A View to a Kill - The Computer Game

by Argentino Trombin, Chris Palmer, Daryl Bowers, David Aubrey-Jones, David Bishop, Gary Burfield-Wallis, Gary Knight, Grant Harrison, Nichola Blades, Robert Ritson, Tony Crowther, Tony Knight, Dan Gouzee
Domark Ltd
Crash Issue 18, Jul 1985   page(s) 18,20

Producer: Domark
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £10.99
Language: Machine code
Author: Softstone Ltd

Surprisingly, this is the first game to be based on Ian Flemings superhero James Bond. Taking the form of a three part arcade adventure, A View to a Kill is based on the three main action sequences of the film of the same name which is due for release any day now.

The basic plot of both the film and game is quite straightforward, involving Bond in a battle with a superbaddy who has delusions of grandeur and seeks world domination. This time, the evil one is called Max Zorin and plans to blow up Silicon Valley with a thermonuclear device so that he can corner the silicon chip market and put every other computer company out of business. (Who needs Max - Mark Butler, Chris Curry, Paul Dyer et al.)

You have to guide 007 through the three games, acquiring a special code on successful completion of each task which you input to start the next game in the trilogy. This code contains information about your performance in the game just completed, and while you can use the same code to jump to any particular game, the best way to improve your performance is to play each game until you have done really well, before moving on to the next section. To complete the final game, you must have done as well as James himself would have in the first two scenarios, so unless you're really secret agent material a little practice will be in order!

The game is played in real time but you are allowed to pause, so you can sit back and sip your Martini. A choice of background music is offered: you can select the Bond theme or the tune from the Duran Duran single. More sound effects are provided in the form of speech output, phrases such as 'my name is James Bond' and 'Dammit' make occasional appearances.

Not quite icon driven, the adventure elements of the games are controlled via a 'duck shoot'system which is displayed in a window on the right of the screen. The upper part of this window shows the symbols for the items that you have in your possession, and by using the keys or joystick they can be made to scroll past a pointer to make a choice. Once an item has been selected it can be used according to the instructions entered in the lower part of the window. This lower area contains phrases such as 'return', 'search', 'drop', 'use' and 'give'. The command you select in the lower section will act upon the object you selected in the section above.

Part One of the game is set in Paris. Bond has been briefed by 'M' and is having lunch with a fellow agent, when suddenly his colleague is killed by the ruthless assassin, May Day. Bond chases her to the top of the Eiffel Tower and watches in amazement as she leaps off the top, parachuting down to safety. Commandeering a taxi at the foot of the tower, Bond attempts to guide it through the streets of Paris to the spot where May Day will land.

Using the controls, you have to guide the taxi to May Day's landing spot. The main screen provides of 3D view of the road ahead, while the lower part displays a map of the immediate area. You have a radio tracker which gives an indication of May Day's position. Driving round the Paris streets you encounter many hazards, and driving the wrong way down one-way streets will have the police on your tail, setting up road blocks or maybe taking a few pot shots. And watch out for the manic Parisian drivers - too many collisions and your car will stop working.

Miss May Day's landing, and it's back to the start for you....

San Francisco provides the setting for Section Two, the City Hall to be exact. Bond and his girl, Stacey, have found Max but he has turned the tables on them by trapping them in the lift and, because he's a nice sort of guy, setting fire to it. Bond has escaped from the lift but now you must guide him. He must rescue Stacey and escape from the burning building.

Not all of the objects found inside city hall will have any immediate use, the geiger counter, for example, is needed for the next game. As you move from room to room the fire is taking hold, and time is of the essence. Your progress and that of the fire is shown on a front elevation of City Hall displayed at the base of the screen. A thermometer on the right of the screen lets you know when things are getting too hot.

If you managed to get past the first two games then you are given the chance to save Silicon Valley and next year's Spectrum production. To complete this section of the trilogy Bond must enlist May Day to help him get to the nuclear device by convincing her of the error of her ways. The geiger counter shown at the top right of the screen will help you locate the bomb and while there's a great deal of jumping and rope climbing to do, you must always be on the look out for useful objects.

