Personal Computer News

Beeb Diversions

Author: Bob Chappell
Publisher: Kosmos
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in Personal Computer News #064

From race-tracks to vampire castles, Bob Chappell puts his Model B through its paces.

Beeb Diversions

From race-tracks to vampire castles, Bob Chappell puts his Model B through its paces


Addicts of the type of game in which progress to an ultimate victory comes by conquering a succession of different screens, should find Blagger provides satisfaction.

You control Roger the burglar whose main interest in life is robbing safes. Roger's in a robber's paradise in this game with no less than 30 safes to crack.

But there's only one safe per screen, and it's placed among a tortuous combination of ladders, platforms and escalators. Moving hazards, varying from steam trains to flying saucers, have to be dodged. No safe can be opened until five keys, strewn around the chamber, have been collected.

Each screen aims to test intelligence, reflexes and patience. With colourful, chunky graphics and decent sound effects, Blagger should keep you safely occupied for many hours.


Want to win the world driver's championship without a hair out of place or an oilstreak to your face? Although Overdrive doesn't come up to the standard of Pole Position, it's still an enjoyable enough racing simulation.

Set amid green turf and stretching away into the mountainous distance is the track, a black surface edged with broken white lines. Your view is from above and behind your purple racer while all the other cars are blue. The four controls - left, right, accelerate, brake - are all accessed via the keyboard. Pity, no joystick option.

As your car travels, the track and turf scroll rapidly away to create the impression of movement and speed. Other cars are out on the track. Dawdle and you get stuck from behind; get careless and you'll collide with one in front.

The perspective graphics are well up to standard although the constantly straight road (no bends at all) does tend to detract from the challenge. To compensate, there are five different environments to drive through - sunny, night, snow, desert and riverside.

Overdrive is the best race simulation I've seen on this machine, it's excellent value for money.

Vampire Castle

If adventures are more your chalice of mead, Vampire Castle is worthy of your attention. It's a gem of a text adventure.

As should be obvious from the title, Dracula is on the loose again and needs to be silenced with the usual stake. There are some nifty puzzles (what use is a toy set of vampire teeth?) and interesting developments - Dracula may be able to sprout wings but he can't compete with your parachute or hang-glider. And a slowly melting ice-block should help to freeze the blood in your veins.

The sound effects and occasional graphics enhance the fun. Definitely one to go bats about.

Five Spheres Of Goliath

Shades of the Marie Celeste. You are an inmate on board the stellar prison ship Goliath and awaken one morning to total silence. It seems the ship has been abandoned during the night. Can you escape from your electronically-locked spaceship cell before you starve to death? Can you discover why the ship is deserted - or is it?

Five Spheres Of Goliath is a text adventure with an interesting plot, fast response time, use of function keys, musical introduction and occasional sound effects, this is also good value for money.

The Greedy Dwarf

The Greedy Dwarf is also a text-only adventure with a traditional theme - treasure hunting through dark and dangerous labyrinths.

Sporting the most handsome packaging I have seen for an adventure program, The Greedy Dwarf sets you on a quest into the catacombs to capture three precious jewels stolen by Arfa, the greedy dwarf.

You begin your mission at the top of a spiral staircase, your essential lamp nearby. The king won't let you change your mind so down the stairs you go. All too soon you'll have tumbled down traps, been nibbled at by rats and speared by stalactites. No doubt you'll soon learn how to deal with these - but there's more where those came from.

A little slow on the response side but The Greedy Dwarf is certainly as good a danger-filled dungeon as you could wish to expire in.

Answer Back

In a quieter but no less cerebral vein comes this general knowledge quiz program, Answer Back, aimed at 12-year-olds and over, with 750 questions spread over fifteen different topics.

Several features set this quiz program apart from others. Not only can the questions be presented in a variety of ways (multiple choice, true or false, incomplete answer) but you can create, save and edit your own quizzes. The number of questions in a quiz can be restricted and there is a pass facility, with an option to retry passed questions at the end. Scoring is carried out automatically and a timing option is available.

To make the quiz more palatable to youngsters, the questions are fired at the screen by an animated robot who will also let players try to shoot down a flying saucer every time they answer correctly in this enjoyable, entertaining and educational program.

Bob Chappell

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