After last month’s absence (even CRASH people need breaks) ROBIN CANDY and BEN STONE return to examine some of the reviews published in issue 7.
Automania heralded the coming of WALLY WEEK and of the HYPER load. Basically the aim of the game was to collect the pieces of the various cars and put them together. The problem with this was that you’re a WALLY so nothing is simple even the BP cans have turned against him and Wally must beware of the malevolent tyres. The game is played over two screens, one screen where you get the various parts of the car and the other where you assemble it all. As more and more cars are assembled the first screen gets increasingly difficult. There are ten cars to be built the first a 2CV and the last being a Rolls Royce.
General rating: very good to excellent, playable and addictive
Use of computer
Automania is a straightforward platform game, which even by
today’s standards is pretty good. The graphics have never really been bettered
by any other platform game, they are big and clear, though there are a couple
of attribute problems. The sound was pretty good with a continuous tune
throughout the whole of the game. Probably one of the best features of the game
were the credits that rolled up the screen at the beginning of the game.
Automania is still one of the best platform games around and worth
Automania still outshines many of today’s software. Its
graphics are well animated and there are few attribute problems, which still
corrupt many new games. I think it’s a little less playable and addictive than
it was eight months ago. Nobody has, as yet, tried to copy the idea behind
Automania and if they do they will have to try very hard to better it.
If you want a good game to start off your software collection BUY
(Rob) The ratings for Automania still stand really, in fact it may have been a bit underrated.
(Ben) I wouldn’t argue much with the ratings perhaps 2% off playability and addictive qualities, and I’d knock a couple of % off the value as well.
The best way to describe Full Throttle would be a ‘Pole Position on motor bikes’. For those of you who have never heard of Pole Position (?) the basic idea of the game is to race around the track avoiding the other vehicles and be first across the finishing line. There are 10 tracks to choose from and each have to be tackled in a different way. The best track to start off on is Silverstone. After you have selected a track you must select the number of laps you wish to race. You can now decide whether to have a practice run to get familiar with the track (there are no other bikes to race against if you select this option) or start the race. You start the race at the back of 39 other bikes which roar off into the distance if you are not quick off the mark.
General rating: excellent
Use of computer
Full Throttle is still the best racing game around — even the
game from which it originally stems wasn’t a match for it. The 3D graphics are
breathtaking and the scrolling of the track is brilliant. There isn’t much
sound used but a game as good as this doesn’t need it. Words just simply fail
to describe Full Throttle it’s great!
Full Throttle by Micromega was, to say the least, a
pleasant surprise to us at CRASH. It still looks very good today and is
undoubtedly the best racing game for the Spectrum. The much praised graphics
are still excellent compared to today’s software even though they are a little
jerky at slow speeds. After a while I’m sure Full Throttle loses its
playability but I’m still hooked.
(Rob) If I was forced to change any of the ratings I would put Addictive qualities UP by about 5% otherwise they all still apply today.
(Ben) I wouldn’t really quarrel with any of the ratings, perhaps even a few % onto the graphics mark.
Most people are familiar with the ‘Battle Zone’ type of game first seen in the arcades many years ago. Tank Duel was practically a straight copy of that game except it differed from other Spectrum versions because it used colour quite extensively. The idea behind this game and all other ‘Battle Zone’ variants is to just shoot anything you see and this goes on forever. There are several types of tank in Tank Duel and each has its own characteristics, so different strategies are needed to destroy them.
To me Tank Duel is the best game of its sort around for
the Spectrum mainly because it looks different from all the other versions of
the same game. The graphics are good and colour is used well except some times
when it obscures your view of an enemy. Personally this type of game doesn’t
appeal to me but if you do like a ‘Battle Zone’ type of game then this is the
one for you.
General rating: playable, addictive and very good value.
Use of computer
I was a little disappointed with 3D Tank Duel as the
review of it stated that it was the best ‘Battle Zone’ type game on the market
at the time. I preferred Rommel’s Revenge by Design Design as I found it
slightly more playable. This game has very good vector graphics which still
look good today although it has to be said that they were slightly confusing.
The sound wasn’t very convincing (only the constant drone of a heavy engine).
However, I did enjoy playing 3D Tank Duel as it was a very close copy of
‘Battle Zone’, one of my favourite arcade games.
(Rob) I don’t think the ratings should be changed as the game is as good now as it ever was, and no one has bettered it.
(Ben) I thought the ratings were quite fair except for the Addictive Qualities which should go down by about 8%.
Your part in Cavelon is that of a gallant knight who has to rescue Guinivere from the evil wizard at the top of a tower. You start on the lower floors and by collecting the bits of the door you can gradually make your way up the tower. All the parts of the door are scattered around a scrolling maze along with other items such as shields. Every now and then the sword Excalibur appears in the maze, collection of this means you can become immune from the knights and their arrows that hinder your way. The final level features the wizard himself who fires bolts of lightning at you, completion of this level activates a tune and then you are transported back to the beginning again.
