Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 4 NO. 1 / AUGUST 1989

For The
Fun Of It

Deja Vu II, Captain Fizz,
Star Wars

Do you want adventure? Action? Then stay tuned: In this issue veteran gamester Dave Plotkin takes on Deja Vu II, the sequel to Mindscape's popular graphic adventure, and the finally released ST version of Star Wars. If you want a two-player arcade game, follow along as START Editor Andrew Reese leads you through the unique world of Captain Fizz.

Reviewed By David Plotkin

Deja Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas is a graphic role-playing game in a series that includes Deja Vu and The Uninvited. It has an easy-to-use interface and graphics and animation that are superior even to the other games in this series. However, for a variety of reasons, it's more frustrating to play.

In Deja Vu II, you once again play the role of a second-rate detective (talk about deja vu!). In the original Deja Vu, you were accused of murdering Joey Siegel, owner of Joey's Bar. You cleared your name, but now you have a new problem. It seems a large sum of money turned up missing when Joey was killed and the Mob Boss thinks you have it. Your goal is to recover the mobster's missing funds before being rubbed out by a hit man.

You start out in Las Vegas with a throbbing headache and not enough money to get you anywhere useful. A hit man shows up from time to time to either warn you that time is running out-or to let you know that time has run out.

Deja Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas, the latest graphic-adventure
from Mindscape, sets you in the midst of mobsters and
gangland hit men.

Slick Interface
What sets Deja Vu II (and the other adventures in this series) apart from "ordinary" adventure games is the interface. The game is presented through a series of screen windows. The main window in the center of the screen presents your first-person view of the world. You can only see straight ahead, so there is an uncomfortable feeling of stumbling blindly along when moving toward a destination "behind" you or to the sides. Many objects can be seen in this window, and descriptions of most of them can be attained by double-clicking on an object. Some of these objects can also be added to your inventory.

The Text window describes events and objects you examine. The Exits window shows all exits that are available from your location. To open an exit, double-click on it either in the main window (if it is visible) or in the Exits window. Also, you can double-click on an open exit in either window to go through it. However, if an exit is not visible in the main window, you can only use it from the Exits window.

The Verb window contains a series of action verbs that you can use to interact with your surroundings. Some of the verbs you can choose are OPEN, EXAMINE, HIT and OPERATE. OPEN is very powerful. To load your gun, for example, click on OPEN and then on the picture of the GUN. This opens a new window which shows the contents of the gun. Drag the bullets into that window, then CLOSE the gun. You'll quickly learn that much of your gameplay is done by dragging items between windows!

The Inventory window shows what you are carrying. Items can be picked up from the main window and dragged to the Inventory window. Items in inventory can be rearranged, a great time-saver. For example, there are some newspaper clippings in your wallet, which is in your pants. To get at them you must OPEN your pants, which shows a picture of the wallet (Whew!), then open the wallet. By dragging the clippings from the open Wallet window to the main inventory window, you save a lot of "point and click."

With Deja Vu II's interface you don't have to guess what vocabulary the program understands. You will sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to the combine the verbs and objects to achieve the desired result (like putting your pants on). But then, this is part of playing the adventure.

Who's in Control?
Deja Vu II is a moderately funny adventure. If you try something that's silly or doesn't make a lot of sense, the program will respond with an appropriately sarcastic comment. The graphics are decent and most objects are recognizable. Digitized sound, such as car engines and the train conductor's "All Aboard!" add a lot. And the animation sequences are excellent. If you manage to take the required train ride, the countryside rolling by outside the window is very well done.

What sets
Deja Vu II
apart from
"ordinary" adventure
games is the

Despite the graphics and sound enhancements in Deja Vu II, I didn't like it as much as I liked Deja Vu and The Uninvited. My impression was that everything in the game must be done in exactly the right order with very few options. You must go to the right locations in the right order or run up against a dead end. In other words, it feels like the program controls you, rather than the other way around. Granted, adventure games always control the user to some extent, but Deja Vu II made that fact too obvious.

