The Micro User1st April 1988
Published in The Micro User 6.02
Hits and misses
Compilations seem to be popular nowadays and are being eagerly bought by gamers normally delighted with the excellent value they get. Sadly though, not all compilations are good value, and I have to class The Bug-Byte Compilation II in this category.
It is made up of four games: Cricket, Hunkidory, Jack Attac and Ice Hockey. Two are of fairly good quality but the others are, quite frankly, a waste of space.
The idea of Cricket is that you control your pub team in playing a one day match against The Merry Hackers touring side. There is also a two-player version where one of the players controls The Merry Hackers. You can decide whether the match will be of 10, 20 or 40 overs.
When your team is fielding you control the bowler, and, once he has delivered the ball you can manoeuvre him into a position to make a catch. If your side is batting you control the batsman and after hitting the ball you can decide whether or not he tries to go for a run. At the end of each over the fielding side can alter its field placings.
If a player is out, and at the "end of each over, the updated scorecard is shown, but more often than not it is wrong. For instance, after seeing the ball being hit over the boundary rope for four runs, the scoreboard only indicated two. I found the game tedious and frustrating. Occasionally, the screen became cluttered with extra bowlers because after one made a catch, the sprite failed to be cleared from the screen.
The game also neglects to tell you who has won, and even after your side has scored more runs than the opposing team, the opposing bowler just goes on running up and trying to bowl you out.
Despite the fact that this is not the worst game in the compilation, it only just fails to fall into that slot by virtue of the fact that I could turn the annoying tune off while playing.
Hunkidory is an early Peter Scott game which stars, yet again, a spherical droid by the name of Dave the Dungdroid. You control him in his bid to escape from the dungeon in which he has been imprisoned.
On your way out you must collect the valves liberally sprinkled about the 20 increasingly difficult screens. If you manage to collect all the valves on a screen a trapdoor opens through which you can escape to the next screen. Each contains monsters on the look out for a tasty Dungdroid to devour. You can kill them with your shield, but this costs a fair amount of your limited energy. Fortunately your supply is replenished between each screen. The screens also contain deadly spikes and mines and a few moving platforms on which you can hitch a lift.
My only criticism is that at the end of each game it takes too long to restart another. You have to hit a key and wait several seconds for the high score table to appear, hit it again and wait a few more seconds for the instructions page, then select whether you want sound or not; finally you hit the spacebar to start again. However, the game is simple, very addictive and so much fun to play that I can live with the delay.
It is a shame that Hunkidory should be released on a compilation. It deserves better stable-mates.
Jack Attac is an early graphic adventure game which combines Jack and the Beanstalk with Jack and Jill. Jack, under your control, has to search 45 screens of the beanstalk for the key to the cell which holds his sweetheart Jill.
Along the way are useful and not so useful objects plus several keys which allow you to open doors to other areas. The beanstalk is also inhabited by strange creatures which rob you of a life if you bump into them. They include snails, birds and flying Daleks. Even innocent-looking bushes are fatal.
If you find the key to Jill's cell and pick it up you wake up the giant who lives at the top of the beanstalk. You then have a frantic two minutes to get back down to ground level, free Jill and escape.
The graphics aren't as clear and impressive as later games in this genre but that would be a bit too much to expect. All in all, this one is excellent despite its age and I enjoyed playing it. I'm determined to get past the awkward spot where the Daleks hover in wait for the poor, unsuspecting Jack.
I remember the first time I saw Ice Hockey back in the days when it was released on its own. I wasn't impressed with it then, and my opinion hasn't changed since.
It's a simple simulation where you control the Red team in their game against the Blues. The instructions give you quite a bit of information on the rules of ice hockey, but once I started playing I found this information totally superfluous.
The game appears to be nothing more than a slightly more complicated version of those early tennis games you used to be able to get hold of which comprised of two bats hitting a ball backwards and forwards on the screen. The winner was the player who managed to get the ball past his opponent's bat most often.
Ice Hockey is the same except that there are six players on each side - the same keys control all six and the playing area has been expanded to cover three screens.
The micro controls the Blue team and usually scores lots of goals and defends its own with consummate ease. The poor old human player in the meantime struggles to get more than half a dozen goals in the allotted time while despairingly trying tofigure out how to keep the Blue team from scoring more than 20.
I gave up after just a few attempts. Of the four games in the compilation, this is the worst.
In conclusion, I could forgive someone for producing a compilation with one slightly duff game, but when half of what you pay for would probably not even be accepted as magazine listings, I really do object. Come on Bug-Byte, we know you can do better than this.