Play It Again Sam 13 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | - Everygamegoing

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Play It Again Sam 13
By Superior/Acornsoft
BBC/Electron

Play It Again Sam 13

The thirteenth incarnation of the Play It Again Sam series, but is it up to the standards of the other Sams? Or is thirteen going to be unlucky for Superior Software? As usual there are four games on the compilation.

Hyperball

This is a bat and ball game with the idea being to destroy all the bricks and progress to the next level. Frequently power-ups are dropped from bricks that have been destroyed giving you things such as lasers and a slow ball. If this sounds familiar that is because it is very heavily based on Arkanoid, the classic arcade 'bat and ball' game.

The best way for you to picture Hyperball is to imagine Arkanoid without the colour and detailed graphics, and then you have Hyperball. Obviously if you haven't played/seen Arkanoid this is going to be difficult but then Arkanoid is different from most games.

It does have a few novel features, such as the ability to buy power-ups between levels and a few variations on Arkanoids power-ups such as collecting three 'smart blocks' to progress to the next levels, but it is basically a very poor copy of Arkanoid. There are 6 sets of 20 levels, making a total of 120 levels. Each set of levels can be loaded at any time from the menu screen, you can also select between levels 1 to 9, provided you have played them before.

If it was more colourful and had better graphics, it would have been a good game, but unfortunately after seeing Arkanoid on a BBC, this is not acceptable.

On the cover Superior have billed this as 'The best version of the classic bat and ball game', in my opinion it isn't good enough to wash Arkanoid's boots. I have to admit though it is better than Bat And Ball on the Welcome tape. If you like Arkanoid, you may like this because of the gameplay. but that is unlikely because of the standard of the colour/graphics. It's a sad day when I say a game is bad because of the standard of the graphics, but unfortunately today is a sad day.

In summary: good gameplay, disgraceful colour and graphics. If you like bat and ball games and don't already have Arkanoid, beg, borrow or do something else to get a copy of Arkanoid and avoid this one.

Percy Penguin

This is a copy of Pengo, originally released by Sega as an arcade game back in 1982. This is the third different version of this game I have seen on the BBC, the others are H-Soft's Pengo and Vision's Pengi.

You are a penguin trapped in an ice maze populated by deadly Snobees. To survive you have to kill all the Snobees by hurling Ice Cubes at them.

This is a good game, I've always liked Pengo games, unfortunately it isn't quite as good as the other versions available for the BBC. First of all the game is a little bit slower (this may help some of you). Secondly the graphics are fractionally weaker than other versions (this is not a problem but worth mentioning), and thirdly the music is different. In every version of Pengo I've played the music has always been 'Popcorn', you know the tune. In this version it has been replaced by a classical piece (I can't remember the name of it, the one that Vanessa Mae did), anyway apart from these minor differences Percy Penguin is a good game. I prefer Pengo and Pengi to it, but this is close enough to warrant my recommendation if you do not have the others. If you have Pengo or Pengi, this may be worth a look (especially considering you get 3 other games with it). In summary; good game, a reasonable conversion of Pengo, worth a look at the 8BS members price providing you don't have Pengo or Pengi.

Pandemonium

This is the first of two games on PIAS 13 from Peter Scott. This game is of the Thunderstruck/Citadel kind i.e. a platform game with various 'rooms', the object of the game being to construct the 'core' by collecting all twelve core parts, whilst avoiding or shooting aliens. You have four lives to complete your task with, you also have an energy bar, on contact with an alien you lose a little bit of energy. This is one of those games where totally avoiding the aliens is impossible, so you have to time your moves carefully to conserve energy. On playing it I've found this game quite hard to play but then I've never been good at this type of game without cheating.

This game is your usual Peter Scott game, a very well polished game with great graphics and music (providing you like the theme to Airwolf), unfortunately the gameplay is only average. There is nothing new or ground-breaking in this game, it's a variation on a theme.

I must state that I am not a big fan of this type of game, Palace Of Magic being the only game of this type I liked (and that's because I could cheat and I had a map). If you like Citadel, Thunderstruck, Starquake or Palace of Magic, this is right up your street and I can give it the thumbs up. If like me you don't fall into this category then I would give this game a miss.

Barbarian II

This is another game from Peter Scott. For those of you not familiar with the first Barbarian, it is a one-on-one combat game, the object being to kill your opponent, either another human or the computer. Barbarian II is the flagship game on this compilation coming on its own disk with its own instructions.

Both Barbarian games are conversions of Commodore 64 games originally released by Palace Software. I own a Commodore 64, but I have never played Barbarian II before, so I was looking forward to this. Barbarian II is different from its predecessor; instead of having a series of fights culminating in the rescuing of Princess Mariana (sexism was still rife when the first game was written), you now have to progress through 3 maze-type levels with 26 individual screens per level (the Wastelands, the Caverns, and the Dungeon) before arriving at the Inner Sanctum Of Drax. You get to choose the character you want to control either the Barbarian or Princess Mariana (both are skilled swords-people). On each of the three levels you will find two different magical objects which you need to collect to help you with your task. You also have to kill five or six different types of monsters on each of the first three levels, some of which can be killed with a well timed blow. Having played the game I can confirm that this is the case, although some of the monsters are very irritating.

To aid this review I downloaded the Commodore 64 version from the Internet to play on my C64 emulator to compare the differences. Peter Scott has done a great job of the conversion, obviously the BBC version doesn't have the multi-colour of the Commodore 64 version but everything else has been converted well. I don't know whether it was Peter Scott or Superior Software that decided to convert this game but whoever it was needs a good talking to, especially when you consider some of the other Commodore games that could have been converted. Both versions of this game are terrible, the control system is easy in theory but on occasion (usually in the heat of a battle) can be awkward especially when it comes to doing a low chop (RETURN + ?), I had the tendency to turn around, which meant I got hit a lot. The real problem is the actual game, it is boring and repetitive (you frequently have to fight the same monsters). Monsters just appear out of thin air (literally) so even if you pause for a moment after defeating a monster, another one appears.

I can't really recommend this game, it may appeal to some of you who want something different from their fighting games, instead of the usual one-on-one defeat a series of opponents-type game, but the BBC is not exactly well-endowed with different fighting games so I have nothing else to recommend in its place.

Summary

I can probably justify this for the 8BS members price of £6: if you aren't a member of 8BS (unlikely but possible) then avoid this one. None of the games are more than average, Percy Penguin being my favourite, but I already have two versions of the same game which are better. This is probably the weakest of the first thirteen PIASs, all of the others have at least one really good game on them. If I was to buy this it would be to complete a collection of Play It Again Sams. If you are in this position collect the others first and get this one last.

Elena López