The rate at which Sam is churning out compilations is phenomenal and he is now up to number 12. Unlike previous offerings, this latest four-game box of fun does not feature anything new, and all the games have at some time been released before. In fact, some are quite recent releases.
The first game, Skirmish, is a trip into a fantasy world in which you sit astride a giant ostrich and engage in medieval-style jousting contests with opponents riding giant buzzards. Weird!
It sets itself apart from other games by taking the idea of a two player game one stage further - you play not only against another human player, but also against a number of other computer opponents. Thus half a dozen combatants can be on the screen at once.
To joust you must fly into an opposing player making sure your lance is higher than his. A vanquished human opponent loses a life and re-appears somewhere else on the screen. A computer opponent however, falls off his mount and turns into an egg, while his riderless buzzard flies off into the distance. You must grab the egg quickly or it will hatch spawning a rider of the next grade.
Skirmish features three different types of computer-controlled rider - the bounders, wearing armour, are easy to defeat; the hunters are more cunning and the shadow lords are almost impossible to dismount.
When all the computer-controlled riders have been dismounted the next wave begins. Later stages add even more nasties: The lava troll that stalks along the bottom of the screen ready to grab any foolhardy contestant who comes too close, and the indestructible pterodactyl that flies backwards and forwards until the wave has ended.
The controls are simple: Left, right and flap. The last command causes your bird to flap its wings once. Press it repeatedly to hover and for all your worth to gain height.
The Last Ninja is a story of jealousy, power and revenge - of good versus evil and one man's struggle against overwhelming odds. It is easily the best martial arts cum adventure on the market (except for the recently released LAST NINJA 2).
An evil Shogun slaughtered the Ninja community on its once-a-decade visit to the sacred island of Lin Fen. A solitary Ninja had been left behind to guard the shrine, feed the cat and other such tasks. Now he has sworn to avenge the deaths of his comrades and re-build the Ninja empire.
You play Armakuni as he begins his assault on Lin Fen. There are 16 locations on the island and you must kill every guard and collect all available objects on each level before moving on to the next.
Level one is set in the wilderness, a barren wasteland of rocks, bushes and paths, but it is patrolled by the Shogun's warriors. Initially unarmed, you must pummel your opponents using only your fists and feet. Things become a bit easier as you round the first corner and find an abandoned sword - the first of five weapons. The instructions advise you to use the same weapon as your opponent, but I found the sword to be effective against most adversaries.
The Last Ninja is quite a departure from programmer Peter Scott's traditional style - the prolific author of countless cute platform games had really come up with the goods this time. Ninja is fast, furious and totally addictive.
In spite of its rather peculiar title, By Fair Means Or Foul (BFMOF) is in fact, a boxing game. It allows you to execute a variety of boxing moves, including body blow, uppercut, standard punch and duck punch.
You can also move backwards and forwards and block your opponent's blows by engaging either a high guard or a low guard. These are the fair moves, but you can also execute foul ones - head butt, knee kick and groin punch. The fights are supervised by a referee who will try to ensure a good clean fight. However, there are times when his attention wanders, so if you want to play dirty, that's the time to act.
The probability of executing a foul move without attracting the referee's attention is indicated by the colour of a box below your score. If it is red then you will almost certainly be spotted, while red/white indicates that you stand a reasonable chance of getting away with it. A white silhouette gives the all clear for all manner of foul deeds.
Rounds are one minute long, and the time can seem to go very quickly when you are losing. If neither player manages a knockout, the one with the higher energy level at the end of the round is the winner. The defeated player loses a life. If you manage to defeat your opponent five times you go on to fight a tougher opponent.
The ring scene graphics are not particularly impressive and the game seems rather devoid of colour. However, the animation of the two boxers is very lifelike, as they swing their arms and jump around on their toes.
By Fair Means Or Foul is the result of a well-used idea approached from a different direction and, as such, has been implemented well.
Feel in the mood for a bit of thieving? Like to rob a safe or two? Well, Blagger gives you the chance. This is by far the oldest game in the compilation, first reviewed in the September 1984 issue of Electron User.
As Roger the Dodger, intrepid master burglar, you have four lives and 20 different screens to search for golden keys in houses, shops and banks. It's nothing if not addictive and a great deal of patience and thought are required to work out how to get through each scene.
Some surfaces melt as you walk over them, mysterious gooseberry-like objects kill you if you touch them and sundry nasties such as spaceships, humbugs, gnashing teeth, locomotives and RG signs (the author's initials) must be avoided.
After collecting all the keys on the screen you make your way to the safe which will then open and let you move on to the next screen. However, this is difficult if you have eroded away the only escape route while collecting the keys. There is also a time limit in which to complete the screen.
The game is a winner and is very much a just-one-more-go piece of software. The program makes good use of colour and graphics, though the sound can sometimes be a bit irritating. Blagger is very enjoyable and sure to give many hours of entertainment.
Overall, this is yet another winning compilation from the Superior stable. The individual games were all once full priced and sold extremely well. As part of a compilation they are unbeatable.* * * Second Opinion (By Janice Murray) * * *
Once more Superior Software has produced a compilation of superb quality. The games can't be faulted and for just under a tenner represent good value for money.
The only cloud on the horizon is that as these games were so popular when first released, you may already have one, two or even all four of them. Each game that already have diminishes the value of this unimaginative Play It Again Sam 12 compilation.