The Micro User1st June 1988
Published in The Micro User 6.04
For armchair fanatics
I remember a long time ago in my youth going on trips to Blackpool and spending many a happy hour in the amusement arcades. My favourite pastime in those days was Air Hockey which was usually tucked away in one corner.
Now I can play the game again, but this time in the comfort of my own home and on my micro. Not only that, but if I feel like a quick game of Ping-Pong or Darts or perhaps 10 Pin Bowling, all I need to do is load up Tynesoft's latest release Indoor Sports.
A colourful title screen leads you to a menu of four games. Once you have made your choice you are presented with another menu to decide on the victory conditions, a solo or two player game or the demo mode.
For the one player game you can also set the level of the computer opposition. A jolly, but loud, tune accompanies this screen and gets a bit tedious after a while.
You'll soon learn to make your selections very quickly, as there isn't any way of switching the music off.
Ten Pin Bowling translates very well to this medium. The menu allows you to decide on the weight of the ball and the slickness of the alley.
I'm sure these must make a difference, but I decided to use the default settings - a 10lb ball and a slickness of 10.
The mechanics of bowling are quite complicated and involve deciding the starting position, selecting the amount of spin you wish to use and the angle of delivery.
Added to that is the possibility of releasing the ball too late and your bowler ending up flat on his face, or releasing it too soon - I would recommend that you do this at least once, as it's worth seeing the little man clutching his foot.
Once you've got the hang of it though, you can have quite exciting competitions against the computer or a friend.
The first few times I tried Darts, I had problems aiming and as a consequence, when I chose to play the computer it beat me easily.
The computer opponent was quite a challenge, especially when set at the expert level - it was just like playing Eric Bristow. But like a lot of things, a bit of practice and I started to look competent.
I've seen other dart simulations, but this is by far the best. There is even a chance that your dart will hit the wire and bounce back off the board.
Of the four games, Ping-Pong was the most enjoyable. It's played at just the right speed and a nice touch is the shadow of the ball visible on the table giving an almost three dimensional quality.
Here again I got a great feeling of satisfaction when I managed to beat the computer set at expert level.
The only thing which spoilt it for me was that, once I'd got the hang of it, I could beat the computer every time. The best way to play is with a friend using the two-player option.
Air Ball was the one I was looking forward to the most. To my dismay, it was the only disappointing game in the set. I found that no matter what level the computer was at, I beat it every time.
In fact the first time I set it at the expert level, I beat it 10 goals to 0. What makes it worse is that I didn't have to score all the goals myself - the micro managed to knock them in for me.
As I rely on playing against the computer a lot when reviewing games like this, Air Ball is too easy to beat. It's still a good game for two players though.
The quality of graphics in this collection is consistently high and, despite the annoying jingle, the sound effects are quite good.
What particularly impressed me is the amount of work which has obviously gone into it to produce simulations which come very close to being as much fun to play as the sports they are based on.
I think this is an excellent piece of software and one which I would recommend to anyone.