Electron User

Triple Decker 1

Author: Rog Frost
Publisher: Alternative
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in Electron User 5.03

Triple Deckers 1, 2 and 3 consist of three games on each budget priced cassette which sounds as though it must be a bargain not to be missed.

The three on the first tape are Grand Prix, Manic Mole and Day At The Races. It will come as no surprise to hear that Grand Prix is a motor racing game.

You see a plan view of a track with four midget-sized cars. One of these lethal machines is yours and it is locked in gear. Not only that, the accelerator is full on as well. All you can go is steer round the track, avoiding the other cars, getting knocked sideways by collisions while the three computer-controlled racers seem hardly affected.

After five frenetic laps, the race is over and a result sheet gives your position. This is a simple game and not of outstanding quality, but fun all the same.

Manic Mole is a platform game which has been written in pure Basic. The aim is to collect a jewel from each room so your girlfriend can be released. The only moving object on the screen is the mole - driven by you - which means the speed is quite good.

The first couple of rooms are easy, but then slides and dissolving platforms rear their ugly heads. Manic Mole is hardly eye-catching, but it is quite a neat bit of programming.

Day At The Races is a game for addicted gamblers. Choose your computer horse, bet your pretend money, watch a random race and collect your imaginary winnings. I don't understand why anyone would want to do this, but for those who do, at least there is the satisfaction of a near guaranteed win. The bookies in this simulation offer incredibly generous odds.

Collection two in this series gives you Invasion Force, Haunted and Parachute. Invasion Force is a simple, if fairly fast, space invaders. The Mode 4 graphics (just two colours) are rather dull and the whole process seems a little too easy. I'm not usually very good at shoot-'em-up games, but I soon got bored with my own success here.

Haunted by Peter Scott is in a vastly better league. This machine code game has you rushing around a room collecting keys and other goodies while avoiding or shooting the meanies. Success in a room leads you to a new and more challenging one with more problems to overcome. To keep you on your toes, there is a time limit as well. The graphics and sound make this game a pleasure to play.

In Parachute a helicopter is releasing its huge cargo of lunatic parachute jumpers. These idiots are jumping into a river which is well stocked with man-eating sharks. You can save these unfortunate half-wits if you manoeuvre your raft to catch them and then transfer them to the jetty.

You can only carry one parachutist at a time and they arrive thick and fast, so speed and care are required. This isn't a brilliant game.

TRIPLE DECKER 3 brings us Lunar Invasion, Jam Butty and Lunar Lander. Lunar Invasion is set on the surface of the moon. Armed with a buggy and an anti-aircraft gun, you have volunteered to fight off the invaders.

Wave after wave of aliens stream on to the screen - some are harmless, mere target practice, but others produce showers of missiles. A hit reduces your shield and the game is over when you have none left. Good sound and smooth, fast graphics make this game a winner.

Jam Butty is a platform game. Your aim is to pinch all the sandwiches from a building site while the workers are holding a meeting. The sprites are smooth, but control of your rather plump man is difficult and I have not yet completed the first room. The game is well laid out, with good title pages and pleasing sound which can be turned off.

The final program is Lunar Lander, which is very much a make-weight. The landing craft has the usual left, right and up controls and must be landed at a very low speed. You must also use the minimum quantity of fuel.

Unfortunately, the graphics are far too jerky and the sound is poor. There are plenty of better lander programs around.

Overall, these three packages do represent reasonably good value for money. Haunted and Lunar Invasion could easily stand as budget games in their own right. The extra ones can then be regarded as something of a bonus.

The games are actually Electon User's own Ten Of The Best re-packaged. There are now three games on each tape (Three Of The Best?). If you buy the lot it works out more expensive than Ten Of The Best, but if you only want three particular favourites then go for Triple Deckers.

Rog Frost

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