An avalanche of Apple games. (evaluation) David H. Ahl; Randl J. Rost; Dan Jacobs; Chris Vogeli.
An Avalanche Of Apple Games
There's no rest for the weary, and also no rest for the avid Apple-gamer. So many high quality games have been introduced in the past several months that it's hard to keep up with them all. In our effort to keep you up to date, here are some of our findings.
No, Borg is not a Wimbledon simulation in which you attempt to win six straight championships. Rather, it is a superior game in the class that included Datamost's Thief and the popular arcade game Berzerk. In Borg, your mission is to reach The Grud, destroy him and then escape. In order to accomplish this you must navigate through 10 rooms, avoiding dragons and a kangaroo with wings named Borg.
In the first room, the dragons are unarmed; in all subsequent rooms, they have weapons and are intent on putting you out of your misery. Luckily, dragons are by nature dull-witted (you knew that, right?) and will sometimes shoot each other or collide. One must also be wary of the objects in each room, since some are electrified and will cause a quick demise at the slightest touch. If that weren't enough, there's still the small matter of Borg to contend with.
Borg appears just about the time you are getting things under control. You are making for the exit, intent on vaporizing the last couple of dragons when an ominous call for "Borg!' rattles your Apple's speaker. Out hops Borg, straight toward you, crashing through everyone and everything in his way. If he reaches you before you reach the exist, it's goodbye, Charlie.
The rooms themselves are excellent examples of Apple hi-res graphics. The quilt room is typical: patches of color are laid out in a pattern pleasing to the eye, but devilishly tricky to navigate. The figure of a man that you are controlling can run and fire his weapon in eight directions, and the animation is remarkable for a shape so small.
A menu at the start of the program lets you choose which control to use. Potions include using either game paddle, a joystick, an Atari joystick connected to a Sirius Joyport, or keyboard controls. I found the Atari joystick made to order for Borg. During the game, you can toggle sound effects on or off with CTR 1-S or restart the game by pressing CTR 1-R.
Hitting the ESC key causes the game to pause so you can answer the phone or wipe the sweat from your brow. About the only thing missing is a high score feature. After playing Borg for four straight hours, I would have liked to have seen what my best score was.
A color TV or monitor is definitely necessary for playing Borg. The color of the obstacles helps a lot in determining which are electrified and which are not. It may take some time to get past the first room, and some may even give up in frustrating. If you are looking for an easy game you can master right away, this is not the one. Borg is enough to challenge even the championship arcaber's skill, but can be a lot of fun for beginners too. If you like Berzerk, you'll love Borg, because Borg has more--more color, more challenge, and more nail-biting excitement.
Foosball lovers unite! You now have an outlet for your frustrations in a new fast-paced simulation of the popular parlor game. Computer Foosball is an exciting rendition of this sport, which has playability remarkably similar to the real thing.
The game has one, two, and four player versions which involve a match between the Gruds and the Robots. In the single-player version, you control the Gruds (no offense intended) and your mighty Apple controls the Robots. The first one to score five goals is the winner, and is treated to a few bars of a rousing fight song.
The game begins by prompting for the number of players and the difficulty level. Normal and fast options control the maximum speed of the ball. The normal speed is by no means slow, and will require some practice before your Gruds can avoid embarrassment by the Robots.
The players are controlled by game paddles, which move them up and down. Pushing the button causes the players to kick the ball. The button is held down to avoid stopping the ball when it is already going the right direction (toward the goal).
Another feature that is notably similar to the actual game is the action in the corners of the field. The author, Keithen, simulated the banks of the foosball table, which serve to keep the ball in play. If the ball does come to a stop (as it does at times in the real game), hitting CTRL-B will re-serve it. These extra features make the game feel far superior to Pong-like versions I have played before.
The two and four player versions can be even more invigorating. With two people playing, the second player controls the Robots. This may come as a relief; if your opponent is less skillful than the Apple, you may actually be able to win a game.