Another problem I have with the game is that it's too easy to get killed for no good reason. For example, when you go to the train station, there are quite a few possible destinations. But travel anywhere other than the right place (and I won't tell you where that is. . .) and the hit man shows up to kill you. On the other hand, the deaf cabbie is a device that works well to keep you on the straight and narrow. You can only go places by showing him printed addresses, so you have to travel to destinations in the correct order.

If you enjoy graphic role-playing adventures, you should give Deja Vu II a look, especially if you've solved the other adventures in this series. But if you haven't seen the original Deja Vu, check it out first. You might like it better.

Reviewed By Andrew Reese

Captain Fizz made me start thinking about the nature of the computer game experience. Is it a solitary pursuit, just you against the computer with its mind-bending puzzles or tests of eye/hand coordination? Is it the chance to take out your aggressions on your buddy by blasting him in a two-player duel? Or can it be more?

Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons is definitely more. It's the first game I've seen that requires two players to work together in an arcade situation. As the box copy says, "The message is simple: cooperate or die!"

In some aspects, Captain Fizz seems pedestrian. You play the part of one of the "Queen's Cloned Highlanders," charged with the destruction of an evil central computer after 22 levels of battle. The playfield is viewed from overhead and, while it scrolls nicely as you move from one part of a level to another, the graphics are merely good, not spectacular. But the Fizz screen is split horizontally into two views-one for each player-and this and the game concept makes the difference.

Can't We Be Friends?
Each level is filled with nasty aliens, laser gates, ammo, guns, recharging stations, blocks, tanks, keycards and, I'm sure, other features we haven't seen yet. You need the right color keycard to move through coded doors to complete a level. If your buddy has picked up all of the cards on a level of a particular color, he or she can still help you through a door, but first you'd better work out who does what when, or you're going to die, trapped and alone.

Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons is different:
two players are essential for success and they must
cooperate in this arcade game from Psygnosis.

Gameplay is fun and within the reactions of the "older" player (me) and yet still fast enough for the younger player (my son). Fizz isn't all action, however. You have to figure out how to turn off the laser gates by setting four switches in the proper order and also decipher the functions of other screen features. Don't look for any help in the meager manual. It's cute and well-written, but virtually useless, since it follows the European prescription for documentation: Don't tell 'em anything they can discover for themselves by trial-and-error.

The Good, the Bad and the Missing
The scoring in Fizz is meaningless, since it doesn't save or even display high scores. The health, armour, damage, charge and credit numbers are nowhere explained and the gameplay usually moves too fast to see what affects them. Fizz uses typical disk copy protection, but it loaded reliably every time. There are a few essential game features like a pause control, two levels of play and a "kill a screenful" blitter bomb, but it sorely lacks a save-game function. It's just too tough a game to complete 22 levels in one sitting.

The message in
Captain Fizz is
simple: cooperate
or die!

It's nice to have a game that teaches some positive values, even if the cooperation necessary in Fizz is directed ultimately to destruction. If you're looking for a game for those late nights alone with your ST, you can have fun with Fizz for a while, but you'll end up frustrated. But if you want to coax a friend into playing a game together give Fizz a try In spite of the lack of a few nearly essential features and a decent manual, it's still a great game.

Reviewed By David Plotkin

If you've been living on this planet anytime during the last 12 years, chances are that you've seen the movie Star Wars. Following shortly on the heels of the movie was the arcade game of the same name, which used vector graphics to simulate 3-D very effectively. It was a very playable and very popular game.

Available in Europe for more than a year, Star Wars for the ST has finally been brought to the the United States under the Broderbund banner. Straight off, it's an excellent game with fast action, great graphics and digitized sound. It plays well with both mouse and joystick and there's enough variation in the levels to please everyone from beginner to arcade pro.

