ZX Computing

Acro Jet
By Microprose
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #36

Acro Jet

More high flying antics as man and machine are again driven to their limits, only this time it's a battle against the clock since you're competing in an airborne decathlon - ten events that require supreme control of your BD5-J 200mph jet aircraft if you are to take the championship and enter the hall of fame. Before you write your name into the record books you'll have to learn how to fly.

This is undoubtedly the most difficult of this month's simulators to keep off the ground let alone trying to compete in the acrobatic events. This isn't made any easier when you consider that the instructions were written for the Commodore 64 with a brief and extremely vague errata sheet to explain the Spectrum keys! "Use joystick with Interface 2 or keys 6,7,8,9,0 for controlling plane" guarantees initial disaster flights as you sort out the controls, and it also rules out the most popular joystick interfaces.

The screen display is custom built for sport flying and contains a bank of instruments and a 3D view that also includes your aircraft as it swoops and banks around the circuit. A plan of the course which also doubles as a radar combines with a compass to keep you on course as you navigate your way around the hazards.


The first event is a relatively simple task to circle four pylons before returning to the landing/take-off strip. In the Slalom race, things are a little trickier as you have to circle the same pylons but in a set order and in the correct direction.

If flying is still more luck than judgement then you should quit now and be grateful for the points you've already got because the next event involves cutting a 3" ribbon strung between two poles. To show that wasn't a fluke you have to cut more ribbons while flying upside-down, then in the ribbon roll you must cut one ribbon, roll over and cut another without catching your wings on the ground. If that was too easy why not try the under ribbon low level race, the loop and cuban eight which contains everything you've risked so far and the insane spot landing in which you must deliberately stall your engine at 2000ft then land with pinpoint accuracy. If you turn on your energy you lose points but if you don't you might lose your plane.

Luckily, you're awarded points even if you don't finish the course so even beginners can compete with each other.

Up to now I've perfected my own events including the crash-at-the-end-of-the-runway, the smash-into-the-pylon and freestyle-plummet. It'll take a lot more practice before I can take on Microprose's own Major Bill Stealey.