I, SPY ...
There must've been late night meetings - money changing hands - clandestine rendez-vous - and plenty of secrets to be kept. But finally, Domark pulled it off - the computer marketing coup of the year. Bond has gained his license to thrill on the Speccy in the new game of the film, A View to a Kill.
And Domark certainly hasn't skimped on the plot. There are three sizeable chunks of the original celluloid that have been turned into separate but connected games. Plus there's a title sequence based closely on the film's opening and a finale for the few who manage to complete it (or cheat at it! Ed).
Each of the games loads separately but as you complete
them you're given a code-word to take onto the next one.
The first game is set in Paris and has you motoring round
the boulevards in hot pursuit of the villainess, May Day as
she parachutes down from the Eiffel Tower. It's certainly the
weakest of the three games and any tension there might
have been is completely destroyed by the poor programming.
The car is pathetic and your control over it is non-existent -
you can ignore the bit in the blurb about doing hand-
brake turns as a joke. The game also has too many bugs to
make it playable for long. OK, so you expect Bond to drive
into walls occasionally but it'd be nice if he could get out
From a poor start, things start to look up. The City Hall game is based very closely on the film and seeing it beforehand helped us rescue Stacy, the new Bond blonde. The programming still looks pretty raw but once you get used to the poor animation, the game content should have you hooked.
The third game's set in a silver mine and it's Bond's task to defuse a bomb that the evil Max Zorin has planted. It's certainly the most inventive and innovative of the three games and has Bond running, jumping, climbing ropes and turning somersaults in his quest to find May Day and stop the explosion. But it's also a minefield when it comes to bugs. Bond can end up encased in solid rock, he lost his feet at one point (literally) and you even take a ride on a hidden lift that'll take you on a journey to the centre of the program! All this isn't to say it's unplayable. On the contrary, it's very addictive - if only the programming had been tidied up beforehand.
For all that they're based on the Bond film, these three games are very different from it. OK, who's the wise guy who said that's obvious? No, the Bond films are all about style and special effects, just the things that these three games lack. Still, they've got plenty of content and with three games on one tape you can't really complain about not getting your money's worth.
LATER ... IN PARIS
|Listen out for the blip, blip, blip of your radio tracker - it's the only way of keeping tabs on May Day when she's out of sight. Also, keep an eye on her altitude - but don't panic 'cos there's something up with gravity in the game, she comes down so slowly.|
|Welcome to Paris. This is the view out of your windscreen. What d'you mean it looks more like a 3D maze than the centre of culture and sophistication you visited on your hols?|
|Watch out for the damage done to the car. OK, so it doesn't belong to you, but you're never going to catch up with May Day if you're in a write-off. And that'll mean starting from the beginning again.|
|Don't expect to beat May Day to the ground first time round. Even if you think you've got it sussed the wind can change and take her off course at the last minute. And you're not helped by the fact that your car is virtually uncontrollable!|
|Watch out for the most obvious bug in this game - when you car gets complete stuck in the walls it looks rather like it's having a fit.||The aerial view of Paris shows you all the streets around the Eiffel Tower leading to May Day's possible drop points. If you meet her at one of them you'll be given a code to take onto the next two missions.||Here's the taxi you've commandeered. In the film it ends up chopped in half but it's still easier to drive than this one. You can only control speed not direction so you inevitably end up bouncing off the walls like a frenzied squash ball.||If you go down the one-way streets in the wrong direction you can expect a visit from the local gendarmerie. Don't panic though 'cos they're about as scary as Inspector Clousseau! You can always blast them right off the road.|
... Bond raced hell for leather to the top of the Eiffel Tower. His shots clanged against the iron framework just missing his informant's assassin. He was closing. The killer was just within his reach ... and then was gone over the side. His fingers flailed as he lunged out to grab hold. It was then he saw the parachute open. His only chance now was to get to the bottom of the tower and take a taxi to give chase ...
MEANWHILE ... SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL ... WEDNESDAY
|You'll find that many of the doors in City Hall are locked. If you've found the colour-coded security pass or key, then you're OK. Otherwise you'll have to shoot your way through. It always takes two shots and bullets are in short supply.||For picking up you'll need to master the double duck-shoot. The top one shows you what's in a room and what you're lugging around with you. The bottom one lets you select the appropriate course of action.|
|Bond is back and in a totally different disguise from the one he wears down the mine in the final game. Here, he looks and sounds as though he's wearing stilettos on concrete. Watch out for one nice touch - he mops his brow when the heat's on.||When you first search a room using the bottom duck-shoot you won't be shown everything that's in it. Sometimes, you'll have to start jemmying open the furniture before all is revealed.|
|Right from the very start the fire has a firm hold. It's an idea to suss out the rooms on the left as quickly as possible, 'cos they're soon too flamin' hot. If you enter a room right next to the fire, be quick - it can jump and frazzle you.||Keep an eye on the temperature gauge. When it flashes you know you've not only had your chips but you're about to join them in the frying pan. The closer you get to the flames, the slower your actions become.||Watch your progress in the windows of City Hall. Your present location is shown by the yellow square and the rooms you've been in are coloured blue.||Rescuing Stacy's the easy bit. Getting both of you out is a touch more tricky. You've got to find a complete code that'll unlock the security door on the ground floor on the right.|
|The stairs on either side of the building are your only means of moving between floors. It's often worthwhile nipping down a couple of flights if you need some bullets quickly and then belting back up again.||The fire buckets can be found on all the stair landings. You can have a go at pouring water on the fire but it didn't seem to do much good when we tried it.||Stacy is stuck down the lift-shaft and just like in the film, you'll need the fire hose to get her out. Follow the route we've mapped out for you on City Hall.||As soon as she's free, her piccy appears next to Bond's. She does look rather more like Olive Oyl than Tanya Roberts! Use the Stay and Follow commands on the duck-shoot to tell her what to do. She's already got you into one fine mess!|
Even trapped inside the lift, Bond and Stacy could smell the petrol. And then they heard the whoosh and felt the heat as the fire was lit and the flames sucked like a hot tornado down the shaft. The metal lift turned into an instant microwave. Bond was shaken, but not stirred. He pushed open the hatch at the top and climbed out. His only thought was to save Stacy before the cable snapped and the lift plunged to oblivion ...