The Game
The game of Star Wars places you near the end of the movie. The Rebel Alliance has launched a strike force of small, one-man fighters to attack the rapidly approaching Death Star. You must destroy the Death Star or the rebel base planet will be destroyed. Your mission is to fly down a long trench in the Death Star's surface and fire an energy torpedo into a small exhaust port at the end. If you're successful, the Death Star's reactor will explode, scattering debris all over the galaxy. If you saw the movie, you'll remember this sequence as one of the most exciting The game captures this excitement quite well.

Star Wars is played in stages. In the first stage, you're in space, approaching the Death Star. The empire's TIE fighters rise up to meet you, blasting at you with fireballs. Your perspective is from the cockpit of your fighter. With your lasers, you shoot at either the TIE fighters (which explode after a single hit) or the oncoming fireballs. You can also avoid the fireballs, though it's a little tricky.

Every time a fireball hits you, you lose one of your shields. When the last shield is gone, the game is over You start the game with a set number of shields, depending on the level you selected, and gain a new shield each time you survive a complete round.

Stars Wars has finally made to the United States.
Broderbund's latest game for the ST faithfully
reproduces the arcade hit.

The second stage (which you'll not see at the easiest level) has you flying across the Death Star's surface. Scattered here and there are red blockhouses. These are relatively easy pickings for your lasers, although they do shoot back. In levels three and above, towers are added to the surface. The towers have a white top, and shooting the tops off all the towers gains you a healthy dose of bonus points. The challenge here is not to fly into one of the towers, which are closely spaced. This is difficult toward the end of the sequence, as you are moving very fast. Hitting a tower not only costs you a shield, but also sends your fighter careening out of control for a moment, which may cause you to hit another tower.

In the last stage, your fighter rolls over and dives into the trench. Zooming down the trench, your way is hampered by laser bases that fire at you (level two and above) and barricades across the trench (levels three and above). You can blast the laser bases with your own lasers, but the barricades are indestructible. Avoid them if you can, because hitting one has the same effect as hitting a tower.

If you survive the journey "down the trench," the reactor exhaust port will come into view. Unlike the movie, this port is not hard to hit, and if you blast it successfully, you zoom off into space to watch the Death Star explode. If you miss it, you lose your bonus points and have to make the flight down the trench again.

Outstanding Features
The graphics, sound and control system for Star Wars are outstanding. The game faithfully reproduces the vector-graphics look of the arcade version, and the animation is smooth and fast. When you blast a TIE fighter, it breaks up into little pieces and the various parts go zipping past you. The 3-D effect of flying across the surface of the Death Star is impressive.

The sound is digitized, and sequences from the movie are included. For instance, Obi Wan Kenobi urges you to "use the force" as you fly down the trench. I won't tell you exactly what this means, but there's a bonus for listening to the wise old Jedi.

Star Wars is controllable with both a mouse and a joystick, and the mouse works exceptionally well. It controls the firing cursor and the direction of your fighter, although the fighter can only move in a rather narrow range. Thus, you don't go careening off in the wrong direction if you are concentrating on blowing away that last blockhouse. The mouse tends to be a little confusing when flying down the trench, where you must adjust your altitude to avoid the barricades. I find a joystick is an easier way to fly here, perhaps because of all the hours I've logged on flight simulators.

The combination of action, graphics. sound and playability make Star Wars an exceptional game. From facing Darth Vader's TIE fighter in the opening sequence to Luke telling R2D2 to "see what you can dd' with the loose stabilizer, this game pulls you in and makes you part of the Star Wars experience. Now if only 1 could get a medal from Princess Leia.

Andrew Reese is the Editor of START Magazine. David Plotkin is a chemical engineer at Chevron US.A. and a contributing editor for START.


Deja Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas, $49.95. Mindscape, 3444 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062, (312) 480-7667.

Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons, $29.95. Psygnosis, Ltd., P.O. Box 483, Mdison, 1160101, (800) 669-4912.

Star Wars, $39.95. Broderbund, 17 Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, (415) 492-3500.