The mine is really a huge maze, and you can examine the area immediately around Bond, so avoiding those spectacular but annoying jumps into oblivion. When you locate the bomb you must disable it. Then you and May Day can make off into the sunset, safe in the knowledge that Max has had his chips and the world is once more a safe and happy place.


Control keys: vary from game to game, displayed on each title screen along with options
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: good
Use of colour: average
Graphics: average, better in the mine
Sound: occasional bit of chat
Skill levels: 1
Lives: infinite
Screens: three linked games

This is a huge game with many interrelated elements that make it extremely playable. Some of the graphics are a bit of a let down - I'm sure they could have been a lot better, The sound? Well a great deal has been promised and if it is only half as good as the CBM version then they have done well. The speech is OK but perhaps a little feeble, the effect is very similar to the speech on Deathstar Interceptor. The facility to play any of the games in isolation is useful but I feel that once the problems have been leamt and tackled a few times the game will lose a great deal of its attraction. On the whole though I think it fair to say that for any Bond fans this game is a must - especially if you intend to see the film because that should help it all make sense, and provide you with some valuable clues to solving the game.

If you've seen Impossible Mission on the Commodore, and hoped for an equally good Spectrum secret agent game you would be sadly disappointed by A View to a Kill. The graphics leave a general impression of being crude, and the games themselves weren't exactly gripping. Perhaps if you see the film first in Glorious Living Technicolour Cinemascope or whatever, your imagination will make up for the shortcomings. Between them, the three games make up a reasonable entertainment package, but somehow I don't think I'd be totally gripped for very long.

This is the first arcade game about Ian Fleming's super (unkillable) character James Bond, Agent 007. I was quite surprised when I found out that this was the only one on the market as software houses seem to be buying up heroes like hot cakes. I loved the opening sequence - it was a very good effect although it did go on for ages. The games themselves were playable and addictive, with fair to good graphics. There is some nice speech in there too, but other than that the sound was a bit uneventful. I like the way you can select your weapons, hardware etc, although it can lead to some problems in the mine when jumping. I wish 007 would show some sign of injury, his resilience became a bit annoying after a while. For instance when in the mine after falling the equivalent of 100 feet and landing on his head he would lie flat on his back for half a second and then get up and walk off as if he had just tripped up. Still, a fun game overall, and not a bad tiein.

Use of Computer: 73%
Graphics: 67%
Playability: 75%
Getting Started: 84%
Addictive Qualities: 69%
Value for Money: 65%
Overall: 76%

Summary: General Rating: Certainly worth having.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 17, Aug 1985   page(s) 32,33,34

I, SPY...

Bond is back - as if you hadn't noticed! And now he's making his software debut in Domark's latest game based on the new film, A View to a Kill. The YS spies, Tony Samuels and Ross Holman have decoded the following message.

There must've been late night meetings - money changing hands - clandestine rendez-vous - and plenty of secrets to be kept. But finally, Domark pulled it off - the computer marketing coup of the year. Bond has gained his license to thrill on the Speccy in the new game of the film. A View to a Kill.

And Domark certainly hasn't skimped on the plot. There are three sizeable chunks of the original celluloid that have been turned into separate but connected games. Plus there's a title sequence based closely on the film's opening and a finale for the few who manage to complete it (or cheat at it! Ed).

Each of the games loads separately but as you complete them you're given a code-word to take onto the next one. The first game is set in Paris and has you motoring round the boulevards in hot pursuit of the villainess, May Day as she parachutes down from the Eiffel Tower. It's certainly the weakest of the three games and any tension there might have been is completely destroyed by the poor programming. The car is pathetic and your control over it is non-existent - you can ignore the bit in the blurb about doing handbrake turns as a joke. The game also has too many bugs to make it playable for long. OK, so you expect Bond to drive into walls occasionally but it'd be nice if he could get out again.

From a poor start, things start to look up. The City Hall game is based very closely on the film and seeing it beforehand helped us rescue Stacy, the new Bond blonde. The programming still looks pretty raw but once you get used to the poor animation, the game content should have you hooked.

The third game's set in a silver mine and it's Bond's task to defuse a bomb that the evil Max Zorin has planted. It's certainly the most inventive and innovative of the three games and has Bond running, jumping, climbing ropes and turning somersaults in his quest to find May Day and stop the explosion. But it's also a minefield when it comes to bugs. Bond can end up encased in solid rock, he lost his feet at one point (literally) and you even take a ride on a hidden lift that'll take you on a journey to the centre of the program! All this isn't to say it's unplayable. On the contrary, it's very addictive - if only the programming had been tidied up beforehand.

