It isn't often that the Game of the Month accolade is granted to a re-issue, let alone a compilation. However, after eight of the Sam series, with just a couple more to go, it seemed churlish to refuse to acknowledge Superior's continuing and continuingly welcome series.
This one is excellent too - not just in value terms, but in the range of software packages on offer, a point often forgotten. So what's on offer in this collection of reissues?
First off is one of the many excellent Tynesoft sports simulations - this time Winter Olympiad '88. One of the best of their seemingly endless series of multi-event simulations. This seems still of sufficient value to make its appearance on a compilation a matter of some speculation. The usual chunky Tynesoft graphics, the usual excellent title and pre-event screens, the usual range of events are all found here - this time around it's bob sled, speed skating, ski jump, giant slalom, ski slalom and biathlon.
It's hard to pick an event that shines gloriously; equally, it's hard to find one that lets down the package. All are great fun and well worth investigating, even if you're not a sports fan.
Next, a rare example of Superior's magic touch fading with Quest. As Steve Hanson now admits, the jokey style of advertising of this game rather put off the potential buyers (a similar problem also hit Spycat) and that's a shame as there's much to commend this 90 screen arcade adventure. Forget the background story, concentrate on the ingenious screens and enjoy.
That's something you can also do with this compilation's rave from the grave - early arcade conversion smash Mr. Wiz, a kind of Dig Dug clone. It's not colourful, it's not state of the art, it's not technically breathtaking - instead it has that rare commodity in today's software games: complete compulsiveness. If you've never played this (or similar games) then be prepared to be amazed at how easy it is to have enormous fun from the most unsophisticated sources.
Which should bring us with an easy inevitability, to our final game of the package. Sadly, the elegant nature of the column is wrecked as we have to talk about a fairly sophisticated package - Around The World In 40 Screens, one in a serious of seemingly endless Boulderdash rip-offs which, for the addict, are the most compulsive games ever released for the Beeb.
If you've never met Repton the lizard whose life work involves collecting diamonds, dodging rocks and killing monsters then I have just two things to say to you - first, I don't believe you and, second, then an initiation into lizard fever is well overdue.
Certainly, this wasn't the most complex of the screen designs but the inclusion of an excellent screen editor/designer and the extension of graphics into new forms gave the Repton series a new lease of life on initial issue. It also pointed towards the inevitable overworking of the theme with the editor implying that, sooner or later, enough 'official' screens just couldn't be produced.
Yet, again, I would have considered this still a full price item. To be able to enjoy it, plus three other games - with not a turkey in sight - is a measure of the depth and strength of the Superior back catalogue and the marketing skills that can combine them into a near irresistible package.