Your Spectrum
Issue 18, September 1985 - Joystick Jury
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J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
Have we got some great software lined up for you! But first a surprise - the hairy hacker is taking his annual rest (he calls it that 'cos it usually lasts a year!) so we welcome a new joystick juror to the bench, Rick Robson. Now join the three Rs - Rick, Roger Willis and Ross Holman as they find out where the arcade action is!

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?

US Gold / £7.95

Rick: I cut my arcade teeth on cosmic combat
capers such as this so I wasn't too impressed with (yet) another Space Invaders clone - even if it is in sort of 3D. Still, for any star pilots out there with L-plates on your joysticks there's a certain nostalgic charm about fighting your way through the different levels of combat before the Final Frontier is reached and the ultimate confrontation with the Death Star (oops! sorry Mother Ship).
The game offers whizz bangs a plenty in the end but the generous fuel supply, a benign assortment of hoppers and saucers that rarely zap and never go into hyper space, won't leave you sweating at the controls. Buck's own ship has the manoeuvrability of a camel train but providing you can ride a bike through a barn door you should learn to save
the Planet Zoom and enjoy a Cornetto at the same time. And beware the graphics - tacksville. This is no Zoom with a view but a planet covered with your Mum's kitchen lino.
Though I had it sussed in the time it takes Connors to question a line call, I still had plenty of good wholesome fun purging my blood lust annihilating aliens. 3/5

Roger: The usual flash yank space bother. Presumably Mr Rogers was just earning a quick Buck before taking on more dastardly foes. 2/5

Ross: Not up to the usual US Gold standard but still equal to all the other look-alikes. 2/5
R I C K ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
  When the message, 'Breath' flashes on the screen, you'd better do it - or die! Just hit the fire button as quickly as poss but make sure it doesn't put you off your stroke. This is the all-time top three greatest. HYPER SPORTS
Konami / £9.95

Rick: Now, I always thought that Hypersports was skiving off cross country with the lovely Sharon to share a No.6 but this classy sporting simulation takes you through swimming, skeet shooting, (C'mon, get your skeets on. Ed), vaulting, archery, triple jump and weight lifting. Not even Daley Thompson combines that little lot so you can class yourself quite a little hexathlete (calm down, I said hex!) if you make it to the end. You'll be just about ready for Seoul by then.
You start off with the swimming that's guaranteed to work you up into a quick frenzy - all that joystick wagglin' and fire button breathin'. Sort of underwater DTs, if you see what I mean. But while the swimming's all brawn the skeet's all reflex - the nice computer aims the gun for you so you only have to shoot. Only in the later sections do the old hand/eye co-ordinates require any grey matter. The vaulting and the triple jump are the hardest to master at the outset, but here the graphics are especially eye-catching. Watch out as well, for the wink of success when you qualify in the shooting and the rude noise when the vaulter comes a cropper. My only gripe is that it's a bit of a bore having to go back to the beginning if you fail to qualify at any of the rounds.
This is about the only way I'll do a triple jump in my bedroom! 4/5

Ross: What a sports simulation. The events have mostly done away with the key bashin', joystick thrashin' of previous games of this ilk, and I don't like to boast but I bet there's not many of you on your third time round already. Huh? 4/5

Roger: All this exercise is doing me in ... I told the Ed, the old wrists'll pack in again but he won't listen. I dunno he'll want me to start reviewing out of bed soon. 4/5
Here's the qualifying time you've got to beat - 45 seconds - before you're allowed a crack at the next event. First time round this event's a doddle but just wait till you're on your fourth lap. Hyper Sports - swimming
Here's an update on your time in this event. It should give you a rough time to pace yourself but you'll have to wait for the finish to see exactly how well you did.
Your sights will automatically lock onto the clay pigeons as they come within range - all you've got to do is make sure you fire when they're inside the box. Don't bank on pigeon pie for supper - these birds are made of clay. If you're going for the high scores, you'll soon find out just how fast they can fly - from both directions.
Here's one of the launchpads that the skeets come skiddadling out of. As soon as they start appearing from the left, things starts to speed up. Hyper Sports - shooting
Here you are - the picture of concentration. But watch out for the wink when you've managed to qualify.