A SILVER MINE ABOVE THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT ...
|.||Again you'll have to master the duck-shoot. If you've got it susses in City Hall, this shouldn't present too many problems, though it's still a very slow way to play a game.|
The game's run in real time - you have exactly fifty minutes and counting. It is possible to abort the game which replaces all the objects you've collected but doesn't reset the clock. Big deal.
|The geiger counter helps pin-point the nuclear bomb but it should only work when you've got the code from the previous game. Still, it's always moved for us. Another bug?||.|
Zorin set the detonator. In fifty minutes the nuclear blast would rip through the State and tear the heart out of Silicon Valley. Ten million Californians will have an experience even they won't forget! Now no-one could stop his evil plan - except for 007. Bond's only hope is to find May Day and convince her she's just another beautiful butterfly to be crushed on Zorin's wheels. Will it all go like a bomb? Will Bond meet his May Day? Only you can say ...
I don't like saying it, but this game ought to be re-titled A View To A Quick Killing. Two out of the three games on the tape are the most bug-ridden I've seen on the market for a long time. I realise Domark was in a tearing hurry to release the programs but putting them out like this may have cost them more than waiting a month or so to take out some of the bugs.
One of best things is the intro program. It has a nicely animated, if somewhat emaciated, James Bond who crouches and shoots at you and as the blood pours down the screen, the shutter scrolls backwards and forwards and smoothly obliterates Bond. It's all done by five quite complex and fast routines. One prints the shutter invisibly on the screen and then slowly colours it in. This isn't as simple as it sounds because the screen's printed from top to bottom, though LDIR would have done the trick just as well. Then the shutter tracks left across the screen as Bond walks on. This is done by scrolling a huge sprite nearly one and a half times the size of the screen (forty-seven character squares wide), half a character square at a time, and printing a smaller Bond sprite on top of it.
Unfortunately, the programmers spent too much time on the title page and then rushed the rest. Take the first game, for example, your car goes as fast backwards as forward and has a habit of getting stuck in walls which it happily drives into but then can't drive out of. If you finish this game - and I couldn't - you're given a code word to be entered when you play the second one. For those of you who find this game as difficult as I do, the code word is QRS21. I couldn't spot any bugs in the next game, City Hall. Here, Bond is put on-screen in the same way as Wally and his mates in Life Of Wally, but the attribute problems are so bad you'd hardly spot this. When you finish you're given a code for the third game that contains info relating to the useful objects you have and the time you took. Now, I couldn't finish this either, but I
found that QQQQQ gives you
maximum time and the geiger
counter works in the next game. |
The third program set down the mine should be retitled A Day In The Life Of A Stunt Pope with all the running, jumping, somersaulting and kissing of tarmac that goes on when you fall too far. This program also has a few major bugs - when your time limit reaches zero and you die, the time is not reset, for example. I've corrected that bug as you'll see later.
Apart from these bugs this is technically the most polished of the three games. The routine that scrolls the screen around is certainly the most interesting. Many of you will have seen games that involve scrolling screens where the central character flickers when the screen is scrolled. This is because the character is erased, the screen is scrolled and the character is put back. The time taken to scroll the screen means that the character is off the screen for a few tenths of a second - quite long enough to cause a bad flicker. Not this game!
It has an intelligent screen scrolling routine that works down the screen, scrolling one pixel line at a time until it gets to the position of the Bond character who's always in the centre of the screen. It then scrolls the small part of the line that the character is in back the opposite way, so that he is always in the middle and doesn't flicker. This continues all the way down until it gets to the bottom of the character when it just scrolls the screen beneath his feet normally. By doing it this way, Bond is only ever off centre for such a short time that you don't notice and he always appears rock steady. In the final game POKE 30010,0 allows you to try as many different codes as you like instead of NEWing after three incorrect entries, if you want to experiment. To cure the bug I mentioned earlier, merge the Basic in the original tradition of hackers and add these commands to line 30 before the RANDOMIZE USR command:
The final program is called End - they got something right at last! To get through to it, you'll need a patriotic password that has something to do with Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth!