Games computers play. (evaluation) John J. Anderson; Russ Lockwood; Brian Murphy; Owen W. Linzmayer; Steve Williams.
Games Computers Play
As personal computer hardware becomes more capable and more sophisticated, so, too, does the software that runs on these machines.
Just a few years ago we were satisfied with primitive lunar landers, simple adventures, and X's and O's on a simulated football field. Now we expect sophisticated sound and graphics to accompany the complicated scenarios and demanding skill levels of the games we play.
In the following potpourri of game reviews you will find a sampling of the editors' current favorites for a variety of popular machines.
Searching for a playable football game is akin to searching for the holy grail. False hopes loom on every horizon, and disappointment becomes a constant companion. At the magazine, we have tried just about every football game available for every computer and game machine--of today as well as yesteryear.
Our Vectrex Blitz phase is legend.
Touchdown Football passes all the mandatory tests for a playable football game: it takes place in real time; makes use of animated color graphics to depict the playfield, players, and ball; allows play against the computer or a human opponent; allows you to feel entirely in control of your team; simulates the rules and feel of football with veracity and style; and allows playing skills to grow at a slow but steady rate.
And Touchdown Football offers more than this. Its most startling feature is that it talks, announcing scores, turnovers, and penalties in a natural and entirely intelligible speaking voice.
But even without sound, the game is a triumph in football programming. Rather than needing a laminated card or crib sheet, you can preview all your options during selection using on-line documentation. Two windows appear at the top of the screen--one for offense, one for defense. Once you have previewed your selection, you lock it in without indicating to your opponent your formation, receiver patterns, or blocking call. You can even put a man in motion or change the call from the line of scrimmage.
Screen graphics are for the most part excellent. Though playfield scrolling is distractingly choppy, we are sure this is a limitation of the PCjr that was impossible to surmount. Depiction of the players themselves is artful and witty. They trot amusingly, heavy in pads and helmets, arms pumping away. During a tackle, they fly in all directions. After a touchdown, the scorer indulges in a little victory dance.
The "feel' of a football simulation is all-important, as it is for a flight simulator. Touchdown feels pretty good--a tad mushy at times, like running in a dream, with your feet in molasses. But the sequence of play is smooth and looks quite a bit like a pro game on TV.
Without qualification, however, Touchdown is the best football game available for the IBM and among the very best efforts we have seen from Imagic. With a little more polish it can be the best football simulation on the market today.--JJA
Raid on Bungeling Bay
The evil Bungeling Empire is at it again, this time with a vengeance. You outmaneuvered them in Choplifter, you outwitted them in Lode Runner, and now you must outshoot them in Raid on Bungeling Bay. The gears have been set in motion, and the omnipotent Empire war machine has begun to build weapons of destruction--your destruction. You pilot a heli-craft, a heavily armed helicopter which looks as if it has just flown off the set of "Blue Thunder.' Your mission is to slip into Bungeling Bay and destroy the six war factories that are located on islands scattered in the Bay.
Raid on Bungeling Bay is a single-player arcade game for the Commodore 64. If you don't have a joystick, you can control your heli-craft using the keyboard, though I am sure that you will find it more enjoyable to use a joystick. The graphics of Raid on Bungeling Bay push the animation capabilities of the Commodore 64 to their very limits.
At the beginning of each game, or any time you get killed, your heli-craft appears on the deck of your aircraft carrier, which is drifting off-shore. The heli-craft is armed with an unlimited number of missiles and can hold a maximum of nine bombs at any given time. To replenish your supply or repair damage, you must return to the carrier.
The screen depicts an aerial view of the bay with your heli-craft always located in the center of the display. If you move to the right, the terrain below scrolls into view. There are more than 100 screens that wrap-around at both top and bottom, so you never get that frustrating feeling of running into "the edge of the universe.'
Several islands are located in the bay, only six of which are home to war factories. The others may be deserted, or populated with such devices as revolving radar dishes which help the enemy aircraft find you. Factories are usually well protected by anti-aircraft guns and roving tanks--both will keep you on your toes.
