Personal Computer News1st September 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #026
Mike Gerrard and Steven McClure set up a two-man defence against the latest Sinclair hordes
Spectrum games keep coming thick and fast - some of them more thick than fast, it must be said. But this latest consignment includes at least a couple that match arcade standards and even one in which it's your shout - you literally call the shots! Start yomping...
Why should anyone write a fast-moving machine code version of an arcade classic, then make you wait 20 seconds between each and every game while the screen fills with stars? It's a pity because this is otherwise an enjoyable version of Phoenix... go on, admit it, from the name, you'd never have guessed.
You can use the keyboard or either Kempston or AGF joysticks, and select from five skill levels.
There are several screens of birds and eggs to be scrambled before you get to assault the Flagship. The hardest level is suicidal, but a few instructions wouldn't have gone amiss.
It is colourful, but due to the frustrating wait between each screen change I recommend you look for a better alternative.
Bug-Byte bites again with a game that would grace any arcade. Using Kempston joystick or keyboard, you must negotiate your diver through a scrolling sea filled with sharks, jellyfish, mines, strangleweed and other fishy nasties. Most of these can be despatched with a direct shot from gun, buy your oxygen is also expiring, so pick up the supplies from the seabed when you can.
If you're lucky, or extremely skilful, you'll eventually come to dark caverns, at the end of which is your mission - to defuse the death machines by shooting the three-colour coded panels in the sequence given at the start of the game.
Amusing graphics, if a little jerky here and there, but definitely the pick of this batch.
After a hard day's gardening you fall asleep, but your dream turns nasty as the ants decide to get their own back on you. At least that's the story behind what's claimed to be the first Spectrum game controlled partly by your voice.
Yell "fire" at your tape recorder and that's what's meant to happen. I couldn't make it work, but that's not to say it won't on other tape recorders. More of a gimmick that of practical use, unless you can shout at a very fast rate indeed.
Settling for keyboard control, I enjoyed a fast and furious Centipede-type game, shooting at ants and other pests as they descend the screen in that well-known fashion.
The cassette insert is cheaply done, but there's nothing wrong with the game itself.
Armed with a laser bolt, you must shoot down the fat little insects that are buzzing all over the screen. You can move in four directions, with a sensible layout for keyboard control.
This is a game worth getting just to see what sounds can be squeezed out of the Spectrum.
If you kill enough nasties then space eggs start to appear at the top of the screen, waiting to descend on you. By this time the insects are about as easy and pleasant to deal with as a swarm of wasps.
As a change from killing ants, aliens, birds or jellyfish, here's a game where you could cheerfully kill the programmer. It is so hard to beat the machine in this 4 x 4 x 4 version of Noughts and Crosses or Connect Four, and I was only playing on the easiest of the four skill levels.
The only drawback to this piece of software is the instructions. They drivel on for pages about how totally wonderful the game is... auto-play option, timer that can be set per move, per game or switched off, on-screen ticking clocks, two styles of play, an average response time of 1.7 seconds, machine code, over 200,000 decisions per move, and so on.
The board is displayed as four separate grids at the bottom of the screen, which is a little confusing, though I've no doubt a proper three-dimensional cube would have been even more so.
However, it does offer a very tough opponent, and it may be as good as it claims.
A paratrooper opera which is fairly easy to figure out. You use four keys to manoeuvre your way through four columns of trucks and tanks and all you have to do is learn how to place yourself in the optimum position to sneak through to the other side of the moving convoys.
As a video game memento of the Falklands conflict it's a pretty weak effort.
Sheepwalk is almost as dull as Yomp once it's in play. You're a sheepdog moving around the screen trying to catch up with miscreant sheep. While doing this you risk trampling the vegetables or bumping into walls.
In its Virgin form, Golf is an interesting enough game to play. It requires players to plot out each shot's direction and strength, while using the right club.
There's enough of a random element to make the game more than a little irritating. When your ball lands in the rough it can take three or four strokes to get it out. This is where having a low handicap (you can choose between 1 and 28) is a real advantage. The game's designers have assumed real duffers are going to have problems in getting out of the woods.