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Play It Again, Sam volume 1 --------------------------- Comprising: Citadel, Thrust, Stryker's Run and Ravenskull. Available from: Superior Software. Price: £11.95 or £6 to 8BS members. A review by Jon Ripley (8BS Member D5B). First Impressions ----------------- When I first opened the package that had arrived through my letter box I found a clear plastic case, just a little bit bigger than a CD case, inside was a colourful inlay which gave a taste of the treasures inside. Aside from a flippable disc was a sheet of instructions for both the BBC and Electron versions of the games. I had the 5.25" disc version for the BBC range of computers. The label assured me that this one disc would be as happy in an 80 track drive as it would be in 40 track drive. I tried this out and was pleasantly surprised that irrespective of the position of the 40/80 switch on my drive, the games worked! The disc is protected against copying but I have never had a Superior Software tape or disc fail in the 11 years that I have been buying their software. Citadel ------- An arcade adventure by Michael Jakobsen. You are an intrepid adventurer (or adventuress) charged with destroying the transportation device of an evil alien dictator before it can be used to wage a deadly war against the human race. Murduk the dictator has built a teleportation system in an old deserted castle. When it is completed he will use it to transport his alien invasion force from the planet Codor to Earth. Your mission is to destroy the teleportation device thus averting the impending invasion. To do this you must find the 5 crystals that activate the system and transport yourself to Murduk's palace on Codor and bring back a beautiful jewelled figurine that can be used to destroy the teleportation system on Earth and thus stop the invasion. In your quest you will have to battle many dangerous foes, some can be avoided but others are out to get you. Monks, under a strange spell wander the castle, a well aimed spell between the eyes will dispatch any that dare to trouble you. The game consists of over 100 detailed mode 2 screens, each packed with pitfalls, puzzles and awesome foes. You start in the vast 3-towered citadel, on your journey you will need to venture to the witch's house, Stonehenge, the pyramids and across mountains, deserts and oceans. Flickering torches, splashing water and animated foes enhance the atmosphere of this game. You start the game in the main hall of the citadel, with 150 only energy units to keep you alive. You are presented with a side-on view of each room, ladders (and even trampolines) can be used to move between the various levels on each screen. Lost energy can be replenished throughout the game - over 1,000 are available but I am assured that the game can be completed using only 400. Various objects can be found throughout the castle and used to aid your quest, only two objects can be held at once so careful planning of your route is required. Locked doors and other obstacles block your path but these can be overcome using the right keys and some ingenuity. The keys are multi-coloured to help you match the keys to the doors, users with monochrome displays are benefitted by a unique letter which each key and door possess, just match the letters and you can open the door. When you load the game you have a choice of 4 sets of keys that you can use to play the game, you can also use a joystick and the Space Bar instead if you like. Personally I prefer the usual ZX;/ combination and have not yet tried playing with a joystick, but all tastes are catered for. You can even choose between playing a male or female character. Nimble fingers are a bonus but since much of the game is spent trundling between locations those with a little less speed at their fingertips will be grateful. A careful mix of arcade action and adventure-game-like puzzles. Owners of the original version of this game will remember a nice loading screen and on computers aside from the Electron a voice announcing the game. This was a nice touch which is lacking from this version of the game. I remember needing to look twice at the name of the game author on the first loading screen and I am sure that many people are still wondering if the author is a pop star, I shall leave that for you to decide! Due to the size of this game, part of it is actually stored on the screen, on BBC computers it is hidden but Electron users will have to put up with a jumble of coloured dots both above and below the main playing area. It is not too obtrusive and I quickly got used to it. The graphics may seem a little dated 11 years on, but this was the first game of it's kind, a true marriage of arcade and adventure. The game is highly addictive and it will take many months of game play to complete this masterpiece. Refreshing in these days when modern (usually console) games can often be completed in a few days. The little sound that is used in the game is effective and there is no music but this game doesn't need fancy sound effects to be enjoyable. Citadel is a truly classic game that has endured the test of time and can still present a refreshing challenge to game players of all ages. Graphics......................8 Sound.........................5 Playability..................10 Overall......................10 Thrust ------ By Jeremy C. Smith. There was a time when all space games were just clones of Invaders, a row of aliens at the top and you at the bottom. Thrust is no such game, instead, looking back at this game was like finding an old treasure in the attic. When you play the game you are presented with a high resolution display of the first planet in your quest to become the ultimate space commander. You control a ship, and each mission you visit a different planet and you have to navigate a series of obstacles of increasing complexity to recover the Klystren Pods without which your mission will fail. In your way are a multitude of caverns each holding a deadly booty. Limpet guns fire at you and a single shot is fatal. Not all is lost as your ship has a shield that can withstand many hits, using your shield however drains your fuel. You can collect extra fuel by hovering over the tanks and using your tractor beam you can collect the fuel. Klystren Pods can be collected in a similar way, however you must carry these outside your ship, tethered to you by your tractor beam. These pods, however are much heavier than your ship and you must also carefully plan your manoeuvres to avoid the pod - or indeed your ship - swinging into a wall and being destroyed. The movements of the pods realistically follow the laws of gravity, momentum and inertia. You complete each mission by carrying the pod off of the planet and into hyperspace, you can gain bonus points by destroying the planet's power reactor. By shooting the reactor it will cut power to the