Pres Games Disc 5 Review | Electron User Group - Everygamegoing


Pres Games Disc 5
By ACP/Pres
Acorn Electron

Published in EUG #49

Pres' fifth compilation is another disc of numerous games from differing software houses. Starship Command, Maze and Planetoid were old Acornsoft favourites; Cosmic Camouflage, Constellation, Killer Gorilla 2 and Frak were fairly newish (for the disc's original 1991 release) releases from Superior Software and Guardian a so-claimed Alligata Hit from the mists of time. So there's a fair arcade feel to this compilation with its familiar format.

Actually, it may be incorrect to state Killer Gorilla 2 as new. The same game went by a 1983 title of Zany Kong Junior and had languished in Superior's office for seven years after Donkey Kong's copyright holders forced its withdrawal. No real changes were made to it apart from the addition of a colourful loading screen and so this 'new' Mode 1 arcade jaunt as a baby gorilla is really a title from 1983!

For this reason, despite its name, Killer Gorilla 2 is nothing like its Micro Power predecessor. Your gorilla, controlled with the keyboard, does no killing whatsoever. Quite the reverse. He is often the one killed - by falling off vines or being bitten by patrolling teeth. The controls are fiddly as well although the knack comes with a little time. There's adequate sound and nice sprites but only four screens.

Cosmic Camouflage is Superior's sequel to Acornsoft's Meteors (see Pres Games Disc 4) and is far better than the original. It retains a monochromatic Mode 4 screen but the foreground colour varies as you attain different sectors, which is appreciated. Of course the essential components of the Meteors game are still there: It's still a game about shooting rocks that divide into smaller and smaller pieces; these pieces then weaving about the screen until you disintegrate the smallest one or they smash into your ship.

Your ship has a number of improvements though. A welcome one is that your ship does not continue to thrust after you release the key - it comes to an almost immediate halt. This allows you to frantically weave in and out of the meteors with more ease. And you'll need to as there are variants of the meteors present on screen too. These variants behave differently, while cleverly not distracting from the theme of the game.

Some home in on you and some ricochet around the screen (whereas a meteor floats off one side and onto the other). When they hit you, your ship is quite spectacularly annihilated! There's also a loading screen.

Frak [This f-word title was a new way of swearing when your caveman was killed but, as it didn't catch on, you can download an Internet BBC version with the recognisable one - Ed] is the story of a yo-yo-ing caveman who must get from one side of the screen to the other, collecting all the keys he finds. It's a platform game with a difference.

The sprites are very large and the caveman you control is hindered in his progress by the Scrubblies. They don't do very much except block the way and a swift yo-yo is enough to knock them off their perches. However, you need to find a platform close enough to them and use the yo-yo strategically. Daggers fly randomly from top-right to bottom-left of the screen too so you need to bear these in mind.

You start on the left and when you reach the right, the screen, in a rather 'lumpy' fashion, scrolls so you are at the left of the next one. You must navigate several screens to reach the far-right and win the level.

Constellation is a program about heavenly bodies and allows you to view points in space as they would have looked at a particular point in time. It's hard to judge how accurate it is unless you're an astronomer and it's not as well presented as Century's Starfinder.

Maze is very dire and comes as standard with Plus 3 Games and Acornsoft Hits 1 already. It's slow, it's boring and every room looks the same - making it very difficult to navigate your way around yet it has a bit of colour and is one of only two commercial maze programs.

With this in mind, it's hard to believe Starship Command came from the same people! This too was one of the first Acornsoft games but the difference between it and Maze are staggering. Here, the graphics are crisp (even if monochromatic), the game is very smooth, it incorporates a staggering amount of options and performs the perfect arcade/strategy balancing act. But, it too is not only included on Acornsoft Hits 1 but also available on ROM Cartridge!

Guardian and Planetoid are parodies of one another and to include them both on the same disc is a bad move. They are both Electron versions of the 'Defender' game - the scrolling line hills with floating life forms (stalagmites) and aliens intent on carrying a life form to the top of the screen and mutating. If they manage to do so, they become virtually unstoppable so the object is to either shoot them on sight or shoot them in the act of abducting the life form then catch it as it plummets earthwards and set it down gently.

In both, and all, you are an aeroplane-type craft and the action is viewed from the side. It's not possible to choose the better of these two versions (But again Planetoid has been duplicated in the Plus 3 Games compilation!) - the best is Micro Power's The Gauntlet; the only one missing from the first Pres Games Discs!

Once again, those games that claim to be joystick-compatible on screen aren't and cause the system to crash if you try it. Once again, you can't print out the instructions - and the entire screen editor in Frak's original documentation is completely dispensed with!

The disc also fails in that, this time, every game except Killer Gorilla 2 is available elsewhere. You're left with this, Frak, Cosmic Camouflage and Constellation. They justify this disc's existence only by a very narrow margin.

Dave E

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