Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 1, NO. 5 / DECEMBER 1982

Buyer's Guide
Product Reviews

Big Math Attack
T.H.E.S.I.S.
P.O. Box 147
Garden City, M1 48135
(313) 595-4722
$20.00 cassette, 16K
$25.00 disk, 24K
Reviewed by Ken Harms

The educational potential of the ATARI computers is just beginning to be explored, but a few software companies are already producing educationally-sound programs for in-home users. Big Math Attack is one of these, an animated drill for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems at the second through fourth grade levels.

Although a simple program designed to teach simple math skills, Big Math Attack is educationally sound. It rewards success, is simple to operate, reinforces correct answers, corrects incorrect answers, and encourages students rather than insulting them. Big Math succeeds in a way very important to a parent who doesn't want to force a child to use an educational program —it's fun to play. I tested the program in three households with kids in grades two through four. All reported that the game was played spontaneously. The kids' reaction was typified by one child who told his father "the computer says I can do it, Dad". He had previously quit a different drill program after it told him he did "dummy" work!

Big Math uses the "Missile Command" approach. A missile flys overhead and drops a math formula, like 2 + 2. To build up a score, the "player" enters the answer before the formula "lands" on a city. The computer tracks landings and terminates the game after five wrong answers or 5000 points (a long time! ). A scrolling reward message encourages even the worst score with "keep trying . . . you can do it".

Two difficulty levels are provided for each math function. Level One provides problems in the 0 to 10 range; Level Two uses the rest of the two digit numbers. Level Two sprinkles enough easy problems in the material so that the advancing child will feel comfortable leaving Level One. The graphics and sound features are good enough for the purposes. The tape version provides a musical background during program loading.

I saw only two flaws in Big Math Attack, both minor. It would be nice to be able to stop a drill easily and go to another. Currently, you have to BREAK the program and re-RUN it. Also, some ability to correct a wrong answer, rather than wait helplessly as the formula descends, would be super.

Mosaic Adapter
MOSAIC Electronics
P.O. Box 708
Oregon City, OR 97045
(800) 547-2807
$80.00
Reviewed by Jim Capparell

This board replaces two Atari 16K memory boards. Simply unplug your old boards, remove the 4116 chips from their old sockets and place them in this well designed card and you've freed one slot of your 800. This is welcome by those of us who purchased our equipment before there were add ons such as the Bit3 board or the Axlon RamDisk. These boards also have gold-plated connectors, which add to their inherent reliability. The exchange only takes 15 minutes and is worth while.

Frogger
Sierra On-Line, Inc.
36575 Mudge Ranch Rd.
Coarsegold, CA 93614
(209) 683-6858
$34.95 32K Diskette, 16K Cassette
Reviewed by Ron Mitchell

Frogger introduced a new idea in arcade games, to move the player across successive bands of hazards. This translation for the ATARI by Sierra On-Line is faithful to the original in concept and execution. The graphics and game sounds are superb, but the music gets monotonous. On-Line gets bonus points for enabling [SELECT] to turn the music off without affecting game sounds.

This is a one-player game, and the object is to move the frog across a road and a river without being killed by the traffic or drowning. The hopping frog is controlled by a joystick programmed to require discrete movement for each hop. This frustrated me more than did the continuous-movement program of some similar games.

The frog must hop successfully between vehicles to cross the four-lane road, then cross the river by hitchhiking on the backs of turtles, logs and crocodiles. The crocs occasionally eat the frog, and the turtles sometimes dive when the frog is riding. Both are fatal to the frog, and when he is killed an ambulance comes by to haul off the cadaver. At higher levels a poisonous snake patrols a formerly safe zone. FROGGER plays at two speeds, and the slowest was plenty fast for me.

As a one-player game, Frogger saves the high score. You compete essentially against yourself, or against another player by taking turns. Although not unique anymore in the world of games, Frogger is, nevertheless, a classic to be enjoyed for a long time.

Sidewriter
Screen Sonics
14416 S. Outer 40 Rd.
Chesterfield, MO
(314) 434 0433
$249.00 Installed, $238.00 Kit
Reviewed by Steve Randall

Membrane keyboards may have their advantages, but entering code is not one of them. Now all those ATARI 400 owners who want a real keyboard can have a good one. Screen Sonics has introduced a customdesigned and molded full-typewriter keyboard called the Sidewriter.

