Bob Chappell finds a few prize blooms in the latest flowering of Oric games
Hidden inside the Oric is a game machine struggling to get out. The problem for software writers is that Oric has been reluctant to reveal just how the insides work. The result is a challenge to the games writers to find out all the tricks and special effects for themselves. Here is how some of the latest releases shape up.
Starting with what is certain to become a best seller for the Oric, The Ultra is a graphically superb game that has you zapping 16 different varieties of aliens, each with its own formation and attacking pattern.
The game opens with your ship executing an impressive jump through hyper space to where the action is. First up are the green snappers - easy targets against the starry backdrop.
Next come the blue meanies, a swirling bunch of wriggling space invaders. To follow, a crescent of rather beautiful revolving hexagonal barrels who are around the screen, raining bombs all the while. It's a shame to pot these lovely creatures. Ah well, on you go to a host of pulsating yellow ellipses that would have had Woolworths forgetting about his daffodils. There are a further 12 screens of differently hued and fashioned aliens to conquer.
You have five lives and limitless missiles. Firing haphazardly causes your ship to overheat and the missile launcher to quit temporarily until the ship cools down.
Magnificent graphics and great fun - a must for Oric owners. It shows that the Oric is capable of great things when fed with a quality program.
As it's likely that only judges and hermits have never heard of Frogger, I'll be extra brief. This is a very good version with the screen teeming with movement. Attractive graphics and well worth buying, especially if you've always wanted a Frogger of your own.
This is the Oric version of Salamander's excellent real-time Star Trek program. Long and short range scanners, photon torpedoes, hyperprobes, shield control, warp drive, black holes, messages from Scotty, Uhura, et al, andoodles of Klingons. What more could a Trekkie ask for? The game comes complete with a clear 12 page manual with a handy command summary. Every micro games player must have at least one version of Star Trek for the collection, and this is one of the best.
This game suffers in contrast with the previous one. It starts with an impressive console window through which you can see your ship in space, but it soon becomes apparent that there is not a lot to retain one's interest. You travel the galaxy (pressing the cursor control keys) searching for and destroying all alien ships. Unlike the traditional Star Trek games, you have no control over shields, warp, speed, crew, etc. All you can do is press keys to move your ship and fire at any passing enemy. A fairly simple game which has entertainment value but does not give you enough variety or depth.
A competent version of the pill gobbling, fruit munching, ghost chasing, maze running favourite. The ghosts seem to have left their brains at home since they rush about quite aimlessly, often getting trapped in corners. The first nine levels are selectable (different layouts, speeds and colours). Thereafter, you ascend only by proving your merit.
An enjoyable version of a classic.
Tron surfaces again. You control a bike which blazes a trail across the screen. The aim is to force the opposition's bike to crash. Nine speed levels are available and you can give your bike some extra zip by pressing the booster key. Colliding with a wall, one of the Rom towers or a trail results in the loss of one of your five lives. You can play again the computer or have a two player game. The first to lose all five lives is kaput. The longer you take to dispatch the enemy, the more points you get.
The above are all available by Mail Order of from Juniper Computing, Wilts. (06662-2689) and other dealers