Though I have never flown a helicopter, I am sure that after playing ROBB I know how it feels to be the controls of a flying war hawk. The movement is excitingly realistic:--trying to outrun an enemy heat-seeking missile, you throw the stick forward, opening up to full throttle and pushing the heli-craft to its design limits.
This is the kind of first person realism that makes arcade games such a powerful force in the enterainment field. This is the kind of first person realism that is going to make Raid on Bungeling Bay one of the all-time great home computer games.--OWL
Stellar 7 is an Apple variation of Battlezone, a coin-op game with startling 3-D perspective in which the player controls a tank and must engage hostile enemy forces in a barren vector graphics wasteland. Battle zone was originally introduced strictly as an arcade game, but the United States military was so impressed that it commissioned Atari to develop an advanced version of Battlezone to be used as a simulation/trainer for tank commanders. While restricted by the slower, less precise raster graphics of the Apple, Stellar 7 is an excellent adaptation of the original Battlezone.
Your long range objective in Stellar 7 is to destroy the Supreme Overlord of the Arcturan Empire. Before you get a chance to do this, however, you must do battle in seven unique star systems--not an easy task. On each system there is a warplink that can transport you to the next system, but this materializes only after you have defeated an enemy assault wave consisting of numerous tanks, jets, homing mines, and stationary cannons.
To aid you in destroying the enemy forces, your tank is equipped with several nifty devices, the most useful of which is your thunder cannon. Each enemy unit requires at least one direct hit from your cannon before it is destroyed, and some can absorb several shots before exploding.
The thing I love about Stellar 7 is the realism provided by the three-dimensional perspective--you don't have that detatched, third person feeling, but rather, it is as if you are actually within the computer-driven world.
Stellar 7 has everything we have come to expect in a contemporary computer game. It has the useful pause key, a sound toggle, and a high score chart that is updated and saved permanently to disk.
Stellar 7 is much more than just an adaptation of Battlezone. This Apple game has a zoom lens, an inviso cloak, protective shields, warplinks, fuelbays, and a host of worthy opponents that will keep you at your computer for many, may hours. Play it once, and you are forever addicted.--OWL
In Lazer Zone, a C-64 game by Jeff Minter, you are responsible for the defense of Earth when the computer which normally controls two lazer batteries suddenly has trouble telling the difference between 0 and 1. The batteries are located, one each, on a horizontal axis along the bottom of the screen and on a vertical axis along the right edge of the view. Using a joystick, you can maneuver these batteries along their respective baselines.
At the lowest skill levels--there are 31 selectable levels in all--the aliens appear two at a time on the screen and are fairly easy to shoot down. After you have blasted about 20 of each type of ship, however, you are attacked by a new wave of aliens. In each succeeding wave the pattern of their attacks is different, preventing you from settling comfortably into one strategy of defense.
If you let one of the aliens through, it lands on either the horizontal or vertical baseline and tracks your battery until it comes in contact with it, blowing it up. You can prevent this by hitting the F7 function key. This activates the Electro Bolt which destroys any and all aliens that have landed on the two baselines. You start the game with only three and earn an extra bolt each time you destroy an attack wave.
Lazer Zone is a game that draws you in subtly and slowly--and then crushes you in an avalanche of aliens. It is one of those games you can't win; the aliens just keep on coming until you are out of batteries. The challenge is in piling up a large score.--BJM
Dragonriders of Pern
For two generations after colonists from Earth settled on Pern, they gave no thought at all to the red star that circled their sun. On a close approach of Pern to the Red Star, however, threadlike creatures began to cross space and drop from the star, killing any plant or animal life they touched on Pern.
From a native life form, the Pernese bred flying dragons that could be ridden by humans and used to scorch the Thread to death in the air. As it turned out, the threat of the Thread would come in cycles, sometimes hundreds of years apart. But whenever Thread began to fall, the dragons and the Dragonriders would save the day.
