Your Spectrum
Issue 17, August 1985 - Joystick Jury
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J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
Our three-ring circus of Roger Willis, Ross Holman and Dave Nicholls is back in town. Watch 'em put all the latest arcade games through the hoops - and have a laugh at the clowning around.

What's the score? Well, the marks out of five at the end of each review is a sort of shorthand way of summing up what each reviewer thought of the game. But will it be a commercial success? For that you'll have to check out the HIT and MISS system. Simple, eh?

Viper / £7.95

Ross: You get two games for the price of one here ... and both are pretty good!
Pipeline is the better game, so we'll deal with that one first. Featuring some very colourful graphics and a fairly original idea (at least on the Speccy), you have to keep a pipeline completely free of leaks so that the water flows through to fill a tank at the bottom of the screen. Trouble is that gremlins are about and soon start causing all sorts of problems by making holes all over the pipeline. So, guiding your spanner-wielding workman around the pipeline, you start making repairs and bashing said gremlins on the head.
The graphics are very large, but that doesn't affect their smooth animation ... very convincing! And if you want further proof that this isn't such a bad package, turn the tape over and load up S.O.S. OK, so the idea's not that original (we've all seen Lunar Lander
clones before, haven't we?) but it's not a bad game.
Overall, though S.O.S. isn't the best thing since sliced bread, the two games together make up a pretty decent package that's definitely worth the money. 3/5

Dave: Original, attractive and horribly addictive ... indeed, it's enough to put you off running a bath for ages! Go out and buy it and have barrels of fun. 4/5

Roger: Great stuff. A program that all plumbers should play before they come around to your house and turn it into an indoor swimming pool! S.O.S. isn't bad either. Go-getters should go get it! 4/5
R O G E R ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H

US Gold / £6.95

Roger: Five different frothy, gargling, screens of panic-stricken swilling have to be attacked, as you desperately try to get the bevvies in for different classes of rowdy customer. Four bars, catering for Cowboys, Jocks, Punks and Aliens have to be served, hut overall behaviour suggests they must all be football supporters ...
Thirsty yobboes constantly shuffle up the
bars towards you and can be only kept at bay by swift delivery of glasses of the amber nectar. Serve one too many and you get lumbered with a smashed glass. Serve one too few and the irate punter, raving with thirst, sends you for a nasty nose-first trip down the bar. What's more, the wretches chuck their empty glasses at you, and these have to be deftly caught.
And if that ain't enough to put you off hostelry employment for life, there's another transitional screen in which lurks a bandit who shakes up some of the tinnies you're about to open - get a can overdosing on fizziness and you'll be wearing the contents ...
The graphics are splendid 3D-ish stuff and the action is blisteringly fast - too fast for
poor little me using a keyboard. I got so tired that I just had to go and assault a different barman. 4/5

Ross: Tapper's a simple little game, but things can get quite hectic and it's extremely addictive. The accompanying graphics and sound are pretty good, but if the dancing girl graphics are meant to attract customers, someone better think again! 4/5

Dave: I like games that deal with subjects close to my heart - and that means Tapper's got to be a winner. You'll need good co-ordination, though, so there's no slipping away for a quick half before the action starts! 4/5
Have a heart! Well, it's a life actually and they're very easy to lose. If you don't keep the patrons of your bar sozzled on Sarsaparilla, they'll pick you up and start mopping up the slops with you. You'll never get bored in Tapper - you won't have the time. You'll be rushed off your feet for the whole game. I've noticed that no green crinkly drinking vouchers ever change hands at the Crazy Horse Saloon - now that's the type of bar I like!   One way of keeping the customers satisfied is to work systematically down the bars, throwing one or two pints of plonk (assuming there are punters waiting) and then moving on to the next. Only when things get really hairy will you need to change your routine.
Now doggone it pardner, you better look after these cowgirls and cowboys, otherwise the west might just re-introduce lynching for the lazy bartender. TAPPER screen
Some of the regulars return to the far end of the bar to sup their pints in peace. But watch out for when they've finished 'cos the empties come sliding back to you. If you miss one, you can wave farewell to another life. Keep a careful eye on how many customers you've got on each bar. You might have a smashing time if you throw an extra glass but the clientele won't be too impressed. And that's goodbye to another life.

