Go to Europe, Be a Spy, See the 128D, Talk to Mr. Spock, Build Robots, Sneak Behind Enemy Lines, Battle Dreams, Print Anything, Fly Fast, and Crunch Numbers with This Month's Review Picks
How can something look incredibly easy, yet be so hard? If you've played miniature golf, this question may sound familiar. After playing Mini-Putt, a new miniature golf game from Accolade, you'll probably be asking it again.
Mini-Putt leaves little to the imagination. Up to four players can compete. Before beginning the game, you stop at the Pro Shop and enter your name on the scorecard. Four courses with different themes and varying degrees of difficulty are provided.
You control an emotional little character named "Mini-Putt Pete." The game screen is divided into four sections: the playing area, the power and accuracy window, the overview map, and the scoreboard. The top portion of the screen is the playing area, offering a bird's-eye view of part of the green. With the joystick, you can scroll the screen to explore the rest of the green as you plan your shot. Arrows indicate the direction of slope, with colors showing the severity of the breaks. Beware of animated hazards that await you throughout your round-especially the windmill's ball-disappearing trick. Correctly maneuvering through or avoiding the hazards is the key to low scores.
Mini-Putt Pete's place is in the power window. He's framed by a gauge that displays the power and accuracy meter, reflecting your aim and the amount of force you use. Aim by positioning the cursor. Three precisely timed firebutton presses are all that are needed to begin the ball's journey for the hole. How can something that looks so simple be so hard?
Documentation is minimal, but it does cover the basics of game play. After awhile you may tire of playing the provided courses. Neither the manual nor the game offers a clue to whether more courses will be available in the future, although they would be appreciated.
- DHCommodore 64/128-$29.95
20813 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014
It's not surprising that there are two excellent paint programs already available for the Apple IIGS. The computer, after all, can display 4,096 colors in high resolution modes that rival such competitors as the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, and IBM PS/2 computers.
What's surprising, however, is another IIGS paint program introduction. Activision's Paintworks Gold, scheduled for release in March, and seen in a prepublication form for this Fast Look, is not simply an upgrade of Paintworks Plus, but more of a completely new program.
Similar in look and feel to most point-and-click-style paint programs (ranging from PC Paint Plus on the IBM to the Macintosh's MacPaint), Paintworks Gold brings some new features to Apple art software. One of the most useful is masking capabilities, where colors may be set as masked, and thus be immune to any changes. Masking is perfect for making minor adjustments to delicate artwork. Another innovation is something called "slippy colors," which lets you lasso objects and individual colors, then move them, all without disturbing the surrounding art. The program also matches some of Deluxe Paint II's features. Perspectives, sophisticated brushes, and gradient blending of colors, for instance, are now available in Gold. Like many IIGS graphics-intensive programs, however, Paintworks Gold is often slow, particularly when such things as large brushes are used or complicated perspectives are attempted.
Paintworks Gold is a step up in Apple IIGS paint programs, especially when features are compared and counted.
- GKApple IIgs-$99.95
(Paintworks Plus owners may upgrade to Paintworks Gold for $20 until 5/31/88, for $40 after that.)
2350 Bayshore Pkwy.
Mountain View, CA 94043
Have you ever been in the middle of an important project and suddenly needed someone's phone number, or thought of an item to add to your shopping list, or needed to reschedule an appointment? MemoryMate from Brøderbund does all of this without forcing you to put away your work.
MemoryMate is a RAM-resident information retrieval program which can be based either in your root directory or in a subdirectory; it can also operate as a stand-alone program. A single keystroke calls up the program inside any other application.
The program's command list is displayed across the top of the screen at all times. A help screen is also available to explain commands, including copying or moving data from record to record as well as importing or exporting data to or from ASCII files.
Data is entered free-form into records which are limited to 60 lines consisting of 80 characters each. The program can store up to two megabytes of data on a hard disk system.
Specific records can be located by searching for any word, phrase, or date they may contain. When the necessary record or records have been found, users may exit to the exact spot where they paused in their application.
The program's memory residency works well with most other software, but I did experience access problems when several large files in my database were opened. Most questions are answered in the accompanying documentation, but the information is sometimes difficult to locate. Users must sometimes flip back and forth between the main text and the appendix.
