ZX Computing

6 Pack

Publisher: Beau Jolly
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #38

It's not just beer that comes in six-packs

The Hit Pack

Depending on your point of view, this is either a six pack compilation with one free game or a seven game compilation. The seventh game in question is Duet and presumably Hit Pak (Elite under another name) are calling it a free game by virtue of the fact that it's not been previously released. Either way this is still a good value for money collection, aimed primarily at the arcade end of the market.

The first game on side one of the tape is the much-hyped Scooby-Doo. When this was announced, there was a lot of talk about how marvellous it was going to be, then it seemed to be scrapped because the programmers couldn't fit the game into just 48K, then when it did appear it vanished almost without trace. That was inevitable I suppose, because after all that fuss the end result was an amusing and mildly addictive game with some nice graphics, but it wasn't anything particularly special.

Leaving Scooby to the task of rescuing Shaggy and Co. from the clutches of the mad scientist, you can move on to 1942. Elite's conversion of the coin-op game in which you have to fight your way through waves of enemy fighters to reach safety on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. The game did look a bit old fashioned by the time it reached the Spectrum, but it's a nice simple shoot-'em-up, the sort that's always good for whiling away a few spare minutes.

Next on the tape is Duet, which turns out to be a Gauntlet-variant, but dressed up in modern soldier gear rather than Gauntlet's wizards 'n warriors trappings. Like Gauntlet, it offers a two player option which is much more fun than playing on your own. It's quite good fun, but the Gauntlet similarities are so obvious that I can understand why there was no point in releasing it after the initial flurry of Gauntlet clones had been and gone.

Game number four is Jet Set Willy II, the expanded version of the original Jet Set Willy game. It's possible that there's a whole generation of relatively new Spectrum owners who have never seen or played JSW or its famed predecessor, Manic Miner. However, JSW still holds its place as the ultimate platform game (Whatever happened to Matthew Smith?)

Side two gets off to a good start with Palace Software' Sacred Armour Of Antiriad. I'm surprised to see this on a compilation so soon, and I wonder how well it sold on its first release?

Antiriad is an animated arcade adventure in which you have to guide the warrior Tal through a ruined city and into the heart of a volcano to destroy a nuclear generator. Along the way, you have to collect the components that activate the suit of armour which will protect you from the radiation spillage and the robotic guards that you'll encounter. The graphics are excellent and the gameplay is well thought out, and I'd probably pick this as being the best game on the tape.

Melbourne House's Fighting Warrior followed the success of Exploding Fist, and while it wasn't quite as addictive as Fist, it's still as good as most of the other martial arts games that tried to copy it, and which are still being churned out even now.

Rounding the tape off is Split Personalities, Domark's sliding squares puzzler. Despite being based on a very simple and very old type of puzzle. Domark's computer version managed to be surprisingly enjoyable to play and stands as one of their better efforts.

Apart from Antiriad, none of these games are really outstanding, but unlike a lot of compilations which include just a couple of good games and are padded out with a few complete flops, all the games on this six (or seven) pack are good solid arcade entertainment and the combination of all of them together makes this one of the best value arcade compilations I've seen for a while.

A Monster Hit.