For all that they're based on the Bond film, these three games are very different from it. OK, who's the wise guy who said that's obvious? No, the Bond films are all about style and special effects, Just the things that these three games lack. Still, they've got plenty of content and with three games on one tape you can't really complain about not getting your money's worth.

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Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 40, Jul 1985   page(s) 20

Publisher: Domark
Price: £10.99
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Sinclair Kempston, Cursor

Silicon Valley is in danger of obliteration and 007 is sent to fulfil another improbable mission in Domark's A View to a Kill.

In order to destroy the chip industry, Max Zorin, mad genius, has planted a massive bomb in some disused mines beneath Silicon Valley. When it detonates, the San Andreas Fault will open up and tip the lot into the Pacific. Why not do something simple like poison the water?

There are three games, each played in different locations and linked by code numbers.

You stan in Paris, just as you are about to be told the key to Zorin's plan, Mayday - played by Grace Jones in the film - takes a pot shot and kills your informant. A mad car chase follows. Mayday jumps from the Eiffel Tower and descends by parachute. You jump into a taxi and chase through the city to capture her.

The screen is split horizontally. The upper half is the 3D perspective view as seen through the windscreen and the lower half is an aerial view depicting road blocks, police cars and the drifting parachutist.

Having captured Mayday, you load up in San Francisco for the next section set in the burning City Hall. Stacey, the obligatory blonde, is trapped in a lift and must be rescued. This section is an icon driven arcade adventure and is surprisingly easy to use.

A clue to Stacey's rescue can be found in the film, which is closely followed. There are around 75 rooms in the building, many holding objects vital for her rescue - a picture of the burning Hall is included showing your position in relation to the fire. The graphics depicted in this review were taken from a pre-production copy of the game.

The final game places you deep within the mines. Mayday returns in this scene, though you may have to find her first. Only she can winch you down to the ticking bomb and winch you back with the detonator.

Objects litter the mine and can be used in the same manner as those in City Hall. The grappling hook is the first you will stumble across and is vital. Conveyor belts may be activated - but tread carefully.

You can play along to the original Bond theme tune, to Duran Duran's single of the same name or switch off for blessed quiet and a chance to hear Bond introduce himself: "My name is Bond, James Bond".

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 47, Sep 1985   page(s) 26

MACHINE: Spectrum
PRICE: £10.99

Dressed in my Savile Row dinner jacket with eyebrows raised quizzically in best Roger Moore fashion, I approached the computer.

Would A View to a Kill be my toughest review? Unlike my Martinis, would I be shaken and stirred?

Evil mastermind, Max Zorin, plans to blow up Silicon Valley with a nuclear device in order to corner the market in microchips. You have to stop him.

The game is based on the three main action sequences from the film and follows the plot quite faithfully.

As with the films and books, Bond can't be killed, although he does get a little damaged.

His performance is measured on his ability to save the world against the clock.

The first part of the game is The Paris Chase. Assassin May Day leaps off the top of the Eiffel Tower and glides across the city on a parachute.

Bond must follow by car around the streets in an effort to catch her when she lands.

This part of the screen combines three-dimensional graphics and plan view of the city. Bond must shoot and steer his way out of trouble to capture May Day. If successful, he will get a code which passes how well you've done into the next part of the game.

The City Hall Escape finds Bond trying to rescue girlfriend Stacey from the burning building. He must search his way through 75 different 3D screens, collecting objects to help him escape. If successful, the action moves to the final section - The Silicon Valley Mine.

Here Bond races around the mine's different levels using various objects, lifts and codes to defuse the bomb - all against the clock.

And just when things are getting really tough and Bond would love to send out an SOS, May Day returns to the game.

By this time she's deserted the evil Zorin and helps Bond to avert mayhem, death and destruction.

Some of the graphics in A View to a Kill are a little crude. But overall it's a fun game which does credit to the film.

Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Playability: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue Annual 1986   page(s) 47,48,49,50,51


Clare Edgeley blasts her way through a wealth of challenging software.

