PRESSING THE FIRE BUTTON
START's Big Games Extravaganza
Last year's special Games and Entertainment issue was so popular we just bad to do it again. In an expanded version of our popular "For the Fun of It" department, we present reviews of eight of the hottest new games now available for ST. We've even included a book to help you become a true joystick jockey!
Reviewed by David Plotkin
BAAL is a colorful, well-animated game that effectively combines strategy and arcade elements into a very playable contest. In this thriller from Psygnosis, you're a member of an elite team that must defeat BAAL, the essence of all evil, who has been freed by an unwary archaeologist. The battle begins as you materialize in the bizarre underground lair of BAAL.
In the game, you are represented by a space-suited soldier armed with a rocket pack and laser rifle. You control your alter-ego with a joystick and you're given five lives. The underground lair itself is a world of catwalks connected with ladders, so negotiating your way around this world can be tricky.
First Things First
The first trick you need to learn is how to leap over the missing sections of the catwalk. Your leaping capacity is limited, but you can clear short gaps. Press the joystick up and to the right to activate the jump feature. However, if you miss this crucial diagonal move, which is easy to do with any joystick, the soldier falls to his death.
BAAL has also put up force fields throughout his domain that will block your way at every turn. Fortunately, there are also electrical generators which provide the power for the force fields-blast these with your laser and a force field disappears. However, you must find out by trial and error which generator controls which force field. The generator and its force field may be widely separated, so it may take a while to puzzle this out.
As you might expect, the hazards of BAAL's lair aren't limited to inanimate objects. A huge variety of interesting (read bizarre") creatures populate the caverns, including spitting serpents and bouncing, winged gargoyles. Most of these shoot at you, although your personal force field can withstand many hits. Some creatures simply can't be shot, as they are too low to the ground, and you must avoid them as best you can. Others are incredibly agile, and you must time your shots carefully to hit them. The touch of any creature is fatal, so be careful.
Your equipment consists of your force screen and the laser rifle. The screen and rifle are powered from a battery pack, the condition of which is shown as a blue bar on the left side of the screen. When the energy runs out, you die. There are also cannisters of rocket fuel strewn about the cavern. You can't travel from some groups of girders except by entering a special chamber, which engages the rocket pack on your back. You must then find another of these chambers somewhere in the cavern to disengage the rocket pack before the fuel runs out (about 20 seconds) or you'll explode. Of course, you don't know where the other chambers are, so you must search frantically to find one before it's too late.
After an archaeological blunder, BAAL, the essence
of all evil, has been released from his underground
lair. As a member of an elite team you must defeat
BAAL and stop the spread of his vile existence. So
goes the scenario in this latest arcade thriller from
Your laser rifle is effective against the caverns creatures which require many shots before they're destroyed, especially in the early levels. The laser rifle has four power levels, but to upgrade it, you must find power cartridges in the caverns. Even a Level 2 laser is a significant improvement over Level 1 (which has no effect on some of the denizens), while a Level 4 laser is truly awesome.
Thoughout the cavern are pieces of the war machine necessary to defeat BAAL. You must find these, pick them up and then transport to the next level. There are, according to the instructions, three levels, although I must admit I've not seen them all. You can also recharge your power pack at special stations located infrequently throughout each level. It is here that some of the humor of BAAL shows - the refueling stations look like old gas station pumps, complete with BP (British Petroleum - remember, this game comes from England) stamped on the base. The refueling stations also let you save your position, something almost unheard of in arcade games, but welcome in a game as big as this one. Unfortunately you can only save a single game in progress, but this game is not erased from the disk if you die, so you can go back and start at that point again.
There is a Problem
The graphics and animation in BAAL are very good. The colors are sharp, and your soldier and the creatures are gorgeously rendered and smoothly animated. The sound is also excellent, with the digitized explosions and the hum of the electrical generator when you're near it.
There is one problem with BAAL: there are sections of girders which can't be exited unless you have the correct equipment. Generally, this isn't a problem because you can't get to those sections without having collected the equipment beforehand, but there is an exception to this rule: when you die, you're not reincarnated in the same place. Instead, the game "seeks a timegate" which may set your new man down some distance from where you died. You often end up on one of these inaccessible sections, and there's no way off except to jump and die. Even then you often get placed right back on the same section. Very frustrating.