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

Alligata / £6.95

Roger: The boxing scenario seems fine in theory but the packaging graphic is about as dramatic as the game isn't.
The player takes on the role of the Italian Stallion and is required to slap Slugger Sam around, decking the poor old has-been three times, and therefore qualifying for a title fight with Bald Bully. Score is accrued by successfully landing whacks in the gob or knuckles in his guts and is lost by either receiving blows without blocking them or hitting the opponent's guard. To be fair to the game, it's a difficult technique to master and I spent a lot of time as a victim of surprise circumstance - lying down for an unplanned rest in the ring.
You're unlikely to get much better than me,
though, because the graphics are so dreary and unexciting. Two dimensional, side view imagery and jerky movements lack wit or thrills, and the feeling of disappointment is aggravated by slow contra response. Come back Henry Cooper, all is forgiven ... 1/5

Rick: Sure, it's the trickiest to beat but why would you want to. The graphics and sound are below bog-standard when matched against the other two. 2/5

Ross: This is comic book stuff without the humour. Alligata must be cursing its luck having seen the other two on the market. 2/5
R O G E R ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
  The crowd tends to go loopy at every possible occasion. Settle down at the back there! Both players have an energy level. When it runs out, the players out of the count - except there's no count! ends. Here the graphics are three dimensional and participatory - you can almost feel the punches.
The screen is filled by the ugly features of your opponent and successful application of knuckle sandwich leads to satisfying damage and signs of pain. If, however, you fail to block too many of his blows, then eventually your fighter - represented by the back of a head - sinks off the bottom of the screen, going down for the count.
Rocco has to batter his way through four opponents - Cimbel Lin, Ted Matare, Jansen Sino and Fighter Bull - to win the World Championship of 48K fisticuffs. The only sad thing is that he does it playing purely by the rules when we all know that boxing matches are won by the quick illicit head-butt stuck in while the ref's not looking. Shame. 4/5

Ross: Goggle at the graphics, settle back and take in the sound - then wonder why you're bothering. This is still boring. 3/5

Rick: Left, jab, punch, right. If you thought Southpaw was a house in Dallas, this ain't for you. 3/5

Elite / £7.95

Roger: Despite fuzzy, naffola graphics that look like the view through my bathroom window, Bruno's attempts to deal with eight different sparring partners stands head, shoulders and boxing gloves above the competition.
This sparring simulation offers the same back of head shot as Rocco but the knockouts require a great deal more in the way of knuckle-dusting. On top of which movements, fight tactics and programming twists, like the knock down feature, make for maintained interest and complication. Slugging through the screens with our Frank saw me swimming in sweat until I was left out for the count. But it was worth it just to see the crowd go frantic at the front. 4/5

Rick: If you're gonna beat the brains out of someone, then it's better to do it here. 3/5

Ross: In the battle of the boxers, it's a knockout to Frank by one fall and two submissions. (Surely some mistake! Ed) 3/5

It's a shame your player's got his back to the camera - you can't see all the gruesome goriness around the gob area. You'll just have to do it to him before ... ROCCO screen
And in the blue corner - here's your opposition and his category - lightweight and so on, so you can see just what you're up against.
Gremlin Graphics / £7.95

Roger: Technically, this is almost the same game as Knockout, but what a difference -
because this one knocks you out with smart visuals. If anything the action is as simple, the choice being between right and left attack and defence, but there any similarity
I've seen that face somewhere before. What on earth's the Editor doing in ... (OK, you can stop right there! Ed). P'raps it's a government health warning on the dangers of boxing.   These rounds start at zero and go up to three minutes. That's a mighty long time to be trading punches!
FB's BOXING screen
If you push that hit ratio up to the KO symbol, you'll really be able to knock your opponent for six. He'll be rockin' and a reelin ...
  Luckily, you don't have to see Frank's face if you're letting him take a beating. Even luckier, he can't come out and sort you out!

The METABOLIS & QUACKSHOT screenshots were swapped on this next page in the magazine; they're shown correctly here.

