A&B Computing

Triple Deckers

Author: Dave Reeder
Publisher: Alternative
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in A&B Computing 5.03

I don't usually bundle together game releases in this way, but it does seem to be the only way to cope with the pile of Triple Deckers that I've just waded through. Under review here are volumes 1, 2, 5 and 6 - I've a couple more here by the keyboard but I just couldn't face them.

There are real oddballs and could catch a lot of you out. Alternative are usually very good at labelling just what they're selling you - the Moon Cresta release this month, for example, makes it very clear that it was originally released by Incentive.

However, they are being very careful not to tell you what these gems are: hardly surprising, since all the twelve games here (three a cassette - Triple Deckers, remember?) were originally magazine listings - but (and that is a great big but) magazine listings from Electron User! Cripes - they're not even for the Beeb at all and, in fact, a couple of the games won't even run on the Beeb unless you tweak the listings a bit.

Not that that's hard - they're all in BASIC and, helpfully, mostly list automatically when you press BREAK. Stranger and stranger.

Okay, so what do we have here? Well, we have a chance to name names and embarrass a few people! From the top, then:

Volume 1 contains a very poor copy of Stock Car by S. Merrigan called Grand Prix complete with fun spellings like "competators"; an adequate, if not very exciting platform game by M. P. O'Donnell called Manic Mole; and a truly dreadful racecourse betting game, Day At The Races, by Simon Brett.

Moving rapidly onto Volume 2, we have S. Martin's Space Invaders clone Invasion Force whose only virtue is speed (thankfully it is over very quickly); an oddity called Haunted House which shows the only touch of originality in these tapes - hardly surprising, since it's a very early game by the great Peter Scott but, for God's sake, don't remind him of this; unfortunately, A. G. Martin's Parachute which is one of those catch the dropping men games that I know you've all been hankering after.

Sadly I haven't yet seen Volumes 3 and 4 (who knows? They could be great...) but Volume 5 moves inexorably on with a double helping of R. A. Waddilove, firstly with Starfight or, as the listing prefers, Star Fighter, which thankfully doesn't want to run on my Beeb and secondly the "classic" Skramble which is based on a space game so old that even I don't recall the details; however, bringing up the rear with distinction is M. Holroyd's two player Karate Warrior, which even in its necessarily cut-down form (only four moves each) is graphically interesting and quite fun to play.

So to Volume 6 which is the last one I can face this month. Explore the caverns in your spaceship in S. Merrigan's Cavern Capers; play computer snap and watch the dragon breath fire (Yes, really!) in Snapdragon by the deadly duo P. Ord and K. Owens and then thrill to the excitement of Martin Hollis' Castle Of Sand - can you complete your castle before the tide comes in? Well, can you? [Please, no more! - Assistant Ed]

I'm not often unpleasant about games. Each one represents a lot of work by a number of people and we shouldn't really laugh about these listings. They're not dated but probably emerged from the early years of Electron User. Hard to admit, but even A&B has published some pretty dreadful games in the past.

Still it seems a little unfair to release them as super value budget releases. A lot of games players are going to be very disappointed that they bought these. Why should you worry, though? After all, you've not had to play all twelve games just in case they were worthwhile.

Excuse me. I think I just need to go and lie down for a little while. I've come over all faint. Must be the excitement. Or something.

Dave Reeder

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