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Game Show

 
Published in Acorn User #101

Game Show

Another year has almost passed by and, in traditional BAU style, the Game Show presents a bumper round-up of entertainment software. Also, we look at the first games due next year. So how have the various expectations of Acorn players over the past year turned out?

Well, those hoping for a wider selection of Archimedes games got their wish, but BBC games' players were bound to be disappointed. There were less than 20 games considered for nomination in this year's charts, and you can find my personal top three later on. But first, on a more positive note, my top 10 Archimedes games of 1990, from a total of about 40.

Archimedes Top Ten

1. Interdictor II (Clares)
This game is probably the best flight simulation you can get for any home computer. I like the fact that it is an on-going game, but most of all it has the personal touch. I can get engrossed in battling with another fighter, and if I lose (perish the thought!) I select flying-brick mode and just zoom up behind the guy with a cocky grin.

Interdictor 2

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 90%
Value For Money 50%

2. Manchester United Football (Krisalis)
Both the management and arcade aspects of soccer are featured in this game. The former allows very complex tinkering with the works of the Manchester team, ranging from transfers and training to progress reports and fixtures. I normally skip all that when I play but the up-and-coming managers among you will love it. The physical side is based on the 3D view in the brilliant World Cup, as seen in pubs and arcades, and it lacks none of the performance.

Manchester United Europe

My only gripe is the lack of a two-player keyboard option, which Arcade Soccer has.

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 70%
Value For Money 50%

3. Chocks Away (The 4th Dimension)
This is Interdictor II's only rival, but there are many differences (see review). Three features stand it out against its rival: a black box flight recorder, a two-player option and an outside view of the plane. However, it is slow and lacks graphical detail, but the aircraft carrier's good. Excellent fun.

Chocks Away
Chocks Away

Graphics 50%
Addictive Qualities 90%
Value For Money 50%

4. Fireball II (CIS)
Some might cringe at the thought of yet another Breakout clone, but I really enjoy playing this game. It also has the best music on offer, smooth action and good gameplay. Breakout is bat 'n ball and Fireball II is super-bat 'n fireball.

Fireball 2

Graphics 50%
Addictive Qualities 30%
Value For Money 30%

5. Arcade Soccer (The 4th Dimension)
If it's real football you want, Manchester United is the one to go for, but I like Arcade Soccer for its simplicity and humour. There are no fouls, penalties or management of any sort, but it's good clean fun. Booting the ball hall through 960 degrees, playing in torrential thunderstorms and making noises like a tortured parrot with hiccups ought to confuse the goalie enough to ensure a goal.

Arcade Soccer

Graphics 30%
Addictive Qualities 70%
Value For Money 50%

6. Starch (Alien Images)
Starch is probably the only original concept to have hit the games scene this year. It places you in the role of a laundry manager working overtime to keep your job on the machines. Harry and Dave battle it out against the washing before the time runs out. Starch works for about a month in one player mode, but find a friend and you'll be hooked for ages.

Starch

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 50%
Value For Money 50%

7. Pipemania (Empire)
In Pipemania, flooz is on the leak and only a dextrous plumber (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) can avert a catastrophe (a 'game over' message). The player arranges pipe sections in such a way that the unstoppable liquid may flow to its heart's content, or you run out of pipe space - whichever happens first (guess which!).

Pipe Mania

Pipemania's principle is to stop the flooz and not shoot the baddies. This is one of a growing pool of puzzle games to flood the games scene.

Graphics 70%
Addictive Qualities 70%
Value For Money 50%

8. Nevryon (The 4th Dimension)
Based on R-Type, Nevryon provides you with a basic space ship and a host of nasties. Shoot enough of them and a bonus pod will appear for you to pick up. Enhancements to your ship go on like this until rapid fire, shields, gun droids and handy rocket launchers render you virtually unassailable. But bow your head in shame, 4D, because the minimum time between 'game over' and 'ready' message approaches two minutes due to the special effects!

Nevryon

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 50%
Value For Money 50%

9. Apocalypse (The 4th Dimension)
This is best described as a 'shoot-'em-up', which I like very much - so you may wonder why this one doesn't rank higher. The only reason I can think of is that it isn't very personal. Most targets are static and there are very few 'intelligent' enemies to avenge on receipt of enhanced firepower - as there are with Interdictor II or Exile, for example. Nevertheless, this game has nice graphics and is good fun.

