A&B Computing


Evening Star

Author: Dave Reeder
Publisher: Hewson Consultants
Machine: BBC/Electron

 
Published in A&B Computing 5.03

Change of pace time, zappers. Now, I'm not one of those who ever succumbed to the delights of steam railways (although a trip on the Ffestiniog slate railway in the snow was quite amusing as I recall) and so I approached this game with caution - especially as our competition had been supplied with it a couple of months ago - I mean, how can I take any game seriously that isn't sent immediately and exclusively to The Arcade?

And, to my complete surprise and amazement, I really enjoyed it. Imagine for one moment that you are in the driving compartment of an old steam train - signals ahead, stations to set down at precisely time-tabled intervals etc. Pretty radical stuff, eh?

Well, I'm afraid that sarcasm does not win the day on this occasion - the simulation by Mike Male and Bob Hillyer will win you over even if you've never had a moment's inclination to take the blue train down that old lonesome line.

Evening Star

This is great stuff, no kidding. Leaving aside the excellently written and detailed instructions, just imagine for one moment how you're going to conduct this train ride down 70 miles of track between Bath and Bournemouth with no aliens to blast and no clues to solve. We're talking linear gameplay here and, despite the technical nature of the instructions (Well, just recall how bemused you were when you first tried to master Spitfire '40?) the game is easy to get into, if hard to succeed at.

The display is very basic - a few dials and gauges plus a minimalist live drawing display of the track ahead with which, together with a helpful map of the route ahead, you need to keep your wits about you.

I'm a great one for whacking the disc in the drive, ignoring the instructions and planting a finger on the auto-fire but for this game another strategy is called for. The manuals make essential reading and the game has a special personal and compulsive appeal. A large range of options (allowing everything from basic practice play to full-blown simulation) suggests various levels of enjoyment and commitment by trainee train staff and this is a more than worthy successor to Hewson's earlier simulation Southern Belle.

Can I suggest that, without putting my zapper credentials too much on the line for the present, that you try and track this game down - I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was by the sophistication of the package.

Dave Reeder

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