Less of a simulation - more of a game
Yes Chancellor, by Chalksoft, is a game with a difference, a simulation of the British economy.
And as author Tom Tuite was a senior official in the Inland Revenue you can assume that it may havejust that extra hint of authenticity.
Certainly it is all too easy to let inflation get out of hand. You are playing as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and besides directly affecting the economy, your actions affect public opinion.
Be too extreme and the government falls directly, other wise your actions are judged every five years in a general election.
You'll feel a tremor of apprehension as the results are tabulated on the screen, complete with a form of "swingometer".
The program comes as a suite of files, only available on disc.
The initial graphics won't appear if you are using shadow RAM or a second processor, but otherwise there don't seem to be any incompatibilities.
After the graphics display there is the chance to view correspondence between 10 Downing Street and the house next door, the Chancellor's home.
The letters appear as if typed on screen. It is a clever but irritating manner of providing the instructions.
There are four levels of difficulty, ranging from the easiest, "Testing the water", to the hardest, "Can you walk on water?"
As far as I can tell the unions become more unreasonable in their pay claims as difficulty increases. Certainly their demands become progressively more excessive, and while taking a firm line sometimes pays off, at others (blast that random number function) the cost of provoking a strike is horrendous.
As a part of the package you receive a rather grubby photo copied information booklet and a hints sheet (for teacher). As everything comes in a smart shiny wallet and at a fairly severe price (£17.50) there is no excuse for the untidy documen tation. This accurately mirrors the quality ofthe contents. For a game with pretensions towards the educational market, the hints for teachers are, at the very least, condescending.
In fact, the documentation doesn't do justice to the quality of the software.
The instruction booklet does explain the processes you, as Chancellor, must go through to produce your budget. Then, and after the unions have had their say. your balance sheet is displayed.
More to the point for the politically-minded Chancellor, your party's rating in the opinion polls is also displayed.
If you can survive five years your competence is judged by the public in a general election.
It should be possible to woo the electorate by reflationary policies in the fifth year, just like the real politicians. However my BBC Micro seems to be very rational in its voting.
Yes Chancellor does provide an interesting challenge, as a game.
Had it a facility to retrace a couple of steps in your financial planning to try out "What-if?" factors, it would make it more of a simulation and less of a game.
For those who don't want to be economists it costs too much.