A View To A Kill
Domark £10.99

Get fit quick just about sums up the last 12 months. 1985 has seen enough sports games to put you off doing anything more strenuous than lifting a pint glass, at least for the next year.

Since the 1984 Olympics, we have competed in every imaginable sport: played footie with Bobby Charlton, run rings round Daley Thompson and been KO'd by big Frank ... There is hardly an action sport left which has not been turned into a money spinner, with a Sportsman's name attached. What is wrong with Tessa Sanderson's Javelin anyway?

Daley Thompson's Decathlon was first to the tape back in November '84 and notched up a gold for Ocean when it jumped to number one in the charts for a few weeks. You have to compete in all ten events of the decathlon, taking part in the high jump, long jump and pole vault as well as track events. The 400m is the most gruelling and to keep up speed you must pump the joystick back and forth, which may result in a touch of cramp. The graphics are colourful and the game does give a taste of the real thing.

Melbourne House also attempted a compilation of events with Sports Hero, although it was nowhere near as successful as Daley Thompson. Sports Hero has you competing in four events - 100m sprint, long jump, 110m hurdles and the pole vault, over three difficulty levels. To gain speed you must pummel the run button and press the jump button before takeoff. Aching fingers seem to be the norm in that type of game and in many cases you will end up with a sick keyboard as well. There is no sound and the graphics are not fantastic, although the scrolling background is interesting. A few more events should have been possible.

More recently, Brian Jacks' Superstar Challenge from Martech reached the top ten, although it came a poor second to Imagine's Hypersports. Both contain a weird hotch-potch of events - some interesting, others boring. Brian Jacks gives you a pretty raw deal. For £7.95 you can immerse yourself in such exciting events as squat thrusts and arm dips. Those may be thrilling to watch on TV but on computer they are about as much fun as a wet blanket.

Hypersports is a different ball game altogether. Licensed from the arcade game of the same name, the computer version is very like the original, although some events lack imagination. When swimming - or floundering, if you forget to breathe - instead of tearing down to the end of the pool, the end moves towards you. Clay pigeon shooting is certainly one of the better events, in which you must shoot the skeets through automatically moving sights. The vault is tricky and rather than vaulting as far as possible from the horse, you are likely to end up on your head beside it. The graphics are generally thought to be more professional than Daley Thompson's Decathlon, though whether the game is better is a moot point.

Jonah Barrington's Squash from New Generation is an interesting concept which seems to have fallen flat. Knock a miniscule black ball round the 3D court and try to beat Jonah at his own game. Jonah is one of Britain's leading squash players. Much was made of the fact that a taped recording of Jonah's voice calls out the scores. Unfortunately, all you get is an unintelligible gabble and it is easier to read them on the score board anyway.

We awarded imagine's World Series Baseball three stars in the June issue, which just goes to show that our forecasts are not always spot on. In June, July and August it remained at number three in the charts, only dropping to eleventh place in September.

The game opens with a traditional rendering of the tAmerican National Anthem. Then play starts, with one team pitching and the other batting. You can play with a friend or against the computer, adjusting the speed and direction of the ball when pitching and the strength and lift of your swing when batting. Loving attention has been paid to detail with a large scoreboard displaying genuine adverts between innings.

Last, but not least, boxing - the sport for ugly mugs. Cauliflower ears and battered brains are only half the fun - just think what you can do to your opponent. A few months ago three games were released simultaneously on the back of Punch Out!!, a highly successful arcade game.

Elite's Frank Bruno's Boxing knocks Rocco and Knockout for six, and is easily the most playable and realistic, offering more possible moves and a greater number of competitors than either of the other games. It is also the only boxing game featuring a sporting personality - Bruno helped in an advisory capacity during production which explains the close attention to detail.

Gremlin Graphic's Rocco squares up well in the ring, though you will find it is not as easy to dodge your opponent as it is in Frank Bruno, and there are only three competitors. The scoring system is simple and the graphics are the clearest of the three games. It is worth playing and annihilates Alligata's Knockout in the ring.

Knockout is appalling and lacks any addictive qualities. It is the only game which uses colour - the others being mono - although that could have been sacrificed for extra playability. Other than left and right punches to the body and head, there is no facility for ducking and dodging, but at least you can amble away if the going gets too rough. You tend to spend a great deal of time seeing stars after being KO'd. At least it lives up to its name.

