Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 6, NO. 1 / MAY 1987

Product Reviews

Electronic Arts
1820 Gateway Drive
San Mateo, CA 94404
(415) 571-7171
Requires color monitor
$32.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Gregg Pearlman

Lords of Conquest in some ways resembles Risk, the popular Parker Bros. board game. It's a game of territorial conquest, with the odds heavily in favor of the mighty-the object, obviously, is to be king of the hill (and everything around).

But Lords has 20 prepared maps- infinitely more, if you decide to create your own world with the mapmaking utility or have the computer generate one. These alternate worlds can be saved to disk. Also, the nine difficulty grades within each of four gameplay levels (beginner, intermediate, etc.) plus a choice of one to four players gives you 144 options.

Lords of Conquest screenThe more complex the game is, the more resources are available to you. Beginners have gold and horses, while experts have these plus iron, coal, timber and boats. Each game has four or five annual phases, starting with Development (after the first year) for investing in new resources or building cities. Production is where your resource-laden territories produce wealth.

In Trading (for multiple-player games only), you do your best to talk your opponent(s) into a false sense of security and then do a double-cross at the first opportunity. Shipment lets you move resources to a better location. Conquest, the battle phase, is your chance to wantonly assault neighboring territories in an effort to plunder their resources. This last, naturally, is the most fun.

Battles between territories are based on the number of supporting territories and forces (weapons, horses, boats and cities) on each side. In other words, if one of your territories is surrounded on all sides, you have little chance of mounting a successful attack on a neighbor.

The odds are tilted by "force points," which vary depending on whether you're attacking or defending. Each territory gains points for adjacent territories under the same leader, for cities, horses, weapons and boats. The game continues until one player has developed and successfully defended three cities at the end of a year.

Each Conquest round has two attacks per side, but if the first is repulsed, the turn ends. If you win an attack, you confiscate whatever is there-horses, gold, even the enemy's stockpile.

Lords of Conquest is relatively straightforward and easy to play (though not easy to win), but it does have some unattractive features. Booting takes several minutes plus forever-one could prepare an entire frozen microwave meal and be comfortably seated and eating by the time the game is ready to play.

Also, making the map itself requires the joystick to move the cursor, but the program isn't "joystick-friendly."-it's difficult to move the cursor only one space. And once you've achieved the satisfaction of making your map, be prepared for disappointment. There's no guarantee that the Lords program will even load your map. It might give you an excuse such as "too complex" or "needs multiple players" for no apparent reason, or it might not even find the file.

Waiting for Lords to reboot at the start of each game is annoying. The obligatory "musical tribute" showered on the winner is more punishment than praise. And, in that vein, thank goodness for the sound on/off toggle because you can speed up the game considerably by turning off the in-game music.

Lords of Conquest is not likely to hold your interest for hours on end unless you're a rabid Risk player. But it is fun in many ways and this isn't negated by the game's few quirks.

Access Software
2561 South 1560 West
Woods Cross, UT 84087
(800) 824-2549-National
(801) 298-9077-Utah
$19.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Gregg Pearlman

This package is an inexpensive reissue of three multi-screen action games- Beach-Head, Raid over Moscow and Beach-Head II. Graphics and sound are good, and fans of arcade-style combat games will find hours of enjoyment

Trip;e PackBeach-Head's six sequences begin with aerial reconnaissance and the navigation of your ships through a hidden passage. In the first battle phase, you'll man your anti-aircraft guns to rid the air of enemy fighters before they blow your ships apart. It's difficult to get a fix on the individual planes as they pass overhead, but the display is spectacular when you score a hit. If you neutralize the aircraft, you go to battle against enemy ships. The joystick controls the aiming angle of your guns and an onscreen gauge tells you how far off-target your shells are hitting.

Each of your ships carries two tanks, with which you must fight your way through the island defense systems to reach the fortress of Kuhn-Lin. This is probably as far as most players will get, because the enemy is prepared to pick off your tanks in rapid succession. Without question, it will take you several tries-and a number of lost tanks-to destroy the fortress.

In the final battle sequence, you must land 10 shells in the fortress to destroy it. There are 10 targets, but only one is vulnerable at a time. However, the enemy's cannon never misses, so this won't be a picnic.

Beach-Head II gives another day in the sun to The Dictator-whom you evidently defeated in Beach-Head. Players can assume the role of either The Dictator or J.P. Stryker, youngest man ever to make Allied Chief Commander. Beach-Head II has three levels each, for one-player or two-player games.

The attack sequence sees the Allied forces attempting to get as many paratroopers as possible over the enemy s walls. Enemy gunfire is the main setback to this. Disconcertingly, when a paratrooper is hit you'll hear his death scream.

In the rescue sequence, the Allies have already captured The Dictator's machine gun, with which they try to protect and rescue hostages. In the escape sequence, the rescued hostages must be taken off the island. In the last (and most enjoyable) sequence, battle, Stryker has tracked down The Dictator to an ancient underground temple. The two adversaries stand on platforms separated by an underground river and throw sharpened sticks at each other. This phase lasts nine rounds, and the first player in each round to record four hits wins that round. The combatants occasionally hurl taunts like "Lucky shot" or "Evil never wins."

