|ZX-81 Software Scene|
DIAMONDS is where your future lies, diamonds sitting on little platforms above a hostile sea. Why they are there nobody knows, but it is your job to get them.
Unfortunately you are some distance from the diamonds, and have to reach them by using a rocket pack which has no fuel. To obtain the fuel you must leap around a series of platforms and ladders dicing with watery death and avoiding the menacing bubble which pursues you, like something our of The Prisoner.
When you have enough fuel you can fly using the rocket pack, but the bubble will still chase you. It is difficult to amass the required quantity of fuel - you must judge for yourself how much you need - but the bubble seems almost unbeatable when you are flying.
At higher levels a touch of the Manic Miners sets in, as your rocket pack becomes a vulture and the fuel legs of lamb. Never mind that the vulture looks more like one of those exotic seabirds which frequently appear performing their mating dances for David Attenborough. Do not ask yourself what ready-carved legs of New Zealand's finest are doing on platforms high above the ocean. Enjoy the game, and avoid awkward questions which might threaten your sanity.
For Rocket Man, the second in a series of high-resolution ZX-81 games from Software Farm, is indeed worth playing. For once the high-resolution boast is true, and the game is sufficiently difficult to hold the interest while not being so impossible at the beginning as to discourage you from continuing. The game is not the fastest, but given the apparent intelligence of the deadly bubble, that is probably a blessing. You should be more concerned with working out economical routes and safe tactics for moving round the ladders and platforms than worrying about sheer speed.
Rocket Man is attractively presented and fun to play. While the scenario shows signs of an erratic rather than inspired imagination, at least there is an attempt at inventive whimsy rather than a reliance on the old standbys of laser cannon and dragon breath.
On the strength of Rocket Man, Software Farm is to be congratulated, not least for its loyalty to a machine which few professionally minded software companies are seriously considering. Since the game is the second in a series, and a series would seem to imply more than two games, we hope it will be not long before the next is released.
Rocket Man can be obtained from Software Farm, Bristol.
|ROCKET MAN||Memory: 16K||Price: £5.95||Gilbert Factor: 7|
MICRO-MOUSE goes de-bugging is the unlikely title of an arcade game in which you are a miniature mouse living in the bowels of the computer. The lines of a program are continually under attack from bugs, and it is your job to keep the program free and functioning.
What you see on the screen is a few lines of Basic with some letters flashing. The flashing letters are missing and you must go to one of four bins in the corners of the screen to collect the letters and replace them in the program. The bugs, meanwhile, will carry off more letters and if the program is sufficiently corrupted the system will crash.
The game is fun to play with a novel, if whimsical, idea. Be careful when you play lest you mistake the 'system crash' in the game for a genuine system crash - the effect looks very realistic and lasts for several seconds.
I always wondered how Sir Clive managed to cram so much into the ZX-81 at the price. Now we know - it was nothing to do with custom-built chips at all, simply exploitation of cheap mouse labour.
|MICRO MOUSE GOES DE-BUGGING||Memory: 16K||Price: £5.95||Gilbert Factor: 7|
SOME COSMIC disaster has resulted in numbers of spacemen being marooned in the inhospitable wastes of the asteroid belt. It is your task in Space Rescue to collect them and ferry them to their home planet.
Of course, life and arcade games are never so simple, and a meteor storm is in full progress at the time, so you must dodge or destroy the deep-space debris while locating the astronauts.
The graphics are impressively drawn, partly in high resolution, and machine-code programming ensures that the action is fast. You pilot a small craft with UFO written upon it, which must leave the mothership in search of the lost astronauts. The playing area is several times the area of the screen, so you will have to search to find the spacemen.
Once found, they must be ferried back to the mother-ship. Be careful as you dock, or you will crash and lose a life. Then the scene changes to a region of space populated with space stations, where you must deposit the men and then return to head out again for the asteroids to make another rescue.
The craft is equipped with a laser gun, which can fire in eight directions. That, coupled with the movement of the craft itself, gives six different commands, and it is a little difficult to control the ship at first on the ZX-81 keyboard. Fortunately, D Pinch has provided a wide range of keys which can be used, and it should he possible to find a configuration to suit your own personal taste.
Although the game is repetitive, it is fun to play and has four levels of skill, so if the easier levels become boring, you can increase the number of meteors in the storm to provide a new challenge.
Space Rescue can be obtained from D Pinch, South Glamorgan.
|SPACE RESCUE||Memory: 16K||Price: £2.99||Gilbert Factor: 7|