The Sidewriter is not an ATARI 800 keyboard on a makeshift frame, but a custom-manufactured unit, which, except for one key, duplicates the 800 keyboard. The exception is the Atari logo key (inverse video), which for obvious legal reasons is labeled the "Sue" key on the Sidewriter. Both the [RESET] and [BREAK] keys require more tension to press than on the official ATARI 800 board. The unit's molded case closely matches Atari colors.

The Sidewriter comes with a cable already attached, but the loose end requires opening the computer and doing some soldering. If you follow the instructions carefully, it is really quite simple to install (it took me about 90 minutes), or your local retailer or Screen Sonics can do it for you. For a minimal charge, Screen Sonics will replace the "Sue" key with one that includes initials of your choice.

Frankly, the Sidewriter is not inexpensive. However, after you see it and use it, you may still find it a good value and a worthwhile investment. Now, about that monogram...

EP-CYG-4
BRAM, Inc.
18779 Kenlake Place N.E.
Seattle, WA 98155
(206) 644-3425
$32.95 24K Diskette, 16K Cassette
Reviewed by David Duberman

Attack at EP-CYG-4 is a unique space-war game with a cooperative two-player mode. The game's action takes place above the surface of a planet that has been taken over by a brutal machine race which is threatening the human colony. Your mission is to wipe out all traces of the robot enemy with your five gravitron-drive attack ships.

Each ship's weapon is aimed and fired simultaneously in the singleplayer mode by depressing the joystick button. In the two-player mode, one stick controls the ship, and the other moves the cursor directing the aim of the weapon.

With the weapon, you must disintegrate enemy structures. Each sector of the battlefield contains ground structures of various sizes, some of which may fire back at you. Enemy ships can attack at any time. Your ship is shielded, but not invulnerable. There are at least thirty sectors in each of the three versions on the game disk. There are three levels of difficulty for each version, and each may be played in one-player or two-player mode.

Your ship's motion is controlled by the joystick in Port 1. Vertical motion is a function of stick position, as in Missile Command. However, the stick also controls horizontal velocity so that when you push the stick sideways, you accelerate in that direction. You must push the stick in the opposite direction to slow down or stop. Getting used to this takes a bit of practice, so the programmers considerately made the entry point of each game an-enemy-free zone. You are transported to this zone when one of your ships is knocked out—if you have any ships left. When you leave the safe zone again, you bypass all sectors you have cleared previously in the game.

Verbal description cannot really do justice to this game. It provides a lot of value, because of the multiple versions, and because you don't grow tired of it, as with so many other video games. Its really unique qualities, the ship's motion and the cooperative two-player mode, mark its programmers as truly visionary game designers. Unfortunately, they don't receive any credit on the game's rather elegant packaging.

The only version of the game I was able to complete was the least difficult. Once I cleared all sectors of enemy structures, I was slightly disappointed to discover that there was no real ending to the game. I could only keep roaming the sectors or start another game. This is a minor flaw, and I recommend EPCYG-4 to any gamer who is looking for new concepts and challenges in his or her gaming life.

Christmas Music
Computer's Voice
2370 Ella Drive
Flint, MI 48504
(313) 238-5585 $24.95
16K Cassette, Diskette
Reviewed by Roy D. Wolford

Finally, there is some prewritten music for the Atari Music Composer cartridge, including two packages for Christmas. Computer's Voice offers eight Christmas carols on each of two sets. The package includes a songbook with several verses for each carol, and the program is preset to repeat the music for each verse. Repeats can be aborted with [BREAK], or limited at MENU time.

MUSIC 1 contains 11 music files. Four files are pieces by J.S. Bach, which include two voices of the Bran: denburg Concerto #5, four voices of Fugue 16, Praelude 23 from Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, and Sinfonia #1. The other seven files consist of early American classics like Oh! Susanna, Old Folks at Home, Shenandoah and Amazing Grace. Words for all the music, except J.S. Bach, are contained in the documentation, so you may sing along with the ATARI. For those of you who have forgotten how to use the Music Composer Cartridge, the documentation provides very easy instructions on how to load and play a file.

