Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 5 / SEPTEMBER 1988

Product Reviews

Gato, Sesame Street Printer Kit

This month's new Atari XE Game System release is a cartridge conversion of the computer disk hit Gato, a World War II submarine simulation originated by Spectrum Holobyte.

You command the Growler, a Gato class submarine equipped with radar and 24 torpedos or mines. The Growler can run at 20 knots on powerful diesel engines while surfaced and 9 knots on electric power while submerged. The objective of Gato is to complete as many missions as you can without returning to your sub tender for supplies and repairs. Missions include sinking convoys, scouting islands and rescuing downed airmen-while evading attacks of enemy destroyers and patrol boats.

The main menu screen lets you set the difficulty level, number of players, day or night mission, and sound on or off. Mission messages are received faster when the sound is off. The main screen shows a view from the bridge (when surfaced) or through the periscope (submerged down to 45 feet). You can see in four different directions. The depth and speed are also shown on this screen, as well as the amount of fuel, battery charge, number of torpedos, ready torpedo tubes and oxygen supply.

The patrol chart, divided into quadrants, shows your entire patrol area, including islands, your sub tender and enemy vessels (in the lower levels). The quadrant chart shows greater detail of everything in your immediate quadrant. The radar screen shows islands and ships, and has a greater range than your bridge lookout. It's also handy for night action, when nothing is visible from the bridge.

The joystick steers your submarine and controls diving and surfacing. The joystick button launches torpedos. All other controls are operated by the keyboard. This is awkward at first, but commands are mostly mnemonic.

Gato's graphics are adequate, although the graphics of ships and islands are quite limited. Each ship has only a few different views, so ship movements are jerky. The torpedo hit graphics could be improved and the sound is limited. My main complaint is that the target range is not available, so it's difficult to judge how much to lead your target when firing torpedos.

On the plus side, Gato is quite playable, with strategic planning an important part of each attack. If the enemy counterattacks, getting away can be quite hairy and sometimes you won't make it. You can return to the sub tender for repairs any time unless you're under attack. There's even a shortcut for moving around the screen, so you don't need to cruise for a long time just to get where you're supposed to be. Another nice feature is that if you have a disk drive, the captain's log can be saved to record all the tonnage sunk by the current commander. Overall, the XE cartridge version of Gato is a lot of fun-DAVID PLOTKIN

$22.95, requires 48K memory. Atari Corp., 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. (408) 745- 2000. Optional: XF551 or 1050 disk drive for captain's log recording.

Sesame Street Print Kit ($12.95) is a charming little desktop publisher for toddlers. It lets you build cards, signs, banners and storybook pages using Sesame Street's lovable Muppets-Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar and all the rest. This Print Shop workalike has a simple user interface-to go to a previous menu so you can make changes, just press [ESCAPE]. When you are creating a page, a graphics window at the top of the screen shows roughly what your final output will be.

The documentation includes a handy reference card that covers all major details. Written for all computers supported by Hi-Tech, the manual has a separate section teaching each keyboard's different commands. There's also a tutorial on creating a greeting card, which introduces all the major features of the program.

Printer setup is quite simple-Print Kit supports plenty of printers. Only occasionally did I run into any small problems with garbage printing.

There are three types of greeting cards-wide, tall and tent. The tall and wide cards have front and back (outside), and left and right (inside) quadrants. You can print on all four quadrants with Print Kit. Each section of the card can contain borders, graphics and text.

Borders and fonts are not displayed graphically (as they are in Print Shop), so keep the quick reference card handy. You can have borders on any or all of the four sides of a page, and they can be printed in several different sizes as well. The manual provides suggestions for table name cards, birthdays, invitations and book name plates.

Print Kit's flexible text editor provides seven fonts- Fine Print, Avant Garde, Headline, Times, Old English, Zapf (italics) and Christmas (gothic). Each font can be printed in bold, italic, outline, jazz (3-D effect), shadow and raised. Print Kit is compatible with PowerPrint, Hi-Tech's general-purpose printing program reviewed in the July 1988 Antic. This means you can use PowerPrint's fonts, graphics and borders.

Once the graphic design is laid out, control goes to the text editor. As you enter text, a small graphic representation of the page appears at the top of the display, making it easy to see what the final results will look like and eliminating most of the guesswork. Four different fonts can be used in a single design. Control command keys select justification, text size, font and text style on each line.

Vertical status windows appear on both sides of the text editing area. They show the current text parameters in use and can be changed at any time. The only limitations of the Print Kit editor are that lines cannot be inserted and deleted. If you miss a line half way through a page, then you must go back and type it-and then retype everything afterward. (This is also true of Print Shop.) Text sizes may be set to 3/8-inch, 3/4-inch and 1 1/2 inches in cards and signs. Eleven text sizes are available for banners.

Signs can be created in vertical, horizontal and half-page formats. To create a sign, just select a border and graphic, enter the text and then print. Banners can be up to 42 pages long. By adjusting type size and text length, bumper stickers, small signs and postcards can be created easily from the banner menu. Print Kit automatically sizes any selected graphic to match the text size. If a graphic is chosen for both ends of the banner, it can be "mirrored" to make the text appear as if it were between bookends.

A storybook page is simply a customized version of a sign. From this menu it's easy to create a book one page at a time, selecting graphics and borders as you go, entering the text and printing. My sons and I had a lot of fun creating our own adventure book. We filled it with the graphic characters, pretty borders and our own make-believe story using the boys' names as central figures. Storybook pages cannot be saved to disk, unfortunately. I photocopied the results (which wouldn't be easy to recreate manually) so each child could have his own book to color.

The Atari version of Print Kit comes on two disks, with the Commodore version on the flip side. The software lets you specify the source drive for graphics, which is great if you have two floppies. The program supports extended XL/XE memory configurations from the setup options menu.

Print Kit takes full advantage of all the possible memory configurations of the 8-bit Atari. I ran the program from an MIO RAMdisk, which allowed Print Kit to run much faster. The flexibility of this product is impressive.

The software comes on enhanced density disks, so it can be loaded only from Atari 1050s or other drives that support enhanced density. Print Kit is NOT copy-protected, but this low-priced, high-power product deserves to be purchased, not pirated.

Print Kit is an impressive package for the price. If you have toddlers who love the Sesame Street characters, Sesame Street Print Kit is superb for creating customized storybooks, or activity "coloring pages" as well as the usual sign and card making.- MATT RATCLIFF

$12.95, 48K disk, 1050 drive. Hi-Tech Expressions, 1700 N.W. 65th Avenue, Suite 9, Plantation, FL 33313. (800) 848-9273; (305) 584-6386 in Florida.


Atari Corp. will release 19 new XE Game System cartridges in 1988, according to Michael Katz, president of Atari's Entertainment Electronics Division. Each cartridge is to retail for under $25 and can run on Atari 8-bit computers with at least 48K memory.

Here are some of the upcoming XEGS titles we can expect soonest:

Ace of Aces (Accolade) puts you in the cockpit of a British Mosquito fighter/bomber. Into the Eagles Nest (Pandora) sneaks you into Hitler's infamous stronghold as a lone American soldier. Karateka (Broderbund) calls upon your hero's karate skills to rescue the princess from the evil warlord.

In Atari's Necromancer, you're a druid magician leading an army of living trees against demons. The arcade hit Food Fight features features more than 100 levels of an increasingly messy comestible confrontation. Desert Falcon sends you on a search for treasure and hieroglyphs as you wage war against the evil sphinx. In Commando (Data East), you'll battle enemy soldiers and rescue POWs.-ANTIC ED