Product ReviewsARCHON II: ADEPT
2755 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94403
Reviewed by Steve Panak
It's dangerous to release a sequel to a legendary strategy game like
Archon, but Electronic Arts made no mistake with Archon II: Adept.
The format of Archon II is similar to the original game. A rectangular playfield is surrounded by bands of air, water, earth and fire. Characters can be moved throughout one element, or may jump to adjacent bands.
You're limited only by your energy force, which is shown at the side of the screen. Using a spell consumes some of this energy, depending on the spell's strength. Conserving your energy is a major part of strategy, because most actions consume energy. You obtain more energy by occupying power points on the field.
Play starts with four Adepts on each side. Your Summon Spell populates the playfield with an army of creatures, each with different attributes.
When two opposing creatures attempt to occupy the same board position, only one may remain alive. The board is replaced by a full screen arena where an arcade-like battle is fought.
Victory is yours if you occupy all the power points, succeed with the winner-take-all Battle of the Apocalypse Spell, or use up all your opponent's icons or energy
Electronic Arts has included a humorous, intelligently written manual to help you learn the game.
Sounds fairly simple, right? Archon II is simple in the same way chess is simple. The basics are easy to absorb, but the intricacies of strategy make this one of the potentially timeless computer games.
Computer Management Corp.
2424 Exbourne Court
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Reviewed by Harvey Bernstein
Bridgepro is the first Atari program I've seen that provides a challenge
for the average-to-excellent bridge player. You bid and play the
South hand, while the computer becomes your North partner as well as the
Help is offered to the novice during bidding. The program will provide a total point count if requested and can even suggest bids. You may not always agree with the suggestions, but for the most part they are within the standard bridge protocol.
During play, a Graphics 0 display lays out your hand, as well as the cards that have been played. One of the game's best features is Auto-Finish,
which allows the computer to play out all four hands. The program plays a good, workman-like game, although it doesn't seem to have been programmed to finesse, and some of the leads are questionable at best.
Documentation is excellent and provides enough information to allow a new bridge player to learn the game's basics. All bids and cards played are entered via one or two key input and the speed is variable.
The only real shortcoming is the program's excessive use of the speaker, and it's balanced by other nice features such as the two-player mode. This allows two people to compete on separate rubbers, either with different deals or in a duplicate tournament. If you feel you blew a finesse or a bid, you can replay a hand.
TUK GOES TO TOWN
3444 Dundee Road
Northbrook, IL 60062
$34.95 each, 48K-disk
Reviewed by Anita Malnig
Children's book author/illustrator Mercer Mayer has created learning
games for children aged 4-8 that are some of the most enjoyable and graphically
inventive software around.
Especially delightful about Tink's Adventure and TUK Goes To Town are the bright graphics in greens, oranges, blues and yellows; the finger-snapping music; the silly shapes of the robots and the cartoon-like way they scuttle around. Mayer knows how to create and develop characters, tell a story and draw funny pictures.
Tink, a brightly-colored robot, lives in TinkTonk Land with other robots named Tuk, Tonk and Tinka. (An accompanying book explains all this in grand style). Young players decide whether to play a game or go along on Tink's Adventure. If an adventure is chosen, lots more choices come up.
Tink can go by boat or helicopter. If helicopter is picked,
players can 1. Fly Away, or 2. Play "Get Gas." In "Get Gas" the player
must fill the tank by inserting the correct letter in a sequence, such
All the games in Tink's Adventure teach the alphabet and the computer keyboard. It will be important for the adult to explain the Atari keyboard since the program does not.
By the end of the adventure, Tink travels by land and sea, explores an island and meets a giant. Children must hit the right letter keys so apes won't drop coconuts on Tink's head, and steer Tink's helicopter through the clouds.
When Tuk Goes To Town, he can travel by eight different modes of transportation including car, bus, motorcycle, raft, etc. The format is the same as Tink's Adventure-play the game of your choice, or follow the story and play games in context.
"Farm Game" offers spelling practice and vocabulary building by first showing animals and their scrambled names, then scrambled farm words with no accompanying pictures. "Forest Game" tests memory by asking the player to remember where letters are hidden in order to make a word.
Other games call for unscrambling words, while in some you must identify shapes. Two games are just for fun. Choosing new suits for Tuk was the most entertaining for me-I got to give him round or square hats, polka-dot shirts and weird-shaped shoes. However, the target range, where players must match a shape to knock down a duck, will certainly appeal to many.
Tink and Tuk face adventure head on, scamper about the screen to some of the best computer music going, and offer younger children hours of fun-with some learning thrown in. Tonk in the Land of BuddyBots was Mercer Meyer's first charmer in this Mindscape "Sprout" series. Let's see more soon!
17 Paul Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
Reviewed by Jack Powell
Skimming low over the ground. Avoiding the radar and coming upon
the white bunkers unawares. Blast them! Destroy them before
they destroy you. Then head on, low, kissing the ground, onward to
destroy the dark tower looming on the horizon, thousands of meters high.
Hot news, gang! Broderbund has a new arcade game out. It's called Stealth and it looks like something plucked right out of the arcade palaces. Excellent graphics and the sound is better than usual for a Broderbund game. (Could it be this game was not originally designed for the squeaking Apple?)
