Five Star Games 2 (Beau Jolly) Review | Electron User - Everygamegoing

Electron User

Five Star Games 2
By Beau Jolly
Acorn Electron

Published in Electron User 4.12

Beau Jolly has been producing compilations almost since the beginning of computer games and Five Star Games 2 is without doubt one of its best. Three of the five titles come from the Superior stable, showing this company's remarkable penetration of the Electron software market.

The first is Galaforce, a classic shoot-'em-up in the style of Arcadians and Zalaga. Though the idea is not original, it is executed faultlessly.

Unlike its older competitors, Galaforce gives up and down controls, as well as the conventional left, right and fire. Now you can go and get 'em, rather than wait to be shot at.

Both First Byte and Plus 1 joysticks are supported and there are facilities for pause/restart, sound on/off and quit game, as well as a nice touch of being able to redefine the playing colours.

The speed of play and the amazing variety of aliens and attack formations is a tribute to the wonders of modern programming.

Next comes another Superior classic, Thrust, a mindboggingly difficult but frustratingly addictive game. It involves piloting a spaceship around the galaxy in search of power pods.

The game stands out because it follows exactly the laws of physics. As in real life, you move by burning fuel and the amount is limited. Luckily, you can replenish your supply from fuel tanks dotted around the planet surface.

The pods are hidden in increasingly inaccessible nooks and crannies and guarded by hostile gun emplacements. Your troubles really start when you trap a pod - the handling of your ship is now completely different.

To finish a level you must destroy the planet's reactor, before blasting off with your prize into the void. A great game.

Psycastria from Audiogenic is a sideways scrolling space game, following the pattern of "even if it doesn't move, shoot it anyway".

It features some wonderful special effects: Demo mode, scrolling message, music, multi-player option, high score table - there's even a built-in cheat facility.

Your ship stays centre-stage all the time and when you flip left or right, the screen scrolls around you. This smooth scrolling is one of the most impressive features of the game.

Although the Electron version is not quite as fast as the BBC Micro, you do at least stand a chance of seeing what's about to hit you.

The only feature I found annoying is that you must clear each level in one go. When you die, you go back to the beginning and must destroy everything all over again. This niggle aside, Psycastria certainly deserves an accolade.

Micro Power's Stock Car is the oldest title in the collection, originally released four years ago. Its shows its age painfully, with poor graphics and no joystick option or pause facility but when you play the game it is extremely addictive.

Races are held over distances of up to forty laps against three other computer-controlled cars. You can play by yourself, or against another player and two computer opponents.

There are six different circuits, which require a variety of tactics and driving skills. Matters are made more difficult by oil slicks and a skidding factor, which allows you to vary the responsiveness of the car. With a skidding factor of 0% you can drive around each circuit in top gear. At the opposite extreme, trying to corner in too high a gear does exactly what you'd expect - you're out of control and into the catch-fencing in no time.

Stock Car isn't a game to choose if you want to impress people but it will keep parties going for hours.

The last offering, and the third from Superior, is the martial arts game, Karate Combat. The object is simple - hit your opponent before he hits you.

You can play against the computer, a human or a punchbag. This last option allows you to practice the moves with which the computer slaughtered you last time. This is a very useful facility, as there are seventeen manoeuvres to be mastered.

The graphics are good, if somewhat on the small side. Although Karate Combat was very well received on its first showing, it lacks the technical merits of its major competitors, WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST and Yie Ar Kung Fu.

Although compilations are a good idea and a godsend to someone just starting a software compilation, they do seem to be getting a little out of hand. Two of the featured titles - Karate Combat and Stock Car - are also available on other compilations. You wonder where it will end. This small point aside, Five Star Games 2 represents excellent value for money.