New ST Entertainments
From dungeons to outer space
I loved the original version of this game and I love this sequel. Despite a less than original premise (remember Mad Max?), Roadwar Europa puts you in command of a roving band of vehicular warriors, fighting for control of radiation-ridden roadways of the future.
On this outing, the scene is Europe and its world-threatening terrorists. It seems that a rather ugly faction has planted five nuclear devices in major European cities. The detonation of the first one is just to let you know they're serious. Unfortunately, what you don't know is the location of the other four. The object of the game is to defuse these bombs and save the world. Feel up to it?
What makes this complex game such a joy to play are its logical, simple design and ease of use. Start out by allocating vehicle, manpower, and supply points to create a gang.
Game play follows a simple and hypnotic pattern. Move, search, fight--it couldn't be easier. What isn't easy is the strategy needed to complete the game. What kind of vehicle do I need? Should I risk another fight? Is your doctor healing your men, or merely an extra mouth to feed? These are only a few of the problems awaiting you.
Simple mouse/menu and alternative keyboard commands allow you to learn and play quickly. You'll soon graduate to the highly complex tactical battle mode, in which you control all aspects of your Roadwar, such as vehicle position, aim, movement, and ramming and boarding enemy vehicles.
A very attractive and well designed, high-res screen makes the mayhem easy on the eyes, while a generous manual also manages to ease you into this complex game. And a disk that's not copy protected makes sure you're the only one to blame for a defective disk.-- STEVE PANAK
$44.95, color only. Strategic Simulations Inc., 1046 N. Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043. (415) 964-1353.
Space shoot-em-ups aren't news anymore and they aren't exactly my cup of tea either, so I was surprised to enjoy Mindscape's Uridium ($39.95) so much. Detailed and lifelike graphics are a real help and an easy joystick system is also a plus.
The playing style isn't that much different from Zaxxon except that scrolling goes straight across the screen instead of from corner to corner. The object of the game is also quite different. An enemy fleet of 15 Super Dreadnoughts is stealing minerals from 15 different planets in your galactic sector. You'll first have to knock out the fighters that protect the Dreadnought, while avoiding the homing mines that come from the ship.
To do that, your ship is equipped with an unlimited supply of phaser power and some pretty flashy maneuvering capabilities. When all the Dreadnought's defenses have been eliminated, you can land on the ship and destroy it.
For those weary of games with 100 page manuals, for those who just want to load the game and take off, Mindscape's Xevious ($29.95) is probably right up your alley. There are only 126 words in the manual about the ST version of the game.
Xevious is a vertically scrolling combat game, pitting you and your aircraft against a mighty arsenal of land and air forces from a enemy about which you know very little. The joystick controls sideways and up/down movement in a strictly 2 dimensional format. The button is used to fire an unlimited supply of bombs. The easy way to play is just leave the button depressed constantly for a continuous barrage of bombs. But a quick tapping of the button will actually produce more bombs at a faster rate. High scores are saved to disk.--RICK TEVERBAUGH
Color only. Mindscape, 3444 Dundee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062. (312) 480-7667.
Occasionally a game appears that is so revolutionary it immediately pulls ahead of the competition and sets standards for judging future releases. Zork and Flight Simulator II come to mind. Now there's Dungeon Master, a graphic role-playing fantasy written expressly for the ST and one of the few games taking complete advantage of 16-bit technology.
Dungeon Master is the first game where skeletons, dragons, mummies, et al. wander freely. Sometimes you can see your adversaries first, but once they see you, they'll stay hot on your trail.
Dungeon Master's graphics are spectacular. Your main screen is a first person view of the dungeon that scrolls by as you move. The detail is amazing, as fountains, chipped stones, and messages carved into them--many of them clues--add to the realism of the game. And the ST interface is outstanding. Everything is mouse controlled, from movement to casting spells. But what's amazing--more than hot animation, more than the interface--is the sound. Dungeon Master is almost worth buying for the sound-effects alone. All sounds are digitized, from the metallic clank of a door closing to the sound of an axe being swung through the air down to the comical "oof!"
