Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 4 NO. 4 / NOVEMBER 1989

For The Fun Of It

Battlehawks 1942, Combat Course, JUG

Are you prepared for combat? If you are, START Editor Andrew Reese will guide you through the WWII Pacific theater with Lucasfilm's Battlehawks 1942. If you aren't, Greg Perez will shape you up with his review of Mindscape's Combat Course, a rough-and-ready boot-camp simulation. After that, you may be prepared to take on a whole planet single-handedly as you follow Frank Nagy on a hero's quest in Microdeal's JUG. Good luck, soldier!

Battlehawks 1942


What are you looking for in a flight simulator? 1980's speed and firepower? Or, perhaps, a step back to an earlier age of flight? If it's the latter you're looking for, then look no further than Lucasfilm's Battlehawks 1942.

Set in the Pacific Theater of Operations in 1942, Battlehawks 1942 puts you in the middle of four of the most crucial sea and air battles of World War II. You fly authentic aircraft of the era--Wildcats, Dauntlesses and Avengers on the U.S. side and Zeroes, Vals and Kates on the Japanese side (Yes, in this simulation, you can fly on either side.) And the missions are right out of the history books with authentic targets and scenarios.

As with most flight simulators, you have a cockpit point-of-view, switchable with the keypad for a look around your plane. Your instruments are few: airspeed, altimeter, bank and pitch, fuel, rate-of-climb, RPM, compass and indicators for fuel and engine/airframe damage. You also have levers for landing gear, speed brakes (if equipped) and flaps and, if you are on a bomb or torpedo mission, a warhead indicator. This simplicity makes it both easier and harder to fly and fight: you have no complex avionics and electronic displays to master, but at the same time, there's no radar, autopilot or homing missiles to help you down your targets. This game is a pure flying experience.

battlehawks.jpg Lucasfilm Games
adds another
success to their
line of innova-
tive computer
games. Battle-
hawks 1942 is
one of the few
flight simulators
that lets you
take either side
--and in accu-
rately re-created
combat situa-
tions to boot.
With spectacular
graphics and
effects, this is
one game not
to miss.

Manual Ecstasy

If you're an aviation enthusiast at all, you'll want Battlehawks 1942 just for its extensive manual. It's 127 pages of history, tactics, theory and aviation lore and includes fold-out maps of the battles in which you can fly. It's truly a spectacular production and almost worth the price of the game by itself.

You'll also need the manual for the off-disk copy protection. You must match a Zero displayed at a particular angle on the screen to one of a number of drawings in the manual and then type in a keyword. I don't mind such copy protection if it means that the disks are unprotected (as here) and I can load the game onto my hard disk. A game this complex requires a lot of disk accesses and a hard drive eliminates disk swaps and long waits.

Battlehawks 1942 offers many variations in play. There are 10 different training missions for fighter interception and escort, dive bombing and torpedo bombing. Within the groups are increasingly difficult tasks with more and more opposition. Depending upon which side you wish to fly for, there are also 16 different missions drawn from the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz Islands. Add to this variety the ability to choose different aircraft, set their armor effectiveness, fuel capacity and ammo capacity, set your starting altitude and choose the caliber of your opposition pilots and you have an amazingly customizable game.

You start each mission at altitude and don't need to take off or land on a carrier (even if you would like to do so). The aircraft on the screen are solid-colored with authentic markings. You can, for example, distinguish a Val dive bomber from a Zero at some distance just by its distinctive coloring.

All the Bells and Whistles

The graphics throughout Battlehawks 1942 are superb. The planes take hits and catch fire, smoke or explode with the pilot bailing out in a parachute (Don't try to gun down the vulnerable pilots; this particular bit of historical nastiness has been eliminated.) Debris falls into the sea with convincing splashes and you can track your torpedoes by their bubble wakes. A bomb miss raises a convincing geyser of water Flak from the ships explodes around you as soon as you're in range. In short, it's all there.