That, in a highly simplified form, is the basis of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider novels, one of the most famous science fiction/fantasy series ever, and of the new Epyx fantasy game, Dragonriders of Pern.
In Dragonriders from one to four players can assume the role of Weyrleader (leader of a threadfighting squadron of dragons). Six Weyrleaders are pitted against each other in a struggle for planetary power and influence (the computer will always play the part of two Weyrleaders and can assume the roles of up to five). You must try to convince the various lords of the Holds (where the Pernese live) and Craftmasters (the skilled artisans) that you're the best man to defend Pern against the fall of Thread.
The mechanics of the diplomacy and negotiation required to achieve your goals are not as hard to master as, for example, sixteenth Century Italian court politics-- they are only nearly as hard.
In all, there are sixteen Lord Holders and eight craftmasters for you to woo. You have all manner of diplomatic and social tools at your disposal to use in persuading the Holds and Crafts to take your side. The trick is to use the right tools for the job.
If nothing works in negotiations or alliances, you can always resort to violence and challenge your opponent to a duel.
Another way to influence opinion is to offer your fighting wings wherever and whenever Thread falls. At the end of a turn you actually have to control a dragon while it fights Thread. This battle may take place on any of three difficulty levels (which you select prior to the start of the game). The results of the Thread fighting will influence the level of respect you enjoy among the Lord Holders in the next turn, and therefore your success in forming new alliances.
Dragonriders of Pern is a game that cleverly mixes elements of Diplomacy-- style wargaming, arcade skills, and fantasy roleplaying in a scenario that has already been tested and approved by science fiction and fantasy readers. It will take some time before you learn the mixture of violence, pleading, amiability, and threats it takes to create and hold together a large alliance of individual lords. But it will be worth the trouble to escape to Anne McCaffrey's fantasy world of lords, craftsmen, fighting men, and friendly dragons.--BJM
Empire is a real-time, strategy wargame of global conquest. The design is refreshingly simple, yet the style and scope will test even veteran Caesars.
As emperor of a single city, you send forth legions, ships, and airplanes to conquer the 60-row by 100-column world. In the process of subjugating numerous neutral city-states, you will also run headlong into one or two other power-mad imperialists--played by either the computer or live opponents.
At the start, you see only a three-row by three-column section of the globe. The rest is unknown. As your troops fan out across the countryside and sail over the ocean, the known world expands before your eyes.
Cities can build one of eight types of units--armies, transports, submarines, destroyers, cruisers, battleships, aircraft carriers, and fighter-bombers--with each unit taking a set number of turns to be produced. You give unit a command, such as move, dig in, or load troops, which it will follow until assigned a new one.
The weakspot of the game is in its complex command structure. Each unit is assigned either a mode or a function. Only certain commands work with certain modes. although you can switch modes or change between modes and functions at any point in the game. Unfortunately, consulting the documentation is like asking Brutus about friendship--it's all in the interpretation.
Nobody said being an emperor was easy, but mastering the commands is a small price to pay for mastering the globe. As cities churn out units, armies conquer territory, and enemy forces emerge from the unknown, you start to suffer from information overload. You tend to neglect rear areas and remote fronts; then suddenly you remember them when you need fresh troops.
Invariably, the computer seems ten turns ahead of you and always seems to find you before you find it. After the initial contact, the war heats up into a battle for initiative. The side that can take the offensive has a better chance to win, but a defensive counterstrike can upset this "sure' victory. Much of the nail-biting excitement of Empire grows from this seesaw struggle.
Note that you need an extra serial port and terminal for each additional live player. Also, the more units in play, and the more battles fought, the slower the game runs.
Empire is a wargame, not an arcade game. It challenges the reflexes of the mind, not the wrist. For strategists who delight in organizing and running military campaigns, Empire proves the glory that was the mainframe's continues on the microcomputer.--RSL
The scenario sounds familiar. Space, the final frontier, is in peril again. With stardates ticking away, you, as Captain Kirk, must pilot the starship Enterprise on a mission to seek out and annihilate invading Klingon and Romulan life forms. In the process, you can beam down to strange new worlds, mine dilithium crystals, and boldly go where no man has gone before.
