Do you use your computer for battling bad guys, or do you like to challenge your brain? Mental Blocks, an exercise in logical reasoning, will appeal to your intellectual side, while Harrier 7, a combat flight game, will bring out the adventurer in you. Both releases are from the Avantage line of low-priced entertainment software.
Mental Blocks consists of three geometric games: Free Fall, California Achievement Cubes, and What's Next, Pussycat?. If you're bored by mindless arcade games, these are for you.
Mental Blocks adds one extra dimension of difficulty to your cerebral challenge.
Free Fall, like the game Tetris, features a series of falling geometric shapes that you manipulate to fit into solid rows. If a solid row is created, that row disappears and points are awarded. If the pieces are not successfully fitted together, they accumulate until they reach a certain height and the game ends.
But Free Fall takes Tetris to another dimension. You find yourself rotating and moving pieces along three axes, with the difficulty increased exponentially. The falling pieces, reminiscent of those used in the Soma cube puzzles popular years ago, are far more complex in shape than those in the two-dimensional game, and it's very difficult to see the openings that you must fit as they become hidden behind other pieces.
The designers have added nice extra touches in Free Fall, including a grid to help you line up pieces and a shadow that allows you to see where your piece will fall.
California Cubes presents a multicolored cube and a series of four shapes. Your objective is to mentally fold the shapes and select the one that will form the given cube, all within a 30-second time limit. This game is tough.
What's Next, Pussycat? makes a game of logical progressions like those given on IQ tests. A series of three geometric shapes with variations is shown, and four choices are given as the next possible shape. You must pick the next logical piece within a short time limit. This game is fun, varied, and challenging.
The Mental Blocks manual is brief and sufficient, the graphics are good, and the controls are easy to use. This tricky trio is for intellectuals, Mensa members, and those of you who want to test the spatial-relationship capacity of your brain. Overall, it's original and challenging fun for a very reasonable price.
In Harrier 7, your mission is to destroy seven enemy rocket bases, protect your carrier from Exocet missiles, and shoot down hostile planes.
Despite the Harrier name, this is not a flight simulator. The action is much like the arcade game Defender. You fly around on a course from your carrier, wait for the indicator to warn you of what's coming up, arm the appropriate weapon, and fire it. Successful play involves quickly reacting to the variety of situations that show up on your panel.
It takes quick reactions to track down and annihilate your enemy in Harrier 7.
The animation is smooth with passable graphics. At times it's difficult to distinguish your Harrier from enemy fighters. The controls are easy to use. The manual is brief but adequate.
Overall, Harrier 7 is an ordinary package among countless other fighter-plane, helicopter, or spaceship arcade games. But if you're into this type of entertainment, Harrier 7 is all right.
When bargain shopping, you usually get either a good value or a product whose quality reflects its low price. Mental Blocks shines as a gem at a reasonable price; Harrier 7 gives you just what you pay for.
WAYNE N. KAWAMOTO