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

Alligata / £6.95

Dave: The only time I remember doing anything that could be classed as 'fishing' was a rather wet couple of days on the South coast wondering if the bait on one end of the line was as bored as I was on the other! But based on my rather limited experiences, I'd have to say Match Fishing was a fairly faithful simulation ... unfortunately.
You can have up to eight players, each fishing a specific section of the river - each player is provided with information about the depth and state of the water and is asked to choose equipment. Now comes the exciting part ...
Just joking! The display changes, showing you all the players on-screen for the fish to turn up. If a fish happens along, a number flashes on the shore and you have to press the equivalent
number on the keyboard. All exciting stuff ...
Alligata recommends that players should gather round the Speccy at a distance of one metre. I'd recommend a longer distance - perhaps a mile and a half. Check it out if fish are your things. 2/5

Roger: Match Fishing is probably the most boring game in the world - I can't think why it wasn't a leading contender for Firebird's Don't Buy This. Tackle this one if you dare! 1/5

Ross: You know the way fish look? - you know, bored to tears - well, that's how I looked after just five minutes with this game. 1/5
D A V E ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
  This is a mole-hill - if you watch it closely, you may be lucky enough to see a moon-mole stick its head out for a couple of seconds. If you do, jump on it quickly as it'll enable you to transform into a mole during the rest of the proceedings.   NODES OF YESOD
Odin Software / £9.95

Dave: Well, it must be said ... this game features the best music on the Spectrum this said of Top Of The Pops (That's not saying much! Ed.) And not only that, but the animation is up to the standard set by Ultimate, and the speech ... well, words fail!
OK, you've probably gathered by now that I like this one, so let's get down to the nitty- gritty of the actual game. First off, you're briefed by Commander Smith in an appalling German accent and then it's into the action. Your task is to make your way across the lunar surface, jumping onto a moon-mole as soon as it pops its head out of one of the craters. You then move underground in search of the eight Alchiems that go to make up the great master key.
On your journey under the lunar surface watch out for all sorts of baddies, such as the Liver Birds, a big red fish, an alien pirate and a bouncing Teddy Bear. Of course, if you choose you can transform yourself into a mole and deal with your enemies in a most animalistic fashion. You can jump all over the place, but mind you don't fall too far or else you'll find your space-suit develops leaks in the most unpleasant of places and you'll lose a life.
The action is fast and furious throughout Nodes of Yesod, which is amazing when you consider the quality of the sprites and the flicker-free animation. The game really does pale into insignificance when you see it being played ... the way the spaceman bounces off the lunar surfaces is a joy to behold. Some programming person has gone to the most meticulous detail to make sure that everything is just right. This one gets a resounding yesod from me! 5/5

Ross: Nodes of Yesod may seem like a silly name, but then the game's got some nice humorous touches that make it very friendly. You only have to read the instructions - they're in rhyme - to know that someone's got a healthy sense of humour. 4/5

Roger: Overall, I'd have to say that it looks like an Underwurlde clone ... but then again, I loves Underwurlde. And I love this game too! 5/5
NODES OF YESOD surface screen A mole-hole is the only way you're going to be able to get down into the underground world of Yesod. Down here you'll find all sorts of marauding meanies and bad tempered baddies ... so watch out!
This is the heartbeat monitor - as you draw near to the end of your life the sine wave begins to slow down. A nice touch!
This is the Alchiem counter. Each time you find a piece of the Alchiem, a square is filled in.  
Here we have it - the all-essential Alchiem. All you have to do now is collect the other seven Alchiems and then go in search of the monolith. Dressed to kill, here's our hero wearing the trendiest space gear this side of Carnaby Street. Note the tres chic Xammo jet pack on his back - how else does your average space-person get around these days?
NODES OF YESOD cavern screen According to the instructions, this is a Spring Monster ... but it looks more like a Teddy Bear to me! S'shame it's not so friendly.
Watch out for this creature ... it's none too friendly, and won't take kindly to the normal way of dispatching with unwelcome meanies. If you bounce this one on the head, it'll bounce you all over the screen.

