SCUBA DIVE

Producer: Durell
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £5.50
Language: machine code
Author: Mike Richardson

With their latest release Durell, who brought you Harrier Attack and our Established Game of the Month in the last issue, Jungle Trouble, claim for it that it sets a new standard for animated graphics for the Spectrum computer. A rather high-handed claim, but one that seems amply justified by seeing Scuba Dive. If you’re one of those people who squirm with primordial horror at the sight of Great White sharks, then stay well clear of this game! The state of animated graphics in this highly original game is every bit as good as anything you will see in the arcades, and the jaws agape sharks look pretty real.

The basic object of Scuba Dive is to leap off your boat, dive down and collect pearls from oysters on the sea bed. If you think it sounds easy forget it! This is no game for beginners of the arcade art. For a start off, the sea is alive with fish of all shapes and sizes, from giant sharks and squids right down to tiny fish swimming in shoals, and if you’ve ever fallen for Jacques Cousteau’s line that they are really very cuddly, you can forget that too! These guys are all killers.

When you press the appropriate key, one of your three divers leaps out of the boat and can then be guided down to the rocky sea bed. If he runs into it he gets knocked out for a few seconds, and killed if it happens immediately again. The pearls can be collected only from open oysters. To the right of the display area is a status section which records how much oxygen is used up. It’s replenished by surfacing and finding the boat, which wanders off on its own. Only by touching the ladder at the rear of the boat are you safely aboard and ready to dive again.

Screenshot

A plethora of fishy animation in Scuba Dive.

Also on the sea bed, are hollows, actually openings to undersea caves. These are protected by an octopus, whose waving tentacles allow a precarious access. Should you get through, the bottom of the cave is covered with giant clams, whose pearls are more valuable, but the clams have a nasty habit of snapping shut on you! This cave in turn also has hollow accesses to deeper caves protected by an octopus each. The deepest caves contain treasure chests and also spare oxygen bottles to keep you going. And that’s it. You score points for pearls brought to the boat but if you get knocked out or eaten, you lose the pearls you may have collected. The four skill levels affect your scores, numbers of sea creatures, oxygen supply and the speed at which the octopuses move as well as other details.

CRITICISM

‘This is an original game with excellent colour and graphics, although it’s a shame about the almost non-existent sound. The fishy graphics are fantastic (one tends to get into trouble while admiring the various forms of marine life)! The game isn’t very addictive and I would have thought there could have been more to do like harpooning sharks, but anyway I liked it!’

‘The detail of the graphics is quite staggering. Not only are they large but they’re also realistically very small. The sharks have a lot of frames to make the movement work, including a very good turning action. The game is full of nasty touches like the giant jelly fish which float on the surface and hide behind the boat waiting to catch a diver as he jumps off. The diver’s movement, too, is just wonderful, both in diving off and in swimming. A bit of continuous sound, the effect of breathing bubbles perhaps, would have been a help, but to be honest, this game doesn’t need much help. Like Jungle Trouble I found it to be immensely addictive — it should probably be banned as a health risk before it has time to take off! Great!’

‘Despite the simplicity of the controls (user-defined keys too) this is not an easy game to play, and on the higher skill levels it’s downright maddening. This really shows what a bit of dedication can do in turning Spectrum graphics into something to be proud of. The game is also about as addictive as any around I’ve played recently.’

COMMENTS

Control keys: rotate clockwise/anticlockwise, accelerate and break. As preprogammed very sensible, but may be user-defined to cope with almost any joystick
Joystick: with user-defined keys you can set up for most joysticks
Keyboard play: once you get the hang, very responsive
Colour: excellent
Graphics: words fail
Sound: poor
Skill levels: 4
Lives: 3 divers
Features: a neat feature enables you to save just the hi-scores and then load them in to continue
General rating: highly recommended and excellent value for money

Use of computer89%
Graphics98%
Playability90%
Getting started89%
Addictive qualities90%
Value for money98%
Overall92%

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