ST Product News
Spectrum HoloByte Inc.
2061 Challenger Drive
Alameda, CA 94501
CIRCLE 231 ON READER SERVICE CARD
Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh
GATO is a worthy follower along the same path navigated recently by Microprose's Silent Service. GATO is a real-time submarine simulator that puts you in the role of captain of a World War II attack submarine.
In GATO, you are given your mission objectives over the radio before you begin your dangerous patrol. As in the Pacific theater during World War II, your main objective is to destroy as much enemy ship tonnage as possible without getting destroyed yourself. You have to attack and retreat at strategic moments, scoring hits while keeping your sub intact enough to return to your home port.
Unlike flight simulators, which often have real geographic areas and airports for you to fly over, GATO's area of patrol really has no historic perspective. You have 20 oceanic quadrants, interspersed with a few land masses. On your main screen are rudder, depth and speed controls, as well as switches to use diesel or battery power (surfaced and submerged running, respectively), to fire torpedoes, to lay mines and to raise, lower and move the periscope. Your main view, in the center of your screen, represents either the periscope view or the view from the bridge, depending upon whether you're submerged or on the surface. Also on the main screen are indicators of depth, speed and heading, battery charge and fuel remaining. Your main screen contains most of the information needed to complete each mission successfully. The only time a second screen is necessary is when you make a request for the quadrant map.
You can run GATO through either the mouse or keyboard. Since most ST games use the mouse, it isn't surprising that this way feels the most natural. But it's nice to give gamers a choice.
Before you begin a mission, you must decide on how many mines and torpedoes you'll have available. The more mines you stock, the fewer torpedoes you'll be able to fit, and vice versa. I advise to take more torpedoes and fewer mines, at least in the beginning. In early missions, most enemy ships tend to flee more often than attack upon contact with you. In the offensive mode, torpedoes are much more valuable to you than mines. GATO lets you save up to five games in progress and return to them later. Tonnage of ships you've destroyed is recorded and saved each time you make it back into port. Being sunk or starting a new game will erase the total.
GATO's graphics aren't as flashy as Silent Service; sometimes it's hard to tell whether the blip on the horizon is an enemy ship or a land mass. But the game does have very nice playability. It's always easy to get the program to do what you want it to do. And since GATO is in real time, that feature is essential. About the only time GATO avoids the real-time format is when your ship is about five quadrants away from where the action is. However, GATO has a rapid sub deployment feature that will make everything run 10 times faster than normal, including fuel consumption. It's another nice touch that keeps the game from having too many dull spots. If things get really bad, you can send out a Mayday to your subtender, although this should be done only as a last resort. If your subtender is sunk, but you survive, you'll have no way to get repairs made or to take on fresh supplies.
Finally, GATO's 33-page manual is easy to read and understand; the sections are laid out in exactly the order in which you need the information. The manual is written specifically for the ST version, so there is no addendum instructing you to forget something you've already read and replace it with something else. My only complaint about the manual is that there's no drawing or photo of the main screen. That would be helpful especially if, like me, you sit down and read a manual away from the computer before booting up the software.
Should you get hooked on GATO don't be surprised if your dreams are suddenly filled with the sound of falling depth charges or hissing torpedoes. It's submarine warfare that's quite realistic.
5715 Horning Rd.
Kent, OH 44240
CIRCLE 229 ON READER SERVICE CARD
Reviewed by Heidi Brumbaugh
How would you like the speed, power and convenience of a RAMdisk without giving up any of your ST's memory? If so, then read on-the Polydisk might be just what you're looking for.
The Polydisk is a 4 by 6-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch grey box that plugs into the cartridge slot of your 520 or 1040 ST To create the RAMdisk, simply use the setup program included with Polydisk to decide how much of the Polydisk's 512K memory you want to use. If you want to make the RAMdisk larger, the setup program will automatically use your ST's RAM to make up the difference. The Polydisk initialization program then sits in the Auto folder of your boot disk, so every time you turn on your ST the RAMdisk is instantly accessable.
The usefulness of an external RAM-disk can't be understated. You can keep your most commonly-used applications-word processors, databases, etc.-in the Polydisk for speedy access. If you have a single-drive system, the RAMdisk is a convenient medium for file transfer, cutting out tedious disk-swapping. While the Polydisk can't be used as a memory upgrade per se, if you're using a RAM-disk anyway it goes a long way toward freeing up your ST's memory for programs and accessories.
Since the Polydisk is an external peripheral, a warm boot (pressing the reset button on the back of the computer without turning off the power) won't erase the files you've stored in the Polydisk. An optional battery will even protect its contents from power surges or blackouts for up to five hours.
The program comes with a print spooler, which can be set up to handle up to 64K of text, as well as a screen off program, which turns off video display if the keyboard or mouse hasn't been accessed for five minutes. Like the 8-bit Atari's attract mode, this utility protects monitors from having images burned onto the screen.
I've used the Polydisk extensively, and haven't discovered any bugs or problems with it. It doesn't take up very much desk space, and if you had wanted to reserve the cartridge slot for a clock, never fear; Polyware__ST makes one that can be piggybacked onto the Polydisk's memory board. Finally, if its other merits don't sell you, the box is still new enough that it makes a great conversation piece: "What is that thing on your desk?"
576 S. Telegraph
Pontiac, Michigan 48053
CIRCLE 231 ON READER SERVICE CARD
Reviewed by Sol Guber
Mi-Print is a text printing program for files and data which you've not yet formatted. Mi-Print allows you to use different fonts, modify the line spacing, and even put headers and page numbers when the information is printed. It even allows you to read directories (including hard disks) and print them out in a variety of forms.
Mi-Print is a very friendly program, with GEM drop-down menus allowing you to pick among its many features. The first operation is for customizing the program for a printer. You have the ability to specify the various controls codes needed to change the spacing, fonts, and even the setup codes for each of your printers. This information can be then saved and loaded in as needed. You are allowed as many printer drivers as you like, and you can even make modifications to the print job in the midst of the actual printing. You can do this with a simple fill-in-the-blank style dialog box.
Once you've built and loaded the printer driver, you can then tell the program how you want to print out the data. You can use any of your printer's fonts, determine the four margins and even have a heading on the page. The numbering of the pages can be done automatically. Mi-Print can send text files and directory information to either the printer, the screen, or a disk. If you send first the information to the screen, you can see the spacing and determine the format you want. You are also allowed to select portions of the text to be sent to the printer.
You can also send disk directories to the printer, giving you a hard copy for quick reference. This is the first utility I've seen which allows you to treat hard disks in the same manner as floppy disks; you can finally have a complete listing of the information on your hard disk.
Directory information can be sorted before it is printed out. The sorts include: by date, by name, by size, and by type. The printed information will show the name of the file, the size, and the date generated. The information is also shown following the folder information. You can even indent the file's name every time the program runs into a folder. The last option allowed is called type through. This is for simple typing jobs, outputting the raw text to your printer.
Mi-Print is a useful printing utility. It allows you to format text files quickly and then print them. It allows you to print out your disk directory, including hard disks, and sort the files in various manners. It also allows you to use your printer as a typewriter. Mi-Print is not copy protected. The 10-page manual is really not needed, but it is useful to explain how to speed up several of the options.