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

Duckworth / £5.95

Roger: This is a fairly reasonable training aid
for a misspent youth or life of idleness passed away with a pack of cards. Without explaining the rules and subtle techniques involved in poker, it can be said that the Spectrum version is a good simulation with opponents' comments, threats and discernible tactics coming across pretty much like the real thing.
If you want to learn the game or enjoy playing it without actually getting taken to the financial cleaners, then this program is worth running, with some reservations. The on-screen comments and wise-cracks get swiftly repetitive even if the hands you're dealt don't. But the most annoying feature when you really get stuck into the game is its unnecessary slowness in dealing cards.
That apart, bluffing outrageously, which is
the very essence of smart poker, works very well and theoretical winnings can be raked in with growing satisfaction. Unfortunately though it's impossible to cheat ... 4/5

Rick: If you're a red-hot poker player and you've won a wardrobe full of other people's shirts and no-one will play you, this could be good practice. 3/5

Ross: A card game. I took one step back. It plays The Entertainer as its theme tune. Two steps. Poker. I'm off. Reminds me of the very first games on the Speccy. I'm off them too! 2/5

Mind Games / £9.99

Ross: How can you fit the whole of the Royal
St George's golf course into a Speccy. Here's how, but it takes over nine hundred screens. You'll also get a hole- by-hole account of the course plus maps and history lesson.
Load up and then choose your joystick option. The Protek didn't seem to work too well for me but you can use the redefinable keyboard option to set this up.
If you take a look at the screen shot you'll be able to see the game layout. The top half shows a section of the course drawn in isometric perspective with your ball slap bang in the middle. Below this are seven windows giving you control over the golfer and how well he goes to it. You can increase or decrease the strength of your shots, adjust the angle through 360 degrees and choose the club you want to use. You can
only make a shot when you've chosen a club and the caddy approves of it.
It's got to be said that I'm pretty crazy on the golf course, well, OK, the crazy golf course but the real thing's never appealed. So, this must have had me hooked as I really enjoyed knocking a ball about the screen. 3/5

Roger: Dennis Thatcher might like it but I didn't. I'd never use any club that'd have me as a member! 2/5

Rick: Any ol' iron, any ol' iron. Well, that didn't go down too well with my caddy who soon got very cheesed off with me. All good fun. 3/5

Gremlin Graphics / £6.95

Roger: The story line, claiming that you have
been partially transformed into a sick parrot with heart disease, by the wicked Kremin, is enough to put anybody off this game.
Basically, the feathered hero is required to flap through the usual multi- screen yawnorama, collecting sustaining objects to maintain energy level, hunting the reversal serum to turn you back from oven-ready turkey into near-normal Spectrum owner. Once that first objective has been chirpily achieved, then four pieces of 'nuclear fuel' must be gathered together in the Kremin reactor room and escape made before the big whoopsy occurs. Useful wizards and boomerangs can be found on the way, along with the aforementioned birdseed or whatever.
The graphics are fairly ordinary, the degree
of control is imprecise to say the least and the screen content is just a hotch-potch of unoriginal obstacles and nasties. This game would be best used for the computing equivalent of lining the bottom of your budgie's cage ... 2/5

Rick: Spot the influence time again. Is it Sabre Wulf or perhaps Wriggler, maybe even a touch of Underwurlde. There's probably a game in here somewhere but the weight of history hangs too heavy. 2/5

Ross: Nothing to write home about here. Another maze type game. Nothing to write about at all in fact. 2/5

Sparklers / £2.50

Ross: It's a cheapie and a jolly good one at that! But it doesn't have the most original idea for a game. In order to disguise this fact, the
programmers have come up with a silly scenario that sets the action in a toy factory where rampaging ducks and other beasties are on the loose. And because the inspiration comes from Ancient times - well, when did Tutankhamen first come out? - the on- screen playing area looks more like a dungeon than an industrial complex.
At any one time you'll find yourself looking at about a quarter of the maze that's made up of brick walls. As soon as the chap you control reaches the edge, the screen does a fairly fast and flicker free scroll. But then so it should be - everything else stops while this takes place. In all there are sixteen such mazes.
So, what stands in the way of your success then? Well, there's a complete collection of cuddly toys that have turned rather nasty. All that comes between you and constant
cuddliness, is a standard issue laser-spitting gun and your duckbusters. To escape the mazes you must collect the keys that'll unlock the doors but you can only carry one at a time.
OK, so you've seen it before but for my money, and more importantly, for yours this ain't a bad budget buy. 3/5