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

Lothlorien-Argus / £9.95

Dave: No, it's not a diet program, we're back in wargame land.
This one's based on the Battle of Antwerp which happened around the end of WWII. If you cast your mind back to Imagine's Stonkers, there are a lot of similarities - such as using the cursor to move troops around on-screen. Also like Stonkers, you're kept up to date by means of a ticker-tape display.
The actual playing area is about 12 times the size of the screen, so when your cursor gets near to the edge of the screen you scroll automatically into the next area. Screen graphics are OK, but nothing to write to Mum about in your letter from the Front.
The game can be played by two players, the Speccy taking the other side should you have to play on your own.
Strategically, Bulge is quite good, but I've got
a feeling hardened wargamers may find the whole affair a bit easy. However, for the novice, Bulge is recommended. 3/5

Ross: On the whole, I find most wargames boring. Having said that, though, The Bulge should satisfy the death-dealing instincts of your average aspiring Montgomery ... it looks complicated enough anyway. 2/5

Roger: With a title like that I'm sure there's something obscene I could say ... but it might detract from what I thought was a very good wargame. Definitely one for the more violent of our readership. 4/5
911TS screen

Elite / £7.95

Roger: Stuck up past its hub-caps in blatant
advertising for Dunlop tyres, including permanent on-screen logo and an opening 'choice' screen featuring four different types of competition rubber from the aforesaid corporate enterprise, this lump of software claims to transport us through the experience of driving an upmarket hairdresser's motor car through various rally sections in less-than-glorious 2D scrolling action. (If, as Elite's packaging blurb boldly states, the Porsche 911 is the "world's leading sports car" then I'm Sir Clive Sinclair. This is fortunately untrue, although we seem to share similar intelligence and cash flow problems ...)
Players also get a chance to 'buy' other go-faster goodies besides tyres, before attacking their first stage. There is, we quickly discover, no pretension to driving simulation. The game
is nothing but a simplistic 'dodge-the-random-object' slice of kiddie-level arcadia.
Maybe I'd have been better off on Pirellis ... 2/5

Ross: Many moons ago, I typed in my first program into the 3.5K of the VIC 20 and ended up guiding a spaceship through a scrolling asteroid belt. 911TS is very similar, only this time you control a Porsche. Nuff said. 2/5

Dave: Elite seems to have caught on to Ultimate's trick of bringing out two games using the same techniques. Try imagining Grand National with Porsches instead of horses and you're halfway there. Pretty boring. 1/5
DON'T BUY THIS Fruit Machine screen

Firebird / £2.50

Dave: The games included on this tape are apparently the worst games submitted to Firebird for publication. Two of them star a puppy called Fido who has to flatten moles with his tail while avoiding birds flying overhead - both games are original and well worth a couple of minutes' attention. Race Ace is another 'also-ran', featuring a character-sized car moving around a single-screen plan view race track - there are two speeds: tediously slow or ridiculously fast! Moving on, there's Weasel Willy and a Fruit Machine.
And that's really what you want to do when you're checking out this one ... 'move on'. The games aren't that bad as do-it-yourself games but, they won't provide that much fun. Take a
good look at the words printed on the outside of the package before you buy ... the title of the package really does say it all. 1/5

Ross: Treat the title of this game like a Government Health Warning ... except this time, take notice of it! Believe me, the Spectrum loading pattern is much more exciting than the game. 1/5

Roger: Well, I for one will certainly buy it They may not be great games, but they're fun ... and that must count for quite a lot! At least you know what you're getting! 2/5

OCP / £5.95

Roger: As much as I deeply hate the infestation of most of my favourite liquid recreation facilities
with 8-ball pool tables, used by cretins who waste good drinking time, I found myself appalled by a distinct liking for this game - evidenced by the fact that I sat playing it for hours. Apart from a slight aberration in that the Speccy version only appears to have six balls, content is generally faithful to the real thing.
The computer gives you a choice of large or small pockets before starting and then frame up the balls, which are marked with values that multiply with the marked values on the pockets. Sighting is done by moving a target crosshair around the border of the table and the force beyond your stroke is self-governed by a simple system of letting an on-screen scale rise whilst holding the 'fire' key down. Releasing it wallops the ball with the appropriate amount of oof.
Beyond this basic game, which can be played
by two people and continue for frame after frame as long as the three 'lives' aren't lost through foul shots or stuffing the black down an orifice, variations are available to experts, like potting balls in a set order. There is also an 'edit' facility, allowing superstars to 'set up' interesting problems on the table.
It could put the breweries out of business ... 4/5

Ross: "Oh no, not another pool game", I hear you say. Well, you're in for a surprise - there are lots of nice graphics and a darn good game of pool, with all the usual options plus a great 'Edit the Table' feature. ?/?

