Scuba Dive

by Mike A. Richardson, Tim Hayward, Ron Jeffs
Durell Software Ltd
Crash Issue 2, Mar 1984   page(s) 88

Producer: Durell
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £5.50
Language: Machine code
Author: Mike Richardson

With their latest release, Durell, who brought you Harrier Attack and our Established Game of the Month in the last issue, Jungle Trouble, claim for it that it sets a new standard for animated graphics for the Spectrum computer. A rather high-handed claim, but one that seems amply justified by seeing Scuba Dive. If you're one of those people who squirm with primordial horror at the sight of Great White sharks, then stay well clear of this game! The state of animated graphics in this highly original game is every bit as good as anything you will see in the arcades, and the jaws agape sharks look pretty real.

The basic object of Scuba Dive is to leap off your boat, dive down and collect pearls from oysters on the sea bed. If you think it sounds easy forget it! This is no game for beginners of the arcade art. For a start off, the sea is alive with fish of all shapes and sizes, from giant sharks and squids right down to tiny fish swimming in shoals, and if you've ever fallen for Jacques Cousteau's line that they are really very cuddly, you can forget that too! These guys are all killers.

When you press the appropriate key, one of your three divers leaps out of the boat and can then be guided down to the rocky sea bed. If he runs into it he gets knocked out for a few seconds, and killed if it happens immediately again. The pearls can be collected only from open oysters. To the right of the display area is a status section which records how much oxygen is used up. It's replenished by surfacing and finding the boat, which wanders off on its own. Only by touching the ladder at the rear of the boat are you safely aboard and ready to dive again.

Also on the sea bed, are hollows, actually openings to undersea caves. These are protected by an octopus, whose waving tentacles allow a precarious access. Should you get through, the bottom of the cave is covered with giant clams, whose pearls are more valuable, but the clams have a nasty habit of snapping shut on you! This cave in turn also has hollow accesses to deeper caves protected by an octopus each. The deepest caves contain treasure chests and also spare oxygen bottles to keep you going. And that's it. You score points for pearls brought to the boat but if you get knocked out or eaten, you lose the pearls you may have collected. The four skill levels affect your scores, numbers of sea creatures, oxygen supply and the speed at which the octopuses move as well as other details.


Control keys: rotate clockwise/anticlockwise, accelerate and break. As preprogrammed very sensible, but may be user-defined to cope with almost any joystick
Joystick: with user-defined keys you can set up for most joysticks
Keyboard play: once you get the hang, very responsive
Colour: excellent
Graphics: words fail
Sound: poor
Skill levels: 4
Lives: 3 divers
Features: a neat feature enables you to save just the hi-scores and then load them in to continue.

This is an original game with excellent colour and graphics, although it's a shame about the almost non-existent sound. The fishy graphics are fantastic (one tends to get into trouble while admiring the various forms of marine life)! The game isn't very addictive and I would have thought there could have been more to do like harpooning sharks, but anyway I liked it!

The detail of the graphics is quite staggering. Not only are they large but they're also realistically very small. The sharks have a lot of frames to make the movement work, including a very good turning action. The game is full of nasty touches like the giant jelly fish which float on the surface and hide behind the boat waiting to catch a diver as he jumps off. The diver's movement, too, is just wonderful, both in diving off and in swimming. A bit of continuous sound, the effect of breathing bubbles perhaps, would have been a help, but to be honest, this game doesn't need much help. Like Jungle Trouble I found it to be immensely addictive - it should probably be banned as a health risk before it has time to take off! Great!

Despite the simplicity of the controls (user-defined keys too) this is not an easy game to play, and on the higher skill levels it's downright maddening. This really shows what a bit of dedication can do in turning Spectrum graphics into something to be proud of. The game is also about as addictive as any around I've played recently.

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 98%
Playability: 90%
Getting Started: 89%
Addictive Qualities: 90%
Value For Money: 98%
Overall: 92%

Summary: General Rating: highly recommended and excellent value for money.

Award: Crash Game of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 10, Oct 1986   page(s) 84

2.99 Classics

There's nothing fishy about Durell's Scuba Dive - you couldn't do better for a straight-forward arcader, which, if short on pace and thrills, is at least thoroughgoing and requires no little skill.

Your four scuba divers (your four lives) have to dive from a boat, avoiding various nautical nasties like jelly fish and sharks, to find assorted oyster pearls. Dive deeper, avoid the orrible octopussy and you'll find further delights in clam shells. Beyond the second Kraken you'll gain an extra life, be able to seek much needed oxygen (else you'll just have to hold your breath) and start looking for the real pieces of eight in the three treasure chests.

The only thing this game really lacks is Jacqueline Bissett's wet T-shirt from The Deep. Get your fish fingers on this!