The world of BAAL is huge, and this is one of the few arcade games I've found necessary to map out. You can play it for a long time without seeing the end, and it has that indefinable something that keeps you coming back for more. I highly recommend BAAL.
Reviewed by Greg Perez
With DC Comics celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their ever-popular Batman series, the summer release of the long-awaited Batman movie, the new Batman television series in the works and a slew of Batman merchandise on the market, it would seem that the Caped Crusader has returned to make his mark in 1989. It's no surprise then that Ocean Software, in conjunction with DC Comics, has introduced Batman to the computer world.
Yes, that's right Batfans. It's time to don the old cape and cowl and step into the boots of the Dark Knight himself. Batman: the Caped Crusader pits the mysterious Batman against two of his most cunning foes. The game is an innovative mix of an arcade game and a comic book, where our hero must fend off brutal street thugs and annoying robot penguin pea-shooters while tracking down the bad guys.
A Dynamic Duo of Disks
Batman includes two game scenarios, each on its own single-sided disk. The first scenario puts Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, on the trail of that obnoxious bird-brain, the Penguin. Your adventure starts in the Batcave, where several useful items are lying around. Gameplay is joystick-controlled. When Batman picks up an object, an inventory screen scrolls into view displaying all usable items. Also on this screen is Batman's current health, represented by a picture of the Caped Crusader's face As time progresses, the face slowly degenerates into a skull. The only way to fully replenish Batmans energy is by finding food, a very scarce resource to say the least (that is, if you don't use the right methods). Your options are represented by colorful icons. To choose an option, move the Bat-cursor with the joystick and press the fire button.
Now, after Batman collects the needed items in his cave, it's time to tackle the dingy streets of Gotham City. Beware: within the shadows lurk the Penguins own personal thugs, who would rather shoot off your pointy bat-ears than give you the time of day. You can send these mobsters packing by flinging your Batarang (a useful item found in the Batcave) at them or using the classic hand-to-hand method (BIFF! POW!). After Batman slaps them around a bit, the thugs usually leave a packet of food that will only partially satisfy Batman's appetite. Stocking up on food by beating up thugs is a good idea.
innovative mix of an
arcade game and a
Along the side streets and alleys, you may come across items that will help you unlock secrets for certain puzzles. When they're used in the right place, a number at the top of the inventory screen will rise. This number represents the percentage of the game you've completed so far. To aid the aggravated joystick jockey who doesn't have the faintest idea what piece of evidence goes to what puzzle, a message appears on certain screens that have clues in them. This is very helpful to the novice crime-buster. I often find myself slamming my head against the computer desk a few hundred times because I had overlooked the clue that could have saved me a lot of time (and food) in trying to locate the correct object needed to open a door (clues like "In a pickle?," for instance).
Holy DRAM chips, Batman! Will that pesky
Penguin be successful in his bid to rule Gotham
City? Will that ''funny man" Joker actually harm
to the Boy Wonder? These are just a few of the
questions that only you and the Caped Crusader
can answer in the latest graphic epic from Data East.
Batman's graphics are very impressive. From the Batcave to the urban scenes of Gotham City every frame is detailed down to the scum on the street (including the thugs). When I mention the word "frame" I mean the separate screens that appear as you move from one room to the next. As you leave one frame it fades and is overlapped by another. This method gives the look and feel of a comic book.
The Caped Crusader and the other characters are superbly animated. The sound-well, it could have been better. There is a soundtrack (a computerized, not digitized, version of the original Batman theme), but after a minute of listening to it, I gladly turned it off.
And What of the Boy Wonder?
Holy DRAM chips! I haven't even mentioned Batman's trusty sidekick Robin! In the comic book, Jason Todd, a.k.a. the new Robin, was murdered by the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. (Actually, Robin was killed off by hundreds of vicious readers who called in and demanded that he die!) Well, as coincidence would have it, Batman's teen prodigy doesn't appear in the first scenario. However, he does appear in Scenario 2, "A Fete Worse Than Death." The dastardly devious Joker has kidnapped Robin and challenged Batman to rescue the Boy Wonder before several strategically placed bombs beneath the city explode!
Gameplay in this scenario is basically is the same, though a little more cerebral than the first, and requires more puzzle-solving skills to complete it.