The legendary success of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy lives on. Platform and ladders games are still the rage and dozens of versions have landed in the Sinclair User offices over the last 12 months. Two years ago Manic Miner was a sure recipe for success, and because it was ahead of its time a lot of money was made. Programming techniques are now more sophisticated and with games like Alien 8 and Spy vs Spy around, who needs a Manic Miner spin-off?

However, they are here to stay and some at least are worth the money you pay for them. One of the more successful games is Strangeloop, released late in '84, which has gone a long way to repairing the damage done to Virgin by Sheepwalk - one of its earliest and most awful games.

A half-crazy computer is the source of all your troubles in Strangeloop and, playing the part of a metagalactic repairman, you must shut it down. There are over 240 rooms filled with lethal swarf which attacks and damages your space suit. A jetbike waits somewhere and will make your task easier but you have to locate and refuel it first. Objects picked up will help with various tasks and friendly robots will patch your torn suit. The graphics are colourful and simple. and there is even a facility for saving your position on tape, to be resumed later when you have recharged your batteries.

Jet Set Willy II is the biggest rip-off of them all as Software Projects has done little other than add about 70 extra screens to the original. Essentially it is the same as Jet Set Willy which was launched back in 1984. The plot is similar; clear up the house before going to bed and avoid the hundreds of lethal thingummies found in each room. Despite being little more than a re-release, Jet Set Willy II is currently doing very well in the charts.

Despite the lack of original thought, if you are still hooked on the challenge of platform and ladders, try The Edge's Brian Bloodaxe. A loopy game if ever there was one. Brian, a viking soldier has been trapped in a block of ice for centuries, and as it thaws, he leaps out shivering, but ready to conquer the British. Flapping 100 seats, deadly ducks and mad Scotsmen are a few of the dangers that lurk on each level. Objects to collect and chasms to be leapt add to his daunting task. Brian Bloodaxe is at least as good as Jet Set Willy, with much visual humour and bright, clear graphics.

Hewson Consultants, which has made a name for itself in recent months with arcade adventures such as Dragontorc and simulations like Heathrow ATC, must have had a brain storm late last year with Technician Ted, which is totally unlike the semi-serious games released since. Guide Ted around a silicon chip factory while looking for a plate of the real things. Pick up knives, forks and other necessary implements and avoid several nasty traps. Easy to play and reasonably addictive, Technician Ted is not one of Hewson's best games but has done quite well in the platform and ladders stakes.

Artic's Mutant Monty is more sophisticated than Technician Ted and includes some extremely tricky screens requiring split second timing - if you are slightly out, a lemon or some other incongruous object will squash you flat, and then where will the beautiful maiden be? It is a constant source of amusement that so much work goes into preparing intricate story lines bearing absolutely no resemblance to the game you are playing.

On the whole rip-offs are uniformly mediocre in standard and not the sort of game you would buy for lasting playability. Real fanatics will find Activision's Toy Bizarre and Micromega's Jasper a doddle, and probably have more fun playing blindfold with their hands tied behind their backs. Both games are average and employ run-of-the-mill graphics. In Toy Bizarre, the player leaps round the levels of a toy factory popping balloons while being chased by a gang of irate toys.

Meanwhile, in Jasper much the same thing is going on, only this time you are a furry rat collecting money bags and treasure chests while avoiding furry cats, rabbits and other hairy animals. Platform games are usually fast moving and it is generally easier to keep up with the pace using a joystick. Unless you have very strong fingers, Jasper is doomed as your only option is to use the Spectrum's sticky keyboard.

Arcade adventures have come into their own in recent months, some remaining for weeks at a time in the top ten. With the advent of games like Gyron, fewer people are willing to put up with games like Jet Pac - classics two years ago but now gathering dust in cupboards across the country.

Superior graphics is the name of the game and the Spectrum is being stretched to its limits in a constant effort to improve software. Some games combine excellent graphics with originality, though equally large numbers have been launched on the back of the successful few. Ultimate's Knight Lore, Underwurlde and Alien 8 are three successful examples and Nightshade is expected to do as well.

