|ZX-81 Software Scene|
THE NUMBER of educational programs for the 16K ZX-81 is growing but there is still room on the market for good-quality programs such as Spelling Bee.
When the program is run the ZX-81 displays a very detailed picture of a bush, a hive and a hyperactive bee which flies between them. The student is then asked to select the spelling.
The first level is the easiest. You are asked to name objects which appear on the screen. The computer starts with a bee and continues by displaying pigs, trees and even a gate.
The second level is slightly more difficult. The computer asks you to spell five-letter names. If you have most of them correct the computer displays a birthday cake with candles glowing on the top.
The difficulty level increases although the same pictures are shown but the computer highlights a part of the picture and asks you to name that part. It could be the arm of a chair or the wing of a bee.
Spelling Bee uses very impressive graphics and is ideal for a young child learning to spell. The package is produced by Image Software, Surrey. It costs £5.
ALIEN RAIN and Outraider are two games on one cassette for the 16K ZX-81. In Alien Rain you control a little man at the bottom of the screen. Home is at the left of the screen and the object of your quest lies at the right, in a cave.
The little man must run from the left to the right, rescue an alien, and return home. Points are gained for the number of aliens rescued.
The only obstacles endangering the little man's mercy mission are thousands of evil invaders which rain from the heavens. If you are hit by one a life is deducted from the three lives allowed at the beginning of the game.
At first you are protected by three shields which the invaders destroy slowly. Those defences will give you time to rush backwards and forwards, rescuing as many aliens as possible.
The game runs at nine levels; the ninth is fairly slow but the first is very fast.
The graphics are impressive and even the title pages have been designed for the best effects.
The second game on the cassette is Outraider. It is your job to protect the grey area in the middle of the screen. To do so you are given a spaceship which can be rotated to face the assaults of enemy craft which are out to destroy the grey area.
When the main hull of the mothership has been penetrated and an enemy ship has sent a missile into the grey area the game is over.
The concept of Alien Rain is original and the game is fast. It is something which can be played again and again. Outraider is interesting as you need to use only one key control to play. The games have a quality about them which would attract even a Spectrum owner.
The cassette is available from Computer Rentals Ltd., London. It costs £3.50.
IT IS UNFORTUNATE that Maze Guzzler and Super Breakout have been released so late, as they are both good games. Putting any traditional game on to the 1K ZX-81 is still an occupation pursued by some software houses but there are so many copies of Breakout and Pacman on the market already that software houses should concentrate on something more original.
Maze Guzzler is the Pacman game on this tape. It includes all the usual features of fairly intelligent ghosts, energy pills and on-screen scoring.
The maze is put up at the beginning of the game but you have to press the RUN key to start the ghosts and your guzzler moving around the maze. You have four chances at clearing the mazes of the life-giving dots. If you manage to stay in the game for long enough you will find that the action becomes faster. The ghosts seem to be dopey at times but they usually get the guzzler in the end. The game on the other side of the cassette is called Super Breakout. It consists of bouncing a ball against a brick wall and the bricks fall out as they are hit. If you miss the ball on its return you lose one of your four lives.
Maze Guzzler and Super Breakout will give hours of fun to people who have 1K ZX-81s. The cassette costs £3.50 from Selec Software, Cheshire.
|Spectrum Software Scene|
HALLS OF THINGS for the 48K Spectrum is a game which could change the Spectrum games scene overnight.
The program is technically excellent and dangerously addictive, although you can forget about high scores until you become adept.
You play a little man who must rush up and down the stairs to different levels of a maze in which several magic rings can be found. The problem is that some little space invader-type creatures are out to get you with their fireballs and lightning. You can fight them with your fireballs, lightning and sword. You can also heal the wounds which have been inflicted on you by using magic, of which you have a limited amount.
The screen display makes it even more impressive. It looks as if the game is running on an Apple 2E or UK101, both computers more expensive than the Spectrum. The game is bound to be a hit apart from one criticism. Halls of Things has no sound. The fights between Things and the hero could be made even more dramatic with the addition of lightning zaps or explosions.
Cosmic Guerrilla is an arcade game which is also produced by Crystal Computing for the Spectrum.
You have three spaceships to save and, depending on how far you proceed in the game, the aliens mutate from ordinary space invaders to cosmic pigs. The sound and graphics combine to make the game good fun and easy to play. Halls of Things costs £6.50 and Cosmic Guerrilla £5.95. Both cassettes can be obtained from Crystal Computing, Sunderland.
YOUR SPACESHIP crashes on to a forbidding planet, damaging your propulsion and navigation systems. To obtain the Grittan Stones, necessary to have those systems working again, you must enter the robots' city.
