By Macsen
Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash #33


Are you a whizz with words, nifty with numbers, a giddy gamester of the computer kind? Then perhaps this game is just up your street, especially if you're a fan of the Yorkshire TV version. A game for one or two people, Countdown (or Onwuontcd if you're an avid anagrammer) is a jumbly jaunt through vowels, consonants and knotty numbers.

There are nine rounds in this game, the first three of which involve unravelling an anagram. The idea of these is to get the best word possible from a selection of nine letters. By pressing the C or V key a player can choose a consonant or a vowel, then there are 30 seconds the Countdown to make a word using some or all of the letters. A green bar along the bottom of the screen which gradually shrinks as time passes, turning red when it nears the end. Below the anagram, the computer gives variations so that alternative combinations of the letters are revealed.

Mistakes may be deleted up to the last moment, and words entered are checked against the computer's own dictionary. Should the word entered not be in the dictionary, it must be verified by 'The Guardian of the Dictionary' someone who has been appointed by the player or players to check the accuracy of words. The word can then be accepted or rejected simply by pressing the Y or N key. If the computer can make up a longer word, it is given at the bottom of the screen at the end of the game. The cumulative score is indicated in the left-hand corner of the screen.


Having won the word games, it ' s time to test numerical skills in the Numbers round. The player chooses six numbers from four rows, the first of which contains numbers between 25 and 100 of which up to four may be chosen, or none at all. Rows two, three and lour contain numbers of a value less than 10. Having chosen these, six numbers are displayed in a row of boxes at the top of the screen. Then it's time for Cecil to do his work Cecil is the unseen spinner who produces a random number of up to three digits to the left of the screen. It is then your task, within the 30 seconds available, to obtain this number (or the nearest you can get) by adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing the six numbers at the top. Fortunately, you don't have to use all the numbers. When time is up, the player has to enter the calculations. If you can't get close enough, Cecil displays a perfect answer just to show you how easy it really was.

Following this, there are three more word rounds followed by a numbers round. The climax of the game comes with the Countdown Conundrum in which there are 30 seconds to unscramble yet another anagram.

So, pit your wits against the computer or take on a friend or is it drienf... or maybe enfrid...


Control keys: whole keyboard
Joystick: none needed
Keyboard play: very slow input
Use of colour: below average
Graphics: hardly any at all
Sound: some weak spot effects and a passable rendition of the theme tune
Skill levels: one
Screens: three: the anagram game; the numbers game and the Countdown Conundrum

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