Lucasfilm also added a "gun camera" feature that lets you record part of your mission and play it back at any point. Moreover, you can move the camera's vantage point anywhere in the action and check your accuracy from close range. It's one of the game's most outstanding features.

Despite all of the great features of Battlehawks 1942, the one place it falls short is that it uses the mouse as a controller. Airplanes, especially WWII craft, need joysticks and the only consolation here is that Lucasfilm engineered the mouse interface quite well; in most situations it works acceptably. Also, when the screen is filled with planes, flak and machine gun fire, the game response gets a little sluggish. It's just the price you have to pay for running such a complex game on a 68000 processor.

You can't fly these planes like jets. There's no Stage 5 afterburner to pump out more thrust than weight and take you straight up at 700 knots. These babies will stall out any time you let the airspeed drop too far, an easy thing to do in combat. But the authenticity of the simulation gives you a good feel for the flying characteristics of each model of plane. You can really appreciate the advantage the Zero gave to the Japanese in the early years of the war.

There's lots more to say about a product this good, but you'll just have to go down to your local software dealer and try Battlehawks 1942 to appreciate all of its fine points.



A few words from Lieutenant J.P. Wilcox:

"So, you guys think you're pretty hot stuff, getting accepted into Combat Course for Special Forces training, eh? Well, let me tell you, this has gotta be the worst bunch of recruits I've ever seen! I don't know what they were thinking when they OK'd your applications--I'll bet there isn't a single one of you who's got what it takes . . "

combatcourse.jpg One of the many
challenges that
await you in
Combat Course
from Mindscape
--is this what
boot camp is
really like?

If you've always wanted to know what goes on at boot camp, where men are men and slackers are dogmeat, Combat Course from Mindscape is worth a look. Yet despite its harsh introduction, Combat Course is actually mild in comparison to other games of this genre. After all, this game only details the training and physical tests that every soldier must go through, and doesn't really simulate all the heavy action one would face in a true combat situation.

Courses of Action

There are five different challenges that await you in Combat Course, each of which require different physical skills and a quick trigger finger. The basic test is the Physical, where you must traverse a rigorous obstacle course while maintaining a hectic pace to avoid the vicious dogs. The second is the Risk course, in which your ability to handle explosives and avoid booby traps will come into play. The Combat course requires you to face numerous opponents that will either attack you in hand-to-hand combat or try to get you with their M-16's. The fourth and fifth courses are grueling combinations of all the previous. tests.

Action in Combat Course is controlled through the keyboard, mouse or joystick, or a combination of each. I found that the keyboard was the most responsive in the Combat test. The other courses are best handled with the joystick.

The main screen is divided into eight separate windows: four show your course and four show different scores and various displays. At the bottom of the screen is an eight-button control panel that you use to choose courses and view high scores. To the left of the control panel is a VCR panel. The VCR records all of your actions on the course and can be used as a guide to help your training.

All the action begins when you choose your course. The course is scrolled into view and shows you standing before your challenge. In the top right-hand corner of the screen is a picture of your drill instructor, who yells digitized voice commands at you. The left side of the screen displays a closeup of your soldier, and also the points you rack up as you complete obstacles in the course. If you happen to make mistakes during your training, this window will also show point deductions for your follies.

The obstacles in the course range from a simple fuel canister lying on the ground to Rex, the combat dog, who'll attack you if the proper evasive maneuvers aren't utilized. Your drill instructor will often command you to do 10 pushups on the course, or dive for cover from enemy air-raids. The digitized sounds in Combat Course, from the opening theme to the scratchy voice of the drill instructor, are very clean and well done and add to the excitement of your training.

A Serious Lack of Realism

There are certain features in Combat Course that seriously detract from the game's appeal. It's supposed to depict the realism and toughness of military training. However, I find blowing yourself up on land mines and getting back up to complete the course highly unrealistic. Call me a stickler for realism, but I'm disappointed in the way Combat Course handles a man's mortality. Oh sure, tripping in barbed wire wouldn't actually kill anyone, but I assume getting drilled with an M-16 several hundred times would drop any normal person (permanently, that is). Even if one were subjected to intense training and being force-fed rifle bullets for breakfast, he'd never be able to withstand the full force of three pounds of dynamite going off in his back pocket! (Yes, that's part of your training.) Fortunately or unfortunately, the programmers at Infogrames decided to leave the killing to the real military and keep the immortal soldier on the computer screen.