Underwurlde is rather like a vertical Atie Atac featuring the Sabre-man who must escape a series of chambers while avoiding hosts of nasties. The pace is fast, the screens colourful - a devious game.

Knight Lore and Alien 8 could, at first glance, be mistaken for the same game. Featuring superb 3D grahpics, Knight Lore's hero must search a maze of rooms and find the ingredients of a spell to lift a curse placed upon him. Each room presents a challenge and one wrong move spells instant death. The scenario in Alien 8 is different from its predecessor and the quality of graphics is even higher.

Wizard's Lair from Bubble Bus is an Atic Atac lookalike with shades of Sabre Wulf and is an excellent game, even if you have seen the same sort of thing before. Bubble Bus has made some attempt to change the scenario which covers three levels, accessed via a magic wardrobe lift.

The programmers of Firebird's Cylu were influenced by Alien 8. Cylu is in the Silver range and at £2.50 represents very good value - it is almost as frustrating as the original but the graphics are a little patchy. Ultimate should be proud that so many companies want to copy their games, though it's a crying shame that those same software houses cannot put their combined programming expertise to good use, and produce something original of their own.

Games featuring film scenarios and famous names are often the subject of massive advertising campaigns, and Domark's A View to a Kill was no exception. Played in three parts you must guide the intrepid 007 through the streets of Paris, San Francisco and into Silicon Valley to stop the evil Max Zorin from tipping chip valley into the drink. The game received mixed reviews but, at the time of writing, it had just made it into the top ten - probably due to the James Bond name. It is an exciting game but lacks much visual detail.

The Rocky Horror Show from CRL is already sliding down the charts and does not live up to its namesakes, the film and play. Rescue Janet or Brad from the Medusa machine by finding 15 component parts of the de-Medusa machine. It sounds riveting. Your task seems enormous as you can carry only one part of the machine at a time and if you expect to meet normal sane characters in the castle, forget it. More could have been made of the graphics and the action is slow in places, but it is worth playing if only to meet Magenta who will strip you of your clothes. Wow!

Beyond's Spy vs Spy is unique and features simultaneous play between two players on a split screen. Take part in the zany humour of MAD magazine's two famous characters, the black spy and the white spy, each trying to stop the other finding secret documents in a foreign embassy. Set whacky traps as you ransack each room before escaping to the airport. It is fun, highly addictive and very amusing. Buying the licence to films, books and names is an expensive business, and at last one company has made the most of it with an excellent game.

It is interesting to note that when one unusual game is launched others of a similar nature swiftly follow. Perhaps all programmers follow the same thought waves. Last summer we had an unusual trio of games, reviewed in May, June and August issues. Two are based on the human body - not the most obvious subject for a game.

Quicksilva's Fantastic Voyage is a thrilling game based on the sixties film of the same name, in which Raquel Welch is injected into the body of a brain damaged scientist. Unfortunately, your mini-sub breaks up and you have only one hour to locate all the missing parts. Searching is a novel experience as you rush from atrium to stomach to lung and heart in a never ending circle. Finding your way to the brain is difficult as it is not signposted and the turning is easy to miss. Dine on red blood cells to keep up your energy and clear any infections which frequently break out - normally in the most inaccessible parts of the scientist's anatomy. A great way to learn about your bits, and where they are situated.

Icon's Frankenstien 2000 bears little resemblance to Fantastic Voyage, though it is played in a monster's body. Whoever heard of monsters smoking fags? This one obviously did and that is probably why it's dead. On reaching the lungs, battle with cigarette packets, avoid hopping frogs in the trachea, and fire at any oxygen molecules it is your misfortune to encounter. The graphics are uninspired and the game is simple.

Genesis' Bodyworks was reviewed in June and it is difficult to know what to make of it. It is hardly an arcade game - more of an illustrated, educational tour of the workings of a human body, describing the nervous, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Space Invaders was one of the first great games on the Spectrum and software houses have never tired of the theme. Space games crop up in all categories; simulations, adventures and arcade adventures. Activision has even brought out Ballblazer, a sports game played in space. Way out!