With this option there is the additional excitement of head-to-head competition, a feature seldom found in Apple games. So what could be better? Four players, of course! This option, available to owners of the Sirius Joyport, is the only one I have seen that enables four players to play simultaneously with all four pushbuttons operational.
Besides normal retail sales, the game is available free with the purchase of a Joyport. Either way, foosballers and non-foosballers will enjoy the action in this fast-paced game.
The microcomputer game industry is getting more sophisticated by the day. Game authors have begun to implement multiple scenarios, realistic three-dimensional graphics, and automatic increases in difficulty.
Horizon V is an excellent example of what a little imagination and some programming prowess can produce. A graphical masterpiece by Nasir Gebelli, it catches your eye immediately and beckons you to play.
The game starts by prompting for the mode of control--keyboard or joystick. It also has an option for modifying the keyboard. This is a feature I would like to see become standard in the future. Although is no mention in the instructions), there is no mention in the instructions), the game is compatible with the Sirius Joyport (hit control/shift/P).
In the first part of the game, you are hovering just above the surface of a gridded planet. Checking your radar display in the upper right of the screen (a la Battlezone), you spy the dots that represent the angry G-bellians, who think you've kidnapped Paulette the G-belly dancer.
The G-bellians are obviously not familiar with our "innocent until proven guilty' concept, and proceed to attack. You have a limited amount of fuel, and must shoot as many adversaries as possible before trying to refuel.
The ship you are in always faces one direction, so maneuvering involves using the controls to move forward, backward, and laterally. This is made even more challenging due to a mysterious random wind of some type that tries tod change your trajectory. It is the ability to counter this randomness quickly that separates the good players from those who are merely target practice for the G-bellians.
Before you know it, you find yourself low on fuel, and must abandon your dogfight to get more. This is accomplished by checking the fuel direction indicators which tell you where the time tunnel entrance is. If you can hover above it long enough, you will be whisked into the tunnel, where you must shoot more G-bellians.
However, here they are worth only 100 points each, whereas above the planet a shot could earn up to 600 points. This means strategy for high scores involves staying on the surface as long as possible, despite the risk of running out of fuel. This part of the game is sure to cause the player mental anguish and heart palpitations.
As if that were not enough, you still must shoot a number of these guys before you can proceed. Next stop is the fueling area, which appears as a series of growing concentric rings, a beautiful graphics effect.
By centering a crossmark in the middle (battling the mysterious wind all the while) you earn enough fuel to return to the surface. The planet has now changed colors, and the G-bellians are more aggressive.
The game continues in this cycle for as long as you can hold out. When the G-bellians have finally won out, high scorers' names are recorded with up to six letters, a nice touch that will keep you coming back for more
The object of Shuttle Intercept is to retrieve friendly satellites. At your disposal you have a high speed space shuttle, which always flies at the left side of the screen. Its vertical position is controlled by a paddle controller.
To start the game you press the paddle button once and the bay doors open. A second press raises your sky hook and fires your laser cannon. To retrieve a satellite, you must touch it with the upper part of your sky hook, which must be fully extended. Merely flying over it with your craft does you no good.
Unfortunately, in addition to friendly satellites, there are also enemy flying saucers, satellites, meteors, and missiles flying in the same air space. Each of these must be dealt with somewhat differently. Enemy craft and satellites can be destroyed with your laser cannon. If they are not destroyed, enemy satellites will destroy your shuttle while enemy craft will simply push down your sky hook and close the bay doors.
Meteors and missiles, on the other hand, must be avoided by skillful piloting of your craft. Meteors fly in a predictable course and are relatively easy to avoid, except if they are too close to a satellite you are trying to retrieve. On the other hand, missiles will track your shuttle and destroy it. I found the best strategy was to wait until they got close and then quickly move out of the way.
