|ZX-81 Software Scene|
ONE COMPANY which has been producing software for the ZX-81 almost from the beginning is Bug-Byte. A number of its titles are still available, and are worth a look in spite of their antiquity.
Dictator still ranks as one of the best 'land management' games and may be familiar to Spectrum owners in the version produced by dk'tronics. The original version from Bug-Byte casts you as the despotic ruler of a banana republic. Your objective is to balance the country's factions, setting one against the other, while amassing as much loot as you can from the meagre budget which you transfer to your Swiss Bank Account. Then you must wait for the inevitable revolution and your chance to escape during the turmoil.
Dictator is a very funny game, and quite complex - not only must you worry about the factions, peasants' army and landowners, but you also have to contend with guerillas, the Secret Police, and foreign powers. The USA and the USSR are both prepared to lend you solid currency, but your internal policies may not please them.
Invaders is a version of Space Invaders. What can be said about the game that has not been said before? The Bug-Byte version has ten different speed-levels which cater for a broad range of skills; at the fastest level it is very difficult indeed. One forgets how enjoyable the game was when it first came out; only a few years have passed, but now nobody would dream of bringing out a version. The game is competent, but only worth buying if you cannot find a more up-to-date space game in the shops.
Adventure was one of the early text adventures for the machine, and still retains its appeal. Although the two-word input and lean descriptions seem antiquated today, the game is nevertheless playable with a wide vocabulary of 80 words. Briefly, you must collect three pieces of the royal sceptre and return it. The response time is reasonably fast for the machine, although much of the program is written in Basic with only a short code routine to pep things up.
The star in the Bug-Byte range, however, is Mazogs. You must run through an extensive maze in a quest for the treasure. The tentacular mazogs will kill you if they can, but you may defeat them with swords. There are also prisoners in the maze who will give you help in finding your way to the treasure.
The game is fast moving, and very difficult at the highest level, where the mazogs move around purposefully and not for your benefit. The graphics are very large and the maze scrolls quickly. Mazogs was the company's first big hit, and still compares very favourably with much newer and supposedly more sophisticated products. It has become something of a ZX-81 classic, and would be a worthy addition to anybody's collection.
|DICTATOR||Memory: 16K||Price: £5.95||Gilbert Factor: 7|
|INVADERS||Memory: 16K||Price: £4.95||Gilbert Factor: 5|
|ADVENTURE||Memory: 16K||Price: £5.95||Gilbert Factor: 6|
|MAZOGS||Memory: 16K||Price: £7.95||Gilbert Factor: 8|
FOLLOWERS OF the turf may enjoy emulating the great racehorse trainers in these two simulations of the Sport of Kings.
Racing League starts on the premise that the Racing Authorities have formed a league of famous people, including yourself, to race against each other to raise money. You get three horses, which are entered in various races. If you win or are placed you get prize money, and you can also bet on any of the horses. The object of the game is simply to survive, hopefully making enough money to buy up other horses and maybe even eliminate rival members of the league.
There are no graphics, and the game is rather slow, with long delays for the various tables to be displayed. The form of a horse affects its odds and chances in the race, but beyond trying to minimise losses with judicious betting there is little opportunity for real skill in the game.
Rather better is Racehorse Trainer. In this your horses are given ratings and an optimum distance, and you must select which horses you will race in which events. The race is displayed with chunky graphics and the results affect the ratings of each horse.
Racehorse Trainer does not approach the quality of Football Manager but it is enjoyable to play and the response times, though scarcely quick, are not so slow as to detract from the game.
Racing League can be obtained from Racing League Software, West Yorkshire, while Racehorse Trainer is available from Gavin Barker, County Durham.
|RACING LEAGUE||Memory: 16K||Price: £3.50||Gilbert Factor: 4|
|RACEHORSE TRAINER||Memory: 16K||Price: £2.80||Gilbert Factor: 6|