Starship Challenge has five levels of play--beginner, novice, senior, expert, and emeritus. The higher the level of play, the more Klingons and Romulans you will find in the galaxy and the more often they will use a cloaking device.
The Enterprise is outfitted with the usual shields, phasers, photon torpedoes, and long and short scans. You can warp around the eight-quadrant by eight-quadrant galaxy or use impulse power to move within the ten-sector by ten-sector quadrant. Some quadrants contain a space-time aberration, which can whisk you to another part of the galaxy quickly.
The Klingons divide into two types: regular and command ships. The regular ships generally stay rooted in one spot, firing away until destroyed. Naturally, the command ships are tougher to destroy, and at the higher levels, tend to leave the quadrant to repair damage rather than stay and slug it out.
As you destroy Klingon ships, you disrupt their invasion schedule and gain extra stardates to accomplish your mission. Your score, in part, is determined by a Klingon-to-stardate kill ration.
The adventure part of the game consists of finding a planet and analyzing it for traces of dilithium crystals. Once found, you beam down, mine the crystals, and beam back up. Not very challenging as a whole, but you do need the crystals at the higher levels. They act like a spare battery, replenishing your energy without the need to dock at a starbase.
Win or lose, the game displays your score, including casualties incurred, Klingons killed, and Romulans captured. After you reach a certain score on one level, the program promotes you to the next, more difficult level.
Miklyn Development plans to include planetary mini-adventures, starting with one based on The Squire of Gotham episode, in future versions of Starship Challenge. Each mini-adventure contains a clue to defeating the Klingon horde.
Starship Challenge is one of the best Star Trek games available for the IBM PC. With five skill levels, the game remains challenging and exciting long after the first play. If you like the original Star Trek computer game, Starship Challenge will make a welcome addition to your gaming library.--RSL
Starship Valiant is another Star Trek type game, and like the others, comes with a few twists to keep things interesting.
This time, the Amdrons want to conquer the eight-quadrant by eight-quadrant galaxy. They are just as ruthless as Klingons and Romulans, only a little trickier. They fly three different types of ships-- regular battle cruisers, a flagship, and a fuelshi--and all of them look the same.
Of course, your mission is to eliminate this Amdron menace using the United Federation Starship Valiant. The Valiant is equipped with torpedoes, lasers, a deflector shield, warp engines, cruise engines, and a big reserve of energy.
During battle, the Amdrons fire lasers and launch torpedoes. They lasers gnaw away at your energy reserves, but the torpedoes are positively lethal. One hit obliterates the Valiant. Fortunately, their torpedoes are slow, so you can dodge them.
This is the best part of the game. In other trek games, you zip into a quadrant and slug it out with the enemy. In Starship Valiant, you must constantly maneuver within the quadrant to avoid those Amdron torpedoes, and this gives you a better feel of tactical starship combat than other trek games.
A couple twists separate Starship Valiant from other trek games. The flagship directs the entire invasion and orders the battle cruisers to attack one of your starbases. If you destroy the flagship, the invasion falls apart, and all battle cruisers scatter to the edge of the galaxy trying to escape your wrath.
Finally, the Amdrons possess a nasty tractor beam, which can pluck you from a safe quadrant and transport you to one with wall-to-wall enemy ships.
The game contains three levels of play: First Officer, Captain, and Admiral. The first level provides enough challenge to keep the average player from getting bored, but no so much that it overwhelms a novice. The Captain level presses your command skills, and the Admiral level is downright tough.
Starship Valiant is interesting, challenging, and fun. Its fast-action maneuvering brings an exciting new dimension to the classic game of Star Trek.--RSL
Star Fleet 1
Star Fleet I continues the evolution of the classic Star Trek computer game by adding extensive color and sound, and including a few embellishments of its own.
