A new arcade game conversion to the BBC from Trickysoft seems to arrive every couple of months at the moment, and the latest release is Missile Command, a port of that early Atari game where you must defend your cities (at the bottom of the screen) from incoming missiles by peppering the area directly in front of the missile's path with, um, big circular blobs of scientific stuff that stops all missiles. Unfortunately, some missiles have this nasty habit of splitting into branches of two, three or even four whilst en route, and you only proceed to the next level if at least one of your cities survives.
Never heard of it? Well, frankly, I'd put Missile Command in the 'also rans' of so-called classic gaming, probably somewhere just above the god-awful Yars Revenge. There's a knack to it, some people rave about it but I don't particularly rate it that highly.
What's undeniable however is that this is a really good version and, whilst I have seen a few clones of Missile Command on the Beeb before, this one runs in Mode 1, which means it's fast, colourful, and high resolution. The control keys are also very intuitive - ZX*? are used to guide the crosshair and SHIFT, SPACE and RETURN are used to fire missiles from base 1, 2 and 3 respectively. These buttons naturally correspond to where your fingers hover on the keyboard.
Clearing a sheet of Missile Command is about 90% timing and 10% luck. Getting through the first few sheets is easy as the missiles come in slowly, and you have time to aim and take them out before they pose any real threat. However, sheets speed up quickly and by the fourth one you'll be frantically scurrying around the keyboard, finding you've exhausted the supplies of one base when your desired laser fails to fire, and watching helplessly as city after city blows up in a big ball of flame.
Oh, and if you actually use up all the lasers from all three of your bases, the game speeds up so your probable demise can be delivered a bit more quickly. A nice touch. I can use those few seconds it saved to do great things.
You won't survive for long in Missile Command, because it quickly becomes totally impossible, likely due to it originally being an arcade machine game purposefully built to deprive you of 10p, give you a few minutes of blasting and then await the next customer. There's also no music, and sound is just a load of explosion noises. Nevertheless, it's very playable, and, if you're after a new game for your BBC, this one is the very definition of uncomplicated blasting. So, whilst this conversion didn't convert me to loving the game concept, I would say I enjoyed playing it more than many others I've played over the years.