The program has helped to organize my cluttered desk and my cluttered mind. It has also reminded me of important deadlines and when my phone bill is due. I now turn to MemoryMate instead of reaching for a note pad or my calendar.
_MMIBM PC and compatible computers with at least
17 Paul Dr.
San Rafael, CA 94903-2101
Computer tank games are nearly as old as the videogame industry. So it may be surprising that Fire Power, a tank game from Microillusions, has become so popular. What makes Fire Power a crowd pleaser?
It's easy to play, and it's fun. You can play with one player or two, but it's the two-player option that will keep you coming back. Just as in Atari's ancient Tank Pong game for the VCS 2600, this game's success comes from its real, human, head-to-head competition. If you can get your hands on two Amigas and two modems, you and your enemy can play from different rooms, different houses, or even different states.
Unfortunately, Fire Power is as gruesome as it is fun. It's truly horrifying to see men being run over by tanks-nothing's left but mangled bodies and pools of blood, scenes that are all too realistic on the Amiga. Some may want to pass this game by on humanitarian grounds.
17408 Chatsworth St.
Granada Hills, CA 91344
Street Sports: Baseball
Street Sports: Baseball takes baseball out of the little leagues, exchanging sparkling uniforms, up-to-date equipment, and the standard playing field for the game that you remember playing as a kid.
Ball diamonds are makeshift. Field locations include a vacant lot and a parking lot. Bases may be improvised from jackets, trash can lids, or old tires. Players are chosen from a roster of 16 neighborhood kids. It's your job to read their playing specs (they vary in hitting, fielding, and throwing skills), and put together a winning team.
First, you must choose your playing field. Then choose to play either against another person or against the computer. You can play with old teams (on disk), or you can play with new teams, in which case you get to select each player on your squad. If you make up a new team, you name it, select its players, and set the lineup and field positions.
Joystick commands are simple and sensible. The game makes visual sense as well. A "split screen" format shows you both the playing field from behind the home plate and an aerial view of the entire field. The close-up shows the pitcher's throw to the batter and the batter's swing. The overview gives you each player's position in relation to the ball and the bases.
When the game is being played, the top quarter of the screen serves as the scoreboard, which displays everything you'd expect to find on the scoreboard at a major league park.
Street Sports: Baseball is fun to play. Epyx has put together a program with lots of options. Playing nine in nings against the computer or a friend will offer you challenges and thrills as you watch your outfielder catch that pop fly or the third baseman tag a runner.
- CSHApple II-$39.95
IBM PC and compatibles-$39.95
600 Galveston Dr.
Redwood City, CA 94063
In general, the BASIC languages available for most computers are compatible with each other. An IF-THEN statement looks the same, no matter what computer you're using.
In real life, things aren't so easy. The best programs rely heavily on the special features of the computer and the particular strain of BASIC. AC/BASIC lets you write programs that run almost unchanged on the Amiga, Apple IIGS, and Macintosh.
What do these computers have in common? Several things: a window-based mouse interface, high-resolution bitmapped graphics, great sound, and high-level event trapping. AC/BASIC lets you take advantage of these features.
There are three different versions of AC/BASIC, one for each of the supported computers. On the Amiga and Macintosh, you program with the Microsoft BASIC interpreter for your computer, then use the AC/BASIC compiler to make your programs run several times faster.
On the Apple IIGS, you use AC/ BASIC as a compiled language-it is never run in interpreted mode. What makes AC/BASIC exciting on the IIGS is that it's the easiest way to make fast applications that use the IIGS's special features.
You'll need to be programming in BASIC at the intermediate level (at least) to use AC/BASIC-nearly every program we tried to compile needed to be modified slightly.
- RAAmiga with at least 512K-$195
Apple IIGS with at least 512K-$125
Absoft (Amiga, Apple II)
2781 Bond St.
Auburn Hills, MI 48057
Microsoft BASIC Compiler (Macintosh)
Macintosh with at least 512K-$195
16011 NE 36th Way
Redmond, WA 98073-9717
|Contributing to Fast Looks this month were Rhett Anderson; David Hensley, Jr.; Carol S. Holzberg; Gregg Keizer; and Mickey McLean.|