Living Guide to Spectrum Software

ARCADE MISCELLANEOUS

AH DIDDUMS
Producer: Imagine, 16K £5.50
Author: D H Lawson
Don’t be fooled by the title — this is no game for cissies! When it first appeared it had all the reviewers tied in confused knots. You are a teddy bear, shut in the toy box with the other toys for the night, but your baby’s crying so you must get out and go and comfort him. The only way out is by using all the coloured building bricks and assembling them correctly, whilst avoiding all the nasty toys who want to stop you. When you escape the box you realise it is inside another, bigger box, and that one’s inside another, and so on... What confused everyone at the time was the method used to assemble the bricks, and Imagine’s cassette inlay is of no help, nor are the game’s instructions on screen: this is the outline idea — pick up the brick and take to top of screen slightly to right of correct colour block, then drop it. The brick should slide into place as if by magic. Considering the packed screen, the graphics are excellent. Confusion of keys, but this isn’t an arcade speed game. Watch out for clockwork soldiers, play people and the aggressive train — and the baby’s crying — there, there, there...

ANGLER
Producer: Virgin Games, 48K £5.95
Author: Dirk Olivier
A quiet day on the river fishing sounds like a load of fun, but this game manages to be about as thrilling as a real day on the river fishing! Beneath your boat pass 18 layers of various fish. With each game you’re given 100 casts of the line to hook as many as you can. Some fish are fine to catch, some can be quite dangerous, and caught crabs eat away your catch. There are five levels of play which determine how close to your hook a fish must be to get caught. The language is BASIC, so are the graphics and the idea. May be okay for very young children, but there’s nothing here for the serious player. Makes you wonder why 48K of memory was required. Virtually nil addictiveness and an overall CRASH rating of 39%.

APPLE JAM
Producer: D K Tronics, 16K £5.59 (2)
Author: E Hickman
There’s a lift to the left, a sauna to the right, an overhead jam dispenser and conveyor belt carrying apples in the middle. The idea is to centre your man to catch dripping jam and falling apples, leaping between each to prevent any falling into the rat run below. With every mouthful your man gets fatter and must eventually be taken to the sauna to sweat off his fat. The more food that falls through to the rats, the more adventurous they become, until they come up and try eating your man. Getting into the lift saves him, but it all becomes thoroughly silly and repetitive. Joystick: Protek, AGF, general rating: poor — 47%.

AQUAPLANE
Producer: Quicksilva, 48K £6.95
Author: John Hollis
It’s a nice day and you fancy a spot of water skiing. After a moment you’re suddenly surrounded by rocks, but they’re fairly easy to get through. Following on though, the water’s instantly full of row boats, and if you get through again the so-called G and T rich-kids arrive, incompetently flapping their yachts all over the place. Should you survive the hee-haws, there’s the sharks... Skiier and boat are seen in profile, controls (up/down/thrust) move both boat and skiier, but not strictly in relation to each other, like the real thing, the skiier inconveniently follows a slightly different path to the boat. This makes it difficult to get both safely through the gaps. It’s a very enjoyable game to play, but the lasting appeal is slight. A clever touch is that the border colours are split horizontally to match exactly the colour of sea and sky in the game, thus giving the impression that the entire tv screen is in use. Try it first and buy if you like it.

ATIC ATAC
Producer: Ultimate, 48K £5.50 (2)
In a castle of some 200 rooms, filled with useful and useless objects, you must guide your Serf, Knight or Wizard to find the three pieces of the front door key and escape. The rooms are full of all types of monsters which may be despatched by throwing weapons at them in fortunately unlimited quantities. The rooms are seen in a sort of splayed perspective from above. Doors connect between rooms, stairs lead up or down, trapdoors do even more unpredictable things. The complexities of this game are likely to keep you going for ages. Not only must you employ adventure seeking skills to get through but also arcade skills to keep your charmed life from being eroded away by the nasties. There are quite a lot of keys to master, even if you use a Kempston, Protek or AGF joystick. The graphics are marvellous and if you aren’t a nut already, then Atic Atac is likely to be the turning point. General rating: excellent, overall CRASH rating 92%.

BARRELDROP
Producer: Games Machine, 48K £5.95 (1)
Author: Russell Vincent
Starring Gordon and Flash, Barreldrop is a games compendium. Gordon suffers from blocked drainpipes — at least his house does. He cures this affliction by the curious method of rolling large barrels down the sloping roof and letting them fall through the blocked pipes. He only has five barrels and it’s important they fall exactly down the centre of each pipe. If they don’t he loses the barrel for good. Fortunately his faithful dog Flash is on hand sometimes and if called in time, the dog will recover the barrel and return it for another go. Clearing all five pipes successfully results in another screen which may be anything from a riddle to guess to an arcade shoot em up sequence. It’s quite an original idea, in which nothing is too difficult, and yet there’s so much that it becomes very difficult to get through. Playable and fun, good value, no joystick options. Overall CRASH rating 65% M/C.

THE BIRDS & THE BEES
Producer: Bug-Byte, 48K £5.95 (2)
Author: Adrian Sherwin & Matthew Smith
Boris Bee from Birkenhead has spotted a field full of flowers and has dragged his hive in there. Your job is to take him back and forth, collecting nectar from the flowers, whilst avoiding the somewhat annoyed birds. It takes several trips because the more flowers Boris visits, the heavier he gets. The more nectar he collects, the more the birds home in on him and the slower he flies. Eventually centipedes and honey bears appear. Controlling Boris isn’t easy, he’s something of a soggy flier and it takes practice to get used to him. The graphics are very good (Matthew Smith of Manic Miner) and the game is compatible with the Currah Microspeech. Good control keys, joystick: Kempston, Protek and AGF. Gets progressively harder, 5 lives, general rating: addictive and recommended. CRASH Overall rating 83%.