The enemy is invading the eight-quadrant by eight-quadrant galaxy again, and your mission is to seek out and destroy them. However, the Federation has been replaced by the United Galactic Alliance, and instead of Klingons and Romulans, you face a miltitude of Krellans and a few powerful Zaldrons.
Each cruiser shoots phasers and torpedos and relies on shields for protection. However, the program contains a few extra embellishments. The ship can lay mines, and the shield is divided into four parts, each of which is assigned a strength independently of the others.
Each ship also carries a complement of 70 space marines. Once you inflict enough damage on an enemy ship, you can teleport the marines onto the ship to capture it.
If you take damage, some of the 13 internal ship systems, such as phasers, engines, shield control, and life support, become inoperative, requiring either energy, time, or a starbase to repair. In addition, enemy agents sometimes slip aboard and sabotage these systems, only you never known they are there until they destroy a system. The ship carries a security force to ferret out these agents.
Star Fleet I has 10 levels of difficulty. You must complete the levels in order, starting as a Cadet, which is level 1, and progressing through Admiral Emeritus, which is level 10. It also gives you a choice of a short, medium, or long game.
Star Fleet I comes with an extensive 98-page "Officer's Manual' detailing the 25 commands you need to run the cruiser. The entire manual should be adopted as an industry standard for clear, concise, well-organized documentation.
The program engulfs you in sound and color. The opening sequence treats your to the beginning strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra' and then fuses into "Flight of the Valkyrie.' Throughout the game, various beeps and tones signal phasers, torpedoes, damage, and red alert. If you defeat the invading fleet, you hear the victory march from "Star Wars.' If you win a promotion, you are treated to "Pomp and Circumstance.'
Meanwhile, color bursts across the screen. Red alerts are really red, the tactical display is light blue, and various messages are highlighted with shades of green, yellow, and blue.
Star Trek fans rejoice. Star Fleet I is a truly captivating game, providing fast-paced action and blossoming with extraordinary color and sound effects.--RSL
Triple Brain Trust
Triple Brain Trust is a combination tictac-toe and trivia game, much like the old TV game show "Hollywood Squares.' Players alternate answering questions on a variety of topics. Correct answers place an X or O in a square, and three in a row wins the round.
Triple BrainTrust contains 12 trivia topics--movie, famous places, football, baseball, general sports, geography, vocabulary, famous people, science, children's stories, math, and early learning. Each topic is geared for a certain age group.
As with most trivia games, you either know the answers or you don't. Sample questions include: How many miles are run in a marathon? Which continent contains the Alps? What color is a banana?
Your answers much match those on the disk exactly, or the program declares it wrong.
Like tic-tac-toe, Triple BrainTrust allows only two contestants to play at once. If a person is unavailable, you may play the computer, but be warned, the computer knows all the answers and never misses a question.
Since text requires little color, Triple BrainTrust uses mostly black and white graphics. In some of the children's questions, it adds blue and purple coloring, but even the X and O are white on black. Likewise, some of the children's questions play music, but the program generally remains silent.
When you tire of the questions on the original disk, you can create your own topics and questions quickly and easily. Roughly 900 questions, divided into 15 topics, can be saved per disk.
Triple BrainTrust is a flexible trivia game. Although its graphics could be more colorful, regular black and white text suffices for most uses. Its open-ended format allows for an unlimited number of questions, so long as someone is willing to think them up and type them in.--RSL
What better time to bring out a game based on the election process than in an electiion year. PresidentialFever is a trivia game that tests your knowledge of littel known facts about the United States.
PresidentialFever is divided into three games, Electoral college, Republican nomination, and Democratic nomination. You score points based on the actual electoral or delegate vote for each state. Each game asks you a question about a particular state. If you answer the question correctly, you win the votes from that state.
Like a real election, you need a minimum number of votes to win. For the Republican and Democratic nomination, this equals 1118 and 1967 respectively. For the Electoral College, it is 270.
PresidentialFever contains thousands of questions on all sorts of subjects, including geography, history, population statistics, economics, Republican and Democratic delegate votes per state, political figures, state capitas and cities, and state birds and flowers.