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 6/10
Value For Money: 6/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 3, Apr 1984   page(s) 78

Producer: Durrell, 48K
£5.50 (2)
Author: Mike Richardson

One of the second issues Games of the Month - beautiful fishy animation from the largest to the smallest characters. The idea is to dive your man overboard, take him to the seabed and collect pearls from oysters. He may have to wait until they open, and he must not get knocked out on the bottom or run into any of the extremly voracious fish. Oxygen is running out, so back to the surface to find the boat, which moves all over the place. When all the pearls have been collected you must venture past a dreaded octopus and into some lower caves where the pearls from clams are bigger - the clams are more dangerous though. A second octopus guards the entry to yet lower and vaster caves full of treasure and some oxygen bottles to replenish your supply. Down here you can swim for ages, looking for the treasure, but the aquamarine life is even more dangerous. An original game with excellent graphics. The detail of which is quite staggering - a game which makes Spectrum graphics something to be poud of. Very addictive with 4 skill levels, good control keys (user-defined) almost any joystick and a hi-score saving routine. Highly recommended - overall CRASH rating 92% m/c.

Overall: 92%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 8, Sep 1984   page(s) 67

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 98%
Playability: 90%
Getting Started: 89%
Addictive Qualities: 90%
Value for Money: 98%
Overall: 92%

Scuba Dive certainly got a rave review from CRASH in issue 2 (92% overall) and has remained a popular vote in the HOTLINE ever since. How does it fare now.

Soon after the arrival of Scuba Dive a few other companies followed suit and produced underwater games. Scuba Dive is still the best one though. I tend to agree with most of the review but the game does tend to get boring, tedious and unaddictive very soon - no lasting appeal for me. Sound and a few more danger scenes could have made this low content game better. However, I wouldn't tell anyone not to buy it, just that they might be a bit disappointed after a while. I must say, that the animation and drawing of the sea creatures is very well done.

I think I agree with Matthew about the content of Scuba Dive, not that it's bad in itself, but that the implementation of the game makes for one that is fairly slow after a while. Scuba Dive's success lies more in the first few plays where the graphics delight and the size of the underwater caverns promises much fun. It isn't a game of skill in the sense of fast timing and firing accuracy, but swimming skills to take a time to master. Once that's achieved though, some of the fun does lag. On the whole I would say that if we were reviewing as new today, it would still get a very high rating from me, but less on the addictivity.

(Matthew) I think 89% for use of computer was a little high because controlling your man isn't as positive as it could be, or as positive as many games since have shown can be the case. The fish etc, are very good, but the caves look a bit uninteresting and the diver is small and not as well done as the fish. I would say the graphics should be 74% now. I never found it great fun to play, just searching around for treasure, so I'd give its addictive qualities and playability about 70%.

(Lloyd) I wouldn't drop the graphics by anything like as much, perhaps around the 85% mark. I agree on addictivity but would keep the playability figure up more, say around 79%. I think it holds up pretty well.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 24, Mar 1984   page(s) 13

Memory: 48K
Price: £5.95
Joystick: Most programmable

Dive into the depths of the ocean to collect pearls from the oysters in Scuba Dive for the 48K Spectrum. You must jump into the water from your boat and scuba your way through the hazards, including sharks and squid. If you pass them you will have to slow down so that you do not hit your head on the sea bottom. When the oysters open you can collect your treasure but, again, do not get trapped.

As you go down further, aquatic life will change and the sharks will get bigger. You will also meet the octopus which guards the way into another level.

Pass the octopus and you will enter an even more dangerous domain. Once you have entered you will have to collect your pearls from the giant clams and they have a nasty tendency to close on your head.

Scuba Dive is an impressive and original game. The effect of underwater diving is achieved so well that you could imagine you are looking into the perils of the deep.

The arcade display has a three-dimensional quality about it and the movements of the various sea creatures you will meet have been incorporated carefully into the game to make it a fairly accurate interpretation of life under water.

As well as having the pearls to collect you might find a treasure chest from a sunken galleon on your travels. There are three types of chest and the amount of points you score obtaining the treasure will depend on which level of the game you are playing.

Scuba Dive, with full aquarium of dangerous predators, can be obtained from Durrel Software.

Gilbert Factor: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Personal Computer Games Issue 4, Mar 1984   page(s) 86,91

MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
JOYSTICK: Sinclair, Optional
PRICE: £5.50

The time has come, game player, to stop your compulsive jabbing of fire buttons, slip out of your over-used space capsule and carefully, very carefully enter this fabulous underwater world.

Imagine a vast ocean bed hiding measureless wealth; dark waters inhabited by sharks, squid, barracuda, electric eels, giant clams, killer jellyfish and hungry shoals of fish; a guarded passage which leads to undersea caverns of frightening complexity. Begin your Scuba Dive. But be on your guard.

Believe it or not, this program will take you on an adventure in which you will not shoot anything, nor experience any particularly fast action. Yet you will be totally absorbed. And even if your first attempts result in early death (they will), you won't hesitate to re-enter the water.

Let's start at the beginning. On screen is a boat floating in shallow waters. At the touch of a key, the diver goes over the side. Making him swim is simple. Two keys to accelerate and slow down; two more to rotate him so that he heads in the right direction.