Skimming over an alien landscape, your goal is to steer your fighter plane past various hostile obstacles and destroy the dark tower that grows on the horizon. This may seem like a pretty single-minded goal to base a modern arcade game on, but the graphics in this program create an excellent sense of place and dimensions The tower does seem miles off and, as it grows, you find yourself hypnotically involved in the effort to avoid the enemy and blow up the tower.
There are five levels to the game. Each is similar in appearance, but the color of the world changes and the number of enemies increases. Upon booting, you can go to any of the first three levels, but you must fight your way to the fourth and fifth. On the highest levels, volcanos appear and death is imminent.
Stealth is a welcome fix for the shoot'em-down-in-flames arcade freaks who have been wondering where the next serious laser-zap would come from. Don't worry too much about strategy, just react and blast. There are, according to Broderbund, a variety of endings which load in randomly. I've seen just one and it was worth waiting for.
CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
161 Aragon Avenue, Suite 202
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Reviewed by Edward Bever
While the railroads were fulfilling America's manifest destiny, Adam
Smith's "invisible hand" was busy guiding the flow of resources and investments
in Britain's Industrial Revolution.
Smith's role is yours as you play Chancellor of the Exchequer, an economic simulation concerned with raw material production, manufacturing, consumption, allocating resources, and transportation. Your goal is to draw together eight regions between the game's start in 1805 and its end in 1915.
Bold in concept and design, this game includes an extensive help program, an analysis program to provide feedback on your progress, and instructions written in a chatty English style that puts the computer in the role of an indulgent underling.
Chancellor deals primarily with numbers, and is best used in lieu of drier textbooks or lectures. It works better as a learning tool than as a purely recreational game.
SAMS ATARI PHOTOFACTS
Howard W Sams, Inc.
4300 West 62nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Reviewed by Scott Schrader
Matching the pen scratches of schematic diagrams to actual circuit boards
has always been a tricky business. A significant improvement in the
way this information is presented is the Computerfact service manual
series published by Howard Sams, which currently includes separate books
covering the 400 and 800 computers, the 410 cassette recorder and the 850
A long-standing tradition in the repair industry, Sams Photofacts manuals feature labelled photographs showing the location of test points, complete parts listings, and plenty of test and service tips.
These Atari manuals offer almost as much to the home user as they do to the professional serviceman for whom they were designed. For example, the section on preliminary service checks gives a number of steps anybody can perform to catch minor problems without opening up the computer case.
Pin assignments for all connectors on the mother board and information on which solder point holds what signals are among the functions clearly labelled on the "CircuiTrace" photographs.
Unlike Atari's own hardware manual, Sams' photo schematics show the coils and capacitors used on the serial bus to prevent CB radio signals from being mistaken for disk drive input. Where possible, part numbers like Q101 are translated into standard replacement numbers which can be obtained anywhere.
Sams also gives logic probe readings and oscilloscope signals, which narrow down a malfunction to a specific bad transistor or chip.
Atari owners who do not have solid technical electronics skills should not consider taking tools to the inside of their computers. But still, the $17.50 for my Sams manual is insurance money well-spent. It might well enable me to provide the information that gets my modified machine repaired at a professional shop. And if you're somewhat hardware oriented, it can be interesting reading.
PO. Box 2205
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
$79.95, 600/800XL version
$89.95, 1200XL version
Reviewed by Thomas Rainbow
Ever wanted to replace the goofy Atari XL-model operating system that's
incompatible with so much classic software? The XL Boss is
a ROM chip that not only eliminates the need for a translator disk-it also
gives you access to 4K RAM at location $C000 (49152) which Atari tucked
away for future applications.
Installing the XL Boss chip requires opening up your Atari and replacing the El Stupido OS chip with this nice new one. The directions are quite explicit. My gifts do not include mechanical aptitude, yet I managed to complete the surgery in about a half hour.
The XL Boss made me feel like Superman suddenly regaining his stolen powers! Great Krypton, I have 32K of RAM instead of 28K by holding down the [SELECT] key while I boot Letter Perfect. That's enough for 700 extra words.
The XL Boss comes with a nifty monitor program called XLMON. With it, you can manipulate any byte in the Atari's memory map. For example, location FEC3 (65219) in the XL Boss OS controls the background color of the screen. From Letter Perfect, I hold down the [OPTION] and [SELECT] keys, then push [RESET] and whammo, I'm in XLMON. I display the contents of FEC3, replace it, with a 0 to generate a black background, press [SELECT] [RESET] and there's black.
XLMON even has a feature to convert back and forth between decimal numbers and hexadecimal numbers. So when you're snooping in a program's innards, you have a built-in English-Babylonian dictionary.
A disadvantage of the Boss is that unlike the original XL OS, it doesn't support hardware applications via the parallel bus. This means if someone comes out with a memory extender similar to the ill-fated Atari expansion box, the Boss won't work. However, Allen Macroware claims they will soon offer a modified XL Boss that allows switching back and forth between operating systems. When this becomes available, I will again make the Fantastic Voyage into the innards of my Atari, performing a second brain transplant.