Surfchamp is the first in a range of sports simulations due from a new soft ware house based in Ireland New Concepts. Apart from the usual program cassette, the package includes a plastic surfboard which fits over the keyboard of your computer pivoting on a little fulcrum fitted over the G key.
The simulation itself requires some knowledge of surfing and the terminology of the sport, and a tutorial program is included on the B side of the cassette. Loading the tutorial allows you to step through menus which lead to descriptions of the various moves that score points in the game as well as information on the selection of gear, a glossary of surfing slang, a history of surfing and twenty tips for safe fun in the surf.
Before starting play proper, the program gives some information on the climatic conditions prevailing and then leads you through a set of options, requesting information on your age, sex, height and weight before allowing you to select the type of board and clothing you wish to take to the water. Each time the game is played the conditions change, and as in real life the best surfing is only to be had when the sea is good...
The final option in the menu allows you to specify whether you want to practise riding the waves or enter a competition. In practice mode you can select from ten speeds and surf away merrily, without running out of energy while you practise manoeuvres. In competition mode, competition rules apply and you get ten rides in which to build up a score performance deteriorates as you get tired.
The game begins with your surfer on the beach, carrying a board. Pick a spot to enter the water, press down on the nose of the surfboard on your computer to leave the beach and paddle out to sea. A large surfboard in the sky gradually disappears as energy is used up paddling the board gets tiring very quickly. Once a suitable spot in the sea has been reached, the next step is to turn round and wait for a wave. Pressing the 2 key puts your surfer onto the board, and catching a wave allows the real fun to begin.
Once a wave has been caught and the surfboard mounted the display changes to give a view of the wave you are riding with your surfer zooming along on the water. Using the surfboard overlay its then up to you to attempt point-scoring moves as you ride the wave towards the beach. The board pivots about its centre and makes contact with some of the Spectrum's keys. As the little surfboard is tilted and slanted during play, the keypresses produced are translated in movement on screen. The aim of the game is to go for the highest score possible by assembling a routine of slick stunts. Your performance is governed by the type of wave you are riding, the choice of equipment and physique entered at the start, the weather, and the energy remaining a tired surfer makes mistakes! New Concepts have based this simulation on the conditions and seascape at Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall during the 1984 World Championships.
If you manage to master this particular beach, becoming a true Surfchamp, modules containing the data for other famous surfing haunts should be available in due course to test your skills to the limit.