Dave: If you're on the market for a pool game, then this is the one for you. 3/5

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

Hill MacGibbon / £9.95

Ross: Well, the box looks nice ... and inside there's a great book, Roald Dahl's Charlie And
The Chocolate Factory. Oh yes, there's also a cassette with five games on it, but the less said about that the better!
Based on various episodes in the book, the four games on side one of the tape load as one and can be accessed in any order from a menu. However, you're going to have to beat all four games on side one to get the code you'll need to start playing the game on side two.
The first game features Augustus Gloop being squirted around the maze of tubes of the sweet-making machine - your task is to guide him safely to the flask. Game two has Violet Beauregarde directing deadly blueberries at you from gaps in the wall of the juicing room. In the third game, Veruca Salt has to fend off squirrels with poisonous nuts and lastly, game four depicts Mike Teavee in a levels game collecting chocolate bars whilst avoiding killer
TV cameras.
The game on the other side is a sort of Jet Set Willy clone, but it's not good enough to make up for the games on side one. Overall, I'd say the package was overpriced, with the best item being the book. 2/5

Dave: I loved the film, but the game doesn't quite live up to it. There's a lot of variety, but I found the individual games frustrating as they were either too easy or too hard. 2/5

Roger: Well, if you've read the book and seen the film, you'd be well-advised to miss the game. Seeing as how Roald Dahl is usually known for his horror stories, he'll probably be very happy with the Spectrum version! 2/5
DON'T PANIC screen

Firebird / £2.50

Dave: How many games seem to be centred around the goings-on of a loading bay? Are they really such interesting places? Probably not ... but then again, the games they inspire aren't that interesting either!
Don't Panic has you controlling a droid working in the loading bay, and it's your job to get it zooming around the screen loading odd bits and pieces in a rocket; you do this by purifying the screen with your laser and then pushing them into the hold with further blasts from your laser. Which all sounds easy, until someone mentions the indestructible alien that's hanging around to spoil all your fun.
The goods you've to pack on to the rocket are all good fun, such as poisonous Teddy Bears and so on, but overall the game is quite
frustrating. The fact that the alien can not only move faster than you, but also manage to deal out death with astonishing accuracy, just made the whole affair rather boring after a while.
Arcade aces will probably find it a reasonable challenge, but there isn't enough variety here to make it a classic. 2/5

Ross: This ain't a bad game at all. Good graphics and a simple idea make for a game that's compulsive and tricky. 3/5

Roger: And I thought this would have something to do with Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy. How wrong I was! Still, it's not a bad little number ... pretty piccies anyway. 3/5

Virgin Games / £7.95

Roger: It would be easy to heap abuse on this game, but I'm not sure whether it really deserves it!
The format of aerial combat with relatively limited sophistication in VTOL aircraft control, some repetitive scrolling scenery and a variety of unpleasant helicopters bopping about looking for a missile in the laughing gear, is so tired and unoriginal that I started groaning as soon as it was loaded ...
Assuming that it'd take less time to get good at - and bored with - than it takes Pete Shaw to hack into a ham sandwich, I scrambled into action and discovered that it was just a little bit tougher than first expected. Learning 'vectoring' and the technique of diving to fire missiles downwards stretched my involvement
and, finally, I got a bit hooked.
Sure, it's corny. Nevertheless, it's competent arcade thuggery and, if valued as such, earns its keep. 3/5

Dave: Deep down, I've always wanted to blast helicopters out of the sky ... trouble is, most programs don't give you that authenticity. Falcon Patrol 2, on the other hand, fulfills all of my warmongering ambitions. Great stuff let's see more, please. 4/5

Ross: The graphics in this game are amazing ... top marks to Virgin's back- room programmers. A vast improvement over Falcon Patrol. 5/5

PSS / £9.95

Dave: Wargames seem to be in vogue - which means that the quality of said games is improving by leaps and bounds.
This is true in part for Battle For Midway. The game, as the name implies, places you in charge of the American fleet around Midway island just after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. The layout of the screen comprises a map - and various status screens are available for you to discover pointers on how the enemy is doing.
The naff bit for me came when the Japs came flying in out of the sun - the action suddenly altered to arcadia. It suddenly becomes your task to shoot down the enemy planes and sink their boats as well.
Perhaps I'm being old-fashioned but I prefer a
wargame to be a strategic affair, and not a game that's decided on the speed of pressing the keys. As a result, Battle For Midway ends up being between arcade and wartime simulation - although I'm happy to report that strategists with a forgiving nature will enjoy it. 3/5

Roger: Pretty sophisticated stuff this. Couldn't understand a word of it, mind you, but that probably means that all you would-be-warmongers will have fun. 3/5