The game has four levels of play of increasing difficulty. In addition, at 5000 points, the speed of the missiles increases, and at 10,000 points the meteors begin to travel faster. Frankly, I was pleased with scores of two or three thousand. Any score over 1000 allows you to enter your name or initials as the higher scorer for a session, but scores are not saved on the disk.
Your mission is to find the nine power jewels in each level of the Star Maze and return them to your mother ship. Do this for all 16 levels and you become an Ace. That is an understatement! I had a tough time just retrieving five or six jewels on the first level.
In this game, you are flying a small space ship around the corridors of a maze. The maze is considerably larger than will fit on the screen, so you see only a small portion of it at one time. The program employs outstanding graphics which cause the maze to scroll by in a direction corresponding to your direction of movement.
You start out at the mother ship with a full fuel tank, three anti-matter bombs, and high hopes. A power jewel may be picked up by flying over it at a speed of 200 or less. This sometimes proves to be quite a challenge because, although it is relatively easy to locate the jewels, it is not always easy to slow the momentum of your ship sufficiently that you can pass over them at such a slow speed.
Furthermore, to drop the jewel off at the mother ship you must also be travelling slower than 200. In fact, if you fly over your mother ship with a speed of 100 or less, you will also refuel. The need to refuel is indicated by both a fuel gauge and an audible warning.
You have three star fighters with which to complete your mission. Flying around the maze, you will find alien cruisers, scout ships, saucers, UFOs, meteors and even a strange little train of outer space bugs. You can destroy an enemy either by shooting bullets at him (bullets in an outer space game?) or by firing an anti-matter bomb.
In a tight situation, you may also elect to enter hyperspace which transports you to another part of the maze. This is not always a good idea since hyperwarp uses a great deal of fuel and you may wind up in the middle of a screen full of enemy ships.
The game may be played from a keyboard, with a standard joystick, or with a switch-type joystick with the Sirius Joyport. Frankly, I found none of them entirely satisfactory. In keyboard mode, ten keys are in use, although only six are used regularly. That's too many for my uncoordinated fingers. Regular joystick mode is somewhat easier, although you still need the keyboard to detonate antimatter bombs or enter hyperspace. But perhaps I am just being petulant because I was never able even to come close to mastering the game.
However, at the risk of adding yet another control, I feel that a speed break would increase the playability of the game. On the other hand, the momentum of the ships is very realistic and perhaps is what one ought to expect in outer space.
As a submarine captain of the Seafox, you must destroy all of the merchant ships (the top row of ships on the screen) in order to move on to the next mission. Hampering you are other submarines which try to ram you or shoot torpedoes at you. Also, hospital ships frequently come between you and the merchant ships.
If one of your torpedoes hits a hospital ship, it bounces off it harmlessly and heads for the ocean floor. Unfortunately, during this time you are unable to fire anything and are at the mercy of the enemy submarines, and only skillful maneuvering can insure your survival.
Skillful maneuvering is increasingly necessary on advanced missions as you dodge exploding depth charges, torpedo fire, and magnetic mines.
Your sub has a limited supply of fuel and torpedoes which must be replenished frequently. Occasionally, a supply sub passes by near the ocean bottom and releases a trained dolphin carring fuel and torpedoes. You must make contact with the dolphin's supply pack in order to resupply your vessel. If your sub harms
the dolphin, watch out! He has many
friends in these waters and they don't take too kindly to it. Giant clams may also interfere with refueling so it is best to collect your supplies quickly.
Your submarine may be controlled by either the keyboard or a joystick. Paddle control is also theoretically possible, but nearly impossible for normal humans. I also found keyboard control very difficult since 11 keys are used to control directions, and firing. A self-centering joystick is by far the most satisfactory. However, both firing buttons must be operational since button O fires torpedoes up and button 1 fires them forward. Although you may move your sub in any direction, forward is always to the right side of the screen. Thus, the only way to get a submarine approaching from the left is by using your upward torpedo when you are under it.
