Play It Again Sam 9 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | Electron User - Everygamegoing

Electron User

Play It Again Sam 9
By Superior/Acornsoft
Acorn Electron

Published in Electron User 6.11

Play It Again Sam 9 could probably be best described as the Superior collection for the more sedentary gamester. Consisting of three arcade adventure games and a snooker simulation, it is hardly the most exhilarating of compilations.

First is Spycat, a tongue-in-cheek tale of espionage and intrigue in the corridors of power. After fifty years of loyal service, Spycat hears rumours concerning his forthcoming retirement - due to government cutbacks his comfortable pension is to be slashed. Angered by the thought of impending poverty, Spycat decides to take out a little insurance in the form of three top secret research documents.

Your mission is to help Spycat to locate the documents, copy them to microfilm, obtain all of the relevant travel papers to escape to Greenland, fly there and write his memoirs and probably have them banned by the government.

Despite limiting himself to four colour Mode 5, the programmer has managed to create an impressive series of cartoon-like characters and backgrounds - Spycat is a superb Paddington Bear lookalike with a penchant for flashing when ignored for a few minutes. The game was a most enjoyable romp the first time around, and now constitutes a worthy addition to the ever expanding Sam series.

Snooker is a game that has yet to be realistically implemented on the computer screen and Steve Davis' Snooker is the epitome of all that is wrong with this type of simulation. The balls are too small to allow for the accurate judgement of angles. Also, the micro is unable to keep track of such a large number of moving balls and as a result the speed varies according to the amount of on-screen activities.

It is played in complete silence and the micro-operated opponent manages the most impossible of shots with uncanny accuracy. Why anyone would want Sam to play it again I don't know.

The third game involves that mainstay of the Superior stable, Repton. No compilation seems complete without it these days. Starring in his autobiography - The Life Of Repton - our green-skinned reptilian buddy must negotiate 40 testing screens of fiendish action.

Based around the classic Repton 3 program, the new collection of screens calls upon the different stages of Repton's life as a source of inspiration. The traumas of infancy form the basis of the first eight. In his search for missing teddy bears baby Repton is hounded by monster dogs and is likely to be crushed by the tumbling Humpty Dumpties.

Many lives will be lost in your first few attempts due to a lack of familiarity with the new game characters. To assist you Superior has thoughtfully provided a character comparison chart, with which you can determine which of the new characters corresponds to the eggs, diamonds, boulders and so on before you do something silly.

The subsequent stages of Repton's life story include school days, teenage traumas, work and his twilight years as an ageing reptile. The game's strength has always been its strategic content: Each screen conceals unknown terrors for the player. You are always aware that a single misplaced boulder can render a screen completely unplayable.

The Life Of Repton is by far the best program in this latest compilation - it even includes the screen designer utility.

Sam's final offering is the classy, colourful and previously unknown arcade adventure called Camelot. Your quest as King Arthur in this mythological tale is to search for Excalibur and use it to defeat a fiery dragon. You are hampered by the imposition of a time limit and the fact that nobody appears to respect you any more, the castle being overrun with witches, devils and enemy knights.

You have a single life, the duration of which is determined by the state of your energy level. Physical hazards such as fire, water and banks of vicious pointed spears place a tremendous strain on your well-being.

You are able to wipe out most of your enemies with your trusty zapper until, that is, you run out of zap. The meagre 50 rounds you begin with are soon expended and new supplies are hard to locate. On the positive side your rapidly diminishing energy reserves can be replenished by opening one of the strategically placed treasure chests. First rate graphics and difficult gameplay make Camelot a suitable challenge for even the most accomplished arcade adventurers.

If you are looking for a compilation that gets away from the frenetic keyboard bashing of the Firetrack and Galaforce variety then get yourself a copy of Sam Volume 9. With the exception of Mr Davis' contribution, good old Sam's done it again.

* * * Second Opinion (By Roland Waddilove) * * *

Sam's now playing it for the ninth time in this excellent compilation of hit games. The weakest is Steve Davis' Snooker, and the most outstanding Camelot - a new and challenging arcade adventure that's sure to have you hooked.

Forget the other games - they can be considered freebies - the main attraction is Camelot. I loved it.

Jon Revis

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