Use of computer
When Cavelon came out it was a very good game but now
looking back I don’t think it would warrant more than a couple of goes before
becoming boring. The graphics are good but the scrolling is awful, it affects
the sound and looks terrible. Playability is reasonable but addictive qualities
are practically non-existent, especially when you consider all you have to do
to get to higher levels is type JSWILLY and type the number of the level you
want to get to.
Cavelon was a very simple idea made into a tough game.
Its graphics were quite good at the time but compared to today’s standards
they’re only fair (nice animation though). The game is a simple maze game with
fairly low playing appeal. I didn’t think much of Cavelon eight months
ago and I still find it just as boring as it ever was.
(Rob) Most of the ratings are okay except perhaps Addictive qualities and Playability which I would lower by about 30% each.
(Ben) I would put all the ratings down by about 5%.
Kosmic Kanga was a CRASH Smash in issue 7, but there is very little point doing more than to recall it since Micromania inconveniently went bust a couple of weeks ago, and at the moment we don’t know the availability of their programs, including the recent Project Future.
Although this is strictly speaking an adventure it is reviewed in this section because it owes much of its success to the arcade players that bought it. Only one person is re-reviewing it due to Ben Stone’s loathing of any game that may require limited intelligence.
The Lords of Midnight was heralded by many as THE game for the Spectrum because of its totally new approach to gaming. The lavish booklet details the events leading up to the game and sets the scenario for what you are to expect from the game.
The story behind the game is that the evil witch king Doomdark prepares to capture and enslave all of Midnight. As Luxor the Moonprince you ride out from the tower of the moon With a few companions to try and thwart his efforts.
The game begins at the dawn of the winter solstice outside the tower of the moon. With Luxor, chieftain of the free lands of Midnight, are Rorthron the Wise, Corleth the Fey and your own son Morkin. From the tower of the moon you must guide your four initial characters around Midnight to muster an army to overthrow the evil Doomdark. Luxor can recruit from the Lords of the Free, Fey and Utarg. Not all will rally to your banner and many need a special character such as Luxor present before they will join forces.
Probably the most striking feature of the game is the panoramic views of which there are 32,000. The Lords of Midnight used a new programming technique appropriately called ‘Landscaping’. You view the game through the eyes of the character you are controlling and as you move about distant features get bigger until you eventually arrive at them.
Doomdark may be destroyed in two ways. First by finding the Ice Crown from which Doomdark’s weapon, the ice fear, emanates. The Ice fear saps your warriors’ strength and, as Doomdark’s men capture citadel after citadel the ice fear gets stronger. If the ice fear gets strong enough your men will refuse to go into battle and may even join Doomdark against you. The other way to defeat Doomdark is by capturing his home citadel of Ushgarak. This is the harder of the victories to obtain and requires recruitment of many lords.
Doomdark wins by first killing Morkin and Luxor, or by killing Morkin and capturing the citadel of Xajorkith, the base citadel of the free. As long as Morkin is alive the game will continue.
When Lords of Midnight was first released I thought it would be
a bore, it wasn’t until I had played it to death that I realised it was
probably the best thing that ever happened to the Spectrum. What makes the
game so good is the atmosphere created in the booklet. Even when you have
finally completed the game it is still very addictive because you want to
explore the land of Midnight. Another novel feature of the game is that you can
have more than one person playing the game at a time, which makes LOM as
a proper role playing game. The best way to sum up LOM is if you haven’t
bought it yet go out and buy it now! Oh just a foot note to those of you who
like comparing Spectrum games against CBM games, the Spectrum version is a lot
faster and in my opinion better.
(Rob) Midnight is still a hit!!
TLL was one of the first games where you operated a plane but it wasn’t a simulation. The idea behind the game was to fly low over the landscape and destroy the enemy targets, the lower you flew the more likely you were to destroy. At the beginning of the game you are given a quick glimpse of the whole of the playing area and the locations of the targets. The whole game is presented in 3D and you saw the action from slightly above your craft. Once you have destroyed the first six targets another six appear but in places that are harder to get to. At any time during the game you can land and refuel but you must have sufficient space on the runway to be able to stop the plane.
General rating: addictive and difficult, generally recommended.
Use of computer
I was never really keen on TLL because I always
thought there wasn’t much to it. Today TLL seems just as boring. The
graphics are good but the sound is poor. Playability-wise TLL is good
but there isn’t enough to the game to make me want to come back after a few
goes. Undoubtedly some people like it (that has been proved with its success
in the Hotline charts) but to me the graphics are the best things in the
I really enjoyed TLL and it still looks good today. It’s
not a very hard game to play and it only takes a few days to complete (once
you’ve got used to the keys). It hasn’t got the lasting appeal that most of
today’s games have so TLL becomes unplayable and a little monotonous
after a few goes. The 3D effect was good but 3D games recently have had a far
(Rob) As far as its ratings are concerned the one that would suffer the most would be its Addictive qualities which would go down by about 20 to 25%
(Ben) I wouldn’t really quarrel with any of the ratings, except addictiveness and playability, these would go down by 5 and 4% respectively