Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 3 / JULY 1985

product reviews

Star Micronics
200 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10166
(212) 986-6770

Reviewed by Charles Jackson

Star Micronics' new Star SG-10 is a dot-matrix printer to get excited about! Offering both speedy draft quality and great-looking "near letter quality," the SG-10 is a worthy successor to Star's deservedly popular Gemini 10X which had printed out Antic's listings for the past six months or so.
   In "near letter quality" the SG-10 print head passes over each line twice. During the first pass, the print head runs the top half of a line. Then it returns to the left margin and fills in the bottom half. The "near letter quality" mode can be activated with control codes or by a DIP switch on the side of the printer.
   People familiar with Star's Gemini 10X will feel very comfortable with the SG-l0. In fact, the SG-10 is essentially a 10X with a slightly different case, "near letter quality" capability and a $100 lower list price. Nearly all of the 10X and SG-10 printer control codes are identical, both use standard typewriter ribbon, and almost any program written for one machine can be used by the other.
   Antic has successfully used the SG-l0 with AtariWriter, PaperClip, HomePak, Letter Perfect, Print Shop, and every program from our March 1985 Printer Issue, except "Font Maker" (You'll find the fix in this issue's listing section. We had to correct for a 3-byte downloading difference.) We also used the SG-10 "near letter quality" to prepare all the program listings in this issue!
   Antic bench tests clocked the SG-l0 at 91 characters per second, or about 15 percent faster than the Gemini. In "near letter quality," the SG-10 printed at 22 cps.
   The SG-10's 238-page manual is clearer than the Gemini 10X manual was, but it's still not very well organized and lacks an index.
   Luckily documentation is not that crucial here. The SG-l0 is an extremely versatile, reliable printer that's also simple to install, easy to learn and fun to use.

Strategic Simulations Inc.
883 Stierlin Rd., Bldg. A-200
Mountain View, CA 94043
(415) 964-1200
$59.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Dr John F Stanoch

Four years ago I came upon a full page ad for Computer Ambush in a popular wargaming magazine. By the time I finished reading about the game, I was salivating to play it. However, at the bottom of the ad I discovered that Ambush was only available for the Apple.
   Recently I was happily surprised to see that SSI had released an upgraded and revised edition of Computer Ambush for the Atari. In this squad-level game, you are given command of one to ten men in simulating various small unit actions in WWII France.
   The non-scrolling multi-screen map depicts a typical village in the French countryside. One can immediately see that this is an Apple conversion, for the buildings and structures are drawn with white lines on a plain black background with only a tinge of faint color sparsely scattered in certain terrain features.
   Only about one third of the length of the mapboard can be shown on the screen at any one time. But the column and row are displayed, which greatly helps in combat movements.
   Each character in the game is displayed as either a letter or symbol and is controlled via keyboard commands. These commands consist of a two to six digit code which directs the character to perform a particular kind of action including various types of movements, observation, melee, and weapon/explosive usage. The order summary chart included on the included Squad Cards is an invaluable aid.
   Each action takes a specific amount of time to perform. After all the commands by both players are given, the actions are simultaneously executed during the computer resolution phase. Afterwards, a player will sometimes be in store for some very nasty surprises.
   There are five solitaire and six two-player scenarios with the computer able to play either the American or German side. To win, the player must attain certain conditions specified in the given scenario. These vary from securing the village from enemy troops to staging a successful ambush. There is also an option allowing the players to generate their own scenarios.
   This is a difficult game to learn. It took me nearly two hours to digest the twenty-page manual and understand the commands well enough to play somewhat competently. However, the eleven pages of rules are very clearly written, with numerous examples of play.
   Also, an introductory scenario is given with suggested first turn commands for the American (noncomputer) player. New players will find it helpful to study and try to understand these first turn commands before issuing their own.
   The last eight pages of the manual are devoted to American and German soldier dossiers. I highly recommend for every player to read these after attempting a game or two. Then the soldiers will no longer be just letters and symbols on the screen, but will become actual characters whose lives depend on your decisions.
   Although this is a difficult game to learn, the player is rewarded with a wealth of options and decisions after mastering the rules. Because this game simulates man-to-man combat in such detail, it could appeal to both wargamers and role-players.

Microbits Peripheral Products
225 Third Avenue, SW
Albany, OR 97321
(503) 967-9075

Reviewed by Michael Ciraolo

With a 64K printer buffer like this MPP product, your printer can produce hardcopies of vast reports or programs while you're working at your computer on something entirely different.
   The Microstuffer works with any printer, and features a clear button, multiple copy repeat function and a full set of self-diagnostic test procedures. A Centronics parallel connector is standard and a serial RS-232 port is optional.
   The crew from MPP thoughtfully included complete pin diagrams for their buffer just in case you ever need to make another cable. There's also an extended self-test feature that checks each chip and connection. The buffer comes with a one year warranty against defects in material and workmanship.
   What else can we say? Antic is currently using a Microstuffer regularly and it works. It holds a whopping big file in its memory. Frankly, aside from bells and whistles, once you've seen one buffer...

