The not-so-dead zone. (introduction of new computer games during the summer)
by Shay Addams
June traditionally signals the beginning of the dead zone for entertainment software--publishers aim to release new games for Christmas, not the Fourth of July. This summer, however, a clutch of fresh titles promises an endless summer of fun for those of us who vacation at home in front of our computers.
After achieving a breakthrough with Sim City, Maxis is moving to the country in Sim Farm. In this engaging simulation of running a small family farm, you must keep an eye on the environmental aspects of your endeavors to turn the farm into a lucrative business. Unfortunately, Willie Nelson will not stage a Farm Aid concert if you run out of money.)
In another novel simulation, Walt Disney's Coaster straps you into the front seat of Disneyland's Matterhorn and nine other world-famous roller coasters. You may also build your own roller coaster, if you desire. Coaster was scaled back from the original design, so don't expect the depth of Stunt Island. Do expect to pay about half the price, though.
Air combat fans seeking new war birds to fly can finally climb into the cockpit of the British Tornado. Spectrum Holo-Byte is importing a European simulation of this jet that specializes in low-level ground attack rather than air superiority. For anyone having trouble mastering all the controls of Falcon 3.0's F-16, Spectrum Holo-Byte has produced its first video, which also includes new mission disks along with other extras.
Three-sixty followed up with its WWII land war game, V for Victory, with a stand alone program called V for Vic tory: Market Garden. Featuring SVGA graphics, Market Garden is based on the operation portrayed in the film A Bridge Too Far. Another one to watch for later this summer is New World Computing's Empire Deluxe, a six-player version of the classic war strategy game. It offers modem and network play options.
Access's second golf course for Links 386 Pro carts you off to Innisbrook for 18 holes of SVGA-illustrated golfing. (It includes a VGA version that's compatible with the original Links and Microsoft Golf.) In La Russa Baseball 11, Strategic Simulations' sequel to last year's hit sports sim, veteran sports announcer Ron Barr calls the plays. Three expansion disks provide new players and stadiums, plus a fantasy draft feature.
Jim Walls, a retired California Highway Patrolman and creator of Sierra's Police Quest series, recently completed Blue Force: Next of Kin. You begin as a by-the-book motorcycle cop, but for the last two-thirds of the game you play a private eye who gets to bend the rules. Walls codesigned the game with Cheri Lloyd, who has done the art for Walls' games since Police Quest 11.
Meanwhile back at Sierra, Al Lowe made a dramatic shift in story material for his latest quest. Lowe went west--to the Wild West--to tell the story of Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist. Lowe applied a Blazing Saddles--style of humor to his first Western, and it's sure to keep you laughing even when you're hopelessly stuck.
Space Quest V is the first installment in the series to be produced at Dynamix.
LucasArts is heating things up in the CD arena, simultaneously shipping the CD talkie and the floppy versions of Maniac Mansion 11: Day of the Tentacle.
New World Computing's Dark Side of Xeen (which may not arrive until late June) will give role-playing aficionados good reason to keep Clouds of Xeen on their hard disks. Players will be able to move back and forth between the worlds found in Dark Side and Clouds and finally solve those mysterious quests that were so elusive in the latter.
Other new role-playing games you should be watching for in June are Dynamix's Betrayal at Krondor, which employs rotoscoped 3-D graphics; Virgin's Lands of Lore, a three-character quest with a first-person perspective a la Eye of the Beholder; and Realms of Arkadia, a best-selling German quest just imported by Sir-Tech.
If you're looking for something different, the most unusual new game on the shelf this month is National Lampoon's Chessmeister 5 Billion and 1 (from Spectrum Holo-Byte). The world's only humorous chess simulation, Chessmeister is also the most risque of the dozens of such programs. It parodies chess and computer games and gives you a better chance of winning than the artificial intelligence of other chess games. Until next month, that's check and mate for "Game Insider."