Atari User

Atari Smash Hits Volume 1
By English
Atari 400/800/600XL/800XL/130XE

Published in Atari User #2

Atari Smash Hits Volume 1

As they say on all the best awards shows, "I'll take them in reverse order". Last month we reviewed Smash Hits Volumes 2 and 3, this month I'll look at Volume 1.

Like the other two volumes, it opens with Jet Boot Jack. This is probably the best known of the English Software games, which is presumably why they include it on all three volumes. It's a good game, so I'm not complaining.

Next is Dan Strikes Back, the sequel to Diamonds from Volume 2. English Software obviously watch the same awards shows. Once again Dan sallies forth (or rather down) with his space as he digs his way to the diamond on level 6. Of course Brian the Blob and a variety of other nasties are out to stop him.

For my money this is miles better than the original. It's been a smash hit in our household - we've played it for hours and nobody's got beyond level 5 yet.

Next comes Hyperblast, which is exactly what you'd expect a game of that name to be. If it moves, blast it!

These sort of games are great if you like them, and I usually do in moderation. Hyperblast will give your joystick and thumb plenty of exercise as you dodge the enemy, although it has the wimpiest space warp I've ever seen. Still, you only warp between levels so the quality of play isn't affected.

In Captain Sticky's Gold you play the part of the captain's hapless crew member who gets to dive for the gold. Level 1 starts off nice and easy, with only some fish and an air leech to avoid while you're grabbing the gold.

Of course your oxygen is being used up all the time you're underwater. You can replenish your tanks by resurfacing but there is also a time gauge which shows how long you have left to complete the level.

When you've collected ten bars of gold you move to the next level, where things are a little harder. If you can complete eight levels you move to the next difficulty zone.

If Hyperblast is for the arcade addict, Captain Sticky's Gold starts off simple enough for the novice or the younger members of the family.

Finally, Firefleet calls for arcade reactions with a high level of precision. Your task is to steer your space cruiser through a series of canyons populated by tanks. It's a sort of vertical Airstrike, with the scrolling being really well done.

I found it a bit strange at first because the scene scrolls from bottom to top, giving the impression of downward motion. Most other games scroll in the other direction.

The game requires a bit of strategy, a fair amount of selective shooting, and a lot of precision steering. If you hit the wall you're dead, and sometimes there's not much room. Fortunately, response to the joystick is excellent.

Firefleet is a difficult game - it took me a few minutes to get anywhere - and the frustrating thing is that you are returned to the beginning when you get killed off. If you like a challange, this one's for you.

All in all, if you're a joystick jockey then Volume 1 is good value for money at £14.95 for the tape and £17.95 for the disc.

Pat Cookson

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