One error in the documentation was found. You are told to enter filename SUZANNA when in fact the filename on the disk is SUSANNA. The Bach files load very slowly from disk (Brandenburg Concerto #5 takes 2.5 minutes to load). This is no fault of the MUSIC 1 software but rather the limitations of the way the Music Cartridge handles the loading of files.

Christmas Music
B.l.G. Software
533 Airport Blvd., Suite 518
Burlingame, CA 94010
(415) 347-1063
$12.95 Cassette—8K to 32K $34.95 Diskette—16K to 40K
Reviewed by Jim Roberts

The novelty of playing Christmas music on your ATARI compuer should add some interest to your holiday scene. Essentially collections of Christmas songs for the four "voices" of the ATARI, these programs are available in several formats. The simplest is a cassette containing ten songs, requiring 8K and a BASIC cartridge to play. At the high end, a threevolume disk requires 40K to select among 30 songs.

The selections are drawn from the standard Christmas repertoire, and each volume mixes a few of the very common carols with a few of the more obscure. There are seven volumes in all, the last featuring the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Although the tunes are all clearly recognizable, the voices have the familiar "computer" sound, and lack of liveliness of normal music. So, even though the programs allow repeats of individual tunes, or of the whole volume, it isn't likely that you would want this music playing incessantly during the holidays.

While the music is playing, the name of the piece is displayed on the screen in large colored letters. Words to the songs can be obtained from B.l.G. at a slight additional price.

IDSI Pool
Innovative Design Software
P.O. Box 1658
Las Cruces, NM 88004
(505) 522-7373 16K
Cartridge
Reviewed by Robert DeWitt

The nicest thing about IDSI Pool is that it plays like the game it simulates. The skills of judging force, distance, angle and the behavior of struck balls are all realistically involved. The game does not impose itself on the players any more than a pool table does. This is in contrast to almost every other computer game, where the program is the game.

The playfield is a pool table with either 15-ball or nine-ball setups, plus the cue ball. Play is controlled with joysticks and up to four players can compete. The balls are displayed either as "stripes and solids" or individually numbered, although the eight ball is always clearly marked.

The player aims at his target ball by moving an aiming spot to the point of desired impact. The computer calculates which points are possible, and restricts the aiming spot to those locations. This eliminates impossible shots, as well as trick shots like curving around or jumping over a ball to hit your target. A very fine degree of aiming is possible, but the sensitivity of your joystick may make this achievement frustrating. The fire button shoots the cue ball at the target spot.

The shooter can control the speed of the shot and the english on the cue ball. The program simply calculates the physics and displays the result continuously as the balls roll and bounce off each other and the cushions. You may score lucky slopshots, scratch, or sink your opponent's balls. The program detects scratches and will replace balls sunk, if desired, but the players must keep score.

Shamus
Synapse Software
5327 Jacuzzi St.
Richmond, CA 94804
$29.95 16K Diskette, 16K Cassette
Reviewed by Richard E. Herring

On the black level of the Lair, drones move slowly and don't fire often. It almost seems a waste of lonSHIVS (ionic-Short High-lntensity Vaporizers) to disintegrate them; but you shoot anyway. If you don't get out of this room quickly, your archenemy, the Shadow, may come for you.

This scene has become typical around my house as various people take on the role of Shamus, the hero of a fast and imaginative new game from Synapse Software. You start in one of the 37 rooms of the black level. The number of the room and the color of the level appear at the bottom of the screen. Points are shown in the upper left corner; extra lives in the upper right corner; and any keys you are carrying in the lower right corner. The color of each key corresponds to the color of the keyhole it will fit. Passing over a keyhole with the proper key will open a new passage.

When you leave one room, you will instantly appear in the next room. Although most rooms have only two exits, a few have three. This forces you not only to pick a direction but also to draw a map. A second person can participate in the game as the cartographer. You will definitely not have the time to do it yourself at any of the three levels after black.

