Cheapo Round-Up Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Cheapo Round-Up
By Codemasters
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #68

Advanced Pinball Simulator (Codemasters)

The thrill of pinball is the noise and flashing lights, skilful manipulation, the crack of a steel ball against the backboard. If Advanced Pinball Simulator was representative of pinball, pinball would have met the same fate as the Sinclair C5.

First off, it's dead easy. In no time at all, you'll be knocking it around with ease as the ball floats about the uninteresting screen. The sound effects are a dismal little beeping sound every time the ball lethargically rebounds off a bumper. The visuals are indifferent. At least it does provide a playable game, the sprite detection is fine and the ball behaves itself. Shame it's so boring.

Gauntlet II

When Gauntlet II appeared there was mild air of disappointment in the office. Expectations were high because US Gold had done such a good job with the original coin-op.

In truth, there was little wrong with it, it was just that it repeated the theme. The coin-op was exactly the same - bar a few new facets and that was it. So you can expect 'That' monsters who chase you, acid pools, moveable walls and force fields.

Nothing has changed since they were both around at full price: if you have one you won't want the other.

Barry McGuigan's Boxing

This is a piece of seriously dated software if ever there was. Released in September 1985 about the same time as Elite's Frank Bruno game.

There's an option to create your own boxer, pick his fighting styles and train for the fights. The actual boxing is alright - hitting inside and outside, to the head and to the body, but it's not exactly stunning, but there's never exactly been a stunning boxing game ever. Ever.

You takes your choice here, we'll give it a miss.

Solomon's Key

Released around Christmas 1987, Solomon's Key got the thumbs up from CU. There was nothing particularly novel about a block shifting game in which you had to reach the top of the screen snaffling bonuses as you went. It had the sort of addictiveness and a level of playability that reminded you of Bubble Bobble.

It'll put the fun back into gaming, but that might be a bit too frivolous for the hardened gameplayers out there. Trust us.

Manic Miner

If Barry McGuigan is dated, this is prehistoric. Aye, we remember when Hovis were 2/6 a loaf, and a shilling could get you a pint of Newky Brown and a woman for the night. That was when Manic Miner surfaced - the original platform game, featuring Willy. All very pre-miners' strike, featuring grimy, underground workers.

The whole concept of the game had never been seen before, and was totally fantastic (for the time). Now it shows more than its age, the stress fractures surface. Still, an amazing blast from the past from ace programmer Matthew Smith.

One we can recommend to all the fresh-faced amongst you, too young to remember flares, the Falklands War and Breaker bars.


The coin-op of this, we're told, was at the Daily Mirror's Perestroika exhibition recently, if true, it makes sense. It was Mirrorsoft who first got hold of this Soviet teaser.

There's something typically Russian about a game of logic concerned with slotting geometric shapes together. It's clever and it's certainly quite addictive.

We'll give it a good mark for the sake of Boris Yeltsin. [Why, did he design it? - Ed]


This is the most basic of all Pac Man rip-offs. You have to run around things which look, to me, like girders, filling them in as you go along. Naturally, there are some badly drawn (and "sub-atomic" would you believe) nasties which give chase. To make it slightly more interesting, there are gates of different sorts to be negotiated and crystals - which give you shooting power - to be collected.

Graphically, Octoplex is yeeuch! The background is an unpleasant shade of brown and your intrepid hero wobbles unsurely along his way. Nothing to recommend about it, we're afraid.