55 Wheeler Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Reviewed by Michael Ciraolo and Jack Powell
You're about to get yourself into very deep trouble, says the Cuttbroats
packaging. It's true! The latest in Info-corn's True Tales of Adventure
series will trouble serious fans, due to several seemingly illogical and
arbitrary key puzzles.
Set on Hardscrabble Island, Cut-throats makes you the murky port's top diver and local shipwreck expert.
A note offering adventure is slipped under your door. And as you are drawn into the adventure, you meet some real charmers-Pete the Rat, Weasel, Johnny Red. You'll need to learn how to deal with these locals. Some will kill you, some hold the key to sunken treasure and winning the game with 250 points.
There are four shipwrecks offshore and you must decide which to salvage. The game has more than one major branch and solution.
Cutthroats comes with Infocom's usual excellent packaging, including a hilarious "True Tales of Adventure Magazine", a tide chart, the "Hardscrabble Island Historical Society's Book of Shipwrecks" and so on.
The trouble is that Cutthroats is very time dependent and does not allow extensive exploring. You must be at certain places at exact times or you will forever wander the island. You must waste time waiting for meetings and discover secret meetings.
The rigid story development made us feel as though we were being overly manipulated. There was little illusion of spontaneity.
There are plenty of puzzles, but only some are clever and appropriate to the story. Unfortunately, other puzzles are obscure, illogical and nearly clueless. Be prepared to mail away for the official invisible ink cluebook to this game.
Even when not up to the company's highest standard, Infocom text adventures are way ahead of the competition. Still, we frankly expected better from Michael Berlyn, author of the superb Infidel.
DREADNAUGHT FACTOR, BEAMRIDER
2350 Bayshore Frontage Road
Mountain View, CA 94043
$14.99 each (From retailers only)
Reviewed by Keith Valenza
Another Space Invaders clone? Not quite, although you do have
to obliterate alien ships, dodge bombs and laser blasts and so on.
However, if you're a videogamer who still enjoys the thrill of annihilating the alien forces from another galaxy, The Dreadnaught Factor is a good bet.
The game features clear, crisp, colorful and detailed graphics. Unlike the originality of many Activision games, however, the overused concept of "kill or be killed" is not creative.
If you do want another X-T shoot-em-up, you'll find seven levels of play and ten lives. On the screen, you'll see your joystick-controlled hyperfighter flying over the enormous Dread-naught as you attempt to bomb guns and air vents. Only by destroying all the vents can you destroy the Dreadnaught.
In Beamrider, once again your joystick moves a spaceship figure from side to side as your trigger button fires lasers at alien spacecraft coming down from the top of the screen.
What keeps this overdone format from making the game a total waste of time is the 3-D effect of the beam grid playfield-it produces the same sort of illusion as the checkerboard 3-D backgrounds that have been used effectively in other current games.
If you're a real hand-eye coordination arcade whiz, you probably won't find the game's action too exciting. But as an ordinary mortal, I found my adrenalin going up as the attack saucers came at me along the Tronlike grid of beams
186 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5V iZi
Reviewed by Jerry White
HomePak integrates three programs - word processor, filing manager
and telecommunications. Programmed by Russ Wetmore, the author of Preppie,
it's the friendliest personal productivity software I've ever seen, and
an ideal package for serious telecommunications users. (HomePak is already
used by all CompuServe Atari SIG sysops.)
The package's real gem is Home-Term, which will work with just about any 300 baud or 1200 baud modem currently on the market. It even lets you upload and download with the low-cost Atari 1030 and 835 modems.
HomeTerm's colorful screen has a status line displaying duplex, time, file specs and more. You can use the joystick to control common command sequences, for speed and convenience in cruising through the menus and notes of large bulletin boards. You can set up an unlimited library of automatic log-on macros. The list of HomeTerm's exceptional features just goes on and on..
HomeText is an excellent simple word processor with lots of helpful bells and whistles like pop-up menus and color-coded screens, so you don't need to memorize complex commands.
You can work with files up to 8K long-about 4 pages of text. But it's easy to chain files together for convenient printing.
HomeText supports underlining and boldfacing, and has a document preview display. It comes with printer drivers. for many popular printers. And it can print customized form letters with mergrd data from Homefind files.
HomeFind uses natural-language commands to search through three fields. You don't have to enter your records in a special format. For example, simply type in, "Antic address 524 Second Street San Francisco CA 94107." And later you could look up this information by typing, "What's Antic's address?
Obviously, HomePak is not a super-powered integrated business package like Lotus 1-2-3. But HomeFind is fine for maintaining a phone directory and other information to use with Home-Term telecommunicating. And Home-Text is fine for preparing text to upload with HomeTerm. Also, the word processor and the database by themselves are perfectly adequate for most home uses.
HomePak's documentation comes in a spiral-bound hardcover booklet that stands up on your desk like an easel, making the instructions extra easy to read. At $49.95 for a disk with three high-quality programs, HomePak could well be the year's best Atari software value.
347 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Reviewed by Chris Chabris
Super-Text (MUSE) is a living dinosaur converted from an Apple
word processor. It requires three seperate modes to edit text. In Add mode,
you type in text and backspace to delete. To make insertions, enter the
Cursor mode, position the cursor, and re-enter the Add mode. There's
also a Change mode involved in typing over text. This clumsy multi-mode
structure was abandoned by most programmers years ago.
There are other limitations. Scrolling with the Cursor mode is slow. Super-Text allows only 14K of text, (two-fifths of Letter Perfect's memory). Super-Text can't be used with double-density disk drives.
At least Super-Text has help screens and allows extensive latitude in creating printer drivers. Documentation is comprehensive and includes a quick-reference card.
1221B Kentwood Avenue
San Jose, CA 95129
Reviewed by Tom Rainbow
Writer's Tool (OSS) is a better word processor than AtariWriter-but
it's still not as good as Letter Perfect.
Writer's Tool requires both a disk and an 8K cartridge, it supports double-density disk drives as well as the Amdek three-inch microfloppy. It comes with print drivers for most major printers on the market. And it has a database merge feature.
Unfortunately, Writer's Tool also has several throwbacks to the early days of word processing. Functions like Search-and-Replace and Clear (before and after cursor) require leaving the Edit mode, selecting a main menu option, performing the function, and then returning to Edit mode.
Similar inconvenience is encountered in saving a file. You must hit [OPTION] to get the main menu, select [D] for Diskio functions, choose [S] for save, and discover that the program only saves text after the cursor. If your cursor isn't at the text's start, you'd best go back and put it there.
Writer's Tool also takes up too much memory, leaving about 18K for files. You get 28K (about 4,000 words) with Letter Perfect or AtariWriter. A mere 18K isn't good for much more than writing Antic product reviews.