On the lower levels, I found Seafox considerably easier to play and much less frustrating than several of the other submarine games on the market. Although the hazards increase on the upper levels, I generally had a nice sense of accomplishment as I progressed through the game. My applause goes to Ed Hobbs for creating a game which can be enjoyed by clods and experts alike.
On the package we read: "On the War God's planet, his vicious Mars Cars have been programmed to sense, search out, and destroy any alien advanturer, who dares seek his timeless treasures. And on Mars, you are the Alien!
"Enter this inter-planetary battle of wits and agility. Travel 16 danger filled levels, defeat the killer Mars Cars and return to earth with a King's ransom.'
At your disposal you have a tough little excursion vehicle. The planet is far different than you were ever led to believe by the Viking Probes or telescope observation. There are no canals, no deserts, no ravines. Instead you find a series of lightweight barriers. These may be easily destroyed by simply ramming them, but the entire surface is not covered with barriers.
The barriers form garages (or pens) around treasures and deadly Mars Cars. Your challenge is to head out into this land of barriers and Mars Cars, retrieve the four treasures in the corners of each of the 16 boards, and head for the exit (which is actually the entrance to the next level).
On the lower levels, the Mars Cars simply bounce around within their pens and follow predictable patterns around which you can generally manuever. However, on the higher levels, the cars become more intelligent and seem to pick up your scent as they close in for the kill.
You score 10 points for each barrier you destroy and 100 points for each treasure. While it is quite easy to destroy many barriers for big scores, this has the peril of releasing more Mars Cars than you may be prepared to deal with.
Once you have all four treasures on a level, you must head for the exit gate at the center of the right side of the screen to reach the next level. There you will find more treasure, more barriers, and more "devious' Mars Cars.
Although I tried every trick in the book in this Martian demolition derby, the highest I ever got was the 11th level. But wait until tomorrow; I'll make it to level 16 yet.
In Level I of Marauder (the first game), you are the pilot of a ship attacking an alien planet and its defense installations. The first line of defense is an energy shield which covers the surface of the planet. You can maneuver your small craft around the screen using a joystick (or keyboard if your fingers are more coordinated than mine).
Your weapon always points down and is fired with Button 1. Button O gives an added burst of speed to avoid enemy fire. This should be used sparingly since there is a four-second interval between permissible uses of that function. You must destroy seven defense installations (nine at higher levels of play) before you fly into the ruins of the fireball launcher and enter the labyrinth of the city.
Needless to say, these defense installations are not just sitting still waiting for you to knock them out. There are guided missile bases, mine launchers, lasers, and fireball launchers, all of which are bent on your destruction. Missiles and mines can be destroyed, but the fireball cannot, so it is the one of which you must be most wary.
Level II (the second game) begins when you enter the city and start searching for the power station which supplies life support for the defending aliens. Naturally, the power station is guarded by nasty robot guards which communicate with one another as well as see and hear your shots as you wander around the Berzerk-style maze. You, on the other hand, can see only those robots that are within you field of vision.
Your marauder can be killed by either shots from a robot or falling bricks from the ceiling. If you survive the robots and get a direct hit on the power center with your hand weapon, you get whatever bonus points are still on the timer when you destroy it.
However, destroying the power center starts a chain reaction which eventually destroys the entire alien world. After hitting it, you have 2000 units of time to return to your ship before the ceiling begins to fall. A safe return leaves you ready for your next planetary assault. There are 16 levels of play on the disk, more than enough to challenge even the best arcader.
If you have been with computers for even a little while, you have probably heard someone talking about adventures. The adventure game began years ago on the big systems and found its way to the micro thanks to the efforts of Scott Adams.
Scott took the original game and scaled it down somewhat to produce his first program, Adventureland. Since then, Scott has formed his own company (Adventure International), and adventuring has become a popular pastime among computer people everywhere.