PresidentialFever has five skill levels to challenge young and old alike. Level 1 requires you to choose the state with the most votes. Level 2 includes questions on state capitals and cities, while Level 3 adds economic and geographical questions. Level 4 adds difficult political, economic, historial, and current events questions. Level 5 allows you to pick the question format and vary the level of difficulty.
You can play against the computer or against another person. The computer is absolutely ruthless. It never misses a question and always gets the most votes.
Trivia fans will find PresidentialFever appealing and challenging. The game is really more about the United States than politics, although everyone, especially young children, can learn the facts and figures surrounding the election process. --RSL
There's a veritable mountain of computer games on the market. Some possess the quality of a mountain. Others promise a mountain, but end up as molehills. Some are just the pits. After playing Digger, you'll be screaming Eureka! and staking out a claim to a goldmine of fun.
Digger, an addictive arcade game, combines the best aspects of Pac-Man and Dig-Dug to create a free-wheeling, free-form maze game. Better yet, it adds enough spectacular sound effects and imaginative graphics to start a gold rush.
As Digger, a super tunneling machine with a red body, greedy green jaws, and yellow tires, you carve out new shafts in an abandoned mine to collect green emeralds and gold nuggets. Like Pac-Man's dots, the emeralds are gulped as you pass over them.
A catchy, driving beat plays in the background as you gnaw through yellow-red earth. Each gulped emerald sound a reasonant note, each higher than the last. If you can gulp an octave of emeralds, you earn bonus points. When you clear a screen, the program signs a happy tunc that sounds like a wild, Mexican fiesta.
Of course, the denizens of the mine, the Nobbins, resent your intrusion, not to mention the piracy of their buried treasure. These triangular green marauders with beady yellow eyes and stomping red feet tax your reflexes as they chase after you faster than the IRS.
The Nobbins follow the shafts that you have tunneled out. If they cannot catch you after a certain amount of time, some become so enraged, they are transformed into deadlier Hobbins. These nasties look like green turkey heads, complete with red wattles. They also burrow through the rock and try to cut you off at the subterranean pass. If a Nobbin or a Hobbin touches you, Digger goes to the great junkyard in the sky, a tombstone rises on the spot, and the funeral dirge plays in the background.
Digger is not defenseless, however, and there is more than one way to stop a Nobbin or a Hobbin. Three, in fact. As in Dig-Dug, you can entice them into a shaft, undermine a bag of gold, and watch it fall and squash the offending creature. If the beasties advance from above, you can fry them with a roof-mounted fireball. Finally, if you evade them long enough, you can gulp a cherry, which works just like a power pill in Pac-man. As you hunt down the Nobbins and Hobbins, the "William Tell Overture,' plays in the background.
Excellent sound effects, graphics, and action make Digger a real gem. It never loses its luster even after hours of play. Digger strikes a rich vein in a mountain of games.--RSL
Run for the Money
Many educational arcade games are heavy on the game and woefully light on the education. Often, they rely on repetitious drills instead of teaching new skills. Run for the Money breaks from this pattern and offers practical, working knowledge of fundamental economic principles.
Run for the Money is a two-player game. You and an opponent become Bizlings, "creatures searching the universe for good business opportunities.' The story is that your spaceship flew through a zinger storm, which knocked out the protective paint shield, forcing you to land on the planet Simian.
The Simians, who spend all of their time swinging from trees, want to buy synannas, synthetic bananas made from rufs. Rufs are mined and sold by six different Ruffians. Rufs come in three different qualities, and your spaceship just happens to be able to convert rufs into synannas.
The whole idea is to buy rufs, sell synannas, make a profit, buy paint to replace the shield, and then be the first to lift off planet Simian.
The Simians remember everything. If you sell them high-quality synannas at one price, then switch to medium-quality at the same price, they continue to buy for a while, but become disenchanted with the lower quality of your product and stop purchasing your synannas.
Furthermore, although you negotiate with an individual Ruffian to lower its price, sometimes it gets impatient and refuses to sell you rufs.