Batman is the most intriguing arcade adventure I've played in a long while. The graphics are top-rate, the action is fast and the plot is very challenging. Yet, this is a second-rate game to me because there's no save-game feature. I soon realized how important this was after I spent almost three hours on the first scenario. I had nearly completed it (about 90 percent) when Batman suddenly dropped dead due to lack of food! I nearly cried -so close, yet so far
The lack of a save-game feature hardly encourages you to start all over again from the beginning. A problem like this could easily turn people off from the game Will the programmers at Ocean Software rewrite Batman into a better game than it already is?
Tune in again-same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!
Reviewed by Dan Fruchey
I'm pretty picky when it comes to choosing video games. While I enjoy a wide variety of games 1 prefer those that incorporate quick action and enough puzzles to make the game enjoyable without actually becoming work. Tetris from Spectrum HoloByte is such a game. And, if I don't miss my guess, it will become a classic that will even be enjoyed by those who are typically non-garners.
Gameplay in Tetris is actually quite simple. Any one of eight randomly selected pieces begins to drop slowly from the top of the screen toward the bottom. Your job is to rotate and move the piece left or right so that it fits precisely with others as they come to rest at the bottom of the screen. As each piece makes contact with the ground or other pieces this process repeats.
From Russia with love comes Tetris, a puzzle
of addictive proportions. Tetris was ported to
the ST by Spectrum HoloByte.
When a horizontal row of 10 squares is completed without any gaps between pieces, it vanishes from the screen. The less time you take to maneuver pieces into position, the greater the score.
Gameplay continues until rows with gaps reach the top of the screen and the growing stack overflows. As your skill and accuracy increases, the shapes begin to drop faster, allowing less time for placement and rotation. Tetris uses keyboard input to manipulate the pieces. Five keys from the keyboard or keypad are required to move, rotate and drop the pieces. Any command can be selected from the GEM menus or you can use keyboard macros.
There are 10 skill levels available as well as an option that will let you place pieces on the screen randomly, and choose faster drop speeds. A tournament play option allows up to six players in rotating match play. For those keen on competition, the "Top Ten Comrades" can save their names for posterity. You can optionally display statistics and levels, access help menus, pause gameplay at any time and abort games in progress.
The actual playing area only uses the center of the screen. The rest of the screen displays images of the USSR. Pictures include scenes from daily Russian life, space flight and more. The better you become the more scenery you get to see. Tetris is accompanied by a lively musical score that keeps pace with the falling pieces.
Tetris as an Educational Tool
Most seasoned game players will be challenged by Tetris. It is a moving jigsaw puzzle that requires quick thinking and the ability to picture possible configurations within your mind. The game can be educational for children as well as an enjoyable pastime for adults. Correct placement of pieces provides a reward of sound and music that will encourage increased concentration and quicker problem solving to receive the audio-visual bonuses. The game requires basic use of logic and allows children to experiment with organization.
My only gripe with Tetris is that it won't work on a monochrome monitor.
I suspect that many people who bought their computer solely for its business
applications would love to play Tetris. The lack of a monochrome version
notwithstanding, Tetris is sure to please everyone.
WAR IN MIDDLE EARTH
Reviewed by Andrew Reese
For generations, J . R.R. Tolkien's masterful work of fantasy and adventure, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy has captured the imaginations of readers everywhere. In it, Tolkien created an engrossing world of hobbits. orcs, Nazguls, wizards and warriors fighting for control of Middle Earth, a mythical location in the time just before the Age of Men.
No one had ever attempted to capture the scope and depth of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a computer game. Until now, that is. Mastertronics has recently released War in Middle Earth, a graphic adventure from Melbourne House that recreates the epic struggle over the One Ring that can mean doom or salvation to Middle Earth.
You play the part of Frodo Baggins the Ring-bearer in your attempt to destroy the One Ring on Mt. Doom in the heart of Mordor. You'll have help, of course, the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Grey Aragorn, Boromir, Pippin, Sam, Merry Gimli and Legolas, plus Fangom the Ent, Theoden, Eomir and all of the rest of the wonderful cast created by Tolkien.
In War in Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien's characters
are immediately identifiable by race, but identifying
which character is Frodo and which is Merry or Sam
is not possible at a glance. Still, this game with its
multiple levels of play and its ability to change the
plot of the Lord of the Rings is an enjoyable challenge.