limpet guns and eventually go critical. When this happens you have just 5 seconds to leave the planet before the explosion destroys your ship. Later missions have increased (or reversed) gravity and some even have invisible walls, each adding to the immense challenge that this game presents. The action in this game is so realistic that when I first played the game I thought that it must have either been written by a lorry driver or a physicist. I was not surprised to find out the the author holds a 1st class honours degree in Physics. Thrust has been a favourite game of mine since I first played it on the Electron. Indeed with Sam 1 it has followed me to the BBC and beyond. (The Electron version is essentially the same as the BBC/Master version.) I certainly recommend this game to anyone out there who is looking for an original challenging game. You will be able to complete the first few levels in a week or so but the full 24 planets (70 missions I believe) will take many months to complete. A definite must. Graphics......................8 Sound.........................7 Playability..................10 Overall......................10 Stryker's Run ------------- By C. Roberts and P. Mellor. A war has been fought for many years between the allied nations of the world and the Volgans. After many years the battle reached a stalemate, this would have continued but allied spies have managed to steal the plans for the Volgans next offensive. You are Commander John Stryker and it is up to you to take these plans back to Allied HQ, if you succeed your side will end the impasse and probably win the war. This task is not a simple one however, as you walk past war torn cities, graveyards, trees and mountains you are under constant danger from enemy troops and aircraft. Lying around are short-range aircraft that you can use to engage in an airborne dogfight with the enemy and hopefully advance your position by avoiding the ground defences. Your limited fuel will soon run out and you will have to return to the ground. You can walk left and right, jump, shoot and throw a grenade, your supply of ammunition is almost limitless. Years of training have ensured that you can take a colossal nine direct hits before dying. From the moment that this game loaded I was impressed by the stunning mode 2 graphics. I can honestly say that Stryker's run contains the best graphics for any BBC (or Electron) game that I have ever seen. Different from almost all other BBC games, Stryker's run contains breathtaking full colour backgrounds. It is unbelievable that such a game could be fitted into a 32k machine - remember that simply using mode 2 leaves only 12k for the game. The foreground characters are a bit flickery at times but the intense arcade action makes up for it tenfold. There is almost no difference between the BBC and Electron versions of this game. You can also play this version on the Master although there is a special version of the game for Master owners which has been greatly enhanced. The enhanced Master version contains - I am told - an extra 40k of graphics, some very good atmospheric music and many new game features make for the only game that could possibly top the original version. This game alone is worth the price of the compilation and if you missed it's first release in 1987 you should certainly get it now. Graphics.....................10 Sound.........................6 Playability..................10 Fun..........................10 Overall......................10 Ravenskull ---------- By Nicholas Chamberlain and Martin Edmondon. At first sight Ravenskull looks like just another Repton clone. I am glad to say that in just a few seconds of playing this excellent game I was proved wrong. As the game loads you are given a choice of which character you would like to play in your quest to unravel the mysteries of Ravenskull. As an intrepid adventurer you seek treasure, as an elf you seek bags of gold, the wizard searches for crystal balls and as a warrior you seek shields. The game itself stays the same whichever character you choose as it is just the graphics for yourself and the treasure that changes. Your quest is to save the village of Austberg from imminent devastation by Baron Strieg and his horde of evil zombies. He has stolen the mystical silver crucifix and hidden parts of it in the four levels of Castle Ravenskull. You must seek out each part of the crucifix and assemble it to form the complete object. To hinder you, many complex puzzles and deadly foes lie in your path. Many objects will help you on your quest, for instance a pick-axe can be used to break through a wall. Many other useful objects can be found, however care must be taken as others are downright lethal. There is no way of knowing until it is too late. You have an overhead view of a small part of the level, in fact, each level is 64 times the size of the screen. This game is truly massive, and since no maps are available to you on your quest you must discover yourself the path which will lead you to victory. The game uses full screen mode 5 graphics on the BBC/Master and a smaller window on the Electron. The advantage of the Electron version of the game is that you can see at-a-glance which objects you are carrying, on the BBC/Master there is a separate status screen. Not a hindrance at all. Although mode 5 only lets us use 4 colours (3 + black), you will truly not give it a second thought as the graphics in this game are stunning. The sound effects are used to good effect in the game and the BBC/Master has a jolly tune which you can listen to, it is quite repetitive but it doesn't really get in the way of the gameplay. As game music goes it is quite good! This is a stunning game which, while devious and complex in parts, will keep you coming back for more until you finally solve the riddle of Castle Ravenskull. Once you have completed a level, even if you use up all your lives, you can jump back to the start of any of the levels you have reached. However, next time you load the game you will have to start from the beginning. This is not as obtrusive as you might think, as the extra practice you will get on the lower levels will make completing your task much easier. To fully complete the game you must finish all four levels in one go. The challenge is well worth it. This game is a classic and well deserves its place on this compilation. Graphics......................9 Sound.........................5 Playability...................9 Overall......................10 Play It Again Sam, Volume 1 --------------------------- Overall Scores -------------- Graphics.....................10 Sound.........................8 Playability...................9 Value for money..............10 Overall......................10 After seeing the quality and playability of these four games, it makes me wonder why such games have not been made since, for the more recent computers.