As added incentive, at the beginning of each trading week you use a simple spreadsheet program to plan your profits. The spreadsheet allows you to explore various pricing and production strategies. If your profit comes close to your prediction, you earn a bonus.
The 32-page manual provides a good overview on running the game. Perhaps the best part is a section describing 12 different strategies used on Earth--including ad campaigns, underpricing, copy-cat, and bait and switch--and how they apply to Simian.
Run for the Money teaches many sophisticated economic concepts, including the laws of supply and demand, bidding practices, production processes, marketing decisions, as well as good old fashioned business sense and customer service. You get a theoretical feel for running a business and have fun at the same time.--RSL
The Coveted Mirror
Life was once peaceful in the makebelieve land of Starbury, but not long ago an evil rogue named Voar brought that tranquility abruptly to an end. He broke the Coveted Mirror, the magical defense of Starbury's people. Managing to steal four of the five precious shards, Voar attained enough power to enslave the entire population.
Step into the medieval times of swords and sorcery. In The Coveted Mirror, a hires graphic adventure from Penguin Software, you have been asked to retrieve the stolen shards and free the Starburian people!
As the game begins, you find yourself in a prison cell of Voar's monstrous stronghold, where you must outsmart Boris, a large, pot bellied nit wit assigned to check on you regularly.
After you establish a friendly relationship with Boris, he will mark on your hourglass the time at which he will return to check on you. This provides you with enough time to travel to the village (after you discover how to escape from your cell), where you must negotiate with shop keepers for necessary equipment. In addition, you must scour the countryside for other items to aid you in your quest.
During the quest, you must periodically return to the castle to be present when Boris makes his rounds, but afterward you can resume your mission.
The graphics scenes in The Coveted Mirror are very well done. More than 100 colorful, detailed frames grace the entertaining story.
Furthermore, the game offers a refreshing break from "adventure monotony,' the sometimes disconcerting boredom that afflicts worn out adventurers. At certain points during the adventure, The Coveted Mirror switches to mini-arcade or skill games. For instance, you may find a jousting arena in your travels, and if you enter, you will confront a computer controlled horseman in a quasi-arcade game.
The Coveted Mirror is a top quality graphics adventure featuring outstanding realism and refreshing innovations in computer adventure. In short, it is one of the best graphics adventures available for the Apple II.--SW
Junior's Revenge is a Color Computer version of Donkey Kong Jr., the popular coin-operated game that begins where the original Donkey Kong left arcaders hanging by a vine. As a loyal gorilla son, Junior must rescue his father from the clutches of an unforgiving man named Luigi, who, like Mario in the arcade version, captured the huge ape and placed him behind bars.
The mission requires all of the speed, timing, and courage that Junior can muster. Four different screens present vines and chains to climb, plunging gorges to span, moving platforms to leap upon, giant "zuzu birds' to avoid, and deadly "vine-gators' to outwit. For example, the first screen has 11 vines joined by several scattered sections of floor, demanding shrewd leaping and climbling over chasms, from floor to vine and from vine to floor. Junior's objective in this scene, which is further complicated by the roaming vine-gators, is to ascend to the top and grab a key from Luigi.
The second scenario consists of eight hanging chains, six of which dangle keys that Junior must push upward into place as he climbs. The third screen introduces a trampoline, moving platforms, and elusive chains hanging from a shifting, gear driven mechanism. In the fourth screen at Luigi's hideout, Junior must conquer an inferno of conveyor belts and vines.
Cherries hang from vines and chains in each screen and may be picked for points. Picked fruit plummets to the bottom of the screen and may crush opposing creatures in its path, in which case extra points are awarded.
This game creatively and resourcefully employs the fine graphics capabilities of the Color Computer.
With four different scenes, the game maintains all the challenge of the coinoperated version. Junior's Revenge demands quick reactions and patience that will thwart even experienced arcaders.
Junior's Revenge is a fine program in most respects, including graphics use and challenge. Color Computer owners who enjoyed Donkey Kong Jr. will regard Junior's Revenge as one of their favorites.
