HINTS AND TIPS FROM OUR READERS
Has your confidence sunk after playing a few rounds of MicroProse's Red Storm Rising? Here are some sure ways to stay afloat. Red Storm Rising has a Help key (Alt-H on the PC version) that summons advice from the tactical computer. You should use this often when you first start playing. The advice it gives you is almost always correct and can get you out of tight spots. I've found the tips for avoiding enemy torpedoes invaluable. Don't feel like you're cheating—every good captain asks his or her advisors for tactical advice. As you gain experience you'll find you won't need the help key often, but you'll be glad it's there.
If you have a spotty sonar contact with an enemy sub, but you can't get a steady reading, fire a torpedo in the general direction of the contact. Wait until the torpedo is a good distance from your sub and then activate it. When the enemy submarine detects your torpedo, chances are it will make plenty of noise trying to get out of the torpedo's way, giving away the sub's position.
If you're in combat against a diesel sub, don't waste time stalking it. Fire a torpedo at it immediately—you're faster and more maneuverable.
Tetris Tower Tips
Here are some tips for improved Tetris-tower building, to help make those late nights playing Spectrum HoloByte's hit game last even longer.
If you don't know the best way to arrange each piece, you're probably wasting precious seconds and shapes. Although it's tempting to use the straight piece in long vertical spaces, using them horizontally is actually more efficient—two pieces fill almost an entire line.
Always leave a space for a cube, even if that space is very deep. The cube can be very useful or very troublesome depending on how you prepare for its fall. Simply leave two adjacent spots at the same height, whether it's at the bottom level or somewhere on the way to the top.
The T-shaped piece is the most versatile of all. It can act just like either Z-shaped piece as well as the L-shaped piece. When it falls, use it to fill the space that would be hardest to fill otherwise—a space that can only be filled by one other shape, for example.
Use the keyboard instead of the joystick. This tip is debatable, especially among arcade-game fans. If you're more accustomed to a joystick, you might hate the keyboard. However, you'll find that you can keystroke your way to the right position much more accurately and quickly. When a cube shows up, the keyboard is particularly useful. The cube always shows up in the same position on the screen, so, if you can figure out how many keyboard clicks to your open position, you don't even have to aim. You can be focusing at the top of the screen, watching for the next shape.
Learn the best spot for each Tetris piece or you'll waste precious time.
Third, practice by playing at level 1 and game speed 13. You'll improve your playing under pressure, so you won't have to just stare at the space-station background as the pieces drop chaotically onto the pile.
Heidi E. H. Aycock
Chapel Hill, NC
Stand and Deliver
If you want to be a successful swash-buckler in MicroProse's Pirates!, sailing the Spanish Main in search of treasure fleets, you'll have to learn some hard lessons about war at sea in the days of wooden ships.
I learned my tactics from hours of playing Broadsides (a board game that's still a lot fun in these days of silicon sails, but unfortunately out of print) and countless Saturday afternoons at the Ben Ali theater, watching every pirate movie that came to town.
First lesson: Choose the right ship. A pirate is more a guerrilla fighter than a field general. In this game, you'll come across several ships during your travels. A war galleon or frigate may look impressive when you sail into port, but give me a well-provisioned sloop on the open ocean. It's a fast and extremely maneuverable vessel—even when your sails are close-hauled for battle.
There's one naval tactic that, if mastered, can bring up your enemy's white flag while keeping damage to your own ship at a minimum. "Crossing the T" is when your ship crosses directly behind or across the bow of the enemy ship. The advantage of such a move is obvious: It allows you to send a full broadside into the other ship's hull and rigging while leaving its guns without a target.
Crossing the T takes some practice and experience in reading the winds and in steering your ship so that it doesn't get crossed itself. But once you get the hang of it, it's a surefire way to make your roger jolly.
High Point, NC
If you have game tips and shortcuts of your own, we'd like to hear from you. Send your tip, no matter how brief, to COMPUTE! Feedback, P.O. Box 5406, Greensboro, North Carolina 27403. If we publish your suggestion, we'll send you a gift.