ZX Computing

Indoor Sports

Publisher: Advance Software Promotions
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in ZX Computing #38

A quartet of indoor games from Advance

Indoor Sports

Four games for the price of one is the claim to fame of this unusual compilation of indoor sports. You can hang up your skis and running shoes for this one as they are indoor games that everyone must have played at some time in the past.

The gametape contains a main program that includes a menu from which you can load in the four events. Although they can be played in any order it's best to tackle them in the order they appear on the tape.

Air Hockey is without doubt my favourite game as I've spent many an hour in the arcades smashing in my knuckles in an attempt to drive the puck into my opponent's goal. In the real game the puck is supported by a cushion of air and can reach some incredible speeds when it can zip off the table and hit some unsuspecting space invader. The computer version of this doesn't have that important feature but it does offer four computer opponents, three game speeds and the smoothest graphics you are ever likely to see.

Indoor Sports

Darts has never been done well on a computer and this one's as good, if not better than most. The event consists of two screens, one to aim the dart and keep score and the other is a graphic view of the player throwing the dart. The first screen is the business end of the game and is where the players decide the direction, angle and strength of each dart. After the throw which is shown on the other screen the computer chalks off your score and the game continues until either one player gets the double to finish a 301, 501 or 701 game or a player runs out of time that ticks away at the bottom of the screen. This version of darts is timed to prevent slow play!

Table tennis has never been a great skill of mine but now you can play, get hammered but without the embarrassment.

You can play either a single match or a series up to the best of seven matches. The games can be played at beginner, normal (fast) or hyperdrive (very fast) speeds so it's wise to opt for the additional auto move option that automatically moves your bat to meet the ball leaving you to mis-time the shot. Take on too much straight away and you'll certainly get beaten by a ruthless opponent.

An additional feature allows you to bias a match by assigning between six and 20 skill points to each player and can be distributed between smashing, forehand, backhand, reactions, speed and endurance factors that affects the movement and skill of the ghost-like bat that hovers above the table.

As with all the events the attention to detail is extraordinary, particularly the subtle difference in shading of the ball's shadow, that makes it look like a reflection in the polished table top.

The fourth and final event will leave you skittled as the ten pin bowling is probably the hardest game to learn and master.

The game begins with a side view of our bowler competing against human or four level computer opponent as he begins his run up. By selecting joystick positions you can stand him anywhere in the lane and select the general direction you want the ball to go in. The tricky bit is timing a final joystick press as he swings the ball to release it, as if you press it too soon it will drop on his foot for a foul. Too late, and he'll follow it down the alley as he takes a nosedive!

To add to your problems you can also curve the ball into the skittles if you know what you're doing but it's more likely it'll end up in the gutter.

The scene now shifts to a head-on view of the skittle as the ball careers down towards them. Above the lane is an added comic touch as the game mimics your facial expression as the ball either skittles the lot for a strike of falls uselessly into the gutter.

The game then switches back to the old screen as a pen writes in the score at the bottom of the screen.

Unfortunately, the ten pin bowling does have one minor bug - you don't get the extra shots you should if you score a strike or spare with your final balls. Ten pin bowlers should find compensation in the three other games for this omission - others won't even notice. Despite this, the bowling compares well with US Gold's 10th Frame that was actually too realistic and included all the lengthy delays in the real game as the pins are reset by the machine! With Indoor Sports you get straight into the action.

A Monster Hit.