CHOPPER RESCUE
Producer: Blaby, 48K £5.50
Author: G Capewell
The game starts with a helicopter dashing in to rescue the title from a dreadful spelling error, CHOPPER RISCUE it says, but the chopper comes back to insert an E and remove the I. As is their wont, scientists are being entombed by radioactive waste dropped from overflying planes. You must rescue them in your (nicely animated) helicopter by shooting away the waste and making tunnels in it to reach them. Each one must be returned to the safety of the helipad before getting the next. The gun fires in the direction of travel and there’s not much time. If you get hit by the falling waste you’re dead. This is a very fast game, almost impossible with the cursor keys, and difficult enough with a Kempston AGF or Protek joystick. Addictive and good value. Recommended.

COOKIE
Producer: Ultimate, 16K £5.50
Also available in ROM cartridge form at £14.95. Ultimate’s graphics are famous. In Cookie you are Charlie the Chef, with mixing bowl below and dustbins to the side. On the right is the pantry containing the ingredients which must be got into the bowl. Unfortunately, the ingredients are pretty wild and they’re accompanied by assorted objects that shouldn’t be in the pantry and would upset the Ministry of Health officials if they knew about them. Using flour bombs to momentarily stun, you must knock the ingredients into the mixing bowl, and the rafters into the bin. Should you get it the wrong way round you lose points, time energy and everything. Each screen provides different and more difficult ingredients. Another game that needs a joystick, Kempston or Protek. Hi-score, one or two player games, 8-directional movement and the smoothest of graphics around. Addictive and highly recommended.

CYBERTANKS
Producer: Star Dreams, 16K £5.50
A complex maze of green blocks is the home of the enemy cybertanks. Take your tank round and shoot ’em up. You can blast away the blocks to get at them, but they are fast. Three lives, hall of fame, joystick: Kempston AGF or Protek. Nice graphics and playable, but perhaps not very addictive.

DODGE CITY
Producer: Phoenix, 48K £9.99 (2)
Author: Fraser Orr
This is a two-part game with an arcade cassette and an adventure cassette. Only if you complete 12 levels of the arcade game will you receive the secret code which allows you to run the adventure game. (See Adventure section next month for the game details of the second cassette.) You are a mail rider on the desert plain, galloping your horse along, avoiding the cactus plants (a prickly end) and collecting the mail bags which have been so carelessly left about the desert. But behind you come baddies, shooting at your back. You can dodge the bullets or fire back. If you hit a baddie, he’s soon backed up by another. As each level progresses more baddies join in. Get shot, hit a cactus or miss 4 consecutive mail bags and you lose a life. Between each level you are given clues, vital to solving the adventure game. We had some doubts about the idea of combining two so inter-related games. Poor keyboard positions, joystick: Kempston, good colour and graphics, 12 skill levels essential (24 in all), above average. CRASH overall: 57%.

DOOMBUGS
Producer: Workforce, 16K £5.50 (1)
This is an original type of creepie crawlie game but it is not a ‘centipede’ game. There are basically two screens. In the first our hero, Tarant Tula, finds himself in the Grubbers’ Lair. There’s a trapdoor leading to the next screen which only opens after repeated hammerings of Tarant Tula’s head. There’s also a pile of honey for the bugs to eat, but Tarant (to use his first name) must take a mouthful of the honey between each attempt on the door. The Grubbers, little round things, wander about and when they meet a green, squirmy Bubbergrubber is formed. These eat honey too, and should two of them meet a Red Backed Grubber results. These are the ones that kill off old Tarant if they catch him. Aim is to get through the trap door before any amount of Red Backs are bred. Tarant can, however, eat the Grubbers and Bubbergrubbers. Once through and Tarant is presented with a simple maze guarded by three Red Backs. If he should get through safely he arrives in another lair where the bugs breed faster. Neat graphics and a pretty maddeningly addictive game to play. Only one life makes for terminal frustration on nearing a hi-score. Continuous movement makes Tarant Tula a bit difficult to control although the control keys are sensibly placed. No joystick option. Overall CRASH rating 67% M/C.

EXTERMINATOR
Producer: Silversoft, 16K £5.95 (1)
Author: I Morrison & D Anderson
This is a very good ‘Berserk’ type game in which you are pitted against seven types of robot with varying characteristics and one thing in common — they’re out to get you! Level promotion occurs automatically on reaching the required number of points. A novel feature is the provision of two sets of control keys which allow either 8-directional movement or rotational movement, both with directional fire. Strategy demands that you shoot up the more dangerous types of robots first to stay alive for longer. Sensible keyboard positions, joystick: Kempston, AGF and Protek. Good value for money, overall CRASH rating 83% M/C.

GAMES DESIGNER
Producer: Quicksilva, 48K £14.95
Author: John Hollis
Packed into a neat Betamax video case, Games Designer offers eight arcade game variations, all of which may be redesigned in most aspects to suit the players’ taste. Less of a game than a utility practice mode. You can change between any of the games using the main menu, then alter the design of the sprites such as aliens, missiles, laser bases, ships etc., you can redesign the game format, foreground and background colours, sound effects, patterns of movement, attack waves, and you can then save or reload your redesigned game. The graphics are very good, especially the design of the editors. Games Designer is accompanied by an excellent booklet which tells you how the program may be used. Perhaps the only drawback is that the games already programmed are of a very basic type. Does not require any working knowledge of machine code, although this could be a good way of learning the rudiments. Recommended, overall CRASH rating 89% M/C.

GOLD DIGGER
Producer: Blaby, 48K £4.95
It’s all underground and you’re tunnelling mines looking for the gold nuggets. Purple gnuggets gnashers are hot on your trail, however, so it’s important to dig strategically round the red rocks so you can dislodge them to block off the tunnels or even drop them down and squash the gnashers. Nine speed levels. Joystick: AGF or Protek, Kempston. Cursor keys. Not as addictive as most other Blaby games, but a good beginner’s game anyway.

GOLD MINE
Producer: DK Tronics, 16K £4.95
They say this is a strategy game, but that’s hardly true. You do need some strategy to go for the gold in the quickest way, but it’s not the main ingredient. Use the lift to go up or down from the surface and then dig towards the gold sites. Not everything that glitters is gold though. Tunnels can collapse and there are underground streams. Energy runs out fast underground, especially if you are carrying gold. In addition, the lift may collapse if you are carrying too much weight. Replenish energy by returning to the surface and depositing gold in the bank. In any event, a rather slow game with limited appeal, but probably good value for younger children.