The only problem I could find with Shamus is also a feature. When a game ends, the initial screen comes up showing the high score and the score for your last game. Pressing the fire button starts you back in the first room of the Lair. The problem is that when a game ends, you are usually pressing the fire button. If you do not get your finger off the fire button in time, you will restart the game, and miss your score.

You can select any one of four skill levels. The higher the skill level, the faster you and the drones / droids / jumpers will move. At the fastest speed, its tough just to keep from running into the electrified walls.

The game was written in Assembly Language by William Mataga, who did, in my opinion, an outstanding job. If you enjoy fast-paced arcadequality games with a tinge of adventure, you definitely should add Shamus to your game shelf.

Pac-Man
Atari, Inc.
$44.95 Cartridge (16K required)
Reviewed by Marty O'Donnell

PAC-MAN, the immensely popular arcade game, is now available for the ATARI computers. It comes in cartridge form, and is bound to be one of the major products from Atari in the next few years.

Still, those who remember the disappointing computer version of Asteroids, were prepared to be critical of PAC-MAN. Fortunately, I can report that the PAC-MAN cartridge is a faithful replica of the arcade program.

If there still exists an ANTIC reader who hasn't played PAC-MAN, I'd be surprised, but a brief description of the game might still be appropriate. PAC-MAN is maneuvered by the human player through a maze of dots. Your objective is to eat all the dots and accumulate as many points as you can. The maze is inhabited by four goblins, who run around the maze trying to catch you. However, you can turn the tables on them by eating an energizer which will allow you, for a short time, to catch them.

Atari PAC-MAN is an excellent reproduction of the standup version. The maze is the same, except that it is flattened to fit on a standard TV. Images of fruits occasionally appear for the PAC-MAN to eat. The kind of fruit indicates how many mazes have been completed. These are the same, except that the pineapple is replaced by the familiar Atari logo. The sounds are very similar, including the introductory tune and the siren type background sound. Even small details like the movement of the goblins' capes are duplicated in this cartridge.

The manual that accompanies the PAC-MAN package is a departure from Atari's usual practice of aiming its documentation at a total beginner. The small booklet is a strategy lesson as much as it is an instruction manual. This is just as well, because most people who will buy it have probably played or seen PAC-MAN before.

My only complaints about Atari PAC-MAN are the lack of "commercials" between mazes (this was probably due to memory limitations) and that the coloring of the goblins' eyes is missing. Still, I would recommend Atari PAC-MAN over Ghost Hunter or Jawbreaker to someone who is looking for the best copy of the original.

Atari PAC-MAN can be played by one or two players (taking turns), and you may skip to any skill level (fruit), providing a challenge for even the most experienced player. This is a "must have" item for any ATARI user who enjoys video games.

Synassembler
Synapse Software
5327 Jacuzzi St., Suite 1
Richmond, CA 94804
(415) 527-7751
$49.95 Diskette—48K
$89.95 Cartridge
Reviewed by Adrian Dery

Synapse has come up with a really powerful Assembler, Editor and machine-language Monitor. All these are in a single program which is available on disk, or by special order on a ROM cartridge.

This Editor does for Assembly programs what the BASIC cartridge does for BASIC programs, and it works much the same way. Additional editing commands include: Auto-Line Numbering; Renumber (all or part of a program); Delete Eines; Move and Copy (blocks of lines from one part of a program to another); and Search/ Replace (character strings).

The Editor has a unique HIDE feature that will protect a source program in memory. Load or type in a new program, then edit and assemble it completely apart from the program you are hiding. You can then save it, or delete it, or append it to the hidden program.

The Assembler part of Synassembier is incredibly fast! I have assembled programs as large as 1500 statements and it's average speed is about 100 statements per second, with the source file in memory and the listing turned off.

An Include feature assembles multiple source files in a single pass. This is useful for picking up "canned" subroutines or thmgs like a list of Operating System equates. It also can assemble very large programs and it is quite possible, and sometimes practical, to have a main program that has only Include statements in it.

The Monitor is a full-featured : machine-language debugger. Memory can be displayed, changed or moved around. Registers can also be displayed and changed. Program execution can be traced, or you can singlestep through the instructions. There are also some special read/write commands that allow you to directly read and write any disk sectors without opening a file.

