Your Sinclair1st June 1987
Published in Your Sinclair #18
This collection of four indoor activities has been converted from an American C64 original, and its got that touch of class that Yanks pay through the nose for. Air hockey is the only one of the four you won't have seen before on a Speccy, but all four are worth more than a cursory Dewhursts.
Of the four, air hockey is in fact the most spectacular. Cosmopolitan YS readers may have encountered the real thing on their travels overseas (darling warling!) - it's an amazing game in which you smash a puck around an almost frictionless table hoping beyond hope that it will somehow rebound into your opponents goal rather than yours. Even when played by hopeless cretins its astonishingly fast, and by some miracle of programming Advance has managed to duplicate it superbly. Not only is it faster on screen than you'd have thought possible, but the puck's been animated as well - as it flies around it gets larger or smaller depending on which end of the table it's at. Wowee! You've also got a choice of three game speeds (beginner, normal and hyperdrive) and four levels of computer opponent (easy up to pro). A pro opponent on hyper-drive is well nigh impossible to beat.
After air hockey, rather more familiar territory - darts. Won hondred a NIGHT-ie! we all cry, right on cue. Well, it's an interesting variation on what, in Speccy terms, is now an almost prehistoric theme. Mastertronic's 180 did it best, of course, and this isn't quite as much fun (for one thing it's harder), but it's a worthy attempt. You even get to see yourself (or a fat animated representation) chucking the arrer at the board.
Third, ping pong. Ah so, honourable Chinese sphere swipers, for here's your chance to shine at the game the inscrutables have made their own. Again, we've seen this once or twice on the Speccy before, but the indoor Sports version's as good as any. For one thing, you can choose between 'auto move', which puts your bat in exactly the right spot, leaving you only to time the shot perfectly (not a doddle), or 'manual mode' which is evil. Ah, decisions, decisions. The animation's smoother than Bob Monkhouse, and the little flipping motion you use when hitting the ball is a neat touch.
Finally, there's ten pin bowling, and another splendid conversion. Well timed, too, after US Gold's 10th Frame, which I thought rather disappointing. This is much more the ticket. Four skill levels as ever, and nine choices of ball weight (!) make the menu screen a test in itself. The game then involves much more than taking your finger off the fire button at the right moment. Positioning your player, aiming the ball and then swerving it at the last moment in order to make up for getting the first two wrong all make for an interesting challenge, needing the skill and judgement that come only with practice.
In all, then, indoor Sports is a surprisingly thoughtful and skilful compendium of games, of which certainly two could stand on their own. What with World Games, it's been a good couple of months for sports sim fans, and this is definitely one to add to your collection. I'll sithee!