GOLD RUSH
Producer: THORN EMI, 16K £6.95 (1)
Author: Martin Harris
The gold mines of Oron are bottomless caverns where gold nuggets rain down from the roof. The Oronian miners place girders across the caverns to catch the nuggets and direct them into buckets. Life would be pleasant were it not for the skulls that float about eating Oronians and moving the girders around — and of course the falling nuggets can be very painful to an unprotected Oronian head! The screen is split into three equal segments, a safe home to the right to which an Oronian cannot return, a store for the girders to be used on the left, and in the centre the cavern itself. Directional keys move the Oronian about and the firing key positions the girder. Nuggets may roll to the left or the right when hitting a girder, so some strategy is required to keep the structure working to your advantage. Points are scored for a nugget hitting a girder, and more for getting one into a bucket at the base of the screen. At the higher skill levels the skulls will eat the nuggets as they fall. Unfortunately, there’s no sound, but the graphics are smooth and colourful, an unusual and medium addictive game, two keyboard positions. Overall CRASH rating 63% M/C.

GRAND PRIX DRIVER
Producer: Britannia, 46K £5.95 (1)
Author: Chris Weber
Along with Thorn EMI’s Road Racer and DK Tronics’ Speed Duel, a contender for the 3D Spectrum ‘Pole Pole Position’ game. The effect of the road winding about and the moving landscape in the background is quite good in this version, and the hollow graphics of the racing cars also works quite well, but the main drawback is that your car is quite hard to control. When overtaking, an indicator at the bottom tells you which way the car to be overtaken will veer, but to get past safely it is essential to come almost to a halt. If you manage to pass the 30 cars on the track then a little man appears and wavers a flag to tell you that you’ve won. Good, if overlong, explosions on crashing. General feeling was that this game can become repetitive quite quickly. Good keyboard positions, joystick: Kempston and Sinclair (Interface 2). Fair to average, overall CRASH rating 55%. Compiled M/C.

GROUND FORCE ZERO
Producer: Titan, 16K £5.00
At first glance it looks like a simple game, but in fact it is quite hard. Very similar to Romik’s ‘Spectra Smash’, which has more options than this version. Your plane keeps crossing the towering skyscrapers of New York, looking for a place to land. There isn’t anywhere, so with a genocidal brainwave you decide to bomb the city flat to make a landing strip. With each pass over the city your plane gets lower, so it’s essential to knock out the biggest towers before they knock you out. Several skill levels with taller buildings. Simple to play with only a bomb control. Despite its simplicity, reasonably addictive.

GUN LAW
Producer: Vortex, 16K £4.95
In real life the famous James Gang were reputed to be lousy shots, unable to hit a man six feet from them when all five tried to gun him down. However, Vortex have put the whole thing right with this program where, as Marshall, you can stalk them down the dusty streets of town, firing at figures as they appear In doorways and windows. Your reflexes must be fast as you won’t get a second chance from these baddies. Bullets are restricted, so it’s important not to shoot innocent people. Despatching a baddie earns you dollars. The graphics are generally good, although the gunsight could have been better. Reasonably interesting and addictive.

HUNCHBACK
Producer: Ocean, 48K £5.90 (2)
Author: Chris Urquhart
This turns out to be a worthwhile Spectrum version of the arcade original, its main drawback, perhaps, being that it keeps combining already used elements in geometric progression, which lowers its playing attractiveness. You’re Quasimodo (a well known hunchback) and you must cross the castle ramparts to rescue the lovely Esmerelda from her tower prison. There are 15 screens in which you must jump the castellations, swing over fire pits, jump castellations filled with spear raising soldiers, dodge missiles and do all these things in combination. On each screen there is a red knight climbing up the castle wall. If he reaches the top before you start getting safely across, he sticks his sword somewhere unmentionable. Rope swinging is a very tricky business with correct timing essential — perhaps too finicky. Good control keys, joystick: Kempston, Protek, AGF, Sinclair 2. Skill levels, only 1, lives 3, good value and reasonably addictive. Overall CRASH rating 66%.

JAWS REVENGE
Producer: Workforce, 16K £5.95
This is a game for hungry people. You’re a shark on a jaws-agape-feeding-frenzy. Fish, swimmers (moving at Olympic speeds) and boatmen all go down your throat. Some fish have a habit of turning red and poisonous, so don’t eat those, and the fishermen in their boats throw harpoons or drop depth charges to stun you. You can catch the depth charges and defuse them before they reach the sea bed. And the sea bed itself isn’t flat so don’t run into it. It’s a sort of Penetrator meets Galaxians under water. An amusing game with good graphics. No joystick option.

JAWZ
Producer: DK Tronics, 16K £4.95
On the same theme, Jawz is the other way round. You must use your underwater gun sights to shoot up the marauding sharks, whilst avoiding the gunge dropping from poisonous jellyfish on the surface. The game was originally made by Elfin — its being marketed by DK Tronics probably hasn’t made all that much difference because unfortunately it has a very limited appeal for serious arcade addicts. Good for younger children.

JUNGLE FEVER
Producer: A&F, 16K £6.90
Get your man to jump over the traps dug by Pigmies and then swing across a pit using a rope tied to a tree. Like ‘Hunchback’ there are several levels combining elements of jumping, swinging, dodging spears etc. Good fun to play and reasonably addictive but perhaps a little overpriced. No joystick option.

JUNGLE TROUBLE
Producer: Durell, 16K £6.95
A game with a similar theme to Jungle Fever. Collect an axe and leap across stepping stones set in a crocodile infested river. On the other side you climb a ladder to get to the trees, which you must chop down. The trees will fall on you (if you’re not quick to jump out of the way) and they blunt the axe — so back for another. Monkeys live in the trees and steal your axe but you can chop them with it — if it’s not already blunt. If they steal it — it’s back for another. With the forest laid waste all you have to do is swing across a fire pit using a rope, jumps chasm and then home for tea. A busy game with plenty of opportunities for failure and so pretty addictive.