Synassembler is a professional development tool for the experienced programmer as well as the beginner. It has an excellent Editor, a very fast Assembler capable of assembling programs of virtually unlimited size, and a Monitor that should serve well in finding the trickiest of bugs. It's a step above the Atari cartridge because of its speed and ability to include multiple source files. Synassembler does require 48K and you need a disk drive to take advantage of all its features. If you have the memory and the disk, it is a good value for the money.

Sound & Music
Educational Software, Inc.
4565 Cherryvale Ave.
Soquel, CA 95073
$29.95 24K Diskette, 16K
Cassette Reviewed by Cassie Stahl

SOUND & MUSIC is one of a series of "tutorials" by Educational Software, formerly known as Santa Cruz Educational Software. Also known as Tricky Tutorial #6, this program by Jerry White is a friendly introduction to the music capabilities of your ATARI. Jerry starts by walking you through your BASIC sound commands. Along the way he points out opportunities and pitfalls. He proceeds to explain chords, and how to create some major and minor ones. He progresses to a complete song with the warning, "Don't think that you can just add a few lines of DATA and create the Nutcracker Suite!"

It's nice to find a software package with realistic goals. This is, after all, an introduction. You must decide what you want and then create your own music. Because this is basically a self-teaching course, you set your own limits. The program is well documented for easy reference.

SOUND & MUSIC demonstrates the use of nine POKE locations. A utility program allows you to change the value of each location using a paddle controller. The nine locations control four voices. Each location handles either the frequency or the note value. The ninth location controls volume. This is a simple way to create some strange sounds.

By experimenting, you will begin to grasp just what sounds your computer can make, and they are diverse. Some sound like flying saucers landing or buzzing through the air. Others sound like the ocean. Some just sound like noise.

The programs are presented in a companion booklet as part of the documentation. This makes it easy to see what makes the sounds happen. The authors include a pre-packaged set of ten sound effects. You can listen to a door bell, a space echo, surf waves, a telephone ringing, and more. I don't want to give it all away. With the remaining sounds you could create a war game. The company invites you to incorporate these sounds into your own programs, and if you have any questions you can contact them directly.

To really get your money's worth you will need to study diligently and learn the different effects available with each type of sound command. If you are fortunate enough to have a strong music background you will be able to understand more fully what is being taught.

Although you really do not need a music background to learn from this program, you will need to know some music terms. You can always purchase a small music book to learn these basic fundamentals. If you study the internal workings of the programs used to create the sounds you will learn quite a bit. The best thing to do is practice!!

Tricky Tutorial #6 has recently been updated and expanded, retaining the earlier features, and adding Jerr; White's "Player Piano." All the Tricky Tutorials are written with the novice in mind, and will easily repay your investment in them.

Choplifter!
Broderbund Software
1938 Fourth St.
San Rafael, CA 94901
$34.95
Diskette only, 48K
Reviewed by Dave Mentley

Put on your flak jacket and dust mask —it's time to fly a night rescue mission in Choplifter! Broderbund Software's new 48K package is one of the best action-graphics games to date for the ATARI computer. The central feature of Choplifter! is the smooth helicopter routine controlled by the joystick. The vivid details of the background, aircraft and hostages classify this game somewhere between an interactive cartoon and a real-time flight simulator. It is hot!!

The scenario of Choplifter! takes us back several years to the Middle Eastern desert where 64 Americans are being held captive in several sets of barracks. The choplifter arrives on a starry night with a full moon beaming. As pilot, you push the stick forward to lift off in search of the first of four groups. You spot them, find a clearing and land. Be careful not to crush the hostages. As they run towards the rescue chopper, an enemy tank approaches, lobbing. artillery shells in your direction. Do you wait for the straggling hostages or take off? It is your decision. Better be safe. There is no time limit so you take this load back to the safe-zone and come back for more. As the last hostage leaves the chopper, he turns to give you an appreciative wave while you lift off for more adventure.

Since you can lift 16 hostages in one load, you decide to venture further into the desert to find more barracks, and more of the 64. Out of the night sky an attack jet spots you and lets loose two air-to-air missiles. They hit home and the chopper crashes to the desert floor in a crumpled heap. One down, two to go.

