ZX Computing

Virgin Atlantic Challenge Game
By Virgin Games
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #30

Virgin Atlantic Challenge Game

You've got to admire the man; if there's an angle, Richard Branson will exploit it. I suppose you don't get to be a millionaire without that kind of acumen anyway.

It's been some time since I saw a Virgin computer game but, after a shaky start, their products have been quite respectable... so, is this a bit of Branson genius or a right pickle?

Well, the game itself is of the strategy type with the nice frill of a graphic action sequence to lift it out of the usual run of the mill run. You take the role of Richard (a role I've been trying to emulate in real life for ages!) on his much publicised and triumphant attempt to cross the Atlantic in record time.

Virgin Atlantic Challenge

You control a recognisable graphic of him along the deck or the Challenger to the Telex, Radar, Galley, Map or Engine room displays. He can also be made to climb into the cockpit to alter direction.

As you may gather, this is not a leisurely decision-making exercise but a mad dash around the screen in response to computer messages to adjust the various parameters or direction and speed, eat and to make lightning business decisions to telexed questions.

I was sure he had other crewmen aboard to help him with all of this but in this game, he does it all on his own, he really ought to learn how to delegate! If this is a realistic simulation or his day he'll have a heart attack soon.

No, it's not easy and I found myself getting quite irritated with it, the number of fishing boots and icebergs floating around seems unrealistically high; also in Joystick mode the responses seem rather slow at times.

Probably my biggest moan is the lack of high score table. I know I was getting better scores:- 5% and 66 at the time of writing, but it is nice to have previous ones on-screen as a reminder.

Finally I must admit to enjoying playing it and if this kind of mental gymnastics is your cup or tea then you'll like it too.