War in Middle Earth comes on three single-sided disks with a useful and detailed manual and an excellent map of Middle Earth. By the way, you'll need the map. not only for general directions, but also for the off-disk copy protection. You must enter certain map coordinates when called for or you're out of the game (and you should be).
Trouble With Spiders
It certainly helps to have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when you play War in Middle Earth. If you have, you can follow the book's plot and stand a reasonable chance of success in destroying the Ring. But if you want to change the course of history in Middle Earth, you can do that, too. In one playing, I kept the Fellowship together and massed an assault on Minas Morgul, along the west side of Mordor. I was successful in destroying the orc army there, but was slaughtered at Ciris Ungol. Shelob, the man- (or hobbit-) eating spider, ended up with the Ring and high-tailed it for Barad Dur, the lair of the evil Sauron. When Sauron gained the Ring from Shelob. Middle Earth was doomed. Oh well!
In preparation for this review I reread the trilogy-what a good excuse! But then I anticipated more than the game could deliver A computer screen just can't capture the flavor of Tolkieris writing in, for example, the beauty of Lorien, the wonder of Treebeard or the horror of Shelob's lair. Not that it's a bad game, mind you- it's authentic and enjoyable as far as it can go in this medium. It's just not all I had hoped for.
A Game (and World) Unlike Any Other
War in Middle Earth is unique in its interface. There are three levels of graphics, ranging from animated characters at the lowest level to an overall map of Middle Earth at the highest. In between is a scrolling "tactical" map campaign level that gives you control of the characters and battle units you have available. You'll probably spend most of your time at the lower two levels in order to direct your characters and to see what they and their evil counterparts look like. You'll also need to go to the lowest level for the battles that are an inherent part of the game.
Your characters can interact with some of the other characters in Middle Earth. Some will provide you with necessary information and others will give you gifts that are vital to the survival of members of your band. Unfortunately, it's impossible to capture the whimsy of Tom Bombadil or Gimli the Dwarf's enchantment with Galadriel in a brief conversation.
The animation at the lowest level is nicely done and all of the characters are identifiable by race-i.e, men, hobbits, elves, dwarves, ents, etc. However, all of the characters of a single race look alike. The only way to tell which hobbit is which, for example, is to click on each one and read the resulting dialog box. You can't even tell Sauron from the Nazgul; they're all rather pedestrian black-hooded figures.
Once you have clicked on a character, you can determine his status by "looking into the pool of Galadriel" (clicking on the status icon) or manipulating any objects that character possesses.
I wanted so much to love this game as much as I love Tolkierfs works. That proved impossible, but I certainly enjoyed myself and isn't that what playing a game is all about? I think that I will return to War in Middle Earth in the future to try a new approach or two. I certainly can't fault Mastertronics for making a strong effort to capture Middle Earth on a computer screen.
War in Middle Earth is not for everyone It has many of the characteristics of a unit-strength war game and even resembles the old Dark Tower electronic board game in the battles. If you want to try your hand at defeating the evil forces of Sauron in a fascinating and well-designed game, take a look at War in Middle Earth. But read Tolkien's masterpiece trilogy first. It's available wherever fine books are sold.
Reviewed by Wolf Griffey
The Land of Dragons has a problem. Someone or something has assembled an army of what may be the most vile, ugly-natured and just plain nasty creatures ever to pollute the galaxy. This once peaceful world must now seek help from an outside source.
Enter Space Harrier, one of the most experienced Astral Exterminators in the galaxy. Yet, even with his legendary skill and cunning, this will be one tough assignment. Can Space Harrier do a good enough job to keep his hero status intact? What kind of score do you think you can rack up on this colorful, fast-action game based on the arcade hit from Sega?
Computer-game heroes come in many forms and usually have lots of super powers. Space Harrier, on the other hand, has only a few powers that are out of the ordinary. First, he can jump and hang in the air, like the Harrier Jet-a great aid in dodging or shooting targets high off the ground. Second, Space Harrier is tireless. Hell run, jump and fire as long as he needs to or until the bad guys finish him off.