KNOT IN 3D
Producer: New Generation, 48K £5.95
Extremely hard to see how this extraordinary game works at first. It could really be thought of as a grid game or a bozy boa game but with you as the snake actually in the screen but in a 3 dimensional space. Confused? Well you will be. Steer yourself through the white void avoiding your own brightly coloured trail and that of the chasers, twisting and turning to find space to move in before it all gets filled up. Uses cursor keys so AGF or Protek joystick would help. Tremendous value for money, and addictive too.

LUNA CRABS
Producer: Micromega, 16K £6.95 (1)
Author: Mervyn Escourt
You must know the feeling — there you are, on a Saturnian moon, away from the safety of your explorer’s ship, taking samples of moon rocks, when suddenly there are all these nasty red crabs surrounding you and gobbing green spit all over the place. Fortunately, you have your guided missile cannon. Descriptive 3D graphics are effective in this simple shoot-back-at-em game, as you whirl and turn to avoid the green goo and to aim at the fiendish crabs. Good animation and colourful graphics, but in the end a game with limited playing appeal. Sensible control keys, no joystick option and only one skill level. Overall CRASH rating 62% M/C.

LUNAR JETMAN
Producer: Ultimate, 48K£5.50 (1)
The follow-up to ‘Jetpac’ is as expected, a fabulous game. If it has a drawback it’s that it is too difficult to play, but as is usual with this sort of game, experts can get a long way and prove that you can score! After failing to construct his space ship in ‘Jetpac’ properly. Jetman has crashed on the moon with only a Moonglider for company, plus a clutch of assorted and unexplained equipment, alien missile bases and hordes of horrible alien creatures. Half the fun of the game is discovering what makes what tick, since Jetman can pick up objects and transport them himself, or drop them on the Moonglider for transport. He can get inside as well, where he’s safe from the aliens, and drive the Moonglider along. But it won’t cross holes in the ground. These must be filled with bridging units carried on the side of the vehicle. Whenever an alien hits Jetman, it creates another crater. The basic aim of the game is to destroy the alien bases — but this task certainly must rank among the most heroically difficult of all time! Superb graphics and sound (improved with talking aliens if you have a Currah Microspeech unit attached), a lot of well planned keys which make the joystick options (Kempston, AGF, Protek) a bit redundant. One or two player games. Overall CRASH rating 95% — highly recommended. M/C.

MICROBOT
Producer: Softek, 48K £5.95 (2)
Author: Andrew Beale
The scene is set inside a robot’s head, whose brain is being damaged by bugs (creepy ones). These robots, however, resemble the basement of some rambling Victorian house with purple pipes in 12 chambers. A scanner keeps you informed of where the worst damage is occurring. Your microbot is armed with repulse blobs which keep the nasties at bay for a few seconds, but the only way to kill them off (which must be done if the pipes are to remain in a sound condition) is to use the fix-a-tive blobs in each room. Yellow ones kill yellow bugs (as well as fixing green pipes) and blue ones kill blue bugs (and fix purple pipes). The graphics are excellent and the game is fun to play. It could have done with clearer instructions on playing. But in the end it fails to be quite as addictive as it should be, given all the elements in it. Sensible keys, joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2, AGF, Protek. General rating: very good and original. Overall CRASH figure 73%.

MINED-OUT
Producer: Quicksilva, 48K £4.95
Author: Ian Andrew
Forget the inlay card, which was probably written by a stoned Quicksilva copy writer, and play the game! You are presented with a blank field, densely sown with mines and you must get to the other side without blowing up. Take a step at a time and watch the warning which tells you whether there is a mine in an adjacent square — is it left, right or ahead? What happens when there are two or even three mines? The tension mounts and clever, logical thinking is your only safeguard. Level two offers maidens in distress to be rescued and later levels still confront you with things that chase and make you move quickly. Nine levels in this most nail-biting game. And it hasn’t dated a bit, still worth the money if you haven’t tried it. Recommended.

MOLAR MAUL
Producer: Imagine, 16K £5.50
With a wicked glint in their teeth, Imagine invite you to take part in the fight against the DK (Tronics) menace. Your weapons are a toothbrush and some Imagico toothpaste. The screen opens (literally) with a gaping mouth and lively clean white teeth. Toffees and other gunk appear at the centre, exciting the interest of the horrid DK bugs, and in seconds the teeth are beginning to yellow, purple and black out all over the mouth. The trick with this game is manoeuvring the wretched toothbrush into exactly the correct position for the toothpaste to be squeezed from the tube. An excellent game with wonderful graphics, but so depressing to watch! I’m afraid it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, but I have to say it’s good value. Joystick: Fuller.

MRS MOPP
Producer: Computasolve, 48K £5.50 (1)
Author: Tina Billet
The game which sets out to prove that it’s better to create a mess than have to clean it up. Mrs Mopp’s family must be the messiest in the world. They litter cups, clothes, dust and just about everything else all over the floor. Moppsie has five utensils to help her in the task, but only the correct utensil will pick up the appropriate rubbish. There’s also a kitchen sink, washing machine and dustbin she must use when the utensil carried becomes full. Picking up a utensil is done simply by moving up against it and it can be deposited by reversing the sequence. Like any hard working housewife, Moppsie likes a tipple now and then to keep up up her spirits, but if you let her spirit level get too high she becomes drunk and disorderly. If the work load becomes too much, she’ll give up and leave home! The only extra aids are magical spells, but all too often these seem to be out of stock. Well placed control keys, joystick: Kempston. Cute graphics, smooth movement and an original game to play. Reasonably addictive, overall CRASH rating 69% M/C.

NAANAS
Producer: Mikrogen, 16K £5.95
The cassette inlay says ‘Naanas’, the title screen, ‘Nanas’, obviously a bit confused! Another of Mikrogen’s new games which insists that there are user-definable keys when there aren’t — obviously a bit confused! The aim of Naanas (or whatever) is to dash around catching bananas which a monkey is throwing down. If they hit the floor and you tread on one, you slip over and lose a life. In addition there are coconuts dropping with painful consequences. And that’s it. Graphics are reasonable but pretty simple and the monkey doesn’t move at all. The cursor control keys work quite well in this game, no joystick option. Pretty and fun to play for a short while. Overall CRASH rating 52% M/C.

