The Archimedes, with its amazing sound and graphics capability steals most of the limelight these days, yet there are still quality games being produced for the good old Beeb. In fact, software houses are now looking to capitalise on successful Arc releases by bringing out versions of them for the Beeb where possible.
Such is the case with one of the latest releases from the 4th Dimension, E-Type (£14.20). This originally appeared for the Archimedes with great success, and justifiably so. E-Type is a road racing game where you take control of a Jaguar E-Type sports car to tear off across roads and deserts at speeds of over 150mph.
There are several different tracks to choose from and varying levels of skill. Control can be either by joystick, or the popular 'Snapper' key combination in conjunction with Return and Space Bar.
Once you have moved off, you accelerate away, stepping through the gears as you go. Along the roads are various obstacles to avoid suh as boulders and trees. Some of these just slow you down a bit when hit, but others bring you to an abrupt halt, with both occupants of your car being unceremoniously catapulted out of their seats. Having set the skill beforehand, you are allowed to crash several times before your car is a final write-off.
The object of the game is to complete the track in a certain qualifying time in order to progress on to the next. To this end, time bonuses are awarded for hitting certain objects in the road, which include suicidal policemen who stand in your way. Great fun!
Naturally, you are not alone on the highway. There are scores of other cars hurtling around like maniacs and these do their best to obstruct you, or force you off the road.
I have regularly played the Arc version of E-Type, and I suppose that does tend to spoil you a bit. However, this version for the Beeb is every bit as good in terms of fun, and shares most of the features of the Arc game. Graphics are well-detailed and the 3D scrolling landscape is flicker free and colourful. Control of the car is straightforward and this is a game that you can quickly take to.
E-Type is one of the best releases now around for the Beeb and should appeal to many. Definitely recommended.
Another new release from the 4th Dimension is Inertia (£12.95). This is a rather unusual game that takes place on a 3D tiled landscape. The object is to guide your free-floating craft around this landscape, negotiating the bridges and ramps, to collect the special tiles that are scattered around. Some tiles you pass over have strange properties, such as ice, jump and transformation. The worst hazards to avoid are the holes that seem to suck you down, and the tendency to drift too easily off the edge of the landscape.
Inertia is a massive game with screens that seem to go on just about forever. Control of the craft is tricky at first, but you quickly find that you can get to grips with it. Once you have, beware. This game is time-consuming and very addictive!
Graphics in Inertia are not what you might call outstanding, but that doesn't really matter. For all their simplicity, it is the game itself that makes up for it. As I said at the start, this is an unusual and novel game that makes a change from shoot-'em-ups and "ladders and levels". Highly recommended.
Yet another 4th Dimension release is Nevryon (£14.20). I can't pronounce it either! This is a sideways scrolling shoot-'em-up arcade-type game where you must thrash everything in sight. There are eight levels and the game consists of 100K of graphics and code.
The object of the game, so the story goes, is to free the planet of Nevryon from the aliens that have landed to steal the titanium ore in the planet's caves. Down in the caves is where most of the action takes place. You fly your craft by either keyboard or joystick control, and shoot everything in your path.
The action is fast and furious with plenty of detailed colourful sprites and lots of raucous noisy sound. You can choose either a large, low-res screen or a smaller, hi-res screen by pressing a function key. I must say that I am not impressed by the scrolling of this game; it is very flickery. I appreciate that there is a considerable amount of object detail including background stars, but I have certainly seen better sideways scrolling on a Beeb.
Generally I was disappointed with Nevryon. I found that the flickering of the screen and the sometimes messy graphics spoilt my enjoyment. I personally would not buy it. Some old favourites of this genre, such as Planetoid and Rocket Raid, provide a far more satisfying game of death and destruction to my mind.
Hostages (£16.96) from Superior Software, is an arcade-type action adventure that has already appeared on machines such as the C64, ST and Amiga. There is also a version available for the Arc, and now too for the Beeb.
The object of the game is to make an assault on an Embassy that has been taken over by terrorists, in order to release the hostages they are holding captive.
You first must place your marksmen around the building and then drop your paratroops onto the roof, where they descend by rope into the building to work their way through the rooms, avoiding being killed by the terrorists. This is a rather simple statement of the game. It is, in fact, rather more involved than this, being a mixture of strategy and shoot-'em-up.
This is not a game for an occasional five minute bash. You really have to sit down and plan what you are doing to achieve any degree of success. I found it intriguing and fun to play. You can easily get quite sucked into the scenario and become really involved.
The graphics are an 8-bit micro like the Beeb are very good indeed and full marks to Peter Scott for another fine conversion job. The sound is equally good too.
Hostages is a game that I find very appealing and I have already become quite addicted to it. This is one of Superior's best releases to date and definitely recommended.
All the games reviewed here are available from Beebug. All prices quoted include VAT.