Play It Again Sam 16 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | - Everygamegoing

Too Big Issue


Play It Again Sam 16
By Superior/Acornsoft
BBC/Electron

Hostages

This is really the biggest game in the package, when it was released as a single game it caused a bit of a stir, particularly because of the impressive conversion of the game from the more powerful 16-bit formats. It is not surprising then, to learn that the programmer who converted this was the multi-talented Peter Scott, a man with, to say the least, a few good games under his belt. In this game you play the part of the commandos who have to rescue the prisoners from the violent terrorists. You really play the part of the team co-ordinator, as you are in control of various different men throughout the levels, the ultimate aim being to kill all the terrorists and rescue the hostages. The game is played over three basic levels, outside the embassy, scaling the walls to get inside, and finally inside the embassy looking for the prisoners.

Although the levels described above do not sound as if they would take too long to complete, they are in fact very difficult to play, and multiple gaming skills are needed if you are to complete the game. On the first level, you just have to dodge the searchlight of the terrorists in order to position at least one of your three men, the more men you get into position, the easy the next level is. The second levels sees three different men scaling the walls of the embassy in order to break through the glass windows and get inside. To have a good chance at this, the three men you positioned in level one can help by shooting out the glass of the windows, or covering you from the terrorists. If you are to succeed on the third level, which is inside the embassy in a first person perspective search/ shoot-'em-up, then you really need to get all three men inside. The good thing about this game though is that you can get past each level with just one of your men completing the task, although this makes the game harder, it also allows you some freedom, and you never really feel completely stuck or frustrated. In fact, it is one of the least frustrating games I have ever played, and it is actually not the easiest, although not exactly completely impossible - at least on the default setting!

The graphics in this game are pretty good throughout, particularly the final 3d level, which impressed me greatly with its fluid movement and impressive programming. Although in low-resolution mode, the programmer really gets the best from them, and there is no annoying flickering of the sprites which can happen when using larger sprites on the Beeb. The other two levels are fairly standard, the graphics are perhaps a bit dull, but then again the game is supposed to be set at night-time! The sound on the whole is good, not much during the actual game, as it is pretty demanding on the processor, but the overall multimedia aspect contains a high degree of quality.

This isn't quite good enough to be called a classic, but nonetheless it is very impressive and will last for ages.

Vertigo

There seem to be quite a few of these little isometric 3D puzzlers on the Beeb, but this one however is an excellent game, with all the markings of a classic puzzle game. The actual game itself is quite simple, you have to guide the perfectly octahedron shaped ball around the level, which is normally made up of tricky surfaces and structures, to get the diamond at the end of the level, or other object. To make this harder there are lots of cunning 3D structures which can fool you into taking them the wrong way and taking the ball off of the structure, which loses you a life. There are 50 of these levels, divided into 5 sections, which you can use passwords for, but the ultimate aim is to do all 50 without using any passwords, the instructions say that if you can actually complete all of them without using the passwords then you should write to Superior and tell them what happens at the end of the game, and they will send you a certificate. I do not know if they still do this though!

The graphics in this game are very impressive, the 3d is excellent, and it has loads of features to help you, such as the way that if you go behind a 3D object, you can still see the ball, and therefore not make any mistakes by losing the ball on the screen. The graphics use a high-res dual colour mode, which looks lovely. Although each level is only a single screen large, it does make the game a lot more interesting and easy to get around than some other games like this which require a lot of remembering where everything is in order to traverse the levels. Another impressive thing about this game is the good music which constantly plays throughout the game, even though it gets a bit annoying after a time! Luckily sound controls are included, but this is a very polished and playable game, especially if you like your puzzle games to be a bit more active!

Perplexity

Another big game from Superior, and one which I am told sold very well at the time. It sort of brings together elements of Pac-Man and the Classic Repton, and adds a nice little 3D element to the whole thing. The aim of each of the sixteen sprawling levels is to collect every diamond on the screen, some of these are in view at the start, but a lot of them have to be produced by pushing two of the rocks together, which turns both into diamonds. To hinder your progress there are black boulders which do nothing except get in the way, and monsters which must be avoided (they cannot be destroyed). There are also keys which must be used to open the sections blocked off by doors, and also some rocks conceal magical potions which when collected in fours give you an extra life. To make everything even harder, you have a time limit of 500 seconds to complete each level, and four lives at the start of the game.

The game plays well, and does actually combine the two aforementioned classics extremely well, in fact it does it so well that I feel the game is almost as good as Repton itself. The game is really original, which is surprising as you would have thought that by the time this was released (1991) there would not have been many good game ideas left to choose, as is unfortunately even more evident now than ever before.

The graphics on this game are brilliant, a real credit to the programmer (Ian Collinson), the move with excellent pace, they look great, they're varied, and probably some of the best low-res graphics I've seen on the old Beeb. Sound is also quite good, some nice tunes and some good effects, this makes a change to most of the games which ignore sound for the best part of the game. A nice feature is a volume control, which will let you set different volumes, so you can turn the sound down if you still want to hear it, but not quite so loud as the Beeb thinks it should play it to you!

This game is indicative of the whole of this compilation, a very highly polished and perfected game, and well worth the money for the compilation alone. If you like Repton and Pacman, then you'll love this, and even if you don't then it is still a worthy play, if not to see the 3D graphics moving so well.

Pipemania

I have to say that this is one of my all time favourite puzzle games, probably a close second behind the classic Tetris. I've never come across it on the Beeb before, except in an old Micro User type in listing (which was far too long for my humble fingers to type in) called Plumb Lunacy. It has been released on just about every format ever, and I don't feel it has ever gotten the credit it deserves. Basically the plot is superfluous to the game, but it is worth knowing that you are a plumber and have to build a network of piping to take the fluid which is about to be pumped out of the system. You have to build the piping up to a suitable length so that the fluid won't leak out. Each level you are told how many squares the fluid must travel through, and if it travels through any more after that then you earn bonus points. It is not as easy as it sounds though because you cannot choose which type of pipe you put down, it is in a random order, so the key is to think ahead and plan a route for the fluid in your head, then when you get down blocks you need, put them in the relevant places. At times this can get quite hard, particularly if you get a bad run of pipe pieces. There are also special pieces which you can use to get even more points, but which are already placed on the level, and you have to connect them into the system in a suitable way, such as Reservoir pieces which hold more ooze, one way pieces which are pretty self-explanatory, and on some levels, end pieces which must be connected last.

One of the things I liked best about this game was the fact that there is a two player mode in which each player has a pipe dispenser, and you both have to help to build a pipeline, this can be especially competitive if the other player has different planes on what he wants to do with the pipe network!

The graphics on this game are hardly inspiring, but they do the job, once you get into this type of game the graphics are the last thing on your mind anyway. The game is played in a high-resolution mode, which makes everything a lot clearer. Sound is also good with the usual puzzle type music droning on the background, it certainly tenses things up in the two-player mode!

Overall, considering this game is the only non-superior game (it was programmed by Empire Software) it is pretty impressive, and easy to see why it is included, it completes a great compilation.

Summary

This is my favourite Play It Again Sam Disk by far, all the games are great fun to play, and if you only have one PAS disk in your games collection, then this should be it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Russell Wills