ODYSSEY 1
Producer: Perfection, 16K£5.50(1)
Author: T Williams
First prize winner of the games section of Computech 83, Odyssey 1 is a three-part mixture of arcade games, designed to test the skills and reflexes of shoot em up freaks. Screen 1 is a ‘Berserk’ type with your man at the cross roads of four rooms filled with firing robots. He can move in any direction with rotational controls, go forward and fire up or down at will. Getting through this screen lands you up in an ‘Arcadia’ type situation where wrap around wedges of alien ships fly overhead dropping missiles on you as you shoot up at them. Mean trick here is that once dropped, the missiles wrap around vertically, gradually filling the screen with weaponry. Screen 3 pits you against pterodactyl-like creatures which swoop down in a wholly original and alarming manner. The general feeling of our reviewers was that this was a surprisingly difficult and addictive game to play. The graphics are fairly small but the 100% machine code program makes everything work extremely well and smoothly. No joystick option, overall CRASH rating 72%, recommended.

OSTRON
Producer: Softek, 16K £5.95
Formerly named Joust, Softek for some reason, changed its name. There’s a lot of the ‘You’re the sole surviving White Knight, Guardian, of the Lore, etc’ on the inlay blurb, but basically you’re on this Ostron thing (electronic ostrich) and the enemy are variously-coloured buzzard thingies. There are several floating platforms on which you can land before rising to the occasion by flapping your wings and attacking the enemy. When you meet, face to face, the one who’s highest wins. First buzzards are pretty daft and easy, but later ones become fiendish in their attempts to get you. All in all a very enjoyable game, with good graphics and sound. Don’t hit the water — you drown. 100 percent machine code, joystick: Kempston. Good value.

PARADROIDS
Producer: Mikrogen, 48K £5.95
Author: C Hinsley
If Paradroids scores, it’s on its ‘differentness’. The idea is to move up and down your energy beam, firing left and right at the paradroids. They jump off the various ledges all the way up the sides of the nuclear reactor you are defending. Should any successfully parachute to the bottom they reach the reactor and mutate into much more vicious droids. The graphics are quite good, brightly coloured, move smoothly and react quickly to the control keys (well laid out). The result is a reasonable game, but somewhere the idea has faltered — it’s too easy to play and so becomes boring. The inlay states that there are user-definable keys, but there aren’t. Overall CRASH rating 54% M/C.

PAT THE POSTMAN
Producer: Mikrogen, 48K £5.95 (2)
Pat must collect parcels from the houses, take them to the post office, and when he has enough, put them on the train. The town contains 12 houses, a fire station and the post office. Only some houses (varies from game to game) have parcels for collection and if Pat visits any wrong ones, the post office promptly catches fire. He must then dash to the fire station, get the fire engine and douse the blaze before it all burns down. Two red cars travel the town’s roads trying to catch Pat. There are no instructions on game objectives, the graphics are fair but could be smoother and the control keys are the awkward cursors — joystick: Protek or AGF, not very responsive in either case. 2 skill levels, 5 lives. CRASH overall rating 52%.

Piman illustration

PI-EYED
Producer: Automata, 48K £6.00 (2)
Author: Andrew Stagg
The famous Piman, success gone to his head, has hit the bottle and rambles drunkenly down the street, weaving in and out of the traffic, entering various buildings and making a nuisance of himself. If you get him into one of the many pubs he must drink every pint on the bar without slipping up on slops and crisp packets or nudging the other drinkers. The game manages to be amusing for a short while, but Piman is difficult to control and some pints seem impossible to reach (you can’t leave a pub until they’re all drunk). Simple control keys, joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek. May appeal to some Pimaniacs but not generally. CRASH overall rating 57% (mostly for the humour). Reverse side of tape contains hit single by Lurch the office parrot!

PSST
Producer: Ultimate, 16K £5.50
It sounds a bit rude but it’s a wonderful game with Ultimate’s usual magnificent graphics. Robbie the robot must keep the swarming insect life from eating his plant. To do this there are various spray cans lining the brick walls of the garden. Each level adds a different insect to the collection and the trick is that you must use the correct spray on the right insect or it only serves to stun for a moment. The insects also kill off Robbie as well as the plant, which shrinks away if it’s eaten for too long. Letting it grow results in a bloom and a new level. Amazing graphics, 100 percent machine code, 8-directional movement, one or two player game, sensible control keys and Kempston joystick. Recommended. Also available in ROM cartridge form for £14.95.

PUNCHY
Producer: Mr Micro, 48K £6.90
In effect this is another ‘Hunchback’ game, but it has been attractively dressed up in the guise of a Punch and Judy show. You must guide hero Bobby across the stage to rescue Judy, while Punch hurts custard pies at you. There are 16 screens which require jumping over holes, swinging across pits, leaping on magic carpets, dodging soldiers clubs and always keeping an eye open for those custard pies. Judy sometimes throws a sausage across — if Bobby collects three he can whizz across a screen and onto the next without harm. The graphics are amazingly bright and coloured, well animated and with lots of detail. The game also speaks (without a Speech unit). Sensible control keys, joystick: Kempston and Sinclair 2. Highly rated despite the price, CRASH overall rating 88% m/c.

QUACKERS
Producer: Rabbit, 16K £5.99
Quackers is designed more for children than shoot ’em up addicts, but its cheerful graphics should make it popular. It’s set in a fairground duck shooting gallery, where four rows of repeated objects, ducks, cats, rabbits, faces and a giant turtle, move alternately in opposite directions before your gun barrel. User-defined keys or cursor, which means you can use AGF or Protek joysticks.

RACE FUN
Producer: Rabbit, 48K £5.99
The Spectrum hardly has the sort of graphics capability of the big road racing games in the arcades, but as far as Spectrum racers go, this is a pretty good one. An overhead view shows the track which varies from wide to very narrow, straight and curved. Off you go with several other cars. Bumping another car or running off the road, slows you down and costs fuel heavily. The object is to get as many points as possible before running out of petrol. The graphics are very good with the cars being quite large. User-defined control keys (accelerate, brake, left, right) or cursor so you can use a Protek or AGF joystick.