The third and last of Space Harrier's powers is in his number of lives. Like the proverbial cat it takes nine hits to do him in. His lives are in three sets of three. You then have about 10 seconds to revive him after a set has been used up. It's the first two powers that will allow you to keep the losses down. (Note that Space Harrier has no protective armor or energy shields.)
The Land of Dragons has a problem that even
Raid can't handle. As the intergalactic exterminator
Space Harrier, you must rid the dragons' planet
of pests that make even cockroaches look good.
These and other hazards await you in the game
based on the Sega arcade hit (distributed by Mindscape).
Space Harrier does have a special weapon for blasting those baddies though. It's what I would describe as a Plasma cannon and it's very effective on most of his targets.
The unfriendlies appear in ever-increasing numbers of varied forms as Space Harrier moves from one stage to another And the higher the stage, the more obstacles there are for Space Harrier to dodge while facing new menaces. Those menaces range from stone heads to flying plant-like beings to floating fire breathing snakes to creatures that are part animal, part machine. There are even formations of alien ships that shoot energy spheres. And this is just part of the fun.
You'll find the worst of your enemies at the end of each stage. They're the leaders and there's no way around them - you just have to blast your way through. Here, it'll take a lot of swift, sure dodging to stay alive. It will also take a generous amount of firepower to finally destroy them. Only then can Space Harrier rest a few seconds, before he takes on the next set of dangers in a new and more dangerous stage.
Good Friend Euria, Scoring and Some Tips
In stages 5 and 12, Space Harrier gets to rest his weary legs and arms. These are the Bonus Stages and here on the back of a friendly dragon named Euria he gets to fly over the land. Riding Euria gives Space Harrier a new power: with a mere touch he can destroy almost anything. Since a good deal of the time it takes to get to these stages is spent on dodging the items that the cannon has no effect on-like trees, poles and metal towers - this new power will let you take them out much more easily.
In Space Harrier you get points for staying in one piece, moving through to the next stage and, of course, for blasting monsters away. Bonus points are given in stages 5 and 12 whenever something is touched and destroyed.
Experience is really neccessary to stay healthy in this fast mover. You must dodge not only the baddies, but any item on the screen. When I say that this game has solid graphics, take it literally! Some of the creatures are affected by the cannon only during certain times of their apperance on screen, so watch for patterns and go for them at that time only. Last of all, you can adjust the joystick or mouse response by using the [+] or [-] keys. And speaking of the control system: go with a mouse - it's easier on the hand and control is much smoother than with a joystick.
Go for It
I like Space Harrier. The colors are rich, the graphics full and solid and updating of the screen never got in way of my enjoyment.
So, I say go for it-Space Harrier is a game I'll be coming back to from time to time just to see if I still have the touch.
MINIATURE GOLF SIMULATIONS
Reviewed by Tom Byron
I really love to play miniature golf. In the middle of the summer, when the days are long and hot, it's fun to gather up family and friends and head out to a night of "putt-putt" action. Now that fun has come to the ST in two simulations that you're sure to find addictive.
ZANY GOLF FROM ELECTRONIC ARTS
If Salvador Dali were asked to write a computer game based on miniature golf, I don't think he' could produce anything half as bizarre as Electronic Arts' Zany Golf. Excellent graphics and a clever sense of humor make this surreal simulation, with its jumping burger and moving holes, every bit as crazy as the tide implies. But don't be fooled by all the fun -Zany Golf can be challenging and demanding.
A quick skim through the thankfully brief manual, and you're ready to tee up. For a little entertainment let the title screen run its course - the animation is impressive and worth the look.
The First Hole
Once you've seen the opening sequence through, press any number from 1 to 4, depending on how many people wish to play. Now you get to wait-and wait and wait, because disk access in Zany Golf is very slow.
Bit as crazy as the
Each of the nine holes has a preview screen showing the holes layout and providing a hint on how to play it. Some hints are helpful, some aren't. When you're on the green you can press [H] to return to that holes preview screen to gain a proper perspective.
Zany Golf, from Electronic Arts, is every bit as
crazy as the title implies. In this surreal takeoff
of putt-putt golf, you must maneuver your bal
l past jumping hamburgers and through giant
pinball machines. In the course of action you're
treated to some of the funniest graphics ever
seen on the ST.
