Spectrum Software Scene 1 Issue 40 Contents QL Software

Spectrum Software Scene 2

Falcon Patrol II
Falcon Patrol II

AS PILOT of a souped-up Hawker Jump Jet with the latest in ATG missiles you must blast the enemy helicopters out of the sky. Thrills. Once you have completed one sortie and destroyed a wave of 'copters, you move up a level of competence and take on another wave.

The enemy general is a complete imbecile as his pilots rarely fire at your VTOL jet and occasionally even have a go at each other.

The author has tried to add some realism to the game. If you are hit by shrapnel you dive to the ground and explode. Also you must re-arm and take on fuel from platforms during your mission. One false move and you could crash.

Mediocre 3D graphics and blipish sound are compensated by the manoeuvrability of the aircraft and the ease of aiming the weapons. The game is nevertheless too easy. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Publisher Virgin Games Price £6.95
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston

John Gilbert

Putting out the dog ends
Nicotine Nightmare

THIS GAME is sufficiently unplayable to send any non-smoker straight back to the pack. It is boring, slow and written in Basic.

The ultimate aim is to rid the world of cigarettes. Before stamping out the fag factory you have to prove your determination in a silly little test which is virtually impossible to complete.

Extinguish six cigarettes out of 10 happily burning ones. Every time you pour water over a glowing tip a little demon creeps up to the sodden dogend and relights it.

Perseverance finally pays off and the next task is to get into the factory. Dodge and jump rolling cigarettes and the irate shop steward, and turn off all the cigarette machines.

More could have been made of Nicotine Nightmare. The pace, graphics and feel of the game is about two years out of date.

Publisher Atlantis Price £2.99
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston

Clare Edgeley

Outside the cottage


HEARKEN witches everywhere, play this game if you dare, defeat the Evil Pumpkin King to regain the broomstick from within.

In Cauldron, from Palace Software, the instructions are contained in eight rhyming verses which describe the basic scenario - it is up to you to figure out the puzzles.

The Evil Pumpkin has stolen the witch's golden broomstick and the only way it can be retrieved is to brew a spell which will gain her entrance to the Pumpkin's Lair. The spell's six ingredients are to be found in the rhyme and lie in the 64 caverns underground.

At the graveyard

Above ground is variety of terrains - graveyards, woods, mountains, oceans and islands. There are four doors leading to the caverns, each opened with a cunningly hidden coloured key. Ghosts, killer seagulls and bats deplete your magical powers by hitting you.

You can fire at them though that also decreases your magic and the best tactic is avoidance. You have nine lives and each time you die you tumble off your broomstick in a spectacular fall.

Finding and picking up the spell's ingredients is no easy task. You may have to approach them in a roundabout way or find objects to place them in. Again, whole legions of nasties try to send you to the hereafter.

There are a number of teasers in this superb pictorial game with no clues offered in the instructions. Trial and error is the only way through it.

Cauldron has no sound other than the odd spectral beep, but the graphics are brilliant and colourful. Unfortunately, they flicker occasionally and the colours tend to merge. Cauldron is nevertheless a pleasing and playable game.

A bonus is to be found on the B side which contains the Evil Dead, never released for the Spectrum. You will be getting two excellent games for the price of one.

Publisher Palace Software Price £7.99
Memory 48K Joystick Sinclair, Kempston

Clare Edgeley


THERE have been graphics designer programs before - notably Melbourne Draw. Lightmagic takes ease of use a step further and provides a comprehensive package for would-be screen designers.

The program can operate using a joystick or cursor keys. The menus are exceptionally clear and easy to toggle through. There are five modes.

Pen mode allows you to draw on screen as if you were using a pencil, with the added advantage of a rubber band feature for odd angles.

Circle and Fill commands are also available, although the Fill command can cause weird results due to the Spectrum attributes. To overcome that there is a Grid command which produces a grid of 8 x 8 squares on the screen, avoiding colour clashes.

In Brush mode there are 10 types of brushes which range from solid to airbrush; spectacular results can be obtained with these, especially as brush size can be altered.