RIDER
Producer: Virgin Games, 48K £5.95 (1)
Authors: Roy Poole & Terry Murray
The writers of ‘Yomp’ have come up with another quasi-military theme game in two parts. First screen you leap from a plane on a parachute and try to land on one of a stream of riderless motorbikes below. These have been supplied by the resistance movement of the occupied country you are spying on. If you succeed in landing on one it cuts instantly to the second screen. This is a 3D view of a country road, heavily sowed with visible mines, down which you must guide your careering bike. Although the details and large graphics are quite good the game ends up being unplayable. You can’t brake and turn at the same time for instance. It all palls very quickly and ends up being much slower than it should. Reasonable control keys, seven skill levels, no joystick option, only a fair game. Overall CRASH rating 50%. Mixture of BASIC and M/C.

RIVER RESCUE
Producer: Thorn EMI, 48K £6.95 (1)
Author: Phil Snell
You’re in control of a river speed boat. The screen shows the north and south banks above and below, everything scrolling from right to left. You can hold the boat’s position to the left (safer) side, middle or right (dangerous) side. The object is to rescue explorers from the north bank jetty and land them at the south bank jetty. As the two jetties are opposite, you can’t just commute between them. The boat can take up to six explorers at a time before landing them, but if you lose the boat, you lose your explorers too. The river is infested with crocodiles, sand banks and logs, which you must avoid. If you’re very good, a rival firm overflies the river dropping mines on you. More points scored for travelling at the right of the screen where your reflexes have to be very fast. A fast, addictive and original game with neat graphics. Good control key positions, joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, 1 or 2 player games. Recommended. Overall CRASH rating 74% M/C.

ROAD RACER
Producer: Thorn EMI, 16K £6.95 (1)
Author: Graham Wisdom
As its name implies, this is another contender for the Spectrum ‘Pole Position’. The 3D Road/Landscape effect is pretty good, and unlike Britannia’s Grand Prix Driver, the graphics are solid. However the road in this version does not actually bend as you go round corners, although the background does move. Controls are very good; in addition to brake/accelerate and left/right, keys 1 and 2 select lo or hi gear. If you use the gears incorrectly you will blow your engine. There are several other cars to overtake before reaching the finishing line. Perhaps one problem with the otherwise excellent inlay card, is that they don’t explain how to get going, which is a little confusing at first (see review in issue 1). Bright and large graphics, rather poor sound, joystick: Kempston, Sinclair. Overall CRASH rating 70% — good M/C.

SANTA
Producer: Artic, 16K £5.95
Produced for a rush Christmas market, this tape contains seven different games in a compendium. All the games are short and only one, ‘Rudolph Goes Racing’ is fair. Judging by the games and games quality, the tape is aimed at younger children and grandmas and probably won’t be in circulation for very long. Overall CRASH rating 28%. BASIC.

SCUBA DIVE
Producer: Durell, 48K £5. 50 (2)
Author: Mike Richardson
One of the second issue’s Games of the Month — beautiful fishy animation from the largest to the smallest characters. The idea is to dive your man overboard, take him to the seabed and collect pearls from oysters. He may have to wait until they open, and he must not get knocked out on the bottom or run into any of the extremely voracious fish. Oxygen is running out, so back to the surface to find the boat, which moves all over the place. When all the pearls have been collected you must venture past a dreaded octopus and into some lower caves where the pearls from clams are bigger — the clams are more dangerous though. A second octopus guards the entry to yet lower and vaster caves full of treasure and some oxygen bottles to replenish your supply. Down here you can swim for ages, looking for the treasure, but the aquamarine life is even more dangerous. An original game with excellent graphics, the detail of which is quite staggering — a game which makes Spectrum graphics something to be proud of. Very addictive with 4 skill levels, good control keys (user-defined) almost any joystick and a hi-score saving routine. Highly recommended — overall CRASH rating 92% m/c.

SHADOWFAX
Producer: Postern, 16K £5.95
Shadowfax came out with a lot of ballyhoo at £7.95, which was grossly overpriced, so it’s nice to see Postern have dropped it now. No one can complain about the graphics which are quite excellent. Unfortunately the game has very little else to offer. You’re mounted on your white charger (the inlay blurb might lead to suppose this was some Hobbit-like adventure) and riding against the black horses that gallop on from the left at random heights. You can fire a bolt at the approaching enemy but you must then explode the bolt at exactly the right moment. And that’s the game — you are up against the points. Mind you, it is mesmerising, so you do make mistakes. Definitely a game to get a look at first — if you like the idea, you won’t regret the graphics. No joystick option.

SHARK ATTACK
Producer: Romik, 16K £5.99
Author: Ian Anderson
The theme from ‘Jaws’ works nicely but the rest of the continuous sound will eventually drive you mad. You must save octopusses (or octopi) from the sharks by weaving a protective net around the octopus. Should a shark eat the octopus before you screen it, then the shark can eat your net. Having either succeeded or failed in this task, the rest of the game is to fill up as much of the screen with net without getting eaten yourself. Three levels, one or two player games. Joystick: Kempston or Sinclair. A game with very limited appeal and no addictive qualities, but it might well appeal to younger children, a sort of Painter meets Jaws.

SIEGE
Producer: Postern, 16K £5.99
Author: Mike Singleton
Throw rocks down from a high castle wall onto the massed attackers trying to climb up. As the rocks fall they knock the attackers off, often several at a time as one falling man catches another. The stick figure animation is cute and the game should appeal to younger children, but it is very limited as far as the serious addicted arcade player is concerned. Simple control keys.

SNAKE PIT
Producer: Postern, 16K £5.95
Author: Mike Singleton
This is [a] pacman variant, but it is too original to lump in with the rest of the yellow gobblers. The ‘maze’ Is a live, wriggling one. Seven different coloured snakes are trapped in their nests, surrounded by a screenful of green eggs. Your job is to eat all the eggs. Only the red snake can eat eggs, so it instantly frees itself and begins eating round the screen, freeing the other snakes as it goes. When you meet a snake head on there is a nasty little gulping sound and that’s it until you press S for another game. Should you clear the screen you then get a chance to eat the snakes (tail first) as well as the eggs. I never got there; this is very difficult. The graphics are superb, quite enough to turn the stomach! Pity the control keys are so awkward, and no joystick option. Addictive and good value.

