Southern Belle (Hewson) Review | Home Computing Weekly - Everygamegoing

Home Computing Weekly

Southern Belle
By Hewson Consultants
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Home Computing Weekly #133

This is a full simulation of driving a steam engine on the line from Victoria to Brighton. The screen divides into a number of sections, the principal one taken up by a view into the open cab to allow you to see various gauges, whilst towards you, features of the landscape like bridges and stations scroll in wire frame 3D giving the impression of movement. Other sections deal with messages, signals, gradients etc, whilst the timetable you're supposed to run to can be called up with another key press. Graphically it seems just like the Spectrum version, and I would have liked the Amstrad's superior graphics to have been used, though there are some convincing chuffing noises from the sound chip.

Driving a train is hard, so there are first class instructions, and the option to take only partial control with the computer doing. the rest while you learn. The engine responds clearly to your handling, and all sorts of things can go wrong! At the end of a training run, you get a detailed assessment of your performance, including what youdid badly. To be fully in control, you must use eight different controls, stick to the timetable, and observe the safety rules. I suspect that excellence will only come after weeks of practice.

Pleasing to report, therefore, that the whole thing is very gripping - from the demo, through training, to a record run itself - and all sense of time is completely lost. Most enjoyable, and good value.


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