Though Combat Course offers many options in the way of playability, the choppy graphics and clumsy play system could leave some would-be-soldiers in the dust. If you personally find the courses offered in Combat Course too rigorous for your tastes, Mindscape has included an attractive course editor. This easy-to-use construction set lets you fill a course with as many traps, tricks and dogs as your heart desires!



If you're willing to merge your human mind with Titanium fleximetal, JUG could be for you. In this newest arcade-action game from Microdeal, you become JUG, an advanced interactive humanoid which is more than machine, but much more than human.

Your job is to save the planet Spiraeus. You must descend through layers of an underground labyrinth to find and excise a "tumor" from the dying computer brain which rules this planet. The virus, however, can't have you poking around so it has convinced the dying planet's immune system that you are the real enemy.

jug.jpg JUG is Micro-
deal's latest ar-
cade creation.
In this graphi-
cally impressive
adventure, you
must save the
planet Spiraeus
from the grip of
a fatal virus.
Requires a
color system.


In JUG, everything from lowly insect runners to high-flight missiles go all out to attack you and defend their home. After you deal your destruction, plenty of other kamikaze reinforcements stand ready to take their place. But you have clever tricks of your own. You can transform into different shapes and reform instantly according to the need of the moment. You are indeed a flexible hero. You can also protect yourself by firing your protectors or teleporting away from danger.

As you dissolve walls that stand in your way, you'll discover one uncharted chamber after another. Equipment and fuel vital to your survival have been transported to pickup points along your path. Use these resources for further strength and adaptability. If you can make your way through four four-sectored battlezones, you'll reach the heart of the planet. There you must match wits with the malevolent virus that's trying to kill the planet's brain and you.

Movement in JUG is controlled with the joystick. Spiraeus has very little gravity so movement is kind of tricky. With the joystick, you can move up, left and right. Press down to collect fuel, weapons, keys or any other needed provision. Surprisingly, you'll find it takes some power and effort to hop up or fly from side to side, and you'll always float back down to the ground. Whenever you downstick, you'll experience a metamorphosis. Your weaponry will also change to plasma fire laser cannon or smart bombs.

Red blinking lights signify areas of radiation more than ready to drain your fuel. You can take quite a pounding, but damage is minimized when fuel reserves are kept up. Watch for that critical damage lamp; when it's lit, just 16 more hits will take you out--and believe me it doesn't take long to accumulate a terminal clobbering if you don't stay on your toes.

Stay on Your Toes

JUG is a graphically impressive game that is constantly coming at you--I have yet to see a dent made in the defenders! While the immune system's forces rejuvenate with a vengeance, remember you have only three lives! Whatever progress you make against the defenders shows up only in points.

I like it when I can conquer an area and establish a retreat for myself. JUG doesn't give you that option--there's no truly safe spot outside the fray. However, I was able to recover some energy by teleporting back and forth between waves of attackers.

Good luck--if speed and adaptability are your strengths, you may be the hero of Spiraeus.

Andrew Reese is the Editor of START Magazine and has been an aviation enthusiast for more than 30 years. Greg Perez attends East Lake High School in Oldmar, Florida. He wrote the review of Batman in the September 1989 issue. Frank Nagy is a freelance writer who lives in Lansing, Michigan. JUG is his first review for START.


Battlehawks 1942, $44.95. Lucasfilm Games, P.O. Box 10307, San Rafael CA 94912, (415) 662-1902.

Combat Course, $39.95. Mindscape, Inc., 3444 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062, (312) 480-7667.

JUG, $39.95. Microdeal (MichTron), 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053, (313) 224-8726.