Games or Simulations?
Karate Kid II, Shuttle II and High Roller
Reviewed by SOL GUBER
Simulations are the hottest entertainment software these days-you can now simulate everything from sports to spaceships on your ST. Karate Kid II, High Roller and Shuttle II are three very different simulations that cover the whole range.
Karate Kid II is a karate fighting game from England with some of the finest ST graphics I've ever seen. The object is to defeat your opponent in karate combat, playing against another person or the computer. You control your player, Daniel, with the joystick; he can move left and right, jump and duck, somersault forward and backward, punch, kick and roundhouse kick. The details on the characters are so good that all their movements are very visible.
The computer plays well and is difficult to defeat, although I enjoy the two-player mode more, since you can play against a friend. The fights are in rounds; win a round and you battle a tougher opponent next round. After every second opponent there is a test of skill. In the first test you try to catch a fly with chopsticks; in the second, you are supposed to break sheets of ice. These are difficult and require lots of practice.
The background screens are excellent, with highly-detailed, Asian-themed graphics, and the two user-controllable fighter figures are also very well executed. There is a high score screen, but it does not save the scores to the disk. There's a problem if you have a hard disk: The program will sometimes just die, forcing you to reboot and start over. Unplugging the disk drive does solve this problem.
Is this a good game? Well, yes and no. The graphics in Karate Kid II are wonderful, but I'm not sure about its staying power as a game-I wish there were more to it then just kicking and fighting. But as a simulation it's fine-I play it often with friends just to show off the Atari's graphics.
High Roller simulates the Harrier jet fighter plane. Your mission is to destroy a terrorist headquarters 500 miles from your base, but you must first learn to fly the Harrier. High Roller has several levels of play, and it takes solid tactics as well as quick reflexes to complete your mission successfully. It also has good 3-D graphics and a realistic first-person perspective for flying the Harrier.
The Harrier can change its engine thrust from horizontal to vertical and can thus land and take off on very short runways, or even straight up. It can accelerate and decelerate rapidly moving quickly and unpredictably; High Roller has a much different feel from other flight simulations. Your controls are on the ST keyboard: You can increase and decrease power, change flaps and thrust vector, and fire missiles, bombs, and homing devices. The screen lets you see your instrument panel and a view out the cockpit; you can see your power level, direction of thrust, fuel supply, weapon inventory and radar. You also have a scrolling map and target display that shows mountains, tanks and enemy aircraft.
Your mission is to destroy the enemy headquarters, but first you must destroy enemy ground forces and set up bases for your ground troops. You cannot re-arm or refuel until your forces arrive, so the preparing of bases is an important part of the game. Air combat is another important part of the game-you must attack enemy MiG-23 Fencer jets as well as land tanks. High Roller's 32-page manual shows how to perform classic combat maneuvers like the Scissors, the Immelmann and the Split S. It also shows how to perform a deceleration maneuver unique to the Harrier. As you rise through the three levels of difficulty, you encounter G-forces, fuel-level problems and reduced weapons range and accuracy.
High Roller has excellant playability, with smooth scrolling, excellent controls, and gives a very realistic feel of flying the Harrier. The combination of flying and combat make this worthwhile as a game or simulation.
Shuttle II takes you even higher- it lets you fly a space shuttle mission, from liftoff to landing. This time you make all choices using the mouse- the keyboard is used only occasionally. The graphics are very well done, and the sound effects make the game attractive but not obtrusive.
Flying a mission begins with selecting one of the six difficulty levels, then picking the launch and runway sites. Here you decide how much wind and cloud cover there will be during your takeoff; the more difficult the conditions are, the more points you receive if you accomplish it properly. Once you take off, you have a view of both space and the earth, along with a flight control panel. There are controls for the nose pitch, which determines direction and rate of ascent; the wings, which affect the roll of the shuttle; and thrust. You get extra points for matching the mission's projected flight path, and you must put your craft through tricky maneuvers such as the altitude dive for the external tank separation.
Once you're in orbit you can search for the satellite that you need to retrieve. The flight display shows you the range, the angle of displacement and your difference in altitude from the satellite. You must get within five miles of the satellite before you run out of fuel; if you don't find the satellite, you receive no bonus points. Then you have to don a jet pack and collect the satellite before you run out of oxygen and jet-pack fuel. Finally, you can return to your base and land safely.
Shuttle II is a good simulation. Each game takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The graphics are good and the mouse control is acceptable. The scoring system lets you know how well you are doing, and the ten highest scores are saved to disk. The disk is copy-protected, but you can duplicate the files and put them back if any problems occur. All in all, Shuttle II is a nice flying simulation with a nonviolent touch. With luck and a lot of practice, you should be able to reach level six someday.
KARATE KID II
distributed by MichTron
576 S. Telegraph
Pontiac, MI 48053
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distributed by Mindscape
3444 Dundee Road
Northbrook, II 60062
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Distributed by MichTron Inc.
576 S. Telegraph
Pontiac, Michigan 48053
CIRCLE 232 ON READER SERVICE CARD