Kicking his legs gently, the diver moves towards the sea-bed. As he nears the bottom of the screen, the picture changes to reveal what's below. For at any one moment only a small fragment of the underwater terrain can be depicted on screen.

The diver is looking for treasure. And scattered on the sea-bed are oysters which open and shut. If he can touch them when they're open he can pick up the pearls they conceal.

But it's a delicate operation. If he's not careful he will crash into the rock, knock himself unconscious and drop all the treasure he's collected.

To be safe, the treasure must be returned to the boat. But when the diver returns to the surface he finds the boat has drifted and is nowhere to be seen. He may have a long swim to find it and his oxygen level is falling all the time.

There are far greater hazards ahead, for the waters are teeming with life, and meeting any of it is fatal.

From the safe position clan armchair, the creatures are wonderful to behold. There are more than 10 different types and they're incredibly life-like. They swim smoothly across the screen, and then suddenly turn round in beautiful 3D effect.

The sharks and squid in particular are frighteningly real.

Once the diver has found all the oyster pearls he has a more dangerous mission to complete. In one location on the ocean bed is an octopus guarding the entrance to a deeper cavern. As the octopus moves his tentacles up and down, it's possible to slip past him. The cavern contains more creatures, including giant clams which hide even greater treasure.

But the game's real challenge lies in the final mission which involves going past a second octopus into the really deep waters. Here there are numerous narrow passages through the rock and they're different every time you play.

If you can find the right ones and swim through them safely, you will come across three treasure chests.

Each of these contains more than you can carry, so to empty them you will have to make several trips, going right back up to the boat each time.

You'll also need to keep renewing your oxygen supply from cannisters you may (or may not) find hidden in the passages. Fact is, it'll be a miracle if you get back alive.

Many computer games demand little more than fast reactions and finger co-ordination. You get a short burst of high-adrenaline action - and then you're dead.

Scuba Dive is different. Instead of having 101 things hurtling at you which you must shoot or avoid, you have a much longer and ultimately more challenging quest.

Rather than scoring every time you do something successfully, you only get points when treasure is returned to the boat. This greatly adds to the game's compulsiveness and frustration!

It means you can adopt one of several different strategies, for example returning to the surface regularly, or collecting as much treasure as you can carry (with the risk of losing it all).

The program avoids a fault of many games which make you go through the same early stages every time you play. In Scuba Dive you can head straight for the deep passage's if you so wish, and save the easier points for later.

Other nice features are four different skill levels, user-definable keys and the ability to save the high score table on tape, making the game suitable for ongoing club competitions.

What's more, the cassette includes an instruction leaflet offering fuller directions than usual.

Scuba Dive isn't perfect. As in many Spectrum games the sound is limited. And it would have been nicer to have the screen scrolling smoothly when changing locations instead of simply cutting to the new position.

Despite these quibbles, the game is incredibly addictive. So if you fancy settling back for a long nail-biting adventure, you'll find Scuba Dive is very, very special.

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Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 3/10
Ease Of Use: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Lasting Interest: 10/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Personal Computer Games Game of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 3, Mar 1984   page(s) 57

Spectrum 48K
Durell Software

I adopt my best stage French accent and usher you into a blue world of terrible submarine beauty where crystalline grace moves-side by side with sudden white-jawed, or manytentacled death.

Jacques Cousteau was never like this and even the famous French submariner would have his work cut out dealing with the denizens of the deep which inhabit Durell Software's latest program which has truly spectacular graphics.

You play the part of a scuba diver. The purpose of the game is to increase your score by collecting pearls from oysters and clams which live on the seabed and the undersea caverns. The scuba diver's legs thrash away realistically, and in the background, sharks slide sinisterly towards him. Not only do you run the risk of encountering the great blue and the great white, but also the great pink - a disturbing sight for any ecologist, usually indicating that the local nuclear power station has been taking some short cuts in waste disposal.

When the diver jumps out of the boat he has to be careful not to fall foul of the Portuguese man-o'war that is invariably lurking below. Most everything swimming around down here, normally so inoffensive when encountered in a sea-food restaurant, spells instant loss of a life if you bump into it, including the rocks.

Further down you discover an octopus guarding the entrance to an undersea cavern. Whereas up to now you have only been collecting pearls from oysters, at these depths the greater pressure has mutated them into clams - giant ones, even more dangerous than the oysters. This is one shell you won't come out of.

Further down again you encounter another cephalopod which blocks the way to another cavern containing treasure chests and giant clams. Where this game differs from the recently released Neptune's Daughters, by English Software for the CBM-64, apart from being less irritating to play, is that you don't have a spear gun to defend yourself with. So you are dependent on agility rather than brute force to roll up your score.

The keys selected on loading are Z to rotate anti-clockwise, X to rotate clockwise, Space to move forward and accelerate to full speed, and Symbol Shift to move forwards and decelerate to stop. Alter pressing K, you must press the key you wish to use for each direction as it appears on your screen. This means that the game can be programmed for use with most joysticks.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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