8-BIT PRODUCT REVIEWS
6 SYSTEM BOXThe 6 System Box is a switchbox for six different operating Systems. It works on XL and XE computers. I don't personally know anyone with six OS chips, but I suppose it could happen. These days we have quite a variety to choose from, including Omnimon, Expander, Supermon, Omniview 80, plus the do-it-yourself chips. I myself use the standard Atari OS and UltraSpeed from CSS (reviewed in Antic, October 1987), which are controlled by a built-in switch. (See Antic, March 1988, for instructions.)
The box is a 5 1/2 X 3 X 1 inch aluminum project box with a rotary switch and six LEDs on top. Inside is a circuit board with sockets for the OS chips and the jumper cable. The construction is not polished, but it worked without any problems.
Installation is not difficult if the OS chip in your computer is socketed. Otherwise, it should be left to an experienced technician. The instructions included with the 6 System Box are rudimentary and somewhat confusing. They suggest drilling a 1/4-inch hole, but they don't say why. They orient the chips in the box by referring to the "writing on the board." Since the board has writing on both edges, that's not much help. It would have been clearer to refer to the two small chips and the wires which are on the edge they mean.
The only other problem is the shortness of the jumper cable - a 6-inch flat ribbon cable that just barely reaches outside the computer box, where it interferes with cartridges (at least on the 130XE). I realize that there are strict length limits before the data gets scrambled, but this is something to consider.
Overall, the 6 System Box works just fine. If you want to use several OS chips, it's the only game in town. -- CHARLES CHERRY
$50, XL/XE. Irata Verlog USA 1272B Potter Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80909. (303) 596-0135.
In a departure from Rainbird's high-quality graphic adventures, Pawn and Guild of Thieves, Silicon Dreams is a trio of connected adventures with graphics such as you might have expected five years ago. But that's okay because these adventures can stand on their own without hi-res pictures and still be entertaining.
The adventures are called Snowball, Return to Eden and Worm In Paradise, and you can play them in any order you want. However, playing them in correct order lets you carry your score from one adventure to the next and gives you a higher final score as well as a shot at the title of Supreme Adventurer.
In Snowball, you're secret agent Kim Kimberley and you've awakened prematurely from your freezer-coffin on the good ship Snowball, which is on a collision course with the planet Eden. You must get to the main control room and avert disaster. In Return to Eden, you have landed on the planet and must somehow enter the city of Enoch. Worm in Paradise is set 100 years later. You are now Kim Kimberley III, and your goal is to gain power and influence and to save Eden.
None of the adventures is easy. There are robots aboard Snowball that make life very difficult for Kim. On Eden there are native life-forms to deal with. However, I had a good deal of fun playing the role of Kim Kimberley, avoiding robots and "Star Wars" lightning bolts.
The commands in Silicon Dreams are pretty standard. The Help command was not very helpful, and I found myself wishing for the Hint command from The Pawn. Silicon Dreams came with an clear, interesting, humorous instruction manual, as well as a novella called "Eden Song" which really helped set the scene for the adventure.
Silicon Dreams has some things in common with Pawn and Guild of Thieves, both good and bad. The game understands long command sentences, which is handy when you must enter similar commands over and over. Games can be saved to disk, and the RAM SAVE feature lets you save your current position, then reload it later with the RAM RESTORE command.
What I didn't like about Silicon Dreams was the copy-protection. When you load a saved game, you're asked to type a word from a line in "Eden Song" and this really interferes with game play. Also, Silicon Dreams might not work with your drive if you don't have an Atari 1050. -- JOHN MANOR
$24.95, 64K disk. 1050 disk drive recommended. Rainbird P0. Box 2227 Menlo Park, CA 94026. (415) 940-6087.