Intelligence has reported that more than 20 waves of alien craft are currently in the star system, harassing the people and disrupting trade. Given command of the Earth Federation Ship Threshold, you face the perilous mission of freeing the empire from the sinister grip of these invaders.
Threshold, the game, is a shoot-em-'up much like Galaxian for one or two players. The player's ship, located at the bottom of the star-lit screen, faces waves of aliens at the top.
Each of the 24 waves of aliens has a unique appearance and style of movement. For example, the first phase pits the player against bird-like ships with beating wings, while the second is against skull types with crushing teeth. All are displayed in colorful, detailed graphics. The game becomes more difficult with every passing wave and therefore maintains its challenge even during long play.
The player's ship is armed with Delta Class Lasers which can overheat if used indiscriminately. A gauge resembling a thermometer indicates the heat level of the lasers and is displayed on the right side of the screen. If the level rises too high, the player must wait a few seconds for the lasers to cool before he can resume shooting.
The most closely-guarded secret of the ship is its ability to implement Hyper Warp Drive. Useable once for each of the five available ships, it boosts the speed of the Threshold for a few seconds and in effect slows the invaders so that the player can avoid a hazardous situation or fight them more effectively.
Threshold is a fine action game with a few interesting twists. Sporting a wide variety of invaders and innovative new features, it is certainly one of the best Galaxian derivatives available for the Vic.--SW
Skramble! is Microdigital's version of the similarly named coin-operated favorite in which you become the pilot of a spacecraft and must blast through the defenses of a hostile enemy planet.
The landscape scrolls from right to left as your ship warps through the defenses. The first of the eight phases leads you over a landscape littered with oil tanks, helicopters, and stationary rockets. This incredibly simple section, which could be called an exercise in fire button pressing, is followed by a similar scene in which the rockets launch into the path of the ship. Next is a phase known as Wiggy Tunnel, in which you face the usual ground installations along with roaming spider shaped guards. In scene four, you must maneuver through a narrow, twisty cavern. As in the beginning phases, the remaining four, called Meteor Trail, Rocket City, City Maze, and Homing Slot, have specific objectives uniquely their own.
The limited fuel supply that you receive at the beginning of the game must be maintained to complete the mission. Destroying enemy oil tanks along the way will replenish a lagging supply.
The game ends if you crash or run out of fuel. Unlike other games in which additional ships are available after a player meets his demise, Skramble! supplies its pilot with only one.
Sporting eight different full-length phases, Skramble! is quite involved for an arcade-style game. The change of scenery adds variety to play and defeats the repetitous boredom that plagues other games. In addition, i sensed a hint of that addictive quality that results from striving to reach a new phase.
The graphics in Skramble! leave much to be desired, however. Furthermore, I feel that the good color capabilities of the Vic could have been utilized more effectively, especially in place of the dismal black used in the cavern scenes.
All in all, Skramble! is an extensive game with a few disappointing weaknesses. It may appeal to serious arcaders who can appreciate good action with no frills. --SW
Photo: Touchdown Football
Photo: Raid on Bungeling Bay
Photo: Stellar 7
Photo: Lazer Zone
Photo: Dragonriders of Pern
Photo: Starship Challenge
Photo: Starship Valiant
Photo: Star Fleet I
Photo: Triple Brain Trust
Photo: Run for the Money
Photo: The Coveted Mirror
Photo: Junior's Revenge
Products: Touchdown Football (computer program)
Raid on Bungeling Bay (computer program)
Stellar 7 (computer program)
Lazer Zone (computer program)
Dragonriders of Pern (computer program)
Empire (computer program)
Starship Challenger (computer program)
Starship Valiant (computer program)
Star Fleet I (computer program)
Triple BrianTrust (computer program)
Presidential Fever (computer program)
Digger (computer program)
Run for the Money (computer program)
The Coveted Mirror (computer program)
Junior's Revenge (computer program)
Threshold (computer program)
Skramble! (computer program)