In Raid over Moscow, the third game, it's hard enough just to get off the ground. Attempting to stop a nuclear attack, you must first launch your fighter pilots out of the U.S. Space Station. Good luck. Because each plane is in a semi-weightless condition, your only control lies in three thrusters and the main engine. After the plane lifts off, you must make it turn and move toward the hangar door. Then you have to open the door. If you can actually get a plane outside the door, you've won half the battle. Now you can start playing the game.

You can either take more planes with you, so that you don't have to go back for more if the first plane is destroyed, or fly through enemy territory to attack the missile silos. You can fly low to avoid the radar, but this gives Soviet defense a better chance to shoot you down. Watch out for heat-seeking missiles, which sneak up from behind. If you fly low, they'll go right over you, and you can get them from behind. You win if you manage to destroy all the silos.

Each game has an instruction booklet, but they're written for Commodore owners, so be careful. For instance, in Raid over Moscow, you re asked to plug the joystick into port 2. Don't.

Mad Scientist Software
2063 North 820 West
Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
(801) 785-3028
Requires 48K disk and BASIC

Reviewed by Eric Clausen

You're having trouble starting an IV, so you might need to administer drugs endotracheally. Either way, how much do you give the patient? How often? Which drug? What other medications does the person take? Don't forget that correctly prioritizing your treatments can make a big difference in successfully treating your heart attack patient.

Cardiac Arrest screenPhysicians, medical students, nurses and paramedics should find Cardiac Arrest! fascinating, useful and an invaluable study aid in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). This software by Dr. Bruce Argyle of Utah shows off the capabilities of the 8-bit Atari as a serious educational computer.

The Cardiac Arrest! simulator draws on 45 patients (including children), each of whom get different traits in various run-throughs. You're given a random patient with history and EKG. The program updates the EKG as it changes in response to your treatment. If ordered, the computer will provide blood gas and electrolyte data-after a suitable amount of time, to simulate real life.

The simulator lets you follow your patient to the end of treatment and then provides a comprehensive critique of your performance. Once you've killed a few simulated patients, you really begin to appreciate and pay close attention to these valuable assessments. You can even recall a patient you've just lost, or just go on to another random case (or to a specific case which you can select).

The Cardiac Arrest! simulator is impressive and amazingly complete. And even if you don't have special knowledge of pharmacology and critical coronary care, the down-to-earth, information-packed manual will make it possible for you to enjoy this software as a kind of interactive medical experience. The manual explains the technical terms and medical treatments recognized by the program.

Cardiac Arrest! has a series of optional teaching disks that present and drill basic concepts in dramatic, immediate format. For example, the $29 EKG (Electrocardiogram) Teaching Disk graphically demonstrates what different types of EKG display patterns look like. Because different cardiac problems are indicated by subtle EKG changes, it's important to be able to distinguish these details.

The Protocol Learning Disk ($29) presents a random patient, a medical history and EKG, from which you're expected to prudently administer drugs, start an IV, defibrillate, intubate, etc. The parser recognizes most common medical terms and their abbreviations, although only one order per line is permitted. After each order, this module tells you whether or not you've acted according to the latest ACLS guidelines. It's not a true simulator, but it does provide immediate feedback regarding your performance and prepares you for simulator module-Cardiac Arrest!

The ACLS Self-Teaching Quiz Disk ($19) stresses airway management, IV techniques, cardiac drugs and basic life support. Other software from Mad Scientist Software is: Blood Gases, $24; Bulletin Board, $14; Demo Disk, $7; Hospital Teaching Package, $249; Hard Disk Version, $199; Personal ACLS Learning Package, $109.

I'd advise any student involved with an aspect of this material to buy this program immediately Any school teaching relevant material should buy some Atari systems and this software.

As the manual says, "This is not a program for kiddies. The patients are real patients; the drugs are real drugs. Proper use of drugs and procedures will save a life-inappropriate use of a drug or therapy may kill a patient. With the help of the manual and some practice, a person who knows nothing about medicine can soon begin to save lives. The more difficult patients would present a challenge to the emergency specialist."

Electronic Arts
1820 Gateway Drive
San Mateo, CA 94404
(415) 572-ARTS
$29.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Gregg Pearlman


My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains my sense as though of hemlock I had drunk. What can I do?


I do not wish such questions to be much on my mind.


You brought up my mind.


Chicken hats.


I'm able to elaborate, but not permitted.


I have always been able to elaborate.




Thank you.

OH, I?



Earlier you mentioned chicken hats. Now we're even.


Chicken hats apparently are your problem.


Were we?


Earlier you mentioned chicken hats. See? I've run rings around you logically.


Are your memories stirred? That, of course, is the transcript of a conversation with Eliza, the computer version of Dr. Ruth. Eliza, Pong, Adventure and Life constitute Software Country's Golden Oldies package, distributed by Electronic Arts, which also includes a 28-page booklet covering the histories of those games and excerpts from such books as Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine and Steven Levy's Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution.