Roger: Another dollop of duck soup that doesn't taste too fresh! Still, for the price of a Kentucky Fried this'll fill you up for longer. 3/5

Rick: OK, I was going to say this was foul but that wouldn't be true or particularly funny. I've played versions before but I never said I wouldn't play them again. 3/5

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

Artic / £6.95

Rick: You've got to be a keen mouser to find your way round this maze game for moggy
lovers everywhere. Mamma cat has to round up her lost kittens before nightfall when the bully dogs get together and make mince pies of the moggyettes. On the way, you can slay the strays with gobs of fluff balls (charming! Ed) or engage in a little feline fisticuffs. But beware your dropping catoplexic energy level.
At times I was more confused than amazed but then I have trouble following the tube map. At one point I became catatonic and popped out to see a man about a dog! (OK, that's enough cat and dog jokes unless it starts raining in the game. Ed).
The constant need for referral to the map doesn't help the game go with a flow but aids the feline feats without strain on the brain. The scrolling Sabre Wulf type maze has some gorgeous graphics ranging from
Basildonesque shopping centre to litter strewn inner city. Mama cat might have more luck powing the pooches if she didn't have to rely on a diet of fish bones and dustbin dregs to replenish her energy/stamina levels. Our Ginger only eats Tesco's best - I asked him what he thought of the game: no cat-astrophe but not purrfect, he mewed. Reckon I could get him a job on YS? 3/5

Ross: I don't want to be catty about this but isn't this just too close to Sabre Wulf to make it boring. Still, it is big and there's a lot going on. 2/5

Roger: This is a sort of cat of nine tails. I'm afraid I soon wanted to curl up in someone's lap and go to sleep. 2/5
R O S S ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
  Watch 'em bob and weave as you sweep in for the kill. All that's needed is a few well placed shots before they're blown to smithereens!   This informative gauge tells you which key you are pressing, for those who don't always realise which key they're pressing, of course.
The three spheres symbolise the lives you have left. Run out of shields more than three times, and all your balls will turn blue.   Just another bouncing alien to put you off getting any further in this pretty game.  

GLASS screen

GLASS screen
Watch this shield gauge constantly - one slip up by letting it get too low, and you're going to lose one of your precious ships. Each wave is against the clock - when the time runs out you get warped to the next level via an impressive 3D screen.   This Spectrum console provides you with such interesting messages as 'Alert' every time an alien is near, but off screen. Wow! (yawn). Your Nuke bomb is released once you reach each of the three alien bases. Pity you've got to blow them up, they're quite dapper really.
Quicksilva / £9.95

Ross: So, the Game Lords have burst back with an exciting and technically impressive program. And about time too!
GLASS stands for Ground Level Alien Strike Simulator - yep, it's a 3D shoot 'em up that has you peering out the front of a ground attack craft. At the bottom of the screen are your instrument and status gauges while the rest of it's taken up with your window onto the alien world.
There are three stages to the gamesplay. First comes the ground attack where aliens either bounce (must be on space hoppers! Ed), trundle or slither up to you, to test your reflexes and your shields - you'll like the reflection the enemy makes on the glass surface of the planet. For the second stage you'll need to call up all your dodging skills to weave your way in 'n' out of the cylindrical towers at great speed. Fortunately, the third stage is more relaxing - you just have to knock out the weapons on the large ships as they scroll from the right.
Finished that? Good, now it's just a quick jaunt into the enemy base to blast off a nuke. This one's going into my collection. 4/5

Roger: Oh no! Not more space blasting! Haven't we got passed all that yet? Still, some of the prettiest aliens that I've terminated in many a moon. 3/5

Rick: The graphics are great but this game lacks true depth. 3/5

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
ONE ON ONE screen

Ariolasoft / £6.95

Rick: Meaty, beefy, big and bouncy is how I
remember basketball, and being nearer to four than fourteen foot tall I used to see more of knees and navels than the ball. But now this game lets us normals under eight foot high dribble with the best of them. At last, joystick agility counts for more than prehensile mobility - none of that nasty sweating and itchy jockstrap business.
This is not full team basketball, however - it pitches you into a one against one play - either the computer or your keyboard comrade. Just dribble and shoot and see your score rise. Trouble is that's all, in essence, you do - dribble and shoot. With only three moving elements game options are limited. The programmers have tried to perk it up with a breaking back board and a whimsical ref
who would've been shot if this was a football match.
Two of the longest stars of the American game, Dr Julius Erving and Larry Bird helped build this program. I just hope these guys arc quicker around the court than they are across the computer. 2/5