Moon Cresta from Incentive is a traditional game in which you shoot everything in sight, and then dock with another space ship before taking off to do exactly the same on the next level. With complex games like Starion around one would think that games of this calibre would flop. But no, there must be some people around whose brains are in their trigger fingers. Surprisingly, Moon Cresta is creeping up the charts. Long live the aliens.

Melbourne House's Starion takes space travel seriously and combines a number of features, including the traditional shoot 'em up, word puzzles and anagrams. Kill off enemy space ships and collect the letters they drop, then unscramble those to form a word. Fly down to earth and answer a puzzle to change the course of Earth's history. There are 243 events to rewrite - and that amounts to a lot of flying time. Starion is well up in the top ten.

System 3 has come up with the goods against all opposition with the dreadful Death Star Interceptor, which has proved surprisingly popular. If you are really into boring games, this is right up your alley. Played in three sections, first take off into outer space, next avoid assorted aliens and then, as in Star Wars, plant a bomb in the exhaust port of an enemy death star. It is all thrilling stuff.

Quicksilva's Glass is amazing to look at. Psychedelic colours make you want to blink in this repetitive but addictive game. There are hundreds of screens to blast through, and whole sections are spent dodging columns as you hurtle through a 3D spacescape. The rest of the time is spent shooting radar antennae off unsuspecting space ships. The graphics make up for any limitations in the game and demonstrates that a traditional shoot 'em up need not be boring.

This final section consists of a number of games which cannot be categorised. A strange mixture falls into this area - many are shoot 'em ups in some form or another, others require an element of cunning and strategy.

Gyron from Firebird, a Sinclair User classic, is a unique game in which you must travel through a complex maze, dodging massive rolling balls and keeping a watchful eye on the guardian towers to be round at each junction. Those shoot at you, but approaching from another angle may change the direction of their fire. As there are two mazes to get through, it should take months. Gyron is likely to deter arcade nuts, but for those with staying power, it is an attractive proposition. It did make a brief appearance in the top ten at the time of writing, but has since fallen away.

US Gold's Spy Hunter, based on the arcade game of the same name, is a faithful replica of the original. It all takes place on the road as you drive your souped-up sports car through a variety of traps laid down by the baddies. Equip your motor with a variety of weapons, obtainable from a weapons van which you drive into Italian Job style. Rockets, smoke screens and oil slicks are all strongly reminiscent of 007.

Elite's Airwolf is a game that we found so hard as to be almost impossible, and which everyone else seemed to find a cinch - and told us so in no uncertain terms! Try if you can, to fly your chopper down a long, narrow tunnel to rescue five scientists stuck at the end. Blast your way through walls, which rematerialise as fast as you can destroy them - a well nigh impossible task for those whose trigger fingers and joysticks have suffered from the likes of Daley Thomson's Decathlon. Airwolf has done better than we predicted. You can't win them all.

Ghostbusters, the mega box office hit last Christmas was a prime candidate for a computer game and Activision was first to the ghost. Featuring all the best parts of the film, it was an instant success and Activision did well to launch it simultaneously with the movie. Drive around the city coaxing ghouls into your ghost trap but listen out for a Marshmallow Alert. That giant sticky marshmallow man is quite capable of flattening whole streets unless halted. Greenbacks play an important part in the game as you have to buy your equipment to get started, and earn enough prize money for the number of ghosts caught, in order to take part in a final showdown with Zuul.

Finally Tapper from US Gold - another Sinclair User classic. Tapper is a simple but refreshing game centered round an all-American soda bar. You play a harassed barman, who must serve his customers with drinks. Easy at first as you slide them down the bar but wait until they have gulped down the fizzy stuff. Running backwards and forwards between four bars, make sure the customers have got a drink, and catch the empties as they come skidding back. There are three difficulty levels, each one faster and more hectic than the last. Tapper is moving up the charts and we are sure that it will go far towards refreshing the parts other games cannot reach.

The fierce competition over the last 12 months has chased many companies into liquidation. There have, however, been successes, particularly with a number of small software houses bringing new blood into the market. That can only be seen as a healthy sign.

The lack of QL games software is the only disappointment. Where is it? Other than a few basic programs such as Reversi, which cut its eye teeth on the ZX-81 years ago, there has been a dearth of games for this flagging micro. If games of the quality of Knight Lore can be produced for the Spectrum, why not for the QL?

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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