Reviewed by Steve Jarrett
Empire! is a vast space strategy game where you start with a lone Cub Scoutship in the ABATLU system. You are soon commissioned unique missions by starbase control, chasing and zapping aliens, resolving objectives, shielding systems, and space trading. All of these fit together for fantastic gameplay. Your objective is to build a great galactic empire spanning many solar systems, braving dozens of missions to become the greatest space pilot of all time. There are lots of distant planets to land on, starbases to dock with, solar maps to get lost in and hyperspace to zoom into. The graphics are well drawn with nice detail. There are some great animations within the game too. Empire! is an extremely complicated game to play, which will captivate you if you give it a chance. It’s in a league of its own and is a huge game to complete.
Reviewed by Chris Lennard
Based on the best of the Star Wars films, once more you must fight the Galactic Empire. Initially taking place on the surface of Hoth, you have to destroy the Imperial Probots in order to prevent them from sending transmissions revealing the location of your hidden Rebel base. The more enjoyable second stage involves taking out the AT-ATs and AT-ST with your guns and tow cables. You then pilot the Millennium Falcon against an armada of TIE fighters, while finally you have to successfully navigate through a deadly asteroid field while maintaining your shields. This time the Star Wars anthem blares out throughout, which adds nicely to the game’s atmosphere. Not as fun as destroying the Death Star, but excellent nonetheless.
(First Byte, 1988)
Reviewed by Pug
Guide Herbert the Herapod around the twelve horrifying Haunts of Hawk eating all the cookies found there. Before Herbert can eat a cookie, he needs to find one of the many magic sacks scattered around. With sack in hand, Herbert can collect thirty cookies before he needs a new one. The level of difficulty can be changed from easy to hard. This flip-screen maze game, which was included with the Micro-Music Creator utility as a demonstration of its capabilities, has nice graphics with snow falling down the sides of the screen. An interesting tune plays throughout, and there’s even digitised speech.
There is one rule that all pinball games should stick to; they should be fast. Clearly the programmers of this game forgot about this, for this is probably the slowest pinball game I’ve played. The ball does not so much whizz as crawl around the table! Furthermore, the graphics are awful (it’s a horrible Spectrum port), the music on the menu is very irritating, and most of the tables are badly designed and lack the bonus features that normally make pinball tables more exciting. This game is abysmal and boring and should be avoided at all costs.
The evil warlock Krill is menacing the land, and he must be vanquished – but it is necessary to send an inexperienced Enchanter to defeat him, so the leader of the Circle of Enchanters, Belboz, has summoned you to undertake this quest. This is the first in the Enchanter series of adventures from Infocom, and in this game, you become more skilful at magic by finding scrolls and writing the spells they contain into your spell book. You’ll need these spells to solve most of the puzzles; most of them are OK, but a few (particularly the one involving the map and pencil) are frankly illogical and confusing. Having to eat and drink regularly is also an annoying distraction, although you should pay attention to your dreams; they contain subtle clues to help you with the puzzles.
Reviewed by Robert Small
CRL also released the very similar Formula One at around about the same time as this two-wheeled alternative. Formula One was good, but does Endurance pull off the same race-winning performance? Graphically the game is basic, but I found the graphics to have a nice bit of character about them. There isn’t much in the way of sound and I’d say the engine noise sounded better in Formula One. This management style of game won’t be for everyone, but there’s plenty to get your teeth into, with a whole host of variables to tinker with, different race lengths, difficulty settings and multi-player. I guess it depends on how you like your racing – two-wheeled or four?
Ride an off-road motorbike across five stages of rough terrain encompassing forest, desert and marshland in this coin-op conversion. There are five stages to complete, each one filled with obstacles to avoid or jump over using ramps. However, you need to approach them at high speed to do this, and by the second stage, the ramps are too close together to allow you to clear the boulders below, which means that you will lose a huge amount of time. It doesn’t help that the game is very unforgiving in this respect, and the dreadful Spectrum-like graphics and annoying sound bugs make this a poor game. I will never understand why the CPC magazines liked this game.
(Alternative Software, 1988)
Reviewed by CPC4eva
You take the managerial role of an American football team. There is no music at all, and unlike some of the better known management games like Football Manager 2, there is no pitch to watch players running around on. You start with $30,000 in the bank and your goal is to win games, use the transfer market to build a better skilled team, and manage your finances and not go bankrupt, because if you do go bankrupt then the game is over immediately. There is a decent range of options, such as seeing where you are in the league, listing upcoming matches, and of course, the transfer market. News items scroll at the bottom of the screen too fast to read, unfortunately. The games consist of four quarters of fifteen minutes each, and results are displayed quickly so you don’t get bored of waiting.
The Earth has mostly been laid to waste, and only three areas of untouched land remain. Of course, the aliens are going to put a stop to that, so it’s time to get your plane out and blast them... and that’s all you seem to do. Blast some aliens, then blast a caterpillar-like alien, collect a bonus, go to the next level after blasting a number of aliens, and repeat. With nine levels in each land area, you can imagine that the game becomes extremely monotonous. The only other thing worth mentioning is the excellent music.
It’s the 1920s, the era of Prohibition, and the FBI are on the trail of a mob of gangsters who are manufacturing whisky. This is a three-level shoot-’em-up which was only released on cartridge. It was intended to be used with the Trojan Phazer lightgun (and was one of only two such games released for the Plus version!), but thankfully it can be played with a joystick as well. In summary, you must shoot the gangsters to score points, but shooting innocent people (including unarmed gangsters) causes you to lose points. Once you have reached a certain number of points, you can go to the next level. The game is over when you are wounded once too often. The graphics are absolutely wonderful and it’s fun to play for a while, but everyone has seen this type of game many times before.