Living Guide to Spectrum Software


Grid games illustration (from Living Guide Issue 1)

Ever since the Movie TRON, grid games have been popular, almost a cult because they exemplify the computer game — simplicity, high speed, action on a strict grid as defined by the computer.

Producer: Sunshine Books, 16K £4.95
Author: Simon Lane
Blind Alley is what passed for sport in the year 3017, you are told in the inlay. In fact the game looks confusing at first, but that’s because it is fast and there’s no time to think. This really is a game where those with quick and sure instincts win. You must steer your ship round the grid in such a way that you block off other ships, forcing them into a blind alley where they are forced against your trail, their own trails, or the edge of the screen. Of course it usually happens the other way round... You start off against two ships, then four, then 6 and soon. It gets very hard! Works with Kempston joystick. Avoid hitting reverse of the direction in which you’re travelling — it’s instant death. Recommended.

Producer: Sunshine Books, 16K £4.95
Author: Jeff Naylor
The graphics don’t portray the famous streets around Times Square in New York as the title suggests, they could be any streets that the grid represents. You’re in your car when a cop pulls in behind, you decide to make a getaway. If he catches you then the game starts from scratch. You score points by the length of line travelled before capture. Your only weapon is the facility to create a temporary block in the road and hold up the cop. Clear the frame and more chasers join in or you get a more complex grid to traverse. A simple, effective and highly addictive no win game. Joystick: Kempston (and Softlink II).

Producer: Arcade, 48K £5.50
Robot security picks up your trail just when you thought you had given them the slip (trust robots to be bloody minded). Now they’re catching up with you — and no one’s ever survived the grid before. Actually the grid resembles a pac man type maze in this fast game. You drive around the rectangular, concentric rings, switching lanes at the compass point junctions. Driving in the opposite direction is the robot security car. Never the twain should meet! You need good reactions, but it might have been a more skilful game if there were more crossover points. No joystick option.

Producer: Quicksilva, 16K £8.95 (1)
More of an electronic grid meets centipede than a true grid game. See main review section.

Producer: PSS, 16K £5.95
Light Cycle is similar in concept to Blind Alley where you fight it out on the grid with an opponent. In this case only two trails however, either against the computer or a second player. The graphics are simpler but more effective, representing the laser light trails left behind your craft. Seven speed levels, no joystick option. A very fast game to play for hours.

Producer: Games Machine, 16K £5.95 (2)
Author: David Hay
There’s a crazy story about a Doctor Winkelhoff who is keeping giant supersnails in his lab, which want to get out, and they leave superglue trails behind them, but what we have here is a TRON-style grid game. Therefore the graphics are extremely simple, although extremely fast. The idea is to trap your opponent against the wall, his trail or your trail. If you succeed a door in the wall opens up and lets you escape. The two features in this game which make it a worthwhile addition to the grid collection (of what are now rather old games in themselves) is that it allows the use of 8 directions instead of the usual 4, which opens the potential of the game up enormously; and the game allows 1 or 2 players to play against the computer as well as against each other. Sensible control keys, joystick: Kempston, 9 speeds, addictive. Overall CRASH rating 63% m/c.

Producer: Ocean, 16K £5.90(1)
Author: C Urquhart & N Pierpoint
Undoubtedly Ocean’s best and most addictive game to date. It combines simplicity of idea with speed and killer frustration. You are captain of the Elimax. Your task: to clear the galactic grid of alien spawn. There’s no shooting since the Elimax simply destroys the spawn by moving over it. But there are 4 alien ships situated on each edge of the grid firing at you. Each one, operating and firing independently, moves along its edge, homing in on you, and aims its missiles along a line of the grid. You can be facing up to four missiles at one time and it’s death to remain stationary, or operate on a single line, for more than a second. With each screen cleared you are faced with a different and more difficult arrangement of spawn to clear. There is also a ‘between frame screen’ of spiral shaped spawn for bonus points. Only one life so frustration levels can be dangerous. Excellent packaging, well used sound, very smooth graphics and good control keys. Joystick: Kempston, AGF and Protek. CRASH rating: Highly recommended, overall 83% M/C.