Has it ever struck you that one day Superior Software is going to run out of titles to put on its compilations? That day is drawing closer, but judging from the variety of this current offering, it is still at least a few months off. Here we are presented with four games - Barbarian 2, Percy Penguin, Pandemonium and Hyperball; all but the last of which have been scrutinised at some point before in these columns.
Instead of re-covering old ground, I'll turn to Hyperball, not really a 'new' game, but actually the latest in a long line of Breakout clones.
I can't help wondering if, after Arkanoid, Impact and Krakout, the market for such games might perhaps be saturated?
All the best features of those games are here, bar a screen designer, but this shouldn't be held against Hyperball, for it contains several neat variations on the old theme, such as an innocent-looking bonus-shaped package that falls from above, only to knock a large hole in your bat!
There are six 'Arenas', each containing 20 screens which can be loaded at will and played selectively (provided that you've completed them before). The front end of this game is more than a little spartan, with only the compulsory scrolling message, written in a headache-inducing font, to catch the eye.
An unfortunate detraction from the gameplay is the length of time that your bat takes to appear at the start of each level. A very pretty, but lengthy and irritating, animation is replayed upon each launch of the ball. This is partially made up for by the pleasant dissolving effect when you lose.
The stylish scoreboard with its large chunky digits is very impressive and it means you don't have to squint into the corner of the screen.
All the familiar 'tokens' drop from the bricks as you destroy them and have more or less the usual effects: eight-ball splits, disclosure of invisible bricks, sticky bat, laser, jump-level and so on. You are able to buy upgrades for your bar with the credits which you win while playing. These range from a 'Quantum Energiser' to a 'Lifer Regeneration' capsule.
Although this game comes across as being a space filler for the compilation, its originality and grand total of 120 screens make it good value for one of four games. The best version of Breakout ever it is not, but it isn't bad either.
The other components of the compilation - Barbarian 2 with its large and jerky sprites, Percy Penguin pushing ice-blocks onto his blancmange-shaped adversaries and Peter Scott's classic arcade adventure Pandemonium, combine to make what will doubtless be another money-spinner for Superior. But I get the worrying feeling that, after so many compilations, unless Sam starts to play another tune, in 2020 we will all be playing PIAS 137!