Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 2 / JUNE 1988

ST Resource

ST Games Gallery

Pinball Wizard, Airball, President Elect, Tanglewood, Diamond Mike


Pinball WizardAccolade's Pinball Wizard is the best pinball construction simulation I've seen for any computer. Bright colors are part of the fun of arcade pinball, and Pinball Wizard captures that flavor to the hilt. There are a few set-ups that can be played immediately to learn the mechanics of the game, but the real fun here is creating your own, saving them to a blank disk and then amazing your friends with your creativity.

The game has a parts box containing almost any kind of obstacle you'd want to put on the playfield. A detailed drawing utility, which even includes a magnification option, will give your finished product as much polish as you have patience for. Sections of the construction package help control scoring, bonuses, slope, tilt, speed, elasticity and the number of balls per game.

The games can be played with the keyboard or the mouse, but for real pinball addicts, the keyboard is the only real choice. The finished products will play more like real pinball machines than anything you've ever experienced on computers.-RICK TEVERBAUGH

$34.95, color. Accolade, 20813 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014. (408) 446-5757.



AirballMicroDeal's Airball looks to be a clever, detailed and complex challenge in the growing line of ball-and-maze chases. In Airball, you're what appears to be a beach ball that bounces around from room to room looking for various items left behind by the evil wizard who turned you into a bag of air in the first place. The ultimate goal is to find a spellbook that will turn you back into a human and end the game.

However, there are a couple of catches. You have a slow leak and must find a room with a pump every couple of minutes or you'll spppffJttt away to nothing. But don't stay on the pump too long or you'll explode.

Best advice here is to watch the demo for a while to get a feel for the pace and speed at which you'll move around the maze. The game has outstanding graphics and good animation, but the control system is subpar. Only the keyboard worked well for me, although control is said to be accomplished through joystick, mouse or keyboard. Most arcade vets hate to operate these games with the board.

I don't think that Airball has the delicious tension of Marble Madness or the charm of Trail Blazer. A separate product is the Airball Construction Set ($24.95) for those who want to create their own rooms.-RICK TEVERBAUGH

$39.95, color. MicroDeal USA (Michtron), 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-8729.



President ElectWith another presidential election just around the corner, SSI has released the 1988 Edition of their election simulation, President Elect. This specialized program will appeal only to a select audience, but I guarantee that those who find the strategies of the campaign trail intriguing will not be disappointed.

Although election campaigns begin over a year before Election Day President Elect covers only the final nine weeks. The game also dispenses with such trivialities as the candidates' positions on the major issues of the day. Instead it ties success to the proper use of money and manpower, a politician's main resources. In President Elect these resources are represented as Political Action Points (PAPs) and each candidate starts with his share of PAPs to spend as he sees fit.

After establishing an organization (by allocating PAPs to weekly overhead costs, thereby determining efficiency), the battle begins. You campaign on a national level (through the print and broadcast media) all the way down to whistle stops in individual states. Your goal is to build and retain voter support. But too many stops are tiring and increase the odds that the weary candidate will commit a serious blunder. Throughout the game a colorful map keeps each player updated on voter support in each state, helping you decide which regions should be targeted during your next turn.

Even though the most visible portion of the game involves the allocation of resources, this program's foundation is based on real-life assumptions, such as incumbency, national economy and world peace. Debates provide the chance for each presidential hopeful to display his knowledge on the issues of the day, or fall prey to a campaign-wrecking social faux pas. Each campaign week brings a new map, new results and another chance to shift resources.

But while President Elect sports one of the most reasonable prices for ST software, this keyboard-driven game is a direct conversion of the PC/MS-DOS version and even the graphics are somewhat lackluster. Still, it is unlikely that any who buy President Elect will be disappointed, as there should be little doubt about what's in the box. This is not an arcade game. But as an educational and engaging simulation, President Elect gets my vote.-STEVE PANAK

$24.95, color. Strategic Simulations Inc., 1046 N. Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043. (415) 964-1353.



I have played literally hundreds of games over the last few years and find it unusual to have trouble under standing a program. Tanglewood therefore, is unusual. And while I like a challenge, this game is just about the most confusing thing I've ever loaded into my ST.

The scenario is simple enough your computer lets you see into an alien world and control five robotic mobiles which move about on the planet surface. Increasing the challenge, the operation and characteristics of the mobiles are as mysterious as the ultimate objectives of the game. What is certain, however, is that each mobile is in a varying state of disrepair-and unreliable until overhauled.

When you boot Tanglewood, your screen becomes a control panel with switches, indicators, dials and monitors. All control is through the mouse, and your first session with Tanglewood is spent trying to determine what the various switches do. Once you can communicate with mobile, you try moving about the planet. I say "try" because the mouse-induced movement of the mobiles is most frustrating - it never seems as if you have full control. The graphics are very attractive. I'm disappointed that the game failed to draw me into its world.

Like Hacker (which fills your monitor with a cryptic prompt, challenging you to break into a foreign computer system) few hints are provided to help you start. Ultimately, the game becomes a search in which you try to locate objects and use them properly. Tanglewood can confuse, and possibly challenge, you for days to come.-STEVE PANAK

$39.95, color. MicroDeal USA (Michtron), 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-8729.



Diamond Mike is overly similar to the arcade classic Boulder Dash which itself was derived from Dig Dug, but at least displayed some originality in blending fast action with thoughtful strategy.

In Boulder Dash you struggle through a number of caves, collecting diamonds and avoiding danger, primarily from falling rocks. Each cave contains an exit which will open when enough gems have been collected, and each maze is a puzzle whose escape requires skill, strategy, and a little luck. To describe Diamond Mike, all you need is to substitute the words "Diamond Mike" for "Boulder Dash" and numerous items for diamonds. You'll also have to substitute slower programming code, causing less satisfactory play. The low price, decent manual and enclosed bonus games do little to improve this package.-STEVE PANAK

$19.95, color or monchrome. XLEnt Software, PO. Box 5228, Springfield, VA 22150. (703) 644-8881.



Super Cycle is a clone of Pole Position, with motorcycles instead of cars. But it's as exciting and as much fun as the original. You accelerate and shift through three gears as the screen shows a speedometer, tachometer and gearshift. If you shift to a high gear before gaining enough speed, you'll find yourself moving slowly, so practice your gears on Level 1 until you've mastered them. And watch out for other racers trying to bump you off the road, smash into you from behind or slow you down by hogging the road.

There's great scenery along the way: you'll see such sights as the Sphinx, Mount Rushmore, the Great Wall of China and the Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad. There are also many obstacles along the way. Running into a pothole stops you dead in your tracks. Other obstacles include oil slicks, icy roads, a narrowing road with barricades and a distracting thunderstorm. Sharp curves, lampposts and trees approach you at frightening speeds.

My copy of Super Cycle came with instructions for the Commodore computer that don't match the Atari ST version. Also, on one occasion the game tried to save a high score and crashed. However, Super Cycle now saves scores flawlessly. A two-player mode or a construction set for building your own tracks would have made it a better game, but it's still full of racing fun. - JOHN MANOR

$19.95, color. Epyx, 600 Galveston Drive, Redwood City, CA 94063. (415) 366-0606.