Best Games 3
In a previous life, okay perhaps two, David Bradforth has reviewed the previous offerings from APDL's Best Games series - what does he make of the third?
When next I attend Gamers Anonymous, I'll have to admit to having had a relapse. After all, when a CD-ROM with 25 pretty good public domain games appears on the market, what am I expected to do? Ignore it? Nah mate - can't be done. Best Games 3 was perhaps the least shouted about release of the RISC OS 2000 show, but APDL did seem to shift a few on the Saturday. The big question, of course, is what's on it?
The main CD filer window
Opening up the batting, 5x5 is a simple desktop-based puzzle where you, quite simply, need to get 5x5 in the correct place to populate a grid on your desktop. I should really use the word simple less often: I'm damned if I can get anywhere. Oh well...onto the next one.
This basically requires you to place Goats onto a grid: a total of twenty need to be placed, but you need to do so in a fashion so as to avoid them being eaten by the lions. Yet another puzzle game I'm not too good at, but it's very good humoured, and the noises do certainly add to the whole mental effect of the game: you can feel a little distressed when your goat is eaten!
Back in the days of the Spectrum, Boulderdash did quite well for Tynesoft: the first version for Acorn computers came in the shape of Repton; but RISC OS has a new offering in the shape of Balvaniac. It's been written in BASIC, and certainly doesn't have the style or visual appeal of the commercial title; but it does have a lot going for it. Not my cup of tea, but a worthy addition to the collection.
A new take on the old Thrust theme: you're in control of a ship in space, shooting aliens, robots, tanks, boomerangs, generators, bases, guns, and crumbly blocks. Along the way, you have to avoid avoid flashing force-fields, magnets (attracting and repelling), bouncing plasma balls, spikes, and enemy bullets. And the wall too... Things to try along the way include a teleporter, a special area which changes your vehicle and a password to jump straight to any level! Nice little game to play, but not quite with the same degree of appeal as the original Thrust.
Spheres of Chaos
Spheres of Chaos is Iain McLeod's take on Meteors, supplied for quite some years with every Risc PC. The version included on the disc dates back to 1997: RISC World issue 5 included the demonstration version of the year 2000 equivalent and is somewhat..erm..difficult on the eyes. Perhaps one of the best games available for the Acorn platform: as such a very worthy addition to the CD-ROM itself.
Chess is...well..a desktop chess game. Nuff said.
Clumps requires that you click on groups of objects - some of which seemed to have been inspired by one of the previous Japanese 'fads' - a little bunny rabbit. I have a friend, Marissa, from Japan who used to swear by the stuff: these days it's all Pokemon. Oh well. Clumps is a somewhat quiet game, but I found myself trying to click like mad to get the best possible score with the least possible effort.
Cylon Attack is a rewrite of a BBC Micro classic. Essentially, the game starts by launching you in an Elite-esque fashion into space. At this point, I tried to use the mouse but, unfortunately, it's the usual ZX etc combination used in preference. The aim of this game is, quite simply, to survive. I discovered, however, that the object that looks like a space station should not be shot at: it'll kill you and end the game. A classy edition, but will be better with mouse control...keep an eye out in the future!
Of course, next up is Elite - what some may consider the grand daddy of modern 3D shoot-em-ups. I'm not even going to bother explaining what Elite is all about; cos I reckon most of you know anyway. Okay, maybe I'd better sum it up in a few words. Space. Pirates. Trading. Survival. Status. Win. Become Elite.
Mindtrap kinda had me stumped from the word go. I have, therefore, just quoted the first three lines from the help file - but, of course, I've taken the liberty to add comments! "This is a nice simple.." simple...okay. Can't really say I understand it. "..desktop puzzle game, in which you have to have to line up the blocks in the right columns." So now it all becomes clear.. "After a while, things get a bit more complicated - there is more than one layer to solve, and blocks may be moved between layers..." I'm just dumb...but if puzzles are your thing I'd recommend you get right into it.
Mr Matt is another take on the Repton theme: you wander round a field collecting things, but attempt to not get killed along the way. Nice idea: i could really have done with some more atmospheric music in the background than Turn Back Time from Aqua. (There's no in-game music, and at the time I'm writing this that's just started in the stereo.) It is good fun, though.
Mr Pea is a simple platform-style game, where you wander around an arena (somewhat similar to Thrust, really) collecting Peas (that's what they look like) before moving to the exit. Quite simple in style, and very suitable for young children.
Overcast is an adventure in the style of 4th Dimension classics White Magic 1 & 2. The initial impression right from the outset is quality, so it's quite amazing really to see this available for so little money! Essentially, you wander around a world, do things, avoid being killed and hope you live to see another day. Nice idea, if not original, but very well implemented.
Risk is all about world domination...which I really don't understand. Either the game or world domination. It's colourful, though. (Risk is a full version of the classic board game, which David hasn't ever heard of.... - ED)
Realms of Madness
Realms of Madness is a nice little text adventure for fans of the old Infocom classics: it seems to have been written using the ALPS system from Alpine Software, meaning it's got a very simple interface and a great deal of thought has been put into the adventure itself. Not a bad little offering.
40 Thieves is a well thought-out implementation of a patience game. Given the collection some years ago from Creative Curriculum Software, which offered just about every implementation of patience ever devised in a single package, it's quite impressive to see that people find more implementations and continue to develop and run them under RISC OS. It's a very nice game to play, and one I'm glad to have added to my collection.
War is essentially Tanks with Castles: you shoot at each other, the first to destroy the other wins. Nice idea, but given the lack of sound it's a bit quiet. I need my bombing sounds to add atmosphere.
War - what is it good for....
In Gunship, you and a friend must bravely fly your spaceship out into the unknown and destroy loads of hapless aliens. The fun comes when you and your friend argue about the reason you missed shooting the last alien. Banking at the wrong moment, bog-eyed shooting, and crashing into scenery and bullets are all very annoying, and clearly the other guy's fault! Yes I know that's what it says in the helpfile: it just provided a very convenient description of a game by a very gifted programmer...I think the first program I ever had published appeared on a BBC disc alongside one by him. A recommended game!
Monopoly is very simple to explain. You want money from your opponents. You must first buy things they have to pay rent/taxes/etc on. The first person to lose all their money is...erm...the loser. The winner is the one with the most money when the game ends. A real game of Monopoly can take hours, but the computer edition takes significantly less time. Good thing, really: can you imagine playing a real-time exploration of the creation of the universe?
I've not mentioned all of the titles: the selection above is a large example of what's actually on the disc. To see the directory display, which lists all of the titles on disc, please see above. Anyway, as with the previous Best Game CD-ROMs, there's a couple of titles to which the Best Games banner really couldn't be applied. Despite this, it's still a very worthy collection, and at the asking price of just £7.90 you really can't argue.