When the first hole finally appears, you forget your impatience and get down to business. The hole is called Windmill and if you can negotiate your ball through the opening at the base of the windmill, you'll get an extra stroke (I've found that if you set your ball on the middle tee and aim straight across to the far wall, you have a much better chance of making it in.)
Game Control and Bonuses
Gameplay in Zany Golf is controlled through the mouse. To hit the ball, place the cursor on top of it and hold the left mouse button down. Now, pull away from the ball, in the angle that you'd like it to go. With this rubber-band type of control you have to be careful not to pull back too far or you'll find your ball shooting in all the places you wish it wouldn't. Once you're satisfied with the angle, release the mouse button, then watch where the ball goes. Note that a dotted white line follows the ball when you pull the cursor back. You'll see what a problem this can be when you come across a hole that has a light background (there are several).
Besides the mouse there are other ways to control the ball, ways that are peculiar to the particular hole. In one hole, for example, you can move the bail around the course by shaking the mouse and activating a series of fans.
Zany Golf gives you a set number of strokes at the beginning of the game. If you use them all up, the game is over and you don't advance to the next hole. However, Zany Golf does give you a number of ways to gain bonus strokes. These chances appear randomly but are a big help if you get them. For instance, touch the "Tinkerbell" fairy and you can get up to five bonus strokes. The fairy pops up most often in hole 2, Hamburger hole. I wouldn't make the burger jump until you hit the fairy or you may get a hole in one and lose the bonus strokes. Oddly enough, Zany Golf does not award a bonus stroke for holes in one.
There are a total of nine holes in Zany Golf. This may not seem like a lot, but once you see how not-so-easy this game is, nine will seem like plenty. In my experience the most difficult holes are 5 and 9. Hole 5 is the Pinball Machine and this is the screen where the game seeks to punish you for daring to make it this far. Patience is the only advice I can give you there. Hole 9 is very hard because it has to be- it's the last one. But if you collect plenty of bonus strokes by the time you get there, then you shouldn't have a problem completing it.
Well I did complete the whole Zany Golf course, and I must admit I was little disappointed with the end. You'll see what I mean when you make it through. Still, I had a lot of fun getting there.
This just in: the June issue of the British magazine ST Action gives a very interesting Zany Golf tip. At the ninth hole, Energy, shoot the ball into the mouse hole when the mouse's eyes flash red. This will give you access to a 10th "mystery" hole.
HOLE-IN-ONE MINIATURE GOLF FROM DIGITEK
If you're looking for a miniature golf simulation that's based a little more on reality you'll find it in Hole-in-One Miniature Golf from Digitek. Hole-in-One is much more of a simulation than Zany Golf and much more complex.
Like Zany Golf, Hole-in-One is mouse-controlled but that's where the similarity ends. Instead of pulling out from the ball, and thus away from the hole, you actually pull toward the hole. This is a significant difference because aiming the ball this way becomes a lot easier. Thankfully, the line that extends from the ball is solid and easily distinguishable.
If you're in the market for a true miniature golf
simulation, you'll find it in Hole-in-One Miniature
Golf from Digitek. The game plays up to four people
and fully utilizes the ST's GEM interface.
Hole-in-One plays up to four people and fully utilizes the ST'S GEM interface. At any hole you have access to a number of options that can help gameplay when it gets its toughest. Hold down the right mouse button and move your cursor to the top of the screen. Here you can do anything from quitting the game to seeing an instant replay of your last shot (especially helpful when you aced that particular hole and want to study how you made the shot for future reference). Also from the options menu you can choose Retry to play the hole again and again even if you get an "over-stroke limit" message. This option will let you play a hole until you make it.
Hole-in-One comes on two disks and gives you 36 holes instead of nine. The second course is presented as a bonus for getting through the first disk. If you do make it through this disk without going over par, you can advance on to the second disk which contains some holes that rival Zany Golf in their craziness. This bonus course is very tough - I've made it there several times but the best I can manage so far is 38 over par! There are no chances for bonus strokes.
Screen access in Hole-in-One is slow, though it's considerably faster than Zany Golf. It's interesting to watch the screens fade in and out when you move on to the next hole.
If you like' miniature golf, you'll like both Zany Golf and Hole-in-One. It's difficult to say which is better because the games are as different as they are similar. Zany Golf is fun and entertaining, if a little disappointing at the end. But I personally like Hole-in-One better because it's much more of a miniature golf simulation and is as challenging as the real thing.