SPECTRA SMASH
Producer: Romik, 16K £6.99
Author: John Bell
This is similar to Titan’s Ground Force Zero, but rather more complex, in that you have limited height control over the plane, and there are gun turrets on some buildings firing at you, none on the easiest level, more and more on the harder ones. Bombing the guns first obviously helps. Should you land successfully, having bombed the lot flat, the angry natives reward you by sending out a fuel tanker so you can take off and do the thing over again at a higher level. Of course they win in the end! Three lives, hi-score, eight levels, joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek, Sinclair. M/C. Recommended.

SPECTRON
Producer: Virgin Games, 48K £5.95 (1)
Author: Mark Kirkby
Probably Virgin’s best shoot em up, probably their best game in fact. This is a no-win ‘Berserk’ type game that demands fast reflexes and a sixth sense to get very far. One reviewer was able to count as many as 216 enemy robots on the screen at one time. Enemies include Swarmers, Speeders, Launchers and Electrons (which leave indestructible electronic fences behind them). Your robot fires automatically when on the move and control is 8-directional. Well thought out, with detailed graphics, very good sound, no joystick option but well placed control keys. Overall CRASH rating 77%. Recommended. M/C.

SPEED DUEL
Producer: D K Tronics, 48K £5.95 (2)
Author: K Larter
Another ‘Pole Position’ version for the Spectrum. This features solid 3D graphics complete with bends, moving horizon and the road seen in a reasonable sort of perspective. There are five circuits to race on and a choice of racing against one to five cars. Your car has savage acceleration, and becomes almost instantly uncontrollable on the tight bends. Crashes seem to happen when you haven’t even touched the edge of the road. The graphics (character blocks) are fairly smooth and the colour and detail are good. Sensible keys, no joystick option, generally average value, overall CRASH rating 56% m/c.

SUB CHASE
Producer: Gem, 16K £4.95 (1)
You are in control of a ship equipped with depth charges which can be set to explode at nine different depths depending on which numeric key you select. Beneath you, submarines cross the screen in one direction, occasionally firing missiles up at you which must be dodged. The art is to select the correct depth at which to explode the charge to kill the sub. At higher skill levels the subs change depth randomly. On the whole a game more intended to appeal to younger children. 4 skill levels, reasonable graphics, poor sound, simple control keys. CRASH rating 49% — poor for addicts, good for children. M/C.

TRANZ AM
Producer: Ultimate, 16K £5.50
It’s post-holocaust America and the country’s a barren desert with a few cities here and there where you can get fuel. Otherwise a clutch of Mad Maxalikes in deadly Black Turbos are out to kill you while you hunt the wastes looking for eight gold cups. The playing screen is only a 600th of the available area. Instruments on the left show; time taken, miles travelled, a map of the States showing cities and your location, local radar showing cups (if any) and enemies, speedo, fuel gauge, engine temperature and lives left. 8-directional movement, excellent graphics, highly playable. Joystick: Kempston. Highly recommended. Also available in ROM cartridge form for £14.95.

TRIAD
Producer: Amba, 16/48K (2)
This tape comprises three games of ‘Snackman’, ‘Sub Track’ and ‘Treasure Hunt’. One side loads all three into 48K, the other loads individually into 16K. Snackman is a ‘Pacman’ with 10 playing speeds and 16 different mazes. Sub Track has you in a ship dropping depth charges on the many subs at different depths, while dodging their mines. In Treasure Hunt you must find the quickest way round a fairly complex traditional maze to collect treasures. Once one has been collected another appears somewhere else — all against the clock. All 3 games are rather well done and the tape represents good value for money although there was a feeling that today one might prefer one really original game for the money than three old ones. Sensible control keys, no joystick option, reasonable sound, colour and small graphics, fair to average, overall CRASH rating 55% m/c.

TURBO DRIVER
Producer: Boss (UK), 16K £5.95
Another for the racing car addicts. Turbo Driver features very large vehicle graphics and an attempt (not entirely successful) at 3D through perspective. Six other cars leap away from the starting line when you stall. You must catch them up. The cars and several other hazards make life difficult, and if you go too carefully you’ll run out of fuel. The track is quite straight, and there aren’t those wonderful explosions of the original arcade version, but this is a popular programme and does as well as the Spectrum will allow. m/c. Joystick: Kempston.

3D ANT ATTACK
Producer: Quicksilva, 48K £6.95 (1)
Author: Sandy White
Some of the best ever 3D graphics for the Spectrum which work excellently not only on the numerous buildings but also on the softer forms of the hero, heroine, and dreaded ants which swarm through the walled city of Antescher. The object of the game is to jump over the one spot low enough in the outer wall, find your girlfriend (or boyfriend — you can select which), and escape before the ants get you. You can run and jump in four directions, throw grenades to kill the ants over varying distances, or stun them by jumping up and down on them. The scene can be viewed from any one of four angles. It isn’t easy! There are 12 control keys required and it takes a lot of time to get used to them, but the graphics make it all worthwhile. One criticism aimed at the game is that there’s more technical virtuosity in the program than game play and it can become repetitive after a while. Nevertheless, an amazing game. No joystick option really possible. Very highly recommended, overall CRASH rating 85% M/C.

3D TUNNEL
Producer: New Generation, 16/48K £5.95
You’re rushing headlong down a tunnel and different objects flash past you, which you must shoot. There’s bats, spiders, rats and finally a delightful Underground train complete with twinkling headlights and passengers inside. The latter must be dodged rather than shot. Running into the sides of the tunnel cause lose of a life (five in all), and you can undertake this subterranean madness at three speeds. In 16K it loads in two parts and there is no Underground train. Mixed opinions, some liked it, some didn’t.

