Your Sinclair

Virgin Atlantic Challenge
By Virgin Games
Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #11

Virgin Atlantic Challenge

Oh joyous day! Oh rapture unforseen! The lovely T'zer rang me today. This can only mean one of two things - she's decided that I'm the most desirable hunk ever to walk this planet or she wants me to do some games reviews... and so to the latest release from Virgin Games (sigh!)

It couldn't have slipped your notice that a few months ago Richard 'Keep Britain Tidy' Branson, Le Grand Fromage at Virgin, succeeded in crossing the Atlantic in a powerboat and swiping the coveted Blue Riband. What better than to devise a fun simulation of Richard Branson's part in this exciting and dangerous event. I can think of a few things. After I spent half an hour trying to get more than a few nautical miles from America I was left feeling a bit like Simon Le Bon and had to check my dictionary for the definitions of 'fun' and 'simulation'.

You start off in control of a very bizarre looking Richard Branson sprite that has to run along a corridor inside the boat checking and adjusting the status of various items of the ship's equipment. For instance you have to regulate the speed of the engines to stop them blowing up and check the map to make sure you're keeping on course. You've also got to keep stopping so you can feed the ever hungry Richard, otherwise his manic movement slows down to positive catatonia - it's worse than having a newborn sprog.

Virgin Atlantic Challenge

Hazard warnings'll sound at alarmingly frequent intervals to tell you to climb up the bridge and set a new course to avoid piling your lovely vessel into an iceberg or other stationary object. As if all this wasn't thrilling enough (yawn), you're not allowed to forget that the curiously misshapen sprite you control is the head of a global business empire since the telex chirps every now and again to request that you answer some crucial question of corporate policy. Now I know the Virgin empire covers many areas but some of the things I was required to do were absurd. Did I want to buy the Eiffel Tower and did I want to release a film called 'Cheese', being two of the more sensible ones. Pretty crucial stuff alright. Failure to make the right response could plunge Virgin into financial crisis.

About the only redeeming feature of the game was the fact that the graphics of the boat were virgin on brilliant, well they looked nice anyroad. Luckily for the crew on the real voyage they had the constant drone of the engines to keep them awake -anyone playing this game will have to find their own methods.

I can only think of one reason why this rather disappointing game has actually been released at all - racy Richard during the voyage must have given the wrong answer to the crucial question, 'Should we release this game?'

Chris Palmer

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