ROBIN CANDY and LLOYD MANGRAM patch up their grievances and work together to bring you this month’s CRASHBACK on the highlights of issue 8.


BlackhawkMicro Olympics
Match PointStage Coach


Creative Sparks

The time is in the future, the place is a group of heavily defended islands. You fly your Black Hawk aircraft and your mission is to seek and destroy the enemy airfields and missile launching sites. The task is made all the harder by tanks, anti-aircraft guns, helicopter gunships plus many other things that only appear if you get to a certain point in the game. Your aircraft has a computer attack system which features a two screen display — the defence screen and the attack screen. In the attack screen a small yellow U at the bottom indicates vertical position and a white cross sight may be moved over targets. When this sight goes red a missile is automatically fired towards it to detonate the target. This can be used to destroy ground installations, tanks and flying targets. If a tank or a flying target or an enemy missile reach the base of the screen the computer automatically switches to the defence screen. On this screen you can actually see your Black Hawk aircraft, which is at the base of the screen, and you must destroy the on-coming enemies with your cannon before they get you. Success at this returns you to the attack screen.

At the end of a mission you are given an Optimum Target Percentage Figure (OTPF), this is calculated by how many enemy installations you have successfully destroyed. If this percentage is high enough then you will be given additional weaponry. This can also be removed if on your next mission your percentage isn’t high enough.

At the time Black Hawk was released it was a very good shoot em up but by today’s standards it seems to be just above average. The graphics while they do their job aren’t perfect but the sound is still reasonable. Black Hawk is still quite addictive and as with most other shoot em ups it is instantly playable but for me it just seems a bit dated. If you really like shoot em ups then it’s worth buying, otherwise you might as well stick to Moon Cresta.

Black Hawk is still one of the best shoot em ups around in my opinion. Okay, the graphics aren’t the best in the world but the game is so addictive you don’t mind. The biggest advantage Black Hawk has over many other games is that it is instantly playable and what’s more it doesn’t wear off after a while. The sound is quite good especially the tune at the end of a bombing run. Overall still a good shoot em up which makes an enjoyable alternative to all those arcade adventures and platform games.

Use of computer91%
Getting started92%
Addictive qualities95%
Value for money87%

(Rob) Most of the ratings should go down by about 10―15%, except perhaps the use of computer and playability which should go down by about 5%. This game hasn’t survived the test of time at all well, I think that its graphics let it down the most, otherwise a reasonable shoot em up.

(Lloyd) I disagree, only the graphics rating should go down by about 10% the rest can stay the same. It is still very enjoyable and definitely worth buying.



Micro Olympics is an adaptation of the well known arcade game, ‘Track and Field’. There are 11 events to choose from, 5 running events, which include 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metres, 3 throwing events, javelin, discus and hammer and 3 jumping events, long jump, high jump and pole vault.

The running events are controlled in the usual manner, by waggling the joystick left to right. In each running event you compete against the computer and the clock. Most of the events require three keys to be defined before starting. The computer goes first on all the field events to show how it is done, you then take part to see if you can beat the computer and create a new world record.

Micro Olympics was the first good ‘Track and Field’ game on the Spectrum, all the previous efforts seem to feature boring little stick men as the main characters. The graphics are quite poor but they do serve their purpose. Sound is also poor but colour is used quite well. The game has a few nice features, try releasing the hammer or discus at the wrong moment. If you like ‘Track and Field’ games it is not really worth getting Micro Olympics now because it is very dated.

When Micro Olympics was first released we hadn’t been treated to the wonders of the track-and-field-destroy-your-keyboard type games before and this was quite novel. For its time it was a pretty, decent game, the graphics were well above average and the animation was quite good. If Micro Olympics was released now I fear it would get a hostile reception from the reviewers because it looks very tacky when compared against today’s cream of the games, although the colour is quite well used. This is certainly not addictive because it doesn’t have a proper scoring system like Daley’s Decathlon so there are no goals to aim for. The playability isn’t too bad but the game soon loses its appeal. Overall a pretty run-of-the-mill game by today’s standards.

Use of computer79%
Getting started79%
Addictive qualities74%
Value for money75%

(Rob) Most of the ratings should go down by about 10% or more except perhaps the Getting Started and Use of Computer. Overall Micro Olympics is quite dated now but for its time it was very good.

(Lloyd) I’m afraid I have to agree with Rob for once (is this the end of an era?) Micro Olympics is no longer worth forking out for.



