Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 2 / SPECIAL ISSUE #4



Police Quest, MIDI Maze and Gunship

by Andrew Reese and Jon A. Bell
START Editor and Associate Editor

What would summer be without fun and games? Grab your mouse or joystick and join us as we continue our look at hot games for hot weather--a realistic police adventure, a fanciful multiplayer maze game and a hardbitting helicopter simulator!


By Andrew Reese

When Sierra On-Line first developed their "3-D Animated Adventure Game" system in 1984, they opened up a wide range of games--from fantasy to "sleaze." And now they've released Police Quest, a cop game. In it, you use the mouse or cursor keys to move a cartoon-like alter ego around the screen and interact with other characters and objects. Sierra's adventures still retain the elements of adventure games, however, and Police Quest requires some keyboard entry. The end result is a comprehensive game system that maximizes your fiexibility.

In Police Quest, your alter ego is Patrolman Sonny Bonds. You begin as a street cop with typical traffic patrol duties: investigating traffic collisions, stopping luscious speeders and giving field sobriety tests to obnoxious drunks.

If you perform these duties well enough, you're promoted (?) to undercover narcotics work. Then the real "fun" begins as you try to infiltrate a drug gang and bring its scummy head--the Death Angel--to justice.


It's not an easy game, but it captures the feel and frustrations of the policeman's world surprisingly well. There are times when I wanted to violate the realistic limits on the use of a deadly weapon; several times I was literally stomped to death by a gang of bikers in a bar but wasn't allowed to blow them away with my .357. The Penal Code sections are straight out of California lawbooks and even the cop humor is authentically risque, which means that this game is probably best left to adult gamers.

policequest.jpg Police Quest, Sierra
On-line's gritty police
adventure. In it you
play Sonny Bonds,
undercover narcotics

Playing Police Quest can be occasionally frustrating. The driving portion of the game called for more exacting control than I was always able to muster. (It has been eliminated from an upcoming sequel; thank you.) Moving Sonny around on the street is much easier, and the interaction with other characters is a delight. Definitely on the plus side, you can save multiple game positions to disk with a descriptive label for each. To speed up the many disk accesses, you can also install Police Quest on a hard disk. Without it, play deteriorates somewhat into a waiting game, particularly as you drive from sector to sector. My last complaint is that Police Quest continues the TV-based fiction that the "Miranda" rights must be given to each suspect on arrest; this is just not so.

All in all, I liked Police Quest. Leisure Suit Larry was easier to control, but Police Quest makes up for it with its grit and realism. I haven't finished it yet, but it's one that I will come back to often and get the Death Angel.


By Jon A. Bell

MIDI Maze, Hybrid Arts' multi-player maze game, has been the rage of Atari fests, faires and computer shows for over a year. It's a first-person perspective game in which your opponents are happy faces! They float down labyrinthine corridors, trying to shoot you, while you weave and dodge and shoot back.

MIDI Maze is a ground-breaking game on a number of counts. First, it allows multiple players (each with his or her own perspective), and second, it's the first computer game ever that you can play through MIDI cables. Through the ST's built-in MIDI ports, you can link two, three, four or more STs (up to 15) together, allowing you to play MIDI Maze against all your ST-owning friends. You can also play MIDI Maze alone, against your ST.


After you boot MIDI Maze, you can specify either single--or multiple-player mode and the number and types of "Smileys" --dumb, smart and very sneaky. You can then load a maze from disk (there are dozens), modify existing mazes or create your own, using a word processor or text editor that saves in ASCII format. You can also set other options, such as how many lives you have and the MlDI-Cam feature, in which you can use a separate ST as an invisible camera, moving through the maze and checking out the action.

When you play the game, a window on the left side of the screen shows your view as you move through the maze, using the joystick. You can pop around corners and shoot at Smileys, turn around and run or reverse and fire while heading backwards. Pop 10 Smileys and you've won the game.

MIDI Maze is great fun, but it could still be improved. The manual is very short (only 19 pages), and the instructions on how to create your own maze are sketchy. I'd also like a few more sound effects (and possibly music), rather than the simple "blips" as you shoot or get hit, and (forgive me), I'd like to see the Happy Faces explode or disintegrate after three hits, rather than simply disappearing.

midimaze.jpg MIDI Maze, Hybrid
Arts' multi-player maze
game. In MIDI Maze,
your opponents are
floating Happy Faces!


My first encounter with MIDI Maze (in an early beta version) was at the Winter 1987 Consumer Electronics Show. Over a dozen STs were hooked together at the Atari display, and a floating MIDI Maze game ran continously throughout the days of the show. In the months to come, Hybrid Arts showed more polished versions at Atari fests around the country, and a "core" of professional "MIDI Mazers" emerged from the woodwork.

Atari's own Neil Harris, Director of Product Marketing, is a fearsome player who's honed his skills against the best Smiley-bashers around. At one Atari fest, after Neil had beaten me one too many times, I enlisted Tom Hudson (CAD-3D author and computer game player par excellence) as my second, and we waded into battle.

We ganged up on Neil and stomped his Smiley into oblivion.


By Andrew Reese

If you've played F-16 Strike Eagle or Silent Service by Microprose, then you know what a well-designed simulation can be like. Now comes Gunship, an authentic and detailed simulation of present-day helicopter warfare. It's Microprose's best simulation yet!

When you open the Gunship box, you'll find two disks, an 84-page manual, an ST-specific foldout and a keyboard overlay. Everything in the box is necessary to do well in Gunship. The superbly prepared manual gives all the necessary information about the game system, your AH-64A Apache and its weapons, helicopter tactics and strategy, enemy weapons you will encounter and particulars of the missions. You'll find yourself referring to this manual again and again, even if perchance you already know how to fly a helicopter.

Your first mission is flight and weapons training in the U.S. If you are successful in this, you will be promoted and given the opportunity to choose an overseas mission in such vacation spots as Southeast Asia, Central America, the Persian Gulf or Western Europe against top Warsaw Pact opponents.

gunship.jpg Gunship, Microprose's
super helicoper simula-
tion. In it you fly the
heavily-armed AH-64A
Apache attack

Training is not too difficult. All you have to do is destroy your primary and secondary targets while getting the hang of flying a chopper with truly authentic response. Choppers aren't like fixed-wing aircraft--there's a complex interaction among the cyclic, collective and anti-torque rotor controls which requires some pretty fancy joystick and keyboard interaction to master. And with four different weapons and four counter-measures systems to choose from, plus Target Acquisition and Display, system damage reporting, radio communications and Inertial Navigation System, you'll find yourself just as busy at your ST as in a real Apache. The bottom line is not to skip the training!

The graphics are superb in all particulars and the screen updating, always the measure of a flight simulator, is quite rapid. Microprose has also added to the feeling of realism by including intelligence briefings, promotions, medals (including the Purple Heart--I know!), Sick Call, R & R and graphic "rewards" for good performance. In fact, the only thing that this game lacks is some means to add extra hours to your day so that you can spend more time playing it.

I just can't say too much about this package. Anyone who loves flight simulators, war games or just appreciates a superb piece of software should buy this latest triumph from Microprose.


Police Quest, $49.95. Sierra On-line, PO. Box 485, Coarsegold, CA 93614, (209) 683-4468.

MIDI Maze, $39.95. Hybrid Arts, 111920 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064, (213) 826-3777.

Gunship, $49.95. Microprose Software, 180 Lakefront Drive, Hunt Valley, Maryland, 21030, (301) 771-1151.