In the city are evil robots which will try to kill you, using large magenta balls to smash you to pieces. The green robots are the King Tobors, indestructible killers which you cannot defeat.
Tobor is a game for the 16K and 48K Spectrum from a new company, Elfin Software. The player moves round a succession of mazes, outwitting and destroying the robots which are in pursuit. You can use your laser gun only when on the move and can fire only in the direction in which you are running. When you die the robots are kind enough to erect a tombstone with RIP on it at the place where you fell.
Elfin certainly is a company to watch as, judging by its first game, it is keen to produce top-quality software. One small reservation we had about the game, however, was that the instructions and title pages were loaded in sections and that took a long time. A player does not want to have to watch two or three minutes of graphics before playing the game every time it is loaded.
Tobor is available from Elfin Software, Great Yarmouth. It costs £5.95.
IF YOU HAVE a Spectrum and you want to know about far-off places you may never have to pick up a gazetteer because of a new database package called Countries of the World.
The program, for the 16K and 48K Spectrum, centres on an incredible high-resolution colour drawing of a world map. The countries can be listed and scrolled through backwards and forwards.
Each country has a code number and by referring to that number you can access its statistics, general information and a graphics representation of its position on the globe.
The detail in the program is very fine but some points made about countries are inaccurate. For instance, the program gives the capital of Andorra as Andorra-La-Viella, where it should be Andorra-La-Vella. Little mistakes like that spoil the program.
Another new release is Maze Chase. The program is in the Pacman mould but is very addictive and difficult to play.
The manufacturer says the game has four mazes on the 16K version and 12 on the 48K. We have managed to get through only the first few mazes as the game is so difficult.
The player must eat the energy pills and lemons while staying away from the evil guardians. If a magic strawberry is eaten the guardians will lose their power and you can eat them.
Maze Chase and Countries of the World are available from Hewson Consultants, Oxon. Maze Chase costs £4.95 and Countries of the World £5.95.
WHEN YOU HEAR that the universe is being threatened by a giant Ectogenetic Galactic Gamate - EGG to all you intelligent people - you may decide to catch the next bus out of the Universe.
In Spawn of Evil, however, a new game for the 16K Spectrum, you decide to fight and promptly put your spaceship into attack mode. Your job is not only to destroy the EGG before it becomes indestructible but also to kill all the Pulsoids, Cycloids and Aliens which breed from it.
The software is in two parts and each part can be run independently.
Your spaceship glides through a 3D representation of outer space where waves of spawn dart across the screen. We found it extremely difficult to hit anything.
The controls of the spaceship can be changed to meet your requirements but the speed at which a change of direction is accomplished is so slow that we could not hold many pulsoids in our gun sites long enough to fire a laser blast.
Despite the difficulty of getting used to, Spawn of Evil is a well-presented and graphically-impressive package. It can be obtained for £4.95 from dK'Tronics, Essex.
THERE ARE MANY games of golf on the market but none simulates the rolling greens and deep bunkers of Troon. The game is for the 48K Spectrum and provides a graphic representation of the 18-hole championship course. You do not have to be an expert golfer to play it but making a shot requires slightly more golfing skill than just guessing the co-ordinates of the hole for which you are aiming.
The graphics in the game are cleverly used and well produced. When teeing-off the player will see an aerial view of the next hole, along with trees, lakes, green and rough. As the ball gets nearer the hole a close-up view of the hole, complete with flag, is shown.
The range of clubs you can use seems almost infinite and the game gives a list of those clubs on-screen to help you choose which you want to use.
You can let all your friends or family join the championship game to see who is the best player. The game is relatively user-friendly, so you do not have to have a set of golf clubs stored in the cupboard to be able to play it.
Troon is a very complex game and one of the only games of golf on the market which features club selection. It can be obtained from Hornby Software, Leeds and costs £6.95.
IF YOU HATE J R Ewing and would like to take over his corporation you will like Dallas, a game for the 48K Spectrum from CCS Software.
You are in charge of a new oil company which must make $200 million in net assets and $80 million to take-over Euing Associates. There are three levels of difficulty but at each level you must buy a concession of land, put a moving rig on it, start drilling until you find oil, and then go into production.
To make the kind of money needed to take-over Euing you will have to build production plants on at least three concessions to make sufficient profit. If you do not you could be bankrupt. As with any good simulation game there are hazards with which you must deal. Tornados may destroy your rig, drilling accidents may occur and the taxman may call for very large amounts of cash.
Dallas is an engrossing game and needs several hours' play to complete successfully. It is a game which all the family will want to play as it is guaranteed to turn even the youngest youngster into a megalomaniac who needs a regular dose of power and money in the game.
Dallas can be obtained from CCS Software, London. It costs £6.