Cheapo Round-Up Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Cheapo Round-Up
By Silverbird
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #59

Scuba Kidz (Firebird)

Silverbird's latest is more of a 'Scuba Kid', really, since there's only one of him. Still, on with the plot: an evil Sea Lord has captured some of Scuba kid's mates and is holding them captive within his submarine lair. Scooby sets off in search of his pals, armed only with a pair of trunks. Along the way though, he collects his scuba gear and additional items such as keys to allow access to later sections of the labyrinthine landscape, and 'bubble power' which endows him with the ability to blow large, destructive bubbles, killing fish and removing sections of coral which bar his path.

The only limitations to Scuba's progress is his oxygen supply which must constantly be topped up by swimming to the surface of the sea, otherwise his tank runs out and (for some unknown reason) he explodes into three pieces.

Scuba Kidz is a lot of fun, smart to look at and easy on the ears, having a great title tune and start-game ditty. It's also quite clever technically, and is the best contender for the Cheapo of the Month award.

Rogue (Mastertronic)


Taking the form of a Temple Of Apshai explode-and-collect 'em up, Rogue takes the player on a mission through the Dungeons of Doom to find the Amulet of Yendor, carrying a backpack containing a mace, some armour and some food.

Movement is directed via an arrow which the player's character follows, and the surrounding terrain become visible only as progress is made, in a similar fashion to Ranarama.

The player can search the immediate area, rest and climb up and down the staircases which link the different levels of the dungeons. He can also select items from his backpack and utilise them as he wishes. Unfortunately, the player has to type in the first letter of the desired action, while everything else is controlled from the joystick, which proves a real pain during play.

There is no sound during the game other than a feeble 'ping' whenever any option is selected. However, the graphics are small but clear, and an atmosphere of sorts is generated along the way.

Gameplay is a little tepid, but Rogue should satiate shoestring explorers in need of a fix.

Professional Snooker Simulator (Codemasters)

I'm no fan of pixelated versions of the green baize sport, and Codemasters' offering does little to sway my opinions. To be fair, this snooker game does go a long way towards what can be considered a suitable alternative to the real thing.

The game offers a separate view of cue and object ball as seen from the player's eye view.

This allows most shots to be attempted with some accuracy and the resulting movement of the balls is quite realistic, although there are frequently slight pauses as the computer does its sums.

A serious omission would appear to be a computer opponent. Although not vital, this does limit the appeal of the package as a whole. Recommended to fans only.

European Five-A-Side (Silverbird)

Well, what can you say about a five-a-side footballing game? You control the player nearest to the ball on your team, you can kick and lob balls, and also get your goalie to dive when the opposition have bettered your defence. Possession is gained automatically when suitable contact is made with the opposing player who currently has the ball, and a sampled cheer is heard whenever one side scores.

The action is viewed from overhead and the pitch scrolls vertically up and down as the ball is passed around. Normal rules apply and the program allows you to alter the length of each half and, should you need to, the colour of the pitch!

This is far from the best footballing game ever, but it's certainly one of the cheapest. If you're a fan of the sport and fancy a quick game against a friend or the computer, you could do far worse than this offering from Silverbird.

Trojan Warrior (Silverbird)

Apparently, some helmeted hero on board a winged horse has come from afar to rescue the princess. Unless I'm mistaken, old Trojan Warrior has been playing too many arcade games - especially Nemesis and the like - for the ancient one's mission takes place against horizontally-scrolling backdrops and he shoots what can only be described as laser bolts. He can also collect extra weapons (such as glowing stars which look and act suspiciously like multiples) and is forced to run the gauntlet of swarms of alien species.

At the end of each level, there is a transporter which places our hero in a 'time tunnel': a rapidly moving corridor which must be negotiated without touching a smart-bomb-like 'banana bomb' and also visit neighbouring asteroids.

This unastounding game is saved by the huge amount of sampled speech and effects which have been crammed into the program. Aliens die with a variety of cries, groans and moans, and Slimey himself has a large repertoire of noises, including a snoozing sound when the pause mode is activated!

The gameplay is a little frenetic, but sampled sounds notwithstanding the lack of variety and repetitive play severely diminish its lasting interest.

Battleships (Encore)

I didn't think much of Elite's version of the classic paper 'n pencil game when it was still destined for the full-price big-time, and its appearance on Elite's budget label has done nothing to sway my opinion. It's neatly presented, easy to use and nice to look at. However the simple gameplay remains the same. In fact, the only additions Elite have made are those of 'salvo fire' and, of course, the single player option.

You can always play Battleships with a friend for free, and I don't think you'll be too impressed with the computer's lack of strategy and interaction. Without someone else to whinge and moan when you've 'sunk their submarine', Battleships can become very dull indeed.

Stunt Bike Simulator (Silverbird)

Stunt Bike Simulator follows the perilous actions of a stuntman as he drops from a hand glider onto his trusty bike, bunny-hops over a series of logs, jumps through flaming hoops to land safely back in the seat, drives into the back of a speeding lorry (Italian Job-style) and finally clambers aboard a moving helicopter from his two-wheeled steed.

Exciting stuff, eh? Well, no. Not really. All the action takes place across some astounding indifferent backdrops and the tasks themselves are hardly engrossing, each being quite similar to the next, and not requiring a great deal of ability.

Once completed (which won't take too long) the game should become totally forgettable. In fact, it already has...