Apocalypse

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 50%
Value For Money 50%

10. Ballarena (Sisteme) Ballarena is the second game of Breakout origin in the charts, but is the first to come from France!

Ballarena

There's also a new angle - up! Well, around to be exact, because the bat moves in a circle. The bricks aren't exactly uniform either and there are 'things' flying about all over the joint. It's whacky and wonderful! A must for your game collection.

Graphics 70%
Addictive Qualities 50%
Value For Money 50%

BBC Micro Top 3

Nevryon
Nevryon

1. Nevryon (The 4th Dimension)
The 8-bit version of Nevryon is as good as its 32-bit counterpart, possibly better. Of course, the graphics are not as good but everything else is just right. The amount of baddies to deal with versus the sophistication of your ship is well matched - with Arc Nevryon, I think both of these factors are slightly over the top. This one though, is spot on. I love it.

Graphics 90%
Addictive Qualities 70%
Value For Money 50%

2. Pipemania (Empire)
All the Beeb version lacks are Arc graphics and power. Apart from that, we're talking about two very addictive versions of the same game. Flooz is the stuff to be stopped, pipes are the way to do it.

Pipe Mania
Pipe Mania

Graphics 50%
Addictive Qualities 70%
Value For Money 50%

3. Ricochet (Superior)
Described in the review as 'an excellent problem-solving game', Ricochet puts you in the role of Sprat, a red bouncing ball designed to explore new worlds. Although it has its own personality, Ricochet is basically Citadel with a new map. Perfect for arcade adventure fans.

Ricochet
Ricochet

Graphics 70%
Addictive Qualities 50%
Value For Money 70%

Games News

A couple of things should be said about the top games listed above. First, the choices were personal - nothing to do with sales figures, just my own favourites. Second, they were compiled in October, so anything appearing later will have been omitted, though I've managed to have a look at most of the new stuff.

For Beeb ownerrs, things don't look good. Superior Software is the only company dedicated to the market, which it claims is still a worthwhile cause - and it is.

Great things promised for the Archimedes have fallen through. Hard Drivin' is yet to be started, and Monopoly and E-Motion from Virgin and US Gold respectively are no more. Wonderland ought to be out early next year though, and as for Karma, the seven disc 3D space epic, a Christmas release is possible but not at all probable.

Superior is set to release the game it perceives as its flagship of 1990 - Sim City. In this you have a whole city on your plate, and must keep things running smoothly.

Traffic, pollution, population and the odd tornado all contribute to anything but the average nine-to-five job.

Master Break is a quiz game with snooker as its main theme. Answer the easy red questions before advancing onto the colours, with over 1,500 questions to get right! Superior's taxing game will be out for Christmas on all formats.

The Fourth Dimension has a plethora of Archimedes games on the production line. The Wimp Game is a desktop graphic adventure game all about Acorn's 10 year history. Objects range from Atoms and BBCs to Arcs and R200 workstations! Drop Ship is a Thrust-style game like Rotor, but even better. The usual plot of manoeuvring through caves while shooting and collecting is employed, along with some good graphics. Break 147 is a 3D snooker game from Orlando built along the same lines as 3D Pool (hopefully available for the Christmas market).

Good news for E-Type fans. Author Gordon Key is working on a new 3D car racing game which is apparently on the same 'tracks' as Grand Prix. Powerband is a Formula One racing simulator and is expected to be different to E-Type, which was more of a game rather than a simulator.

The error of my ways has been pointed out to me by J Briant of Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire. In October I complained that Arc games should return to the desktop after you've had enough of them - but, of course, this is asking too much. Games tend to be written using 'illegal' code, and continuing work in desktop could be dangerous with dodgy data aloft in the memory. Also, authors want to rid the computer of the game completely to avert the possibility of copying. Thanks Mr. Briant, you're quite right. I'll just have to think of some more niggles instead!

The Game Show will be back next month with an update on the best buys plus the first in a short series on Exile, Superior's brilliant arcade game.

Sam Greenhill