HOSTAGE RESCUE MISSION
Reviewed by Andrew Reese
Hostage Rescue Mission is one of those games that seems to have everything going for it-great graphics, great music, great sound effects, multiple levels of play and a variety of challenges for the arcade gamer. And it works on many levels. But I have misgivings whether I'd recommend this game for those it's aimed at: kids.
The scenario is simple. Your embassy has been taken over by terrorists who have taken hostages. You are the leader of an elite team of commandos assigned to retake the embassy and save the hostages. You have six men available, three marksmen and three assault troops.
Hostage Rescue Mission comes on two copy-protected disks with a "Top Secret" Briefing Booklet that contains instructions for play and tips for survival. In addition to the physical copy protection, Hostage Rescue Mission also uses a "keyword" style of off-disk copy protection. There are six missions and three levels denoted by ranks, but you must complete the most difficult mission at each rank before you can be promoted and try the next level.
The First Wave: The Marksmen
Your first task is to place your three marksmen at strategic points around the embassy. By pressing [Fl], [F2] or [F3], you can choose which one to move and [Escape] toggles between the map and the movement screens. The movement screen is a very nicely done horizontally-scrolling strip of cityscape viewed from eye-level. To move a man, you use the joystick to run, dive, crawl and jump along the sidewalks while the terrorists try to gun you down in the beams of moving searchlights.
The graphics in this section are spectacular. Your men are fully animated and respond quickly and appropriately to your joystick movements. If you need to take cover, your men will dive convincingly over a wall or through a window. And if they die, they slump realistically (too realistically?) to the sidewalk. When you switch to the map, a little angel rises from your dead comrades last position, a macabre touch.
In the first portion of Hostage Rescue Mission
from Mindscape, your task is to place your
marksmen in strategic locations overlooking the
captured embassy building. Your assault troops
are superbly animated and controllable.
Once you have your three marksmen in position, a helicopter drops the
remaining three members of your team on the roof. After a disk swap (this
game does not recognize two drives), you must place your assault troops
along the eaves where they can be covered by the marksmen. This part is
easy, but getting them into the embassy safely is a challenge.
In Gunship: 82 Challenging New
Adventures Tab Books presents
helpful hints and tips for veterans
of the popular helicopter flight
simulator from Microprose.
View To a Kill
If you select one of the marksmen and switch to his vantage-point, you'll see the embassy building from over the sharpshooter's shoulder and a magnified circular view through through his sniper-scope. By moving the joystick, you can move your scope horizontally and vertically to see if there are any terrorists in the windows. If there are, you can press your trigger (the fire button) to kill them. The sounds of the windows breaking and the terrorists dying are digitized and startlingly real. You have to be careful on the levels above Training, however, since that silhouette in the window can just as easily be a hostage as a terrorist. A nice touch is that the 'scope view moves realistically; it's not rock-steady but wobbles just as a real telescopic view does.
Once you've eliminated as many terrorists as you can with your marksmen, it's time for the assault. Once again, it's viewed from the vantage-point of your marksmen. Your assault troops (selected by the [F4], [F5] and [F6] keys) must drop down their ropes and break through a window to enter the embassy. It's a bit tricky to learn the sequence of movements and if you drop too fast, you're dead. Also, if you drop in front of a window with terrorists, they kill you immediately.
If you make it through a window you have to locate and gun down any terrorists. There's a nicely done mini-map of each floor that shows their positions and which way you're facing. If you're in danger, your name will flash and you'd better turn and eliminate the threat with your machine gun or, that's right, you're dead.
The Personal Touch
If you get the drop on a terrorist, you can spray him with your machine gun and watch him slump bloodily to the floor (ain't games fun?). The graphics inside the embassy also are excellent. And again, don't shoot too quickly- killing hostages is bad form. Any hostages you do rescue, however, will follow you, one at a time. Deliver each one to a top floor room and you can then attempt to rescue another.
Your job is complete only when you have killed all of the terrorists and rescued the hostages. You'll then be told how you did and, if you were on the toughest level (code-named Assault), then you can move on to the next series.
