Dambusters (US Gold/Datasoft) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

By U. S. Gold
Commodore 64

Published in Computer Gamer #4


On loading the game you are greeted by a beautiful picture of a Lancaster bomber in its prime, on a runway in the dead of the night. It is this standard of graphics that sets the scene throughout the game. When the game starts up you get a menu of options in order of difficulty - dam approach, English channel onward, or taking off from Scampton and flying the whole distance to Germany.

Taking off from Scampton is just like any other flight simulator, except that on a multi-engined bomber, a lot of people have to work in co-operation with each other. Instead of plumbing for the easy option Sydney Developments have got the feel of all the people in a bomber down perfectly. You do this by switching between eight different screens. Each screen represents the station of somebody in the plane, be it pilot, gunner or engineer.

The pilot's screen is the one that looks most like a normal, run of the mill, flight simulator. With a horizon, instruments, and view through the cockpit window of the night sky over Europe. You can also see the night fighters, searchlights, flack and barrage balloons - although you can't do anything about them. That's up to the gunners, who have a set of crosshairs where your guns will fire. However, you must remember that by the time the bullets get there the cross and the target may have moved.

The two gunners positions are very much like a normal arcade game, you control crosshairs and blast away with your machine guns at the searchlights, fighters and barrage balloons. A record is kept of the number of attacks and your successes. If night fighters are too successful then you are rewarded with a row of bullet holes on the screen.

Engines are controlled from the engineer's station, there are rev counters, throttles, fire extinguishers, and booster controls. I found that controlling the engines was a bit difficult and it was tricky to tell the speed accurately, but after a while you can manage.

The navigator's area is composed of a multi-screen map of Europe, you move a cross with the joystick, this results in a line appearing on the compass in the cockpit. Line that up in the centre and you are flying towards the cross.

When you have finally got to the dam you can go on to the bomb aimer's screen. On this, you turn on the famous spotlights and fine tune your height. You can then spin up the bomb and prepare to drop.

When the bomb is up to speed the front gunner's sights are replaced with the bomb sights. These are vertical bars that you line up with the towers on the dam. Line it up then drop the bomb. If all goes well, you are rewarded with some nice graphics of the bomb skipping along the water and the dam blowing with a satisfying crump and the water gushing out.

When you make your attack run, you have to drop the bomb at just the right height (helped by the spotlights) and speed. The aiming must be spot on as well. If you miss, the program will tell you exactly what you got wrong so that you can try the next time.

All in all, this is a very impressive game. There are some problems such as the engine noise still being present when the engines are all off, and there being no night fighters, flak or searchlights around on the final approach to the dam. You'd think that the Germans would protect their interest slightly better.

Despite these points, I really like the game.