Avalon Hill
4517 Harford Road.
Baltimore, MD 21214
(301) 254-9200
$25, 48K disk

Reviewed by Dr John F Stanoch

One of the hottest flashpoints in the world today is the Persian Gulf. Any conflict occurring here would have a profound effect on the course of history. With this new computer wargame from Avalon Hill, one can explore such a conflict.
   In Gulf Strike you are faced with directing a combined Iranian/US pro-Western Arab defense against a Soviet and Iraqi invasion.
   With a joystick you scroll through a multi-screen high resolution map which depicts most of Iran and all of the Persian Gulf, in 17 different types of terrain. A very nice touch is that you can stack any number of ground, air and sea units. However, orders can only be given to the top 19 units.
   In order to win, the US/Iranian player must prevent the Soviet/Iraqi player from capturing nine out of 21 victory point squares within 25 turns. These squares consist of strategic towns and locations, such as Tehran and Oman Point. The game can be won anytime before the 25th turn. The computer then displays the number of enemy hit points each side has eliminated. In the one-player version, the computer plays the Soviet/Iraqi side.
   The 44-page instruction manual is both well-written and complete. Although this is not a very hard game to learn, it is difficult to master. A player must not only place the combat units effectively, but also must be constantly aware of the overall strategic situation.
   Experienced wargamers would welcome this complexity as something they can really bite into. A complete 25-turn game can take 15 to 20 hours, even though the box states that playing time is one to five hours. The game save feature is a definite necessity.
   As with almost any other game, there are a few problems. There are no zones of control and the Soviet/ Iraqi player moves after the US/Iranian player, but before combat takes place. So therefore the invaders can move away from the US allies and avoid combat. Also, during the course of one game a "ghost" US/Iranian unit appeared which was able to move but not attack.
   I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game. Because of its complexity, I don't recommend Gulf Strike for anyone unfamiliar with wargaming. But to a wargamer, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Gulf Strike

Professional Software, Inc.
P.O. Box 533
Needham, MA 02194
(617) 444-5224
$39.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Michael Ciraolo

The country's hottest software trivia game is now available for the Atari. Trivia Fever, already popular on most leading computers, represents the best in trivia games-as far as trivia goes. As a conversion for the Atari, it's abysmal.
   The colors used are Basic Computer Pastels, including several likely to produce upset stomachs in squeamish viewers. The sounds will bring back memories of ballpark music.
   Trivia Fever also has the kind of inane computer responses that should have gone out of style ten years ago: "Gee, you must be smarter than you look," and "That was a real tough one." Would you believe, "You must have had your Wheaties this morning?"
   But compared to other programs reviewed by Antic, Trivia Fever offers the best trivia questions. Choose from serious (not inane) questions in history, sports, films and entertainment, geography, nature and animals, science and technology and famous people. There is also a choice of difficulty levels.
   This game works with individuals or teams, and includes three different handicapping schemes to keep the Smart Alecs from ruining everybody else's evening.
   Representative mid-level questions include: "Who finally won India's freedom from Britain? Who was the first President to send military advisors to Vietnam? What type of aircraft was first to complete a round-trip transatlantic crossing?"
   The game is easy to play, provided you have a "Master of the Group," an individual selected by the players to operate the computer. Your Master will type in everyone's names, set handicapping levels, and tell the computer if the question was answered properly.
   If you can tolerate the sound and graphics shortcomings, you'll find a very decent trivia game. In fact, you'll find two games-Trivia Fever can be played without the software. The game comes with a book of questions and answers, a pad of score sheets, and a Category Selector spinner.

Level 9 Computing
229 Hughenden Road
High Wycombe
Bucks HP13 5PG

Reviewed by Charles Cherry

There are many drawbacks to a cassette-based system, but chief among them is that you can't run real text adventures. Let's face it, a computer without a cavern is merely useful. However, help is here at last from a most interesting place.
   While traveling in England I ran across Level 9 Computing. It seems these people are the leading adventure game company in the U.K. They market a series of top notch games for home computers. But there are relatively few British Ataris with disk drives, so the games are released on cassette.
   Sophisticated compacting has squeezed everything into 32K. After the cassette loads (over 10 minutes!), you enter a large world. You'll find over 200 rooms with detailed descriptions, a good parser with a large vocabulary, lots of creatures and a little humor. All in RAM. And since it does not have to spin a disk, responses are very fast.
   There are presently 6 games available. The first one, Colossal Adventure, is a faithful recreation of the original "Colossal Cave" mainframe adventure game. But once you finish, the story expands with 70 more rooms that tie into J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy
   The next two games, Adventure Quest and Dungeon Adventure, continue this "Middle Earth Trilogy" although each can be played as a stand-alone game. If you get claustrophobic in caves and dungeons, please note that Adventure Quest takes place outside.
   Science fiction fans can explore Snowball and Return to Eden, two-thirds of the "Silicon Dream Trilogy." Snowball takes place on a giant spaceship taking 2 million cryogenically frozen colonists to a distant solar system. However, something has gone wrong and you are awakened to deal with it. This game has over 7,000 rooms and is already a classic in England.
   Return to Eden is the story of the planet when Snowball arrives. I have not spent any time with it yet, but I understand it's a jungle planet and there's a character named Pepsy Koala. The Worm in Paradise will be out soon to complete the series.
   The final game, Lords of Time, sends you into nine different epochs. You travel from the Ice Age to the Dark Ages to the Future. The worlds in each era are necessarily small, but this makes it an excellent beginning adventure.
   Getting your hands on these games is an adventure in itself. You'll need to visit your local international bank and get a check drawn in pounds sterling. Each program costs 9.90 Pounds. At today's exchange rate that is about $12. This price includes airmail postage from England. You can get an entire trilogy for the price of one U.S. disk adventure.