Automania, subtitled Manic Mechanic, uses the first Spectrum Quickloader. Micro-Gen has spent some time on it and other software houses are still working on their own versions. The game loads in under three minutes, and Micro-Gen claims it should load from most cassette decks. In this two-screen Manic Miner, your task, as Wally Week, is to build ten cars. Each car needs six components, which must be collected from the store room. It's not that simple as various objects impede your progress, some of them fatally. Tricky stuff.
MFM has entered the card-game stakes with Double Dealer. This one's a two-sider, with seven-card stud poker and black jack. The poker's quite a good version: you play against the computer and your cards are shown in high-resolution graphics as they're dealt. However, the house limit of £100 per bet is a drawback.
Rapscallion, Bug-Byte's latest, is good but limited. You've been deposed as King of the Castle by Rapscallion. You endeavour to regain your crown and castle by tracing your way through a series of linked locations such as the lily pond and the dungeon. The graphics are limited but the number of screens and variation in the game are enough to sustain interest. There are at least a dozen screens in the wilderness, before you even make the magic labyrinth or the castle itself. Mind you, to get out of wilderness, you much collect various pieces of information from the crystals, or extra lives from the pixies as well as the magic eye, key and shield.
SOS is Vision's latest Spectrum offering and though it's a competent and difficult game it's essentially an arcade lunar lander, with meteors to avoid/shoot and stranded astronauts to rescue. Not easy, but dull.
Zeta 7, on the Commodore 64, has neat graphics, but is little more than a scrolling background, shoot-'em-up game. It's exasperating too: if alien fighters approach from the side, the gunsight's too slow to move to them before you're hit.
Now that Anirog's much advertised House Of Usher and others are finally here there's a sense of anticlimax, the more so before they're disappointing. House Of Usher has a neat title screen; after which you find yourself in the haunted mansion, have to move to one of a number of doors and enter it, before finding yourself in a pretty standard levels game. Ice Hunter is reminiscent of Space Planet/Burger Time: you move across levels of ice, slide down ice columns, drop blocks of ice on the various monsters, etc. It's rather slow and rather boring.
Still on the Commodore 64, Anirog has converted its Vic 20 game, Bongo, and Addictive Games has produced a translation of the excellent Football Manager - no-one should be without it. Going the other way, Anirog has ported two of its Commodore 64 programs to the Vic - Minitron and Max.
ES Forth, the first British Forth for the Atari, includes a full screen editor (rather than Forth's standard, poor excuse for one), has predefined sprite handling, I/O extensions and costs only £14.95. There's a large manual but, as usual with Forth packages, at least half is taken up by a complete listing of the Fig Forth model and definitions. You'll certainly need an introductory text on Forth to get anywhere with this implementation. Though the package itself rates very highly, it's badly let down by singularly inadequate documentation.
The Oric and Atmos haven't had much attention from educational software publishers; Mellowsoft remedies this at a low cost. The company's launch pack (a demo tape) costs just 50p, refundable against an order and contains "stunning sound and graphics" as well as various screens from the range. Hard to believe, but true.
Can You Count?, for the four-to-six age range, presents one of three selectable scenes, ranging from town, country or seaside, and asks questions of the "How many red cars can you see?" form. Each new scene shows different numbers of the many items, and indifferent colours so children can't just learn the numbers over a few practices. Some of the shapes are rather small, making it difficult to distinguish between them, and you'll need a good colour TV or a monitor.
Can You Spell? is superb. A large, very well drawn shape is shown which you must spell out. You select letters by moving an arrow underneath a lower case alphabet, then firing at the correct next letter. Little fingers may find the accuracy needed a little beyond them, but practice makes perfect.
If you hit the right letter it falls into a lorry which you drive under it. The lorry is returned to the factory and the letter processed. Suffice it to say that it's one of the best educational programs we've seen for a long time and just shows what imagination, talent and lots of hard work can produce. Well done Mellowsoft.
|ES Forth||£14.95||English Software 061-835 1358|
|Galaxy Raiders||£8.95||Visions 01-748 7478|
|Automania||£7.95||Micro-Gen 0344 427317|
|Zeta 7||£7.95||Mogul 01-734 6080|
|Football Manager||£7.95||Addictive Games 0202 296404|
|Ice Hunter||£6.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|House Of Usher||£6.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|Petch||£6.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|Bongo||£7.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|Pengi||£6.95||Visions 01-748 7478|
|Launch Pack||£0.50||Mellowsoft, 23 Dalford Court, Hollinswood, Telford, Salop|
|Can You Spell?||£3.95||Mellowsoft, 23 Dalford Court, Hollinswood, Telford, Salop|
|Can You Count?||£3.95||Mellowsoft, 23 Dalford Court, Hollinswood, Telford, Salop|
|Automania||£6.95||Micro-Gen 0344 427317|
|SOS||£5.95||Visions 01-748 7478|
|Double Dealer||£6.50||MFM Software 0892 48832|
|Rapscallion||£6.95||Bug Byte 051-709 7071|
|Bongo||£5.50||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|Maze Gold||£5.95||Visions 01-748 7478|
|Minitron||£4.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|
|Max||£4.95||Anirog 0322 92513/8|