CHRISTMAS COLLECTIONS

WHETHER you’re still looking for last-minute presents or someone’s cheque is burning a hole in your pocket, you’re bound to find something to light your candle in the Christmas season’s spate of compilations.

They come from software houses large and small, specialised and general: they range from £4.99 to £14.95; they come in all shapes and sizes, from boxes a foot long to laminated video-size boxes down to the (now) ordinary double-cassette boxes (for which we still have no racks!). You may not have anywhere to put all these different sizes, but they sure look pretty on the retailer’s shelf.

But some small independent retailers have great problems with the big, bold packaging of compilations, and when space is tight they usually end up at the bottom of the pile.

And some compilations aren’t even available in independent shops this Christmas — not because of the packaging, but because they’re distributed on limited exclusive deals with high-street multiples. For instance, Gremlin Graphics’s Ten Great Games is currently only available from chains like WH Smith and Menzies. It’s strange the indies are treated this way when they account for 75% of all software sales...

DOMINIC HANDY reviews compilations

ELITE gives its old hits a new lease of life on the compilation label Hit Pak. The latest compilation is The Elite Collection, a strong two-cassette assembly of well-known Elite classics. They’re all very playable, ranging from the very old Bombjack and innovative Frank Bruno’s Boxing to recent successes such as Paperboy and Ghosts ’N Goblins. And on the second cassette is a previously unreleased Elite game, Battleships — yes, a Spectrum version of the pencil-and-paper classic. But to buy it all at £14.95 you’d have to be a dedicated Elitist.

PAXMAN PROMOTIONS, a subsidiary of the Prism Leisure Corporation, has released two ‘theme’ compilations — which Paul Sumner predicted in Issue 45 would be the things of the future, after the success of Ocean’s Game Set And Match. At £4.99 each Paxman’s Thriller Pack and Sports Pack represent good value, but sadly the games aren’t that attractive. The six loosely-related games on The Thriller Pack, all previously released, are more memorable for their hype than as actual games. And The Sports Pack is a poor man’s Game Set And Match.

US GOLD’s recent compilation Summer Gold is now partnered by Solid Gold — probably the house’s greatest compilation yet! Every game is very playable, and the collection covers a wide range from flight simulators like Infiltrator and Ace Of Aces to the CRASH Smashes Winter Games and Gauntlet. Sadly Leaderboard didn’t hit it off with the Spectrum like the others did, but it still fits in the package well.

HEWSON is eschewing the more-is-better theory of many compilations and putting just four Smash hits on a tape entitled exactly that. Four Smash Hits includes two of this year’s top shoot-'em-ups — Exolon and Zynaps — as well as Ranarama and (like Beau Jolly’s Five Star Games Vol. 3) Uridium Plus. It’s available on +3 disk as well as cassette.

OCEAN’s compilations always provide value for money. In October Game Set And Match sent Spectrum sportsmen crazy. In November the shoot-'em-up collection Live Ammo arrived and now Ocean looks set to have a happy Christmas and a VERY prosperous New Year with the final 1987 release, The Magnificent 7. And guess now many games are on it... eight!

If you thought Ocean’s previous compilations were hot stuff, wait till The Magnificent 7 melts the snow with Ocean’s greatest hits — like the mind-blowing Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Head Over Heels, arcade adventures such as The Great Escape and Short Circuit, leaders in their class like the mindless Cobra, and bat and ball with Arkanoid.

And the most interesting addition is Wizball. Reviewed in CRASH Issue 45 just a few months ago, it gained a Smashing 92%, and here it is already on an action-packed compilation. Ocean is backing the + 3 with a disk version of The Magnificent 7.

GREMLIN GRAPHICS are the ones to call if you’re looking for ten great games... and Gremlin’s Ten Great Games compilation gets the CRASH award for Hope-Raising Packaging Of The Month! The box measures 38cm x 20cm and looks tremendous, but it holds a measly two cassettes. There’s a whole range of Gremlin goodies on those two tapes, though: the attractive Monty On The Run, the gun-toting West Bank and even the original Jack The Nipper.

And for those of you who prefer playing with balls they’ve also included Bounder, Trailblazer, Footballer Of The Year and Krakout. At just a pound per game this little (or should that be massive?) package is great value for money — and it fills the stocking up!

BEAU JOLLY is back on the compilation wagon, and the nouveau Beau Jolly is launching a two-pronged attack on the Christmas market with two collections and a £100,000 TV ad campaign for them.

The fourth in the series of 10 Computer Hits includes the Marble Madness clone Spin Dizzy and the Gauntlet clone Dandy. But pick of the bunch is either Pyracurse or Contact Sam Cruise, both CRASH Smashes.

And though Five Star Games Vol. 3 has fewer games than 10 Computer Hits, it’s probably the better package. It’s hard to choose between such greats as Strike Force Harrier, Tau Ceti, Firelord, Aliens, The Way Of The Exploding Fist and Uridium Plus (an improved version of the Issue 35 Smash).

CRASH Overall percentages and review issue numbers are given after each game. N/R denotes ‘not reviewed’.

THE ELITE COLLECTION

Hit Pak

Bombjack92% 27
Bombjack II71% 39
Frank Bruno’s Boxing86% 19
Commando94% 24
Airwolf90% 13
BattleshipsN/R
Paperboy88% 33
Ghosts ’N Goblins95% 30
£14.95

THE THRILLER PACK

Paxman Promotions

A View To A Kill76% 18
Friday The 13th32% 29
Code Name Mat II81% 20
Pyramid83% 2
Test Match CricketN/R
Beaky And The Egg Snatchers75% 7
£4.99

10 GREAT GAMES

Gremlin Graphics

Avenger85% 36
Future Knight76% 36
Krakout46% 40
Bounder90% 29
Footballer Of The Year68% 37
Trailblazer88% 34
Highway Encounter95% 20
Monty On The Run94% 20
West Bank84% 25
Jack The Nipper93% 30
£9.95

THE MAGNIFICENT 7

Ocean

Head Over Heels97% 39
Cobra93% 35
Short Circuit71% 40
Frankie Goes To Hollywood94% 19
Arkanoid59% 39
Wizball92% 42
The Great Escape96% 35
Yie Ar Kung Fu92% 25
cassette £9.95 +3 disk £17.95

THE SPORTS PACK

Paxman Promotions

SnookerN/R
On The OcheN/R
World Cup Football71% 7
Olympics45% 5
St Andrew’s GolfN/R
Derby DayN/R
£4.99

SOLID GOLD

US Gold

Gauntlet92% 37
Ace Of Aces62% 38
Leaderboard80% 39
Winter Games93% 26
Infiltrator72% 35
£9.99

FOUR SMASH HITS

Hewson

Exolon90% 43
Zynaps91% 42
Ranarama90% 38
Uridium Plus90% 35
cassette £9.95 +3 disk £14.95

10 COMPUTER, HITS VOL. 4

Beau Jolly

Bride Of Frankenstein59% 43
Contact Sam Cruise93% 36
Spindizzy93% 29
Uchi Mata36% 39
City Slicker65% 35
Sacred Armour Of Antiriad89% 35
Deactivators85% 34
Starquake96% 22
Pyracurse90% 31
Pulsator66% 42
Revolution91% 33
Dandy84% 35
£9.95

FIVE STAR HITS VOL. 3

Beau Jolly

Uridium Plus90% 35
Trapdoor88% 33
Tau Ceti94% 23
Firelord91% 35
Aliens84% 37
The Way Of The Exploding Fist92% 21
Strike Force Harrier83% 33
£9.95