Choplifter! is really a flying simulation as opposed to a shoot-'em-up game. The joystick trigger allows you to shoot bullets (not missiles) to be used for defense. There are no points to be gained for blasting tanks, jets or air mines. The scoring system consists of 3 numbers displayed across the top of the screen: 1-Hostages killed; 2-Hostages in transit and 3-Hostages rescued. The animation is highly polished, from the chopper rotation and flight, to the running and waving of the micro-sized hostages. The only shortcoming in this Apple translation is the programmer's obvious unfamiliarity with ATART sound ability. Instead of whirling blades and thundering munitions we get timid Apple beeps and chirps.

Preppie!
Adventure International
P.O. Box 3435
Longwood, FL 32750
(800) 372-7172, orders only
(305) 862-6917, business
$29.95 32K Diskette, 16K Cassette
Reviewed by Robert DeWitt

PREPPIE! might not be what you expected, but you won't be disappointed. Billed as a "Day on the Nasty Nine with Wadsworth Overcash," and with a golfing motif to its art, PREPPIE! suggests an adventure on the links.

Actually, you'll spend all your time in the rough, shagging balls knocked there by the mysterious forces of the malicious Groundskeeper. He goads the lads on, then strips dead Preppies of their Lacoste emblems like a rampaging Indian collecting scalps. The game is much like FROGGER in design and play, and only the elaborate scenario relates the player's challenge to Ivy League sport.

Joystick and fire button are used to maneuver Preppie across several danger zones of crisscrossing hazards. He must retrieve golf balls one at a time from increasingly more difficult placements. Even innocuous lawnmowers are fatal to him, if hit, not to mention bulldozers, golf carts, alligators, tippy canoes, water hazards and a giant frog. Poor Preppie, he gets killed more often than not. Even if he succeeds, the Groundskeeper simply makes it harder for him. It would take a Tommy to conquer all ten levels of this game.

The game is definitely challenging, and the "agony of defeat," thrusts you impatiently back to the [START] button when your current allotment of Preppies have experienced the ultimate mishap. The scoring protocol neatly encourages you to play a little faster than you should, and there goes another Preppie. On the positive side, there is a little thrill in killing off Preppies, even if they are your men. Two players can share this frustration by taking turns. The computer will score for both, and save the high score.

The programming by Russ Wetmore is well conceived and executed. A tune you will associate with the Iyrics "Mabel Mabel, sweet and able," accompanies the game incessantly, and eventually the sound has to be turned way down to preserve sanity. The levels of the game are just enough harder each time to keep you from despair.

Al has a real winner here, even if the "cover" concept is only remotely related to the game. The company offers one year warranty on defective media, and will provide one low-cost backup disk to each buyer.

Softporn Adventure
On-Line Systems
36575 Mudge Ranch Road
Coarsegold, CA 93614
$29.95 diskette
Reviewed by Davey Saba

When you get tired of shoot 'em up attacks, Softporn Adventures by ONLINE SYSTEMS could be a refreshing break. Since I am not interested in dragons or wizards (forgive me), Softporn is the way I spent my first adventure game dollars. It has been an unusual and entertaining experience.

The object of the game is to meet and seduce three attractive ladies. This adventure takes place in the distant future at the computer-generated city of Las Vegas. You will have to make money to survive, and to buy the affection of the women. There is only one way to make money here— gamble at the casino. The casino offers blackjack and slot machines. The instructions say the odds are better at the slots, but I have made much more money at the 21 table.

Once you acquire a good-sized sum of money, you are on your way. WARNING! Money goes fast here (a shot of whisky is $100), but don't forget it's the year 2020 A.D. The three main places you can go are the casino, the bar, and the disco. You can travel by taxi, or one other clever way, which you will enjoy finding yourself.

When you are killed (and you will be, often), you go to a black purgatory. There you find three doors. One will take you back to the game unharmed, another takes the game to hell (where it's system reset time), and the third leaves you in purgatory. One easy way to get to purgatory is to run out of money, so be careful on that account! There are many other ways to go to purgatory, some unbelievably hilarious! Softporn uses the standard two-word command situation, and sometimes your language will get you into trouble.