Block mode can be used to move, mirror and rotate blocks of the screen and Text mode allows the addition of text. There is also a UDG designer which makes graphic designing easy.

As if all that were not enough, there is an enlargement feature. A section of the screen can be magnified four times - useful for fine tuning. Adding and changing colour is done by pressing X and choosing another colour.

The facilities offered are impressive and it can be recommended without reservations.

Publisher New Generation
Price £14.95 Memory 48K

Theo Wood

Helichopper screen 1

ANOTHER original game of 'grab the survivor and we'll bomb the rest' has been released by Firebird.

Though Helichopper scores nothing for innovation, it is saved from being totally awful by fast and clear graphics.

Zip down in your copter and spend a harrowing few moments ferrying a little pink Clone across a duck pond to deposit him on a ladder.

You can only deposit a Clone when the rung above you changes white.

Bombs and balloons move slowly upwards to annihilate you and killer ducks are rife. The chopper has unlimited bombs and you can rain those on the heads of the hapless birds.

Further screens are about as exciting as a wet sponge and follow the same pattern with minor differences.

Publisher Firebird Price £2.50
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor

Clare Edgeley

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mike Teavee

HAVE A sticky time in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on the renowned children's book by Roald Dahl.

There are five games - four arcade and an arcade adventure. The first four must be completed to gain entry to the final program.

In the first game Augustus Gloop has been sucked into a mass of tubes in the sweet machine. You must run left and right across the screen changing the direction of the tubes so that Augustus will flow into a flask. A pretty game but boring and frustrating to play.

The second game takes you to the juicing room where Violet Beauregarde is being squashed by blueberries.

Veruca Salt has enraged the squirrels in another room and dropping poisoned nuts is the only way to prevent her being thrown down a rubbish chute.

In the last of the four, Mike Teavee is being chased by cameramen out to shrink him with rays of light. He must jump from level to level, picking up Wonka chocolate bars.

The final program is really a 43 room Jet Set Willy game and difficult to get into, even in the practice mode. You have to guide Charlie around the factory and collect six golden keys so that he can enter the Great Glass Lift.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory palls after a very short time. However, as the package comprises five games and the book it must represent reasonable value for money.

Publisher Hill MacGibbon Price £9.95
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston

Clare Edgeley

Icicle Works
Icicle Works

ORIGINALITY is not a word which springs unbidden to the mind in Icicle Works - a game that is based on that old arcade favourite, Pengy.

As you dash around the icefield with its precariously balanced snowballs, you have to pick up sections of a jigsaw which make up a picture of a toy.

You will almost certainly be squashed by snowballs, or mauled by cuddly, man-eating polar bears and penguins. There are 13 levels and in each it becomes harder to release the pictures.

The harder levels pose more problems in that you have to kill penguins or polar bears before picking up sections of picture.

Block graphics make up the game and the screen scrolls up, down, left and right in probably the most jerky fashion we have seen for a long time.

Icicle Works is mere kindergarden stuff. Ageing Pengy fans and the rest stay clear.

Publisher Statesoft Price £6.95
Memory 48K Joystick Sinclair, Kempston, Protek

Clare Edgeley


ASSEMBLY CODE is entered from Basic using REM instructions which can make things easier, if you don't mind entering all those extra instructions. One reason for using Basic is that you can MERGE lines of code together. While that is true most good assemblers these days are able to MERGE routines easily.

The package is a two-pass assembler which normally sends code to RAM above STKEND.

The power of this utility is in its test facilities which include all the usual system diagnostics such as breakpoint insertion, single step through instructions and Trace. Also included are two powerful facilities, Input Instruction and History.

Input Instruction allows the programmer to enter new mnemonic instructions into the code before it is tested.

The History facility provides a display of the changes which the machine code program has made within the last 10 instructions.

It is not the sort of assembler which is a joy to use. The Test facilities mentioned are useful but do not make it worth the expense when there are other, better, products on the market.

Publisher Roybot
Price £9.95 Memory 48K

John Gilbert

Plan and Design Your Garden

PLAN AND DESIGN your garden, comes with the book Garden Planning and Design - a standard gardening tome with hints on planning and a short section dealing with plants and flowers.