3D VORTEX
Producer: J K Greye, 16K £5.95
This is very similar to 3D Tunnel, except that the tunnel (or vortex) is defined in multitudes of coloured dots rather than solid blocks, which gives more of a tunnel-like feel. The tunnel also twists and squirms like a mad thing so it’s quite a trick to stay safely in the centre of it. On the other hand, the 3D animation of the objects isn’t quite so good and there are no skill levels which means it quickly loses interest. There is a long but very amusing intro in the 2-part load. User-defined control keys, so it works with almost any joystick. Good value but limited playability.

3D DEATHCHASE
Producer: Micromega, 16K £6.95 (1)
Author: Mervyn Escourt
Selected as Game Of The Month in issue 1, this is just a fabulous game. The idea is simple; at the base of the screen is the front of your motorbike with two gloved hands gripping the handlebars. Ahead is a flat landscape with a few trees and two other bikers circling around. As soon as you accelerate to give chase they ride hell for leather. When you’re in range you can start firing. When they’re both blown away the scene changes to night time and repeats, then back to day 2 and so on. Occasionally a helicopter and a tank cross the horizon and gain more points for you if hit. But what makes this game one of the most compelling to play are the trees you must weave through in pursuit of the enemy bikers. With each screen they get more numerous, and the effect of whipping through them is truly alarming! Return of The Jedi has nothing on this! Excellent graphics (marvellous explosions), superb sound, sensible control keys, joystick: Kempston. Excellent. Overall CRASH rating 92% M/C.

3D DESERT PATROL
Producer: Computer Rentals, 16K £5.95
This simply isn’t a very good program. The 3D is primitive and the graphics uninteresting. You must take your tank in between minefields to the eventual safety of a road, whilst avoiding fire of enemy tanks. For a start off you cannot move and fire at the same time; if an enemy tank gets into position and fires everything stops and you’re dead — no evading; to avoid the enemy you merely turn until they disappear from the screen; if you creep round the edge of minefields then they won’t fire on you anyway. So all it adds up to is a dull and boring game. Cursor keys and 0 to fire — allows use of AGF or Protek joysticks.

3D TANX
Producer: DK Tronics, 16K £4.95
3D here refers to the distant bridge where rows of tanks pass before your gunsight and the realistic trajectory of your shells which must be aimed right to straddle the thickness of the bridge. The graphics are very good and so is the sound. Skill and timing are essential to good scores — and staying alive, because the tanks fire back. Nowhere near as easy as it looks, and at the price, excellent value. Joystick: Kempston with Softlink II.

PUSH OFF
Producer: Software Projects, 16K £5.95 (1)
Author: Andrew Giles
There are now several Spectrum versions of the arcade original, ‘Pengy’ available — Blaby’s ‘Dodo’ was one of the first. Software Projects’ version is excellent. Bertha the ladybird is in a garden being pursued by four nasty insects out for her ichor (blood to you). The garden is full of green bricks which she can burn out of her way, or send shooting off in the direction in which she’s travelling. By this method she can crush her enemies to death. The insects can also burn up the bricks to reach her. Four bells in each quarter of the screen, if rung by touching them, cause the insects to go into a temporary tizzy and make them vulnerable. The colours are bright, graphics fast and smooth, good sound, rather poor control key layout, joystick: AGF, Protek or Kempston, eight skill levels. CRASH rating, very good to excellent, overall 85% M/C.

TRAIN GAME
Producer: Microsphere, 16K £5.95 (1)
This is another game simple in concept and marvellous to play. In fact it’s dangerously addictive and should probably be put on the government proscribed drugs list! A complex railway layout with 24 sets of lettered points, allows you to drive up to three trains around, picking up passengers from three stations. On the higher skill levels runaway goods trains also enter the system and must be redirected to get rid of them. Passengers arrive on the platforms in the colour of the train they want to catch, and get angry if kept waiting too long, turning white with rage! Great sound, nice graphics, maddeningly frustrating to play and imply wonderful! Get one today! Seven kill levels with various sub-levels; rating, very good. Overall CRASH rating 76% m/c.

WHEELIE
Producer: Microsphere, 48K £5.95 (2)
Overall on percentage, the highest rated game in issue 2, and a worthy follow up to their excellent Train Game. You are riding the ultimate motorbike in Nightmare Park, a place full of lethal animals like hedgehogs and kangaroos all trained in Karate! The park has four ‘floors’, interconnected by hills and optional hills. You must drive along, collecting fuel on the way, avoid the animals, drive carefully over ice, leap buses and cars, do ‘wheelies’ over humps in the road and squeal to a halt before running to dead ends. If you get to the far right of the park you will wake the Ghost Rider who will race you back to the start. He may travel slower than you, but can do it in a straight line, whereas you must retrace your path through all the obstacles. The graphics are amazing, the biker is really well drawn and animated, falling off his machine in all sorts of different and realistic ways, depending on the particular accident that befalls him. It takes real skill to get through. Quite good control keys but they may be user-defined. Almost any joystick will work. A very difficult and challenging game with progressively difficult skill levels. Rated as addictive, generally excellent and very good value. Overall CRASH rating 93% m/c.

WILD WEST HERO
Producer: Timescape, 48K £5.90 (1)
Author: Silicon Kid (!?)
Step out into the cacti-strewn desert and fight it out with rampaging gangs of banditos in this good ‘Berserk’ type game. Instead of maze walls there are the cacti and treacherous trees, which kill on contact. You’re armed with a continuous repeat firing Colt 45 — and just as well, the bandits are numerous. One of the best ‘Berserk’ games yet with large graphics, smooth movement, sensible control keys, joystick: Kempston. Good sound, increasingly difficult screens. Overall CRASH rating 83% M/C. Recommended.

ZIP ZAP
Producer: Imagine, 48K £5.50
Author: Ian Weatherburn
In Zip Zap you are a severely damaged robot with a motor that won’t turn off and only limited braking power, so you tend to travel in circles. A teleport delivers you (nice graphic) into a swirling mass of miserable aliens from whose deadly touch you are partly protected by a failing shield. The idea is to buzz chaotically around in confusing circles to collect four power units. When you touch one it automatically attaches itself to the teleportal. When all four are in position you can get back to the teleportal in time. By Imagine’s standards, not their best game, but still better than most games around. Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek, Fuller.