Hostage Rescue Mission was created by Infogrames, the French software publisher and is exceptionally well-designed. The defects are few: as mentioned before, it does not recognize two disk drives, there is no save-game feature, disk accesses between sequences are lengthy (although there are no disk accesses during a sequence) and if you want to restart the game at any time, you must re-enter the key word. On the plus side are truly excellent graphics, sound, music and game design.
I must return to the misgivings I mentioned above. This is a violent game and the killing is personal and graphic. Making the enemy terrorists seems to make the violence easier to accept, given the headlines we've all endured over the past decade. But that doesn't make this game any easier to recommend for young people. If you want to see the 'state-of-the-art in killing games, this is it. But take a careful look at it before taking it home to your kids.
GUNSHIP: 82 CHALLENGING NEW ADVENTURES
Reviewed by Wolf Griffey
In Tab Books' Gunship: 82 Challenging New Adventures, Dave Prochnow gives you 183 pages of hints, tips and scenarios that will make you a true ace at Micropose's Gunship combat helicopter simulator.
More than a Manual
You'll find each chapter of Gunship useful and interesting. The "Earn Your Wings" chapter of the book features a thorough introduction to the cockpit of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64A Apache attack helicopter, with plenty of illustrations. There's a good thumbnail description of the differences between fixed-wing and rotor-wing flight dynamics, answering the big question of why it's so tough to land copters the right way.
Gunship is useful
There's also a tutorial chapter that leads you by the hand through an orientation flight, with illustrations of how the view should look when you do everything correctly. Four additional flight-instruction lessons - packed with hints and tests for proper controlled flight- prepare you for a final solo whirl. This level of training is a must for the new Gunship jockey. And you hardened deadsticks can use it, too-refresher courses never hurt. Believe me, this is not wasted flight time.
But the "Historical Helicopter Adventures" section is what makes Prochnow's book more than just a manual. Each adventure has a mission profile and setup, including type of helicopter, speed, armament and objective Missions 1 to 34 go from the Korean War to the Vietnam War. Set up Gunship according to the mission profile and off you go. Contemporary Helicopter Warfare and Allied Deployment are covered in missions 35 to 61. These show you why the Apache has the punch it carries-and how to really use it.
The final missions are called "Congressional Medal of Honor" and "Breaking Records." You'd better get really good before going for the brass ring in Congressional Medal missions. You'll need more than the massive firepower to keep from walking home Staying inside the mission profiles will make you think about how to really handle the ship and use tactics. Record Breakers is for those hotsticks who want to make the Apache outperform itself. One bad move and the record will stand, beckoning the next challenger.
Gunship is too good of a program to collect dust on your software shelf. Gunship: 82 Challenging New Adventures pumps new life into an already exciting flight simulator.
David Plotkin is a chemical engineer at Chevron US.A. and a contributing editor for START. Greg Perez attends East Lake High School in Oldmar, Florida;Batman is his first review for START. Dan Fruchey is a paramedic in Santa Rosa, California and wrote the review of Calamus in the May 1989 issue. Andrew J. Reese is the Editor of START. Wolf Griffey is a Product Manager for Antic Software. Tom Byron is the Associate Editor of START.
BAAL, $29.95. Psygnosis, Ltd., P.O. Box 483, Mdison, IL 60101,
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Batmcin, $24.99. Ocean Software, distributed by Data East USA,
Inc., 470 Needles Drive, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-7074.
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Gunship: 82 ChallengIng New Adventures, $12.95. Tab Books, Blue
Ridge Summit, PA 17294-0850, (717) 794-2191.
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Hole-in-One Miniature Golf, $39.95. Digitek Software, 8910 N.
Dale Mabry Executive Center, Suite 37, Tampa, FL 33614, (813) 932-4564.
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Hostage Rescue Mission, $44.95. Mindscape Inc., 3444 Dundee Road,
Northbrook, IL 60062, (800) 221-9884.
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Space Harrier, $49.95. Mindscape, Inc., 3444 Dundee Road, Northbrook,
IL 60062, (800) 221-9884.
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Tetris, $39.95. Spectrum HoloByte, 2061 Challenger Drive, Alameda,
CA 94501, (415) 522-1164.
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War In Middle Earth, $49.95. Virgin Mastertronic Inc., 711 West
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Zany Golf, $39.95. Electronic Arts, 1820 Gateway Drive, San Mateo,
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