The program content is minimal; 'design' allows you to deposit shapes for vegetables, flowers, buildings and paths on the screen by means of a cursor, while 'diary' is a monthly gardeners' diary and very basic.

Curious anomalies occur, entering 'October' and 'rose' gives you the instruction that roses can be planted next month. Entering 'November' and 'roses' brings up the reply, 'no information found'. Hard luck if you didn't catch the October entry.

There is nothing here that cannot be found in any reasonable gardening book. The whole package is outrageously overpriced.

Publisher Blandford Press
Price £14.95 Memory 48K

Theo Wood


THE RACE for the bridge at Arnhem was one of the more daring strategies of World War Two. General Montgomery conceived the plan of a rapid advance across Holland with paratroopers dropped behind the lines to capture the vital river bridges.

Forty years on CCS has conceived the not-so-daring plan of simulating the enterprise in a series of five scenarios culminating in the full-scale battle, Operation Market Garden.

17th Sep - British Phase 1

Long-time specialists in wargames, many of which had little merit, CCS seems finally to have cracked it. Arnhem is one of the finest computer wargames we have seen, a blend of complex strategy, historical authenticity, and simple, swift operation which will have fans returning for more.

The playing area scrolls over a map of the roads and terrain towards the final bridge. Units are moved in turn, and have an abstract form. You can call up reports on their strengths and efficiency, and issue orders which will be continued on subsequent turns unless cancelled.

The attention given to realism includes the formation of individual units, which can travel fast in condensed form or slowly in open order. The condensed form equates to a column of tanks, for example, which can take advantage of a road for speed but is hampered in combat.

Provision is given for one, two or three players. With three players one player commands the Germans, one the Americans and one the British forces. An introductory scenario can be completed in an hour and consists of capturing the first bridge at Eindhoven. A full map is provided with a comprehensive booklet.

At the end of the game an assessment is made of your success. If you have failed to advance swiftly you fail, but you may be granted victory anyway, as it is possible to do well enough to make the outcome inevitable.

Wargames of this sort are not for the impatient, nor for the complete novice at strategy. But for those who enjoy simulation wargaming, Arnhem is one of the best, and captures the problems of maintaining a swift advance along narrow, country roads remarkably well.

Publisher CCS
Price £8.95 Memory 48K

Chris Bourne

Battle for Midway

EEEEEOOWWW ... dakka dakka dakka ... BOOOMM!!! And another Jap aircraft carrier sinks beneath the blue Pacific.

PSS has produced a passable wargame in Battle for Midway, which follows events fairly accurately.

Midway Island

Designer Alan Steel says he wanted to mimic 'The Fog of War', by which he seems to mean not knowing what's going on. That is entirely justifiable and much of Midway is spent trying to locate the Japanese fleet before it realises you're onto the dastardly plan.

Unfortunately there is not a great deal of subtlety about the best tactics. As soon as you've found the main Japanese attack force, you send as many aircraft after it as you can, until you have sunk all four aircraft carriers. When they are out, the Japanese limp back home again.

The battle sequences are a novelty, using arcade skills. If you are attacked you get a gunsight and must blast the Japanese out of the sky. You also get a gunsight when you try to bomb the Japanese, but it will only shoot down your own planes. Steel says that's to pander to the tastes of arcade freaks, who'll shoot at anything. It looks more like an excuse to use the same piece of code.

We found it easy to scuttle the Nipponese schemes on level two, the straight historical simulation. There is a level three in which the Japanese are forewarned about your fleets and lay a trap, which might be more difficult.

A few months ago we would have said it was fine. After Overlords and Arnhem, however, it seems a bit ordinary.

Publisher PSS Price £9.95
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston, Sinclair, Protek

Clare Edgeley

Don't Buy This
Race Ace

WARNING. This cassette contains five of the most uninspired games ever to disgrace the Spectrum.

In Fido I and Fido II you play Fido the mole bashing pup. When a mole incautiously lifts its head above ground, Fido rushes over, sits down and thumps it with its tail.

