The Micro User

Play It Again Sam 12

Author: Rog Frost
Publisher: Superior/Acornsoft
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in The Micro User 8.02

Just another blag?

Superior Software has celebrated the start of the new decade with the release of yet another compilation in the Sam series. Number 12 features four programs, two being original Superior games and two borrowed from other stables. Unlike some of the recent Sam releases, none is new.

The Last Ninja

First out of the box comes The Last Ninja, a true multi-screen arcade adventure with a bit of karate-type violence built in. Players control Armakuni, the last of the Ninjas, in his quest to gain revenge on the evil Kunitoki.

To start with, the game is simple. You travel paths in the wilderness and destroy opposing guards. At first you use only your fists and feet, but soon you will find a sword. Collectable objects all flash when you enter a room; some are weapons and others are used to help in your quest. Objects with magical properties can see you through very tricky situations.

One early problem encountered is a river with stepping stones. Crossing this needs a certain precision as you do flip-over leaps from rock to rock.

More of a problem is a dragon which guards the entrance to the wastelands. It doesn't like it when smoke gets in its eyes.

The wastelands - reached via an extra bit of code loading - feature cliffs, where a helping claw is needed, and narrow ledges where one false step spells disaster.

A plus point of the program is that when you lose your three lives - through bad fighting, falling or other causes - you re-start on the same level.

It's a pity there is not a password system, since each time you load the game you have to start from scratch.

After the wastelands come four more zones with more puzzles to solve and more guards to bash. If you pray at the shrines you are given advice about what to collect.

I wouldn't describe the graphics as amazing and the animation is rather erractic, but the gameplay is first rate.


Next comes Blagger, originally released by Alligata back in the year dot. And it shows its age. The object is to steer your brightly coloured spirte around the screen, collecting all the keys and avoiding all the nasties. Some platforms dissolve under your weight, so care is needed in planning a route. Other ledges move, and control is difficult.

The main problem for me was boredom. The movement is slow and this sort of game is hardly original. Blagger has very little to commend it - except perahps that the enhancements over the original were carried out by our very own Hacman.


Skirmish is something else yet again. The graphics may look a little basic, but it can provide hours of entertainment for one or two players. They fly their giant birds around the screen and attempt to joust with other knights who may also be mounted on ostriches. The bird riders carry lances and in any joust the winner is the rider with the higher lance. The players have blue or pink birds while micro-controlled opponents ride green monsters.

One key is used to make the wings flap and calls for a steady tapping, not a mindless bash. Two other keys are used for left and right but these only work in conjunction with the wings or when running on the surface.

Changing direction when running causes a most satisfying skid with an appropriate screech noise.

When an automatic rider is dismounted, the bird lays an egg. It is as well to catch these, since eggs can hatch out into new riders who exhibit greater skill. These riders wear blue hoods to differentiate from the red hooded unskilled.

The birds appear in waves, starting with three, the number increasing for successive waves. Some are team waves with bonus points for not jousting with the other players, while others offer points for defeating a human player.

Perhaps most feared is the pterodactyl. This may appear early if you are slow to defeat opponents, but will certainly turn up by wave eight. This splash of colour is indestructible and very aggressive. It can easily drive you into the fires which have hand shaped flames reaching up for you. This game comes Hacman recommended.

By Fair Means Or Foul

The final offering on Sam 12 is By Fair Means Or Foul, a boxing simulation where cheating is allowed. People familiar with karate games will be used to the ten keys that are needed to play the game, but a joystick will make life easier.

Your aim is to become world champion by defeating each of six opponents or playing against another human.

Games are played over fifteen rounds and can involve normal fair boxing manouevres. The referee, however, is not really up to the job and it is easy to get away with fouls. These include head butts, kicks, kneeing and punching below the belt. An on-screen indication shows the likelihood of the ref spotting these cheats. Getting caught cheating involves the loss of a chance. You have fire chances before being disqualified. Even some legal moves can lead to the loss of a chance life.

Master Series machines benefit from an enhanced version which involves a tune - with controllable volume, a screen with pictures of the players and detail differences to the graphics. All sounds can be turned off as can the amusing pieces of bubble speak from the crowd.


Sam 12 has three good games and one poor one. It is well worth getting if you need a couple of the games to complete your collection but don't bother with it if it's only for Blagger.

Rog Frost

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