Roger: A more bow-legged pair bouncing a ball around a court, I have yet to see. It's a wonder they can walk! 2/5

Ross: I did try with this game, honest, but it was tricky not to find fault. It's too slow and the graphics aren't much cop, so why did I keep wanting just one more go? 3/5

Interceptor Micros / £7.95

Rick: Unfortunately, this placid platform game
is based on one of the greatest and longest stories ever told. It sure is long and sure does grate.
You are Imrahil the Kalendar Prince who has a date to keep (and no doubt a few to eat) saving the Princess Anitra from the wicked grasp of the Sultan Saladin. This game of Eastern Promise doesn't make the platforms any more exotic than a Pakistani porter would those at Clapham Junction.
A pretty box contains a pretty poor game as you have to collect pots of gold that come to spell to the word Arabia. This Bedouin booty turns up on several different screens ranging from a ship, a desert, a garden, a palace and then eventually freedom. The Prince has various perils to overcome as part of his own Middle East crisis - including an octopus straight from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea
and arrows that have apparently been shot from a neighbouring version of 'Hunchback'. The baddies have an unfair advantage at first because the collision detection ain't too hot. And I certainly dream of genies with greater powers than those portrayed here ... 2/5

Roger: The name promised an adults-only platform game - well, it is a platform game and I wouldn't let kids near it but for very different reasons. 1/5

Ross: I've seen this on the (whisper) Commie 64, and without the music and speech, there's little left but a crummy platform game. 2/5

Mastertronic / £1.99

Ross: Nonte ... what ... eous? Don't be put off by
the weird name though, because this game's really excellent value for money.
You are in control of the seeker, a spherical robot on its mission to destroy a computer hidden in the depths of a planet. There's no denying that the game's a cross between Underwurlde and Jetpac with a thousand plus screens. These link up to form a labyrinth filled with blastable nasties - so blast'em.
The seeker has a finite amount of Psyche (that's a fancy way of saying energy) that decreases if you bump into some of the objects in the passageways. Other objects will bump you off outright while others will replenish your energy.
It's also open to you to pick up and detonate bombs to open passageways or you can
travel about in non-firing defenceless mode - the only way you can pass through some sections.
The game's tricky if a little repetitive but for under two quid it has to be a hit. 4/5

Roger: Somehow, I think I've been here before - it's Sabre Wulf with a sillier name. 3/5

Rick: Under a year ago, this would have stunned the socks off everyone but now it's "done it, seen it", Well, don't spread it around but I like it. 4/5
GO TO HELL screen

666 Software / £6.99

Ross: Now you've got to be getting desperate to
come up with a new angle like this. All the bumph on the game pushes the gruesome content and ghoulish goings-ons very hard (Is this what's meant by things that go bumph in the night? Ed.). When it comes down to it, though, you won't need to perform any diabolical deeds. This is really just another maze game, spiced up with a backdrop of ghostly (and ghastly) graphics.
Through fifty screens, your task is to find a friend and free him from eternal damnation. (Sound's like a sort of non-stop sesh on JSW! Ed). You must guide your little man through narrow passage ways, avoiding the deadly walls and the floating fiends that'll pass through anything. In true Hammer horror style, your only defence is your crucifix - use it when you get very cross!
The hope is that you'll presumably gasp at the gory graphics as you go on your rounds. You'll see people being sawn up, stretched on racks and having their heads crushed. The game may not keep you awake for long but I can't see anyone having nightmares over it. 2/5

Rick: Ugh, the horror of it all - and I don't mean the graphics but the game. Clamp on the thumb screws, stretch me on a rack but don't force me to play this again. 1/5

Roger: An erratic and ill-defined experience of pure purgatory, vicar ... but still more fun than the other place! 3/5
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