CUSTOMERS finally have started to receive their Spectrum software packages from MiCROL and the general impression of the Use and Learn and Spreadsheet cassettes is very good. Use and Learn consists of a software cassette and well-presented booklet containing explanation and listings of the programs on the cassette.
The first program is an excellent music composer which draws manuscript lines and notes played on the screen as a tune is composed. When the tune has been completed the composer can listen to the music.
The cassette also contains a variety of novel and interesting games, including one in which you have to make a parachutist jump from an aircraft on to a target.
Also included in Use and Learn is a series of useful routines such as Ramtest to check for faults in memory; Tapefile, which lists your collection of tapes; and Memory Map Monitor, which tells you how much memory for programs and variables you have remaining.
The Spreadsheet, for the 48K Spectrum, provides the user with a table, or matrix, which can contain numbers or formulae for solving numeric problems. It can be used in business and the home and closely resembles VisiCalc for the Apple but is less than one-tenth of the price. Compared to the Vu-Calc spreadsheet produced for the Spectrum by Sinclair it is much clearer, and slightly easier to understand. Its one failing, compared to the Sinclair version is that it is slower. The decision when choosing to buy either must be a trade-off between facilities and speed.
Both MiCROL software packages are excellent value for money. Both packages cost £9.95 and can be obtained from MiCROL, Cambridge.
AT LAST someone has produced a Pacman game for the 16K Spectrum which looks like the popular arcade game. The Abbex Spookyman has four ghosts, dots, power blobs, diamonds, hearts, clubs and the cutest Pacman you will ever see.
The keyboard is divided into three vertical sections with Left control on the left, Right control on the right and Up and Down in the centre. The controls take some getting used to but once they are mastered they make the game move faster.
Abbex estimates the total score possible after every screen of the game is 22,400. The player receives a bonus life when 10,000 points have been reached.
Spookyman is available from Abbex, London.
IT IS too cold to go and play a round of real golf, so why not settle in your armchair and play a round on the Spectrum? This version of Golf for the 16K Spectrum shows a graphic view of the holes, rough, trees, fairway and lakes. To make a shot the player selects a number, imagining that the ball is the centre of a clock-face.
You then choose the strength of the shot and your ball starts on its way towards the hole - or the lake, depending on how good a player you are.
A variety of penalties are handed out by the computer when you land in the rough, in a bunker, or out of bounds. For instance, if you go out of bounds the computer will return your ball but you will have a penalty shot against you. If you land in a bunker, the computer will get you out but again you must suffer a penalty shot.
The computer will recognise special scores such as birdies, eagles and a hole in one. The game is interesting for golf fans but is very unremarkable in the software market as several games of golf, one of them very much like this one, have been produced for the Spectrum already.
Spectrum Golf is available for the 16K and 48K versions. It can be obtained from B S McAlley, Oxon and costs £3.95.
THE GRAPHICS capabilities of the Spectrum can produce fairly spectacular results, especially with two cassettes from Video Software, Superdraw and Superview.
Superdraw is for the 16K machine and can be used to create pictures, in high and low resolution. All the graphics symbols on the Spectrum are available through the program and a Prestel-type display can be achieved through a special large alphabet which can be loaded into the program separately.
Superview is for the 48K Spectrum. It acts rather like a personal viewdata system and can hold up to 42 pages of information displayed in two colours and 21 pages in full colour.
The creation of new pages is achieved using a cursor. A large alphabet is also included.
Superview and Superdraw are produced by Video Software Ltd, West Midlands. Each program costs £5.
IF YOU have always wanted to manage a football team, Football Manager, from Addictive Games, is for you. The game works on the 48K Spectrum and charts the career of a professional football team from the Fourth to the First Division.
At the beginning you choose your team, which has a full complement of players. The players can be sold and bought during the progress of the game.
After you have selected your team you will be given a position in the league table, usually at the bottom of the Fourth Division. A team will be selected for you to play and highlights from the match will be shown to you in 3D. After that a brief rundown of the rest of the day's matches is given and the league table is calculated for the division.
The skills needed are that you must keep a balance between earning money from the gate returns and winning on the field. It seemed that if you do too much of one the other suffers.
The game is ideal for a football fanatic but the most interesting thing for us was the 3D graphics used to create the goalmouth. The league tables, players' records and match results seemed to bear no reflection of real life. For instance, Kevin Keegan is given a very low skill rating and a transfer fee of £5,000. Apart from that, the game is a winner.
Football Manager costs £7.95 and can be obtained from Addictive Games, Milton Keynes.
SOFTWARE manufacturer J P Gibbons seems to have money on the mind with two new 16K Spectrum cassettes just reaching the market. One, Casino 1, is concerned with gambling away money and the other, Personal Banking System, is concerned with saving it.
