Play It Again Sam 5 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | The Micro User - Everygamegoing

The Micro User

Play It Again Sam 5
By Superior/Acornsoft
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 6.12

Destined for the charts

Superior Software's policy of buying up oother companies oor their software is having a noticeable effect upon the quality of its Play It Again Sam... compilations. Its already impressive games portfolio has been swollen with top titles from Alligata and Micro Power - some of which are found in this volume.


I was delighted to see that Micro Power's Imogen had been included - it has been a favourite of mine ever since I reviewed it many years ago. Imogen is a wizard who lost a few of his marbles as a result of a disagreement with a dragon.

For his own safety, and that of the local community, he was incarcerated in a dungeon by the great wizard. He must earn his freedom by solving the dungeon's many puzzles and collecting the sixteen pieces of the Spell of Release.

One of Imogen's party pieces is transformation - he can change from wizard to monkey to cat at will. Each form has a different ability: The wizard can use objects, the monkey is an expert climber and the cat can leap great distances. Your desired form is selected using a series of icons at the top of the screen.

There is no time limit, the only stipulation being that the sixteen sections must be completed using no more than 150 transformations. If this seems generous let me assure you that it isn't. A few wasted changes as a result of badly timed leaps can easily mean the difference between success and failure.

Puzzles range from traditional adventure game brain strainers to obvious, but difficult to execute, tests of manual dexterity. I would also add that a warped sense of humour is a distinct advantage when playing Imogen.

Having got themselves the basis of a superb game, Micro Power blended these puzzles with graphics of a quality that had never before been seen on the BBC Micro. High resolution monochrome characters were animated with a degree of grace and realism that brought them to life. Imogen was and still is in a class of its own in the arcade/adventure field.


Elixir is an arcade/adventure game from the opposite end of the quality spectrum - amost surprising fact as it is the only one of the four programs to come from the Superior stable. This tedious adventure revolves around the exploits of Cyril, the shrunken chemist, as he strives to locate the elixir that will restore him to his former stature.

Cyril clambers about shelves on which stand bottles and jars of pills and potions; the colour of a pill indicating the effect it will have upon Cyril. His snail's pace meandering are interspersed with fatal falls, killer flash bulbs, acid drips and a runaway circular saw.

Considering the quality of the other programs in the package, I would be very surprised if this one is played at all.

Bug Blaster

Leaving the arcade/adventure field we take a stroll down memory lane to an arcade game of yesteryear. Bug Blaster from Alligata was, and still is, a first rate version of that insect extermination game - Centipede.

Winding its way through a field of mushrooms is a giant centipede - and your task is to blast this Mega-myriapod before it gets you.

The rate of the beast's descent is determined by how many mushrooms it collides with. Each collision is followed by a change in horizontal direction and one step down the screen and the mushroom population increases with each new screen.

Other hazards come in the shape of falling fleas, bouncing spiders and an assortment of other members of the insect family which traverses the screen at regular intervals Bup Blaster is arave from the grave that is still capable of settinK the pulse racing as you fight for survival against mother nature's rejects.


The final game of the compilation is one which left me open-mouthed when I first saw it. Fortress is the only version of Zaxxon that was ever written for the BBC Micro.

For those of you who are too young to remember it, Zaxxon was a diagonally scrolling zap and blast game that had the same effect in the arcades as After-Burner has today. It was a game that you queued up to play.

Flying the latest X3 Starfighter, you must penetrate the enemy's high security defence system. To do this you have to fly at ground level, skimming over walls and squeezing through gaps in electric fences.

Opposition is provided by missile silos, ground-based blasters - and - most difficult of all - enemy fighters. These fast-moving craft respond instantly to your every movement resulting in many, many head-on collisions before you learn how to avoid them.

Not being the most economical of aircraft, the X3 has to be refuelled at regular intervals and this is achieved, quite logically by blasting the enemy fuel dumps as you advance through the base.

I am sure that no other software company bothered to compete with Amcom's Fortress because it was simply the best arcade game at that time.

With the exception of Elixir. Play it again Sam 5is yet another top quality Superior Software release that is destined for the charts.

Carol Barrow

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