Weasel Willy refused to load. The cassette inlay states that 'playing the game is easier than setting the keys'.

Race Ace is the antithesis of any race game ever. It is alternatively too slow and too fast, and to increase playability the control keys are backwards - 'left is left when the kart goes up but right when the kart comes down ...'

You are advised to play Fruit Machine at around four in the morning when you are asleep.

Firebird disclaims all responsibility for the game and states that the product 'may be copied, lent, hired or transmitted at will.' It also advises action if the programming is faulty - put sticky tape over the lug holes and use it as a blank cassette.

Publisher Firebird Price £2.50
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston

Clare Edgeley


A GEM has turned up in Mastertronic's range of budget software.


Locomotion is similar to Incentive's Confuzion, which itself was by no means original. Despite that it is surprisingly addictive with well graded difficulty levels.

You are a track layer on the railways trying to lay a section of track ahead of a train before it catches up and goes off the rails.

The track is lying around in jumbled sections and you have to create order from chaos in the same way as those slide puzzles where you have one empty space into which to move the tiles.

Assembling the track within the time limit is simple at first but as you move from London to the continent, the tracks from Paris and other stations become progressively more difficult to unjumble and piece together.

The game can be slowed down by depressing the fire button - that will give you one minute's breathing space before the train charges ahead at full speed. Coal and water should be laid along the train's route when ever possible to earn bonus points.

Up to four players can play this simple game which for its price is a bargain. Well worth digging into your pockets for.

Publisher Mastertronic Price £2.50
Memory 48K Joystick Kempston, Sinclair, Fuller

Clare Edgeley


THE arrival of Halley's comet in our solar system has generated interest in astronomy.

Spacescan is a program designed to introduce you to star maps and the position of the constellations. Fifteen constellations are displayed with a map, named stars plus some information. Those maps can be printed out for observation. Another program, Starsearch, allows you to search through 75 heavenly bodies. There is also a quiz and a glossary.

Astronomy, by Scisoft, contains similar information but scattered across four programs. The information contained is more detailed and the graphics are not as good as Spacescan. Moon phases and Saturn draw are two facilities which could well have been left out, though the Ephemeris section could prove useful. Keen observers could use printouts to identify stars.

Both programs use database techniques but without the stunning graphics found in most astronomy books. As with a great deal of educational software the price seems just too high for what you receive.

Publisher Macmillan
Price £5.95 Memory 48K

Publisher Scisoft
Price £10.00 Memory 48K

Theo Wood

Car Cure

SOME software houses persist in believing that loading up illegible text on a flickery screen is preferable to turning the pages of a book.

Car Cure is one such absurd program. It attempts to do the job already done adequately by car maintenance manuals, but unlike those cannot be stored in the glove compartment nor consulted when you break down on the Honiton bypass. Neither does it have any detailed illustrations of the funny oily things located in bewildering abundance under the bonnet.

A manual can be accessed in seconds. Car Cure takes four minutes to load, during which time you are invited to solve a maze displayed on the loading screen.

Fault diagnosis is a matter of pinpointing symptom areas such as 'instruments and warning lights', and then narrowing that to a specific problem - for instance, 'ignition warning light won't go off correctly'. All that is done through menus over which you move little arrows.

Having found the best description of your problem, you then move to a further menu listing possible faults. If you're a mechanical novice like me, then you'll give up at this point. After all, if I knew what 'alternator regulator defective' meant then I'd have whipped out my spanner long ago. Assuming, however, that you hazard a guess, you will eventually be rewarded with the comforting screen display: 'competent home mechanics can handle this.' Exactly. I'll have to take it down the garage after all.

Competent home mechanics will have no use for this program. They already own libraries of service manuals and don't need to get oil all over their Spectrum keyboards. Incompetent home mechanics will be totally baffled. Software like this gives computers a bad name.

Publisher Simtron
Price £9.95 Memory 48K

Bill Scolding

Spectrum Software Scene 1 Issue 40 Contents QL Software

Sinclair User
July 1985