Dungeon Master is more puzzle oriented than its ancestors. In fact, there is hardly any combat in the first two levels at all. Instead, the game teaches you to be observant. The many hidden switches and panels in the walls may open a secret panel.
The only thing commonplace about Dungeon Master is the storyline where once again, an Evil Wizard has taken over control of the world. You must assemble a party of four adventurers (Fighter, Ninja, Wizard or Priest) to explore a 15-level dungeon.
Party membes develop not by gaining "experience points" but by practicing their skills, as in real life. This gives character growth a more organic feel than other games of the genre. A hint book is on the way, and there's talk of Dungeon Master II-- apparently there are 15 levels that didn't make it into the game. In the meantime, buy this game. It's one of the best games ever written for any computer.—HARVEY BERNSTEIN
$39.95. FTL Games, P.O. Box 11248, San Diego, CA 92111. (619) 453-5711.
NORD AND BERT
Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It is the longwinded title to the latest offering from Infocom, the reigning masters of interactive text adventures. To put it mildly, Nord and Bert is a major departure from Infocom's previous adventures. Success in this game relies on solving word games, having total recall of cliches and believing firmly that the pun is mightier than the sword.
The underlying thread in Nord and Bert is that a verbal disaster has hit the town of Punster. Normal speech has taken on magical qualities, causing a variety of problems that you have been called in to correct. There are eight separate hot-spots, each an independent mini-adventure, that need to be solved to save the day. Each site requires a different form of verbal magic to make progress. For example, calling a root a route could open up a trail through an impassable forest. In another case finding the most laps would actually reveal lost maps.
Game play is also different in that all possible directions are posted on the screen. No need for mapping, the puzzles are reserved for word games. There's also an online hint feature--a necessity for this game, given some of its more obscure references. The starting point for each scenario is to determine what type of word game is being played. These are consistent--one scenario is all homonyms, another is spoonerisms, etc., with no overlapping.
Novelty aside, I cannot recommend this game. Its biggest flaw is inconsistency of play from one scenario to another. The puzzles are fairly trivial, compared to standard adventure games, but the word play ranges from easy to difficult. I love puzzles but when success rests on recalling every cliche in the book there is little challenge and less interest. The element of fairness is gone: either you know it or you don't, with no hope of finding a logical solution. I give Infocom an A for originality but will spend my money on something else.--JIM PIERSON-PERRY
$39.95. Infocom, 125 CambridgePark Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140. (617) 576-3190.
F-15 STRIKE EAGLE
In its original incarnation on the 8-bit Atari, F-15 Strike Eagle solidly established Microprose as the leading developer of flight combat simulation software. Now converted to ST format, it's essentially the same.
However, fans of the previous version will appreciate the enhancements designed to take advantage of 16-bit technology. The wire frame designs of the old targets have been replaced by true-to-life graphics. Planes, airfields, SAM sites, etc. all closely resemble their real-life counterparts. The ST version plays much faster too, adding to the excitement. One new element not found previously is the ability to save a pilot's performance to disk.
The game places you in the cockpit of an F-15 air/ground attack fighter. With the assistance of a sophisticated heads-up display (HUD), three major air-to-air weapons systems, (guns, medium and short range missiles), and computerized intelligence displays, you attempt to complete any of seven missions (based on actual military incidents) in places such as Libya, Egypt, Syria and Hanoi.
As is common with Microprose releases, the documentation is superb. The first part of the manual gives an overview of the game and controls, while an extensive second section deals with advanced defensive flight techniques, aerodynamics, etc. The manual also contains the authentication codes you need to get off the ground--sugar-coated copy protection.--HARVEY BERNSTEIN
$39.95. Microprose, 180 Lakefront Drive, Hunt Valley, MD 21030. (301) 771-1151.