A small instruction folder accompanies the diskette, and gives minimal directions to get started. From there you are on your own. Even though my favorite game is still Centipede, Softporn is a welcome addition to my software library. May Lady Luck be with you!

MasterType
Lightning Software
P.O. Box 11725
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(415) 372-3280
$39.95 32K—Diskette
Reviewed by Robert DeWitt

Touch typing is a skill almost everyone desires, but it requires a process almost no one wants to go through. MasterType very possibly can change all that. This program teaches typing in a sound manner, and does it in a game format that makes the learning fun.

MasterType makes a game out of learning touch typing. The learner (player) has a spaceship in the center of the screen. The spaceship is "attacked" by waves of enemy words, one from each corner of the screen. Each word is "defeated" by typing it correctly before its missile hits the spaceship. The graphics for the game are good, and sounds are used to help inform the player of the outcome of the keystrokes—a very helpful feature. As a game, MasterType is surely okay, although it could become monotonous if you were not improving your typing skills as rapidly as this program leads you to do. A motivated learner, on the other hand, will probably become fond of the contest.

The one great success of MasterType is that it forces the player to watch the screen rather than the keyboard. If you don't watch the screen you lose the sense of the game, especially the encroachment of the enemy, which is the primary cue for typing the next word. Four enemy missiles advance slowly, but inexorably, towards the spaceship. This requires the brain to shift primary attention away from the fingers to the tactical necessities of the battle, and this is when the finger movements become ingrained and automatic. Very neat.

The learning process begins with the most simple one-letter drills and gradually progresses to a command of the entire keyboard. Eighteen lessons are provided, each with four levels of play. The speed of each lesson is under player control. If desired, you can design your own lessons, perhaps to drill on key combinations you find difficult.

There is a situation in the game where the player, having fallen behind due to an error or two, is about to be overcome by one or more enemy missiles. This panic point seems to elicit all kinds of defenses, like peeking at the keys, and jabbing at them with the wrong fingers. These responses need to be inhibited.

I already knew how to type by touch, but over the years I have lapsed into a bastardized touch-and-peck style. Maser-Type treated me kindly, but forced relearning of those longlost motor patterns. So even those of you who only need to improve your typing will be able to benefit from this product.

Speedread +
Optimized Systems Software, Inc.
10379 Lansdale Ave.
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 446-3099
Price: $59.95
16K—Diskette, Cassette
Reviewed by Clyde Spencer

Most of us find that there isn't enough time to read everything we need, or want, to read. One solution is to increase our reading speed. SPEEDREAD + is a computer program that may accomplish this.

It allows your ATARI computer system to function like an electronic tachistoscope. A tachistoscope is a device for displaying words and phrases at various speeds, and is often used to teach speed reading. It turns out that a microcomputer can be more flexible than a conventional tachistoscope and is also cheaper.

The SPEEDREAD + program, distributed by Optimized Systems Software, Inc., was written by Eagle Software Company in Assembly Language.

Available in both disk and cassette versions, the disk version comes with two diskettes; one containing the program and sample text and the second disk contains just the text. The text is from three classic short stories: "The Outcasts of Poker Flat", "Rip Van Winkle", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". You can prepare additional text if you own a modem, assembler/ editor program, or a word processor.

The program is menu-driven with several levels of menus, but you can not go backward. To start over you must go to the end of the selection, but you can change the speed or line width. The program offers reading speeds from five words per minute to 5000; the beginning default is 100 WPM. The speed can be changed, while running, with either a joystick or the [F] and [S] keys on the keyboard.

The program offers single and double phrase mode as well as random location and column display, all with variable selection of width from the keyboard or joystick. The column display has right and left just)fication except in very narrow mode. The various displays are used to develop different skills such as rapid recognition, peripheral vision and rhythmic eye movement.

The manual covers "slow reader" problems and how to overcome them. Daily practice of about 15 minutes for several weeks is suggested for best results.

For the benefit of teachers (speed readers or otherwise), a sample multiple-choice exam on the material is included, plus instructions about preparing your own. The exam is scored by the computer as the student takes it. Up to 16 exams may be created, each with up to 255 questions and as many as six possible answers. The non-programming teacher will, no doubt, find it a Godsend.