Computer Concepts were there at the very beginning of the BBC Model B's life, which means that quite a few of their games missed out on being reviewed by the Acorn press at the time. Indeed, Games Galore 1 may well have been the very first compilation ever released for the BBC... but I don't think anyone apart from me has ever really realised it.
With four games to choose from though, I suppose it has a 1 in 4 chance of actually being worth playing. So let's have a look at what it has to offer...
Fruit Worm is a single-sheet game, a variation on the classic Snake in which the worm must eat the fruits littering the arena. This version starts with a sheet filled with cherries and no obstacles to avoid at all but, each time you eat one of the cherries, either a different fruit (i.e. an apple) or a vegetable (i.e. a carrot) appears at random elsewhere.
The aim of the game is to clear as many sheets as possible, eating the fruits and ignoring the vegetables.
The biggest problem with the game - and there are a lot! - is that it doesn't respond too well to keypresses. You will die if you hit the sides of the playing area, but fruits are placed right along the edge of the playing area. You come up on them needing to turn through ninety degrees the very nano-second they are eaten, but more often than not the game seems to turn the worm's head too quickly, sending you on an annoying detour.
It's quite obviously all written in Basic, which makes for very jerky movement. And the coding's not too clever too - as vegetables appear as you eat fruits, they can appear in such a way that they trap uneaten fruit between the edge of the playing area and other vegetables, giving you absolutely no option to get to them at all. The differing skill levels are a good laugh though - try it on skill level nine!
Roughly the quality of a magazine type-in from the early Eighties, this won't hold your attention for long at all.
Fruity Tooty is a one-armed bandit simulation, played in Mode 2. Whilst I've never understood the appeal of gambling on a microcomputer, I have been impressed with some of the intricate simulators other software houses have put together. Rock Pile, Fruit Catcher and Codemasters' Fruit Simulator are particularly good games.
Alas, this is nowhere near in the same league.
Basically, all you do in this 'game' is press the space bar. The screen display isn't particularly pleasing, the graphics are dire and the sound effects grate terribly. Sometimes the game lets you hold the reels with the 1, 2 and 3 keys, but it's not even sophisicated enough to allow you to release them if you tap the wrong key in error.
Each spin costs 10p and you are given £1 to play with. When you get down to zero, a 'funny' message appears saying "Your bank manager wants to have a word with you about where all his money has gone", suggesting that you were playing with someone else's money, you little thief. If my bank manager was worried over my spending £1, I think I'd be more worried about his bank!
So yes, this is a load of rubbish, and the long pauses whilst it plays completely inappropriate tunes to you don't help matters either. Next.
With a title like Invasion Force, you can be pretty sure you're getting a Space Invaders clone. And this one is pretty standard fare, with three bases at the, um, base of the screen behind which your laser base can hide from the formation of aliens shaking from side to side above.
This is a machine code game, with very loud sound effects indeed, and honestly it's not too bad at all. The laser base scoots back and forth and you need quite a lot of skill to pick off the aliens without putting it at risk from the bullets they hail down upon it. If you're feeling brave, you can shoot a passageway through one of the laser bases and hope that one of the aliens doesn't manage to hit you back through it. Otherwise, you can hide behind the bases until the aliens shoot them away, popping out left or right to try and take out as many aliens as you can.
There's an overlong pause whenever the aliens do hit you but, apart from that, this is a reasonably interpretation of the old favourite. The aliens do speed up as levels increase, and as less of their brethren remain, but never to those super-sonic speeds that some versions allow. So you've always got a fighting chance of finishing them off.
You don't, however, stand much a chance of finishing off Loony Lander. This is a very strange game indeed. Basically, it's a bit like one of those old wire loop games that used to be a staple of gypsy fairs.
Basically, you have control of a lander, which looks a bit like a 8 x 8 alien head. You can hold the space bar to 'thrust', which keeps it in the air, or you can let gravity bring it down to earth. The screen gives you three separate landing pads, all with different scores. There's an open-air one, on which it's a piece of cake to land. And then there's a sort of open-topped triangle with spikes inside of it, through which it's very hard indeed to travel. And finally there's an underground one which requires you to travel through the triangle spiked one, and then navigate a cavern system...
The problem I found with this game was that, apart from landing on the open-air pad, the other two were absolutely impossible to reach! The control system is weird - you use the Arrow Left key to push right, and vice versa, and the thrust needs a lot of thrust to keep the lander airborne. This combination sees your fuel depleting rapidly, so much so that you can only pass two of the spikes, even if you tread oh-so-gingerly on the controls, before fuel is out and you helplessly splatter into the nearest wall.
Even the wire loop game at fairs offered better odds than this.
To be honest, Games Galore 1 was actually better than I expected, but only because my hopes were incredibly low going in. As a very early example of BBC gaming fare I suppose it's alright. Compared with all the superior stuff that came later, it's very poor indeed.
The best game on the cassette by a clear mile is Invasion Force, but the best that can be said about that is that it's merely competent. The other three are instantly forgettable dross.