Living Guide to Spectrum Software


Under our headings a Simulation Game is one which conforms to the definition that it attempts to simulate real situations of a mechanical nature, and that part of the game is to use instrument displays to control the game as well as usual visual guides.

Producer: Temptation, 48K £5.95 (1)
Author: Simon Mansfield
Set in the South Atlantic during the Second World War, this game recreates the actions of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. The aim is to sink allied merchant shipping and survive attacks by allied battleships. 2 screens provide you, as Captain, with a sea map of the Atlantic and indicate your position and that of enemy shipping. You can direct your ship towards the enemy, and when close enough, change to a sea level view ready to engage with either guns or torpedoes. Instruments show you your speed, heading, enemy position and distance in yards. On sighting the enemy, his ship appears gradually above the horizon. If armed, it begins firing back. A serious drawback is that to keep the enemy in your gun sights you actually have to come to a stop — not very realistic. The option menu for controlling your ship is also extremely finicky. Average block character graphics, good sound and use of colour, 7 skill levels. Okay for its type. Overall CRASH rating 54%. BASIC.

Producer: Protek, 16K £5.95
Take command of a modern BAC 1-11 jet airliner and land it safely at Edinburgh airport. You can also take off and land at a second airport. The controls are necessarily simplified from the real things, but they are complicated enough and some knowledge of how big jets actually fly helps. There is no view through the cockpit window unless you are on a correct flight approach path, when the runway lights will appear. Extensive instructions look daunting, but are worth digesting so that you don’t have to panic at the last minute. Operates in real time, but things happen quickly when the airport is approached! Sensible, clear graphics, reasonable control responses, all in all an absorbing game.

Producer: Psion, 48K £6.95 (3)
Not the definitive Spectrum version of ‘Pole Position’, as many hoped, but an excellent simulation of motor racing, Here you may drive three different types of car around ten different race tracks, There are no other cars on the road however, so this really isn’t a game in the usual excitement sense. Very reasonable 3D effect for the road and flattish landscape, which does include mild hills as well. Hazards include bends, water and oil on the road and glass which can cause blow outs. Instead of seeing the car in full perspective, ‘you’ are inside, your view looking out. The control keys are a little awkward, being too far apart, and there was a general feeling that, while being an impressive program, it was a little ‘cold’ in feeling. Overall CRASH rating 71%, Machine code.

Producer: Digital Integration, 48K £7.95 (2)
Author: Dave Marshall
One of the fastest simulation programs yet. You are in control of an F15 Eagle capable of enormous speed and a cruising speed of 800 knots. The graphics of the instrument panel are very impressive and allow the plane to be finely controlled, just as well at those speeds! A menu offer options on Landing Practice, Flying Training, Air-to-Air Combat Practice (and the real thing), Blind Landing, Cross Winds and Turbulence, and all this on three skill levels. An excellent MAP facility may be selected, which shows the locations of the four air bases you are protecting in the Air-to-Air Combat mode. Enemy aircraft are seen in very good 3D perspective and the dog fights are highly realistic. Definitely one of the best flight simulation games for the Spectrum with easy controls and an excellent flight manual. Overall CRASH rating 86%, machine code. Highly recommended.

Producer: Psion, 48K £7.95
An early Spectrum program, and always popular, this simulates the effects of flying a single seater light aircraft, including landing and taking off. There are 2 airfields (one very difficult and surrounded by hills), lakes, beacons and a very good map of the whole area. It takes many minutes to fly over the whole map. Instrument flying is essential to success and, as usual, there is a lot of accompanying instruction to digest. The cockpit view is simple but oddly realistic. If you enjoy contemplative games, then this is still one of the best, although watch out for some oddities if you try looping the loop — the program doesn’t seem to cope with that!

Producer: Phipps Associates, 48K £9.95(1)
Author: Graham T. Relph
An amazing program which simulates the sport of orienteering — yet manages to be much more than a sport simulation. An enormous area of geography is enclosed in the program, only a tiny bit of it already mapped for you. Included is a 12 point orienteering course for you to complete in the shortest possible time, checking each point in the correct sequence. The display shows you the terrain six metres in front and uses symbols for the different terrain, trees, shrubs, lakes, towns etc. Special point features are displayed as messages and an eye level indicator tells you whether the ground is falling or rising, so you can easily follow the contours. In addition you can go off and chart the unmapped areas. The program will draw contour and terrain maps for you or make up 3D views. A massive program, excellent value, recommended. Overall CRASH rating 88%. M/C and BASIC.

Producer: Hewson Consultants, 16K £7.95
Author: Mike Male
If you get a little queasy flying, you could always have a go on the ground as an air traffic controller — in this case at the busy Heathrow airport. You must direct incoming flights from the holding stacks safely onto the runway. Your instruments include radar, showing the aircraft call signs, blips and trails; displays giving the altitude and bearing, heading and speed and size of the aircraft. There are 7 levels of play including a demo mode, and you can progress to handling mixed traffic, restricted airspace and outbound flights, as well as cope with emergencies like unknown aircraft intruding, radio failure, loss of runway and on board instrument failure. After this you’ll never fly again! Recommended.

Producer: Protek, 48K £7.95 (1)
Author: Rod Hopkins
This is a submarine simulation game set off the coast of German Helegoland (North Sea) during the Second World War. You are commander of an ‘S’ type submarine and your mission is to find an enemy sub in the same area and hunt it down. Sailing too close to the coast may result in your hitting a mine or running aground. 3 screens show you the control room, the chart room and the periscope view of the surface. The instrumentation is quite complex, including ballast indicator, hydroplanes, battery charge, engine speed, rudder angle, heading, asdic, echo sounder and much more. In the periscope you may see enemy shipping and enemy aircraft which will hunt you if you stay on the surface too long. Under water you use electric engines and recharge the batteries on the surface, when you use a diesel engine. The accompanying booklet is very detailed and essential reading. Good graphics and realistic sound, real time operation. Overall CRASH rating 61%. BASIC and M/C.

Producer: Hewson Consultants, 16K £7.95
Author: Mike Male
Drastically upgraded from their original ‘Nightflite’, this flying simulation allows you to pilot a light aircraft at night, taking off and landing or do acrobatics. New features are a shifting perspective which allows you to see the correct view of the runway lights from whatever angle you approach the airport, many more lights from surrounding hamlets, and a realistic changing engine noise depending on speed. Instrumentation is complex and includes variable flap controls. 7 modes of operation including two auto-pilot modes and a training mode, and 6 difficulty levels. After-flight debrief feature and certificate print-out. 100% M/C.

Producer: Micromart, 48K £6.95
The scenario promises an excellent game — your mission as a Phantom pilot is to penetrate enemy territory and bomb a specified target. Stacked against you are AA artillery, SAM missiles and enemy fighters. Entry point is at 70 miles, 10,000 feet, 90% rpm, 400 knots and 90 degree heading. Chances of attack depend on the flightpath — below 2,000 feet there’s only a 10% chance of attack, which is still very frequent. The technique for avoiding total oblivion is to break (hard turn) at 4 or 6 gees and change altitude rapidly to avoid missiles. If you stick to the rules in the 12 page manual you will be able to escape every attack. The display shows a ‘radar’ picture with you in the centre, target to be bombed, and enemy positions. There are also details like speed, heading, rate of climb, target distance and extra messages for enemy attack. The poor variation of attack and slow display speed (BASIC) and the not too exciting graphics are a bit of a let down considering the potential, but if you are an enthusiast of RAF slang you may appreciate the extra messages as the program is written by a Fl. Lt. J T F Dyer.