Living Guide to Spectrum Software

COCKPIT GAMES

There are now a number of programs which give you a forward view through the space ship’s screen, enough to make a category of their own. We’ve decided to call these ‘cockpit’ games. This section does not include any of the ‘Trek’ games, which often have a viewscreen simulation, as they come under their own heading.


THE BLACK PLANET
Producer: Phipps Associates, 48K £5.95
Author: B G Cornhill
A mammoth game for wet Sundays. You’ll need a printer or a note pad or a good memory, for the complex of instructions are on one side and the game on the other. Your task is to rid the space lanes of pirates whose home is on the Black Planet, which is invisible until you find the Key, which has been broken into seven parts and distributed on seven different planets, which each have a different arcade adventure, which each has different key instructions, which means you’ve got to know it all backwards! That said, it’s tons of fun. The cockpit view with moving stars is very good. An instrument panel tells you where you are in space, where the star base is or the planets on which you must land. Navigating is quite difficult, but if you get it right the sight of a planet looming up is very cinematic. You can land manually or use the auto-docking feature. Between planets you may well be attacked by the pirates who know you are after them, in which case you are into a furious dog fight. It’s not a game for a few moments. Excellent value and highly recommended.

COSMOS
Producer: Abbex, 16K £5.95
The keyboard layout looks simple but is confusing to play with. The view screen shows your convoy, which you must protect. Enemy ships infest space and so do asteroids. You have two lasers with continuous fire. Movement adjusts the field of view to quite an extent but without a long range scan it’s difficult to anticipate properly. The colours are fine, sound rather poor, but nevertheless, a game with good playability. Joystick: Kempston.

DIMENSION DESTRUCTORS
Producer: Artic, 48K £5.95 (2)
Author: J Ritman
‘3D Combat Zone’ in space — describes this game quite well. The pyramidal-shaped enemy craft form in clusters and swoop towards you in very effective hollow 3D. You line up the onrushing enemy in your sights and blast them to kingdom come with your twin-firing lasers.

GALAXY ATTACK
Producer: Sunshine Books, 48K £5.95
This is a real zaparoony of a game with loads of playability, but be warned, you need to be an alien with three hands or a 15-digit Uruggian for keyboard control. The programme comes in three parts: in space as you approach the Uruggian’s planet, you must destroy their waves of fighters by centering the sight cross hairs; then on the planet’s surface, where your landed ship is surrounded by walkers and fighters; and then the final attack on the orbiting mother ship. Control response is good, colour and sound excellent, and the simple response is good, colour and sound excellent, and the simple 3-dimensional aliens work well. Recommended. No joystick.

OMEGA RUN
Producer: CRL, 48K £5.95 (2)
Author: Richard Brisbourne
Fanatical elements have seized control of a doomsday bomb and it is timed to go off in 25 minutes. You must fly your fighter-bomber through heavy defences and destroy the building housing the bomb before it goes off and destroys the world. Your cockpit view shows the horizon, enemy fighters, laser beams and anti-aircraft explosions. Fighters get on your tail and you must alter course to bring them ahead and destroy them with your guns. This takes you off target line and the fuel tanker flying ahead of you with which you must rendezvous before completing the mission. Excellent on-screen instructions which demonstrate controls and instruments. This is a very busy game with 5 selectable skill levels and some customisation possible via a menu. Effective and colourful 3D graphics. Playable, addictive and recommended. Overall CRASH rating 87% m/c.

ROMMEL’S REVENGE
Producer: Crystal, 48K £6.50 (2)
Author: M S Horsley
This is probably the best version yet of the well known arcade original ‘Battle Zone’ and is, of course, similar to Artic’s ‘3D Combat Zone’. In one sense it’s much better — the flat plain is well landscaped and teeming with buildings, radar towers and telegraph poles. The missiles, once fired, seemed to travel at a realistic speed. In another sense it’s not so good — the enemy tanks don’t appear as frequently and there aren’t any flying saucers to contend with. On the other hand the enemy tanks aren’t so over-intelligent at avoiding your fire, so you get a better sense of achievement! Rather poor sound and the hollow 3D graphics are colourless, but it’s fun just wandering round looking at the buildings. Watch out for the special loader routine which makes it look as though the program isn’t loading properly. Reasonable keys, joystick: Kempston, Fuller, AGF, Protek. Rating: good, overall CRASH rating 65% m/c.

TIMEGATE
Quicksilva, 48K £6.95
Excellent moving star backgrounds in 3D give a real space feeling to this 5-skill level game. Long range scan shows you where the enemy are and you jump through space to the correct sector. Movement control is instant and keeping the enemy in your sights is a tough task helped by a joystick (Kempston). If you’re successful at clearing the entire galaxy you can land on the aliens’ planet to refuel before jumping the timegate to another infested galaxy. Full damage status readouts. Highly recommended.

3D COMBAT ZONE
Producer: Artic, 48K £5.95
According to Artic, this is their best-selling programme to date, and no wonder. The first real 3D effect in the Spectrum. Travel across the flat plain and battle with enemy tanks, flying saucers and super tanks — a kill or be killed battle of wits among the pyramids in real time. The game gives a tremendous sense of moving about in a space and can be quite hypnotic. Battle radar to spot the enemy and calculate distance. Joystick: Kempston. A first rate game and highly recommended.

3D SPACE WARS
Producer: Hewson Consultants, 16K £5.95 (1)
Introducing a new race of aliens — the Seiddab (baddies spelt backwards), this game is a straightforward zap em which does not boast the complexities of a Star Trek game, but is at least to the point. The minute it starts the baddy Seiddies are there, etched against a realistic moving star background. Below, your instruments are easy to read, bar codes for fuel and speed. Twin lasers fire from the visible nose cone of your craft and are a satisfying effect. Line up the cross hairs on the enemy and fire away! The Seiddab craft are well drawn and move neatly in 3 dimensions, firing back when they want. There are refuelling points in space which you must reach in time before your power runs out. Positive movement and smooth graphics, quite good sound, joystick: AGF, Protek and Kempston. Overall CRASH rating 68%, recommended as good value. M/C.

3D SPAWN OF EVIL
Producer: D K Tronics, 16K £4.95
It’s a bit of a cheat — to keep the programme in 16K the very long-winded instructions are on one side of the cassette and the game on the other, which is irritating at first. The viewscreen works well with stars defining movement, but control is exceptionally sluggish and hitting the alien swarm is a bit like trying to kill ants with a pogo stick. In the end a slow and confusing game with no joystick option.

ZZOOM
Producer: Imagine, 48K £5.50
Among the most popular games of 83, Zzoom has you in a plane rescuing humanity. Viewscreen shows you a road over which you are flying with little humans on the horizon whom you must save from the enemy bombers. These come in waves from the left, some just content to wipe out humanity, others which turn and fire at you, wearing down your shield. If you survive two waves without getting destroyed or crashing into the ground, there’s a desert infested with tanks, and the sea with submarines and... Scrolling graphics for the titles all help to make this a very memorable game and excellent value for money. Joystick: Fuller & Kempston.