Ross: Yet another wargame. The playing area's a bit cramped, the graphics aren't too hot and it's incredibly slow! 1/5

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
FAHRENHEIT 3000 screen

Firebird / £2.50

Ross: How come the software houses are still
churning out Jet Set Willy lookalikes? Who knows ... but here's another one!
The scenario this time is to shut down the Dragon nuclear reactor and prevent it from melting down. To achieve this you've got to close off 64 (count 'em) pressure valves before the core reaches 3000 degrees. Time is obviously limited, what with all that leaking radiation hanging about, but all you've got to do to turn off a valve is to touch them. Of course, if it's already leaking you're in a spot of trouble ...
At first glance, all of these games look fairly similar - but in play, few come up to the high standard set by Jet Set Willy or Manic Miner. Unfortunately, Fahrenheit 3000 is no exception. The incredible jumping power of our hero makes the game a bit tricky to play -
probably the result of too much radiation. The graphics are fairly standard, a bit sparse and flickery too.
It's a shame that too much reverence has been placed on the MMs and JSWs of this world - a copy is never as good as the original. 1/5

Dave: Yet another JSW lookalike, but with superior jumping abilities and smoother graphics. For £2.50 it's probably worth it but I, for one, am getting really bored with this sort of game. 1/5

Roger: Now where have I seen this little lot before? Good grief, JSW's got more clones than Boy George! Why can't someone come up with something original for a change? 2/5
R O S S ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
MikroGen / £9.95

Ross: Herbert last showed his face as the little nipper crawling around biting ankles in Everyone's A Wally. But now he's been elevated to appear in his own adventure.
And hasn't he grown! Herbert's now an inquisitive toddler and he's wandered off unattended into a large department store. Of course, being 'wallies', his folks Wilma and Wally have deposited themselves in the 'Lost and Found' office and are awaiting Herbert's return. Herbert, on the other hand, has quite a journey on his hands - as he searches all over the various departments in the store for his parents.
When you first start the game, the colourful background and smooth sprite movement will impress you the most. Herbert is made up of quite a small graphic, but he's only a youngster and he does move well! The little chap has three lives and he can carry up to two objects at a time; picking up objects is done in the time-honoured tradition of walking over them.
Herbert can move more or less anywhere he likes in the store, but if you want to get on you'll have to give some thought to matching up the various 'finds' along the way. Some ot the screens require jumping and timing skills whereas other screens are much simpler; for instance, one screen reminds me of Breakout.
Of course, overall, the humour we've come to expect from MikroGen wins out. I'd have no problems recommending this game ... 5/5

Dave: The usual high-quality graphics and a standard MikroGen storyline. Great if you like all the others. 2/5

Roger: I knew they'd do it eventually - at last we've got an arcade game set in a shopping arcade! Wally fans will love it. My only complaint is that it wasn't all set in Mothercare. 4/5
Toy Dept. This is the Toy department - and that's exactly where you'd expect our be-nappied hero, Herbert, to be hanging out.
To open the door, Herbert must leap up at the handles - but first, he's going to have to get past those spinning tops. Each time Herbert hits one of the tops, the tear-drop fills up ... and when it does, he'll have lost one of his three lives.
Jumping on top of the Jack-in-the-Box will blast young Herbert up to the dizzy heights of the top levels. It won't help you much, but he will be nearer the honey-pot which he'll need if he's going to deal with the Teddy Bear. Herbert's status is shown as the large tear-drop - as this fills up so Herbert gets more and more unhappy ... and less co-operative! The smaller tear-drops indicate how many lives our heroic youngster has left.
Sports Dept. Indicated here are the objects young Herbert has in tow, complete with a brief description of what they are. To pick up a new object, simply walk over it and leave one of your possessions behind (you're only allowed to carry two objects at a time).
Indicated here are the objects young Herbert has in tow, complete with a brief description of what they are. To pick up a new object, simply walk over it and leave one of your possessions behind (you're only allowed to carry two objects at a time).
The pop-gun in the middle of the screen is empty - young Herbert has to get the cork and then he'll stand a chance of shooting the duck out of the swimming pool. I wonder if the RSPCA knows all this is going on? Here we are in the Sports department, and Herbert's in dire need of some sticky sustenance - sweets to you - to build up his strength. To get past this room, all Herbert has to do is get past the bouncing tennis balls without getting hit too much ...
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