Casino 1 includes three old favourites, Blackjack, Craps and Roulette. Blackjack and Craps are fairly routine card games where you stake money against the computer pot and, more often than not, lose all of it. The computer seems to hit a winning streak too easily for our liking - perhaps it has a system?
The roulette game is very interesting and we managed to win money from the computer. When the bets have been laid on the roulette board the wheel is spun and a series of numbers flashes on to the screen. If it stops on your spot you win the pot, if it does not you lose your stake.
Personal Banking System allows a user to keep an accurate record of financial affairs. It will keep track of standing orders and even locate a specific cheque through its number. The system is user- friendly and supports separate data files.
Casino 1 costs £4.95; Personal Banking System costs £9.95, including instruction manual. Both cassettes are available from J P Gibbons, Kent.
MELBOURNE HOUSE, the publisher, has a range of software cassettes to supplement a range of microcomputer books it has just launched. Spectrum 3 is a tape which contains several of the programs printed in the book Over the Spectrum.
The first two programs, Leapfrog and Number Reversal, are very simple games and use block graphics, no colour and no sound. The idea behind both is to get into correct order a number of randomly-situated objects, such as numbers or frogs, which are in a line. To do so you enter the number of items you want swapped.
The other programs on the tape are much better and make up for the simplicity of the first games.
Over the Spectrum 3 should be used in conjunction with the book of the same name. In that way the user will learn about the programs in the book.
The tape costs £4.95 and is available from Melbourne House Group, Bedfordshire.
IF YOU made a list of the programs for the Spectrum which you never wanted to see again, would it include Sketchpad, Lunar Lander and Mastermind? In its hurry to produce for the Spectrum, Spectrum Software has put all three programs, with some others, on to one cassette.
Sketchpad can be used to draw pictures using a cursor, the circle command and the Draw command. The pictures can then be saved on to cassette tape.
Lunar Lander and Mastermind are both fairly standard programs. The lander program gives you a spacecraft to land, using the cursor keys, on the surface of the moon. The problem with most of the programs is that you must ensure that the computer is in CAPS mode or the programs will not respond to commands.
On side two of the cassette is a character generator which will allow you to define your own character set. When it has been defined the new character set can be viewed on screen and SAVEd.
The redeeming feature of this package is the disassembler on side two of the cassette. You can list machine code in standard Z-80 mnemonics or assemble your own Z-80 program into machine code. The program is very compact, user-friendly and relatively crashproof.
The package, called Spectrum Software, is available from Spectrum Software, Norwich, Norfolk. All five programs can be obtained for £7.95 or you can have any two for £4.95.
GALAXY CONFLICT is one of the first games to be produced following a new trend in ZX-81 software, called computer moderated gaming. Two people can play the game. They make their moves with plastic counters on a playing board which has on it a map of a fictional area in space.
The object is to become ruler of the galaxy by building Eoncruisers and maintaining them on planet stations if they are damaged during conflict. A player may take command of any planet station or can take over the bridge of one of the Eoncruisers.
The game played by the computer is a very complex one. Even the amount of wear taken by a mesongun during firing is taken into account.
Players must be very careful to preserve sufficient energy on their planet stations.
Martech, which produces the game says that a leader must have the ability to think clearly, plan ahead and develop a tactical approach to the conflict which will win the prize of galactic control in the end.
Galaxy Conflict, for the 16K ZX-81, is available from Martech Games, East Sussex. It costs £9.95.
MICROMEGA, renowned for its business software on the ZX-81, has a cassette of machine code games for the little machine. Challenge, for the 1K ZX-81, presents some original and clever ideas. Two of our favourites are Cartoon Man and Juggler. In the first a little man walks across the screen. You can control his movement using the shift and BREAK keys and increase his speed using number keys.
Juggler is almost the same but he juggles while moving. The idea is to keep the balls in the air.
Road Race is a fast action racing game, a race between two cars on a map, starting in London. The cars are on separate roads but you can go on to your opponent's road during the game. If you cross on to the other car's road in London you cannot pass but if you change in Scotland he cannot pass you.
Challenge contains five machine code games for the 1K ZX-81 and can be obtained from Micromega, London. It costs £4.95.
THE NEW Flight Simulation program from the Sinclair Research Spectrum software library is one of the better offerings in that range. The program runs on a 48K Spectrum and gives you the opportunity, for a short time at least, to become the pilot of a light aircraft.
The program is very interesting and better value than some of the other Sinclair programs.
Flight Simulation costs £7.95 and is available from Sinclair Research, Camberley, Surrey.