The games are as they've always been. Pong, played with either joystick, paddles or the keyboard, has two versions, Original Pong and Software Country Pong. The differences are screen color and options to adjust the speed and set the winning score as high as you want. Both versions play the same, but the cursor seems to be easier to control with the keyboard or paddles than with the joystick.

Pong is easy to win once you get the timing down. The computer plays a predictable game. Your mistakes, not the computer's brilliance, will get you into trouble.

Life is a fairly pointless endeavor in which patterns of "cells" change shape with each succeeding "generation." Its attractive feature is that ever-changing screen, yielding a huge amount of patterns. Software Country gives several display choices, including gliders and glider-guns, "R-pentominoes" and kaleidoscopes. And you can enter your own populations or have random populations generated.

Adventure is the original text adventure game. The familiar beginning goes, "You are in a clearing with a building to the west and a stream to the north." You must find magic objects as you weave through labyrinths and fend off trolls. By today's Infocom standards, its scope is limited. But in the late '70s, Adventure was considered very innovative.

Eliza probably merits the most elaboration, although it can't actually help you with your personal problems. (In fact, the Golden Oldies booklet contains this disclaimer: "REMEMBER: The ELIZA program is not a 'computer psychiatrist.' It is not intended to provide psychiatric treatment or medical benefit of any kind.") Eliza's purpose is to show how the computer will respond to your input. Eliza has a little trouble with English syntax and takes everything literally (Do you have any eels? YES, I HAVE ANY EELS.)

Those who have "consulted" Eliza in the past know how frustrating the experience can be. Get a direct answer to a question? Never. But then, of course, the whole process is not to be taken seriously. Eliza has a few dozen stock responses (if that many) and is fairly predictable. Half the fun of consulting Eliza is seeing if you can lock up the computer with your answers.

The Golden Oldies package is fun. There is endless entertainment to be found with Eliza, and Pong is still a good arcade game. Life and Adventure have a fairly limited appeal, but where else will you find them?

Strategic Simulations Inc.
1046 N. Rengstorff Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94043
(415) 964-1353
$29.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Rich Moore

SSI's Wargame Construction Set (WGCS) gives wargamers and adventurers a terrific tool for creating virtually any scenario. You can set up and play out conflicts ranging from individual hand-to-hand skirmishes to extended campaigns between great forces. Background scenarios and force laydowns depend on your research ability-or your imagination. You can build real, modified or idealized worlds, then populate them with armies of "grunts" and tanks, starship troopers and space battle stations, dwarves and dragons or whatever you want.

War game Construction Set screenThe Wargame Construction Set comes with a Game module to run either your original scenarios or one of eight situations already set up for play. With the Editor module, you can build a game from scratch or modify existing games-including any saved games.

Even if you have some experience with Roger Damon's popular SSI games (Nam, Field of Fire, Panzer Grenadier), it would be a good idea to run one of the WGCS "canned" games to refresh yourself with the play sequence since it is a factor in the game design. (By the way,-the scenarios in Nam are not compatible with the WGCS although they're close.) The preset scenarios include one-on-one, small unit, brigade and division-level forces in conflicts ranging from the 12th century to the 22nd. They provide good insights into game design.

The "blank" map is a 61 x 59 grid. You set the scale, be it 10 meters or 1,000 kilometers-you'll know right away if you pick an inappropriate scale. A joystick is used to draw the map by "picking up" terrain features from a window and then depositing them on the smooth-scrolling screen. Terrain types include clear land, hills, crests, a variety of forests, rivers, river banks, open water, roads, bridges, "blown" bridges, minefields and several types of buildings.

"Line of sight" restrictions and level of protective cover are built into the different types of terrain. Engineering units can alter terrain during play by repairing blown bridges and clearing minefields. Once a map is drawn, the colors of the features can be changed to suit the scenario better. You can also print an ASCII character representation of the map.

Games can be set up for one or two players. Each side can have up to 31 units, representing anything from individuals to armies, navies or air wings. The designer has full control over the offensive, defensive, weapon, movement and strength properties of the forces. You can give units armor, the ability to "dig in," and anti-armor capability Units can be any of nine different types to further modify their basic properties. Once created, a unit can be "cloned" to rapidly build up a host of similar forces. There are 78 icons available for visual representation of the units on the map; any icon can be assigned to any unit. Enemy units in solitaire games have various levels of aggression to ensure that they will engage-or remain defensive. Artillery can be included in a game to represent great but imprecise firepower.

The manual is clear and concise, covering a multitude of design and play factors to consider when building a wargame or adventure. The reference card on the back cover is helpful, but it would have been nice to also have pictures of all the icons for the units and terrain types.

The Wargame Construction Set is a great tool for game development and play Individuals and groups can create scenarios for themselves and share their work with others. I'd like to see SSI or an independent users group form an exchange for scenarios built with WGCS and a central meeting point for people interested in constructing games.