The Micro User

Play It Again Sam 8
By Superior/Acornsoft
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 7.05

Bargain basement

Winter Olympiad 88

Winter Olympiad '88 was a big hit when it was released last year by Tynesoft. A maximum of four players can play - or the micro can take the part of up to three - in a struggle to win as many medals as possible. In all of the simulations you can take part in three heats, your best result being compared against those of the other three competitors.

In all but two events - Bob Sled and Ski Jump - you can abort the second and/or third heats. After each event is completed the medals are awarded and a medals table is displayed before you go on.

The graphics in all six events are excellent: They move smoothly and are usually accompanied by simple, but good quality sound effects. Between events, you are treated to a fairly pleasant version of the theme music to the BBC Television programme Ski Sunday.

In Bob Sled you have to drive a two-man bob down a twisting course. The time you take on each run is determined by your skill and judgement in negotiating corners. The faster you are moving on the bends, the further up the side of the run your sled is forced and, if you don't use your brakes enough, you fall out. If you go to the other extreme and use the brakes too much, your time will be slow. A bird's eye view of the course showing your position, is displayed in a window on the right.

Next comes Speed Slating where you simply have to provide the energy to drive your skater once around a large rink. You do so by hitting two keys alternately to make the skater pick up speed. Unlike other key-hitting exercises it is timing that counts, not speed. If you have a good sense of rhythm you'll win this one easily.

Ski Jump brings out the Eddie the Eagle in you. The event starts off with a rear view of your man waiting at the top of the hill. Once the tone indicates it is time to start your jump, hit Z and X alternately to get up a good speed.

Once you have got going a side-on view of the jump is displayed and you must continue to hammer the keys to increase speed. Finally, you are given a close-up view of your jumper as he travels through the air. Use C and F to keep his skis aligned. If you do well you're rewarded with his perfect landing; otherwise it's an ignominious rear-ender.

The Giant Slalom gives a diagonal view of a skier moving downhill and the Z and X keys are used to make him weave in and out of suspended poles. It's not too taxing but I've never managed a clear descent.

For me, Ski Slalom is one of the better events. You are given a view from behind the skier and as he descends you have to guide him between pairs of poles. Sounds easy? Well, some of them are off the screen and a little arrow shows which way you have to go.

But the best is last. Biathlon is a fascinating sport involving long distance skiing interspersed with rifle marksmanship. Moving the skier between target ranges involves rhythmic key pounding - if you get out of synchronisation you lose speed rapidly.

The shooting is simple, the cassette interface relay clicks to indicate the rifle being cocked - a neat trick - then across descends from the top of the target down through its middle.

You hit the spacebar at the right moment to score a bull. Failing to hit the target centrally results in a time penalty and there are five to hit in each group. Lots of tension.


The second full game in Sam 8 is Quest, an arcade adventure in the footsteps of Palace of Magic. Sad to say all I can report about this is that I've never been able to get anywhere!

In theory you guide the hero, Walter Cobra, around looking for twelve power crystals and the Golden Dragon. Your major advantage is the jet boots that work in rooms containing triangular objects.

Other complications involve force fields and their power plants which need to be de-activated with stun grenades and computer terminals which have messages that can only be accessed if you have the password. Try it if you like tough adventures.

Around The World In 40 Screens

If you don't know who Repton is by now, where have you been? In Around the World in 40 Screens you have to guide our little green friend around scenarios based on Africa, Arctic, America, the Orient and the Oceans.

Having paddled around these screens a little in the past I know they're competently designed and quite fun. The Oceans in particular has been put together by someone with atwisted mind - the safe sprites are invisible. You've got the usual tune of course, and the standard quality of graphics.

Mr. Wiz

The Superior game Mr. Wiz dates back to 1984 The scenario is simple, if a little bizarre: You must guide Mr. Wiz around the screen to eat up cherries. On the first level, there are three nasties which appear from a mushroom and give chase. In general, the baddies won't move through the earth which defines the paths they will follow - but if they get annoyed they will.

Annoying them seems easy to do - just eat the cherries or worse yet their mushroom. You're not entirely defenceless because you do have a crystal ball to throw at them. It's a pleasant, smoothly programmed little game and, while the poor relation, it doesn't compare badly with the others.

Sam 8 is a reasonable collection, although I've had enough of Repton. As usual ifyou lack one ofthe games it's a good buy - if you're missing two or more it's abargain.


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