Scott has recently re-written his 13 adventure programs to include graphics and speech. Using a special picture packing technique, he has managed to cram over 100 high-resolution color pictures onto a single adventure disk. The result is the Scott Adams' Graphic Adventure (S.A.G.A.) series.
Although the graphics are spectacular, the real fun is listening to the speech. If you have a Votrax Type-N-Talk unit, you can specify speech output at the beginning of the game and enjoy audible prompts throughout the game. Don't worry if you don't own a Votrax, however. The program will run fine without it. A complete menu allows you to customize the game to suit your mood. If you don't want the pictures, or you feel like playing without the speech, you just select the appropriate option from the main menu.
Mission Impossible is an adventure set inside a nuclear reactor. It has been rigged to explode and you must deactivate the bomb before detonation. Armed with only a bomb detector and a tape recorder, you race against the clock to save the reactor.
It is hard to imagine a micro owner who doesn't have at least one adventure game in his files. If you already own a non-graphic Mission Impossible, don't throw it away. The old version is exactly the same as the S.A.G.A. series and is an excellent way to enter the world of adventuring.
Innovative Design Software is known for their non-violent games. Games such as Juggler and Pool 1.5 have done extremely well and have earned the praise of gamers everywhere. Their latest release, Shuffleboard, is sure to equal its predecessors in popularity and playability.
On the top half of the screen, the playing surface is displayed. If you are not familiar with the layout of a standard shuffleboard, don't worry, the instruction manual is very thorough in describing the rules and the scoring. Two game options, "Tally All' and "Cutthroat' are available.
Aiming the puck is accomplished with the U and D keys. All you have to do is line up the puck and the aimer. After you select the force with which you will push the puck, the S key sends it sliding down the floor.
If you can't find anyone around who wants to play a game, Shuffleboard has a computer play mode which is always ready to go. While playing against the Apple, we were surprised at the fairness of the program. Sometimes, computer routines cheat by making moves too accurate for humans to reproduce. Not so with Shuffleboard. The computer is challenging player, but not impossible to beat.
Shuffleboard is a pleasant computer adaption of a classic game. Whether you are a shuffleboard fan or not, this package is worthy addition to any software library.
Zenith is a 3-D action game in which you must defend a helpless space colony from alien attack. These aliens just don't want any humans to occupy their galaxy. In fact, they are ready to destroy anything that you may try to build. To rid yourself of these troublemaking creatures, you must blast their ships with your lasers and then capture the alien pilots with your rescue claw.
So far it sounds pretty much like any other game. However, why would anyone want to capture the aliens? Why not let them die out in space? Well, it turns out that the aliens are necessary for your survival. During play, fuel, shield, and laser energy are consumed by your ship. The only way that you can replenish your supplies is by purchasing them from the aliens' base ship. The currency is, of course, your alien hostages.
After you gather four aliens in your collection chamber, your ship is automatically drawn to their base and your cargo is exchanged for fuel. It sounds easy, but catching the alien astronauts is extremely difficult.
In addition to the task of retrieving the spacemen, there is a time limit involved in play. If you do not bring your hostages back to their base soon enough, they begin to suffocate, and will die in minutes.
The entire battle takes place over an animated 3-D grid. As you are turning, diving, and climbing, the ground pattern changes to give you the feel of flight. Even our best programmers were amazed at the animation techniques employed in Zenith.
In summary, Zenith is a well executed game that is sure to amuse everyone. The graphics are excellent, and the idea is new. Zenith gets our highest rating.
Products: Sirius Software Borg (computer program)
Sirius Software Computer Football (computer program)
Gebelli Software Horizon V (computer program)
Hayden Software Shuttle Intercept (computer program)
Sir-Tech Software Star Maze (computer program)
Broderbund Software Seafox (computer program)
Datamost Mars Cars (computer program)
Sierra On-Line Marauder (computer program)
Adventure International Mission Impossible (computer program)
IDSI Shuffleboard (computer program)
Gebelli Software Zenith (computer program)