Match Point is a 3D tennis simulation that can be played with one or two players. The view of the green court is from the commentator’s box. At the back of the court is the scoreboard showing all the relevant details about games, sets and matches. On the right hand side of the court is the umpire and on either side of the net are the ball boys.

The game closely follows the rules of lawn tennis, a match being played over three or five sets and the winner winning two or three sets respectively. You must win at least 6 games and have a two game lead to win a set. If both players win six games then a tie break comes into being automatically except in the final set when play continues until one player has at least a two game lead. Scoring, changing ends and service all follow the accepted rules of lawn tennis.

The game can be controlled by either keys or joysticks, the fire button being used to serve, to change racket swing and hit the ball. The height of the ball and its speed are determined by how the ball is hit and with what swing.

Match Point was incredibly advanced for its time, it still outshines many of today’s sports simulations. The graphics and animation of the players and the ball are superb, the only niggle being on first playing the game you tend to think there are two balls because of the shadow. There isn’t much sound but you get so engrossed that you forget all about it. Quite a bit of skill is required to gain full control over your character but as with all games practice makes perfect. If you like sports simulations then this is certainly worth buying.

Match Point is THE tennis simulation for the Spectrum. Even by today’s standards it is a very good game. The graphics are excellent and put many recently released simulations to shame. It takes a while to get used to the way you control your character but once you have sussed it out it becomes quite easy. Addictive qualities are quite hard to judge on sports simulations of this kind because you can play two player games which means that you can always have plenty of competition but if your opponent is useless at the game then you can get bored of it. Of course you can play against the computer but it is only a matter of time before you can beat it on the harder levels of play. Match Point should go down as one of the Spectrum classics, it is a pity that Psion don’t release more games.

Use of computer87%
Getting started87%
Addictive qualities92%
Value for money86%

(Rob) Looking at the rating now I am tempted to put the Use of Computer up by about 5% because you can cater for most joysticks with user definable keys. I am also tempted to put the Overall up by about 2% because I think it is a great game that is well worth buying.

(Lloyd) I wouldn’t quarrel with the ratings at all. Match Point is simply a classic!


Creative Sparks

The driver of the San Pedro stage coach has been shot! The object of the game is to get the stage coach under control, collect the stranded passengers, steer a safe route through the treacherous Sierra Peligrosa mountains while collecting the gold, avoid the Comanche indians and finally arrive at the small mining town of San Pedro.

The first stage, called the Jump, has you riding behind the San Pedro stage coach and you must ride up behind it and climb on board. Once on the roof you must crawl to the front and grab the reins. With this done you must steer through the desert avoiding cacti and picking up the waiting passengers. If you fail to pick up a passenger they will jump up and down angrily or even worse — you may run over them!

Once enough passengers have been picked up the game moves on to the next stage, the Sierra Peligrosa mountains. Here you steer through the mountains without receiving too much damage. You must pick up the boxes of Gold or ammunition while avoiding the deadly rock slides. All these details can be seen on the map facility.

The last section is all on the indian plains. The indians go into a formation that hems you in while another indian attempts to climb onto the back of your coach to either kidnap one of your passengers or yourself. Your only defence is to climb onto the stage coach’s roof and try to shoot the indians.

Stage Coach never actually grabbed me when it was first released, looking at it now I’m not surprised. The graphics are a bit small for my liking though there is quite a bit of detail. Both colour and sound are used well but for me the game isn’t addictive enough. Within a couple of games it is possible, on the lower levels, to get near to completion. Overall a pretty bad to average game today.

Hmmmm, this is a bit of a tricky game to judge, the graphics are poor by today’s standards but strangely enough it is quite playable and kept me amused for a while. As with many games the idea may be good but the implementation suffers, normally because the graphics aren’t good enough. Of the three stages the first and last are probably graphically the better and the more playable of the three, the mountain stage lets the game down tremendously. I found the game quite playable for a while but I don’t think I will lose any sleep over it. To sum up; not exactly good but I have seen a lot worse, let’s just say ‘average’.

Use of computer89%
Getting started89%
Addictive qualities72%
Value for money76%

(Rob) Most of the ratings except the Use of Computer and Getting Started should go down by about 10% especially the Addictive Qualities, which should go down by about 15%.

(Lloyd) I agree (this is getting to be a habit!), Stage Coach does become tedious after a while and isn’t really worth buying unless you’ve played it before and know you like it.

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