Play It Again Sam 7 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | Electron User - Everygamegoing

Electron User

Play It Again Sam 7
By Superior/Acornsoft
Acorn Electron

Published in Electron User 6.09

Play It Again Sam 7 is the latest in an ever-increasing line of highly successful compilations from the Superior stable. The package features three cracking games from the past plus a superb brand new offering.

Starting with the newcomer first, Firetrack is probably the ultimate shoot-'em-up. It features amazingly smooth vertical-scrolling arcade action that starts gently and speeds up at just the right pace until only the best stand a chance of surviving for more than a few moments.

You fly a space fighter low over alien worlds blasting the locals' power nodes, junctions and computer centres, finally destroying the Devil Rock's eyes for a bonus. The action is fast and furious.

The graphics are stunning and give an amazingly realistic 3D effect that I wouldn't have thought was possible on the Electron. What's more, for anyone who can spare the concentration, a number of familiar shapes can be seen in the landscapes - a Pac-Man chasing power pills, the number 42 and many more. However, I had to be told about their existence - I was too busy trying to avoid the squadrons of enemy ships swirling around me in weird and wonderful formations.

Firetrack takes the ever-popular concept of a shoot-'em-up, transfigures it and implements it faultlessly.

In Bonecruncher you play Bono, a little green dragon which lives in a castle by the sea. You have set up Bono's Bathing Company making skeleton soap, a commodity much prized by the giant sea monsters which bathe nearby. It's made from the bones of skeletons that can be collected from around the castle and boiled in your cauldron.

The castle is anything but a safe place. Not only are there trapdoors through which you can disappear without trace, but some skeletons haven't stopped moving yet and they're deadly. And giant spiders rush around the walls biting anyone who gets in their way. They will also eat any bones, so it's often a race to collect the skeletons before they do.

Finally, there are Glooks - large round ball-like creatures which love the smell of soap. When you have climbed up a stairway to supply another customer they - after a short delay - all move in the direction of the stairs.

Although a Glook is not in itself harmful, it will crush you if you get in its way when it's moving. They may also block your route. However, you can push one, or take advantage of its movement, to suffocate monsters and turn them into skeletons.

Fortunately Bono's Bathing Company is not a one-man show. Your partner Fozzy is strong enough to hold two monsters and spiders at bay, but he's not very bright. Always keep an eye on him to make sure he is not trapped or wandering around in circles.

Bonecruncher will delight game players of all ages.

Snapper, Acornsoft's implementation of the ever-popular Pac Man, was one of the first games ever released for the Electron. As the ever-hungry Snapper, you must make your way around a maze chomping all the dots. Pursuing you are four bug-eyed baddies that initially follow pre-programmed paths, but before very long begin to converge on you.

Fortunately, there are four power pills, one at each corner of the maze, which you can munch to give yourself a limited period of invulnerability. The baddies now turn blue with fear and you can eat them for bonus points. But strike quickly, because the effect of the power pills soon wears off.

Snapper's gameplay does not offer great variety, but it's still very addictive.

Ghouls is, to my mind, the only disappointment. Although popular in its heyday, it falls well short of the other offerings' standard. It is a very basic platform game, similar in design to Manic Miner, but features none of its finer touches. The graphics are simpler, the keyboard is over-responsive and the gameplay could be better.

Like Manic Miner, Ghouls features a number of different levels, but the only real difference between them is the layout - the graphic features seem identical from one screen to the next.

The sound effects are quite good, particularly when you lose a life and it also features a lively piece of music that plays when you complete a level and a haunting melody while waiting for you to enter your name on the high score table.

Ghouls may appeal to dedicated fans of platform games, but so many better examples are available that it must be considered a makeweight for the real stars of this compilation.

* * * Second Opinion (By Janice Murray) * * *

Like its predecessors, Sam 7 is a superb compilation that is excellent value for money - even if you have already got one or two of the titles. The real gem is the previously unreleased Firetrack. This technically brilliant piece of programming makes a fine game which proves to be very fast and addictive. The other titles can be considered bonuses thrown in for free.

Martin Reed

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