when you've got ten hours
to spare is there any point in tackling the final scenario that covers the complete Market Garden area. At the beginning it's sure to be whole river full of bridges too far.
If you're on your tod, you'll control all the Allied forces while the computer plays the Germans - with a friend, the Allies split into Brits and Yanks and there's even a three player mode that offers a complete free choice.
Play is certainly fast but it's easy to follow so you shouldn't get hopelessly lost just as you thought you'd got 'em outflanked. Plus there are sound effects and on-screen flashes that show when a
unit is under attack.
The scrolling screen covers the whole of the Arnhem area and there's also an accompanying map and booklet for budding battlers. In-door generals who'd probably find the real thing a touch too noisy could do worse than take a look. 4/5

Roger: Outside my usual cowardly tastes but good enough to make me take a general's job - leading them from the rear ... 4/5

Ross: Not my sort of software but I soldiered on - and then got beat! 3/5

Here's an overview of your immediate terrain. It probably covers somewhere in the region of a fourteenth of the total battlefield. The Advance to Eindhoven is on. This is the easiest of the five different scenarios and it'll only take you seven turns. The objective is to clear the centre road of German units. Course, if you're really a military megabrain you could change the course of history, beat the Germans and star in a remake of the film epic. More info on what stage of the game you're at - on the easiest level there are seven phases building up to twenty-six on the trickiest. The border colour even changes to let you know when a different player's turn's come.
Keep off the grass! It's a lot trickier trudging over the rough terrain than going by road, so travel by tarmac if you've got to be there yesterday. But remember - you're a lot more vulnerable to enemy action when you're in the open. ARNHEM screen All the computer's despatches are posted here. You could almost class Arnhem as a menu-driven wargame.
Each unit has the option of travelling in two formations - either four character blocks in size or scrunched down to just one. Spreading out means you can go on the attack and your troops are less vulnerable. In the tight formation you can squeeze through smaller gaps, march along the roads at double quick time but if you're clobbered your troops'll sustain twice the damage. If the bridge is too far you'll find that the enemy has moved in pronto to guard it. Once they've put troops on bridge patrol, you'll find it pretty tricky to shift 'em.
There's a right barney going on here. To engage in battle with the enemy choose the bombard option from the menu, position the cursor and you'll be taken straight into the thick of the battle. The on-screen icons'll let you know the fire power of the opposing units. Here's the roll-call of your troops. If you're yomping your way through one of the trickier scenarios, one or more of your units may be off-screen. When their turn comes round the screen scrolls to that territory. The symbol here shows the type of unit you're moving. The 2nd Bn. Irish Guards is all tanked up and ready to roll ...

Centresoft £6.95

Roger: Have we been here before or what?
Turning down the temperature on stuff like Boulderdash doesn't improve a tired scenario.
All that's demanded of the undemanding is to scuttle about collecting stuff, tunnelling through poorly defined and barely visible snow-like substances and avoiding the dislodged balls that might fall on one's little frosty head. Jerky scrolling moves the action across the screen and the clock runs out even faster than my short-fuse patience. The thirteen ice-cold rooms offer as much fun as a fortnight in a fridge-freezer though the fauna is more fearsome - polar bears and killer penguins.
Having seen this type of software product climb up into precision platform pleasure, all I can dumbly consider is that Icicle Works has stepped through a time warp, missing all the
clever programming trickery of the last year or so. Icicle Works? No it doesn't. 1/5

Dave: I've been waiting for a good Digdug/ Mr Do game to come out on the Speccy and after seeing this, I reckon I'll just have to wait a bit longer. It's a good idea but the implementation lets it down. When was the last time you saw sprites moving two cursor blocks at a time? 2/5

Ross: There's nothing original here and, yes the graphics are jerky and sometimes obscure but it still got me hooked. If you haven't seen its predecessors take a look. 3½/5
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