by Chris Stamper, Tim Stamper
Ultimate Play The Game
Crash Issue 1, Feb 1984   page(s) 55,56

Producrr: Ultimate, 16K
Also available in ROM cartridge form at £14.95

Ultimate's graphics are famous. In Cookie you are Charlie the Chef, with mixing bowl below and dustbins to the side. On the right is the pantry containing the ingredients which must be got into the bowl. Unfortunately, the begin with, it gets pretty fast when there are several rollers up against you. Good keyboard positions, no joystick option.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 2, Mar 1984   page(s) 57

Producer: Ultimate, 16K
Also available in ROM cartridge form at £14.95

Ultimate's graphics are famous. In Cookie you are Charlie the Chef, with mixing bowl below and dustbins to the side. On the right is the pantry containing the ingredients which must be got into the bowl. Unfortunately, the ingredients are pretty wild and they're accompanied by assorted objects that shouldn't be in the pantry and would upset the Ministry of Health officials if they knew about them. Using flour bombs to momentarily stun, you must knock the ingredients into the mixing bowl, and the rollers into the bin. Should you get it the wrong way round you lose points, time energy and everything. Each screen provides different and more difficult ingredients. Another game that needs a joystick, Kempston or Protek. Hi-score, one or two player games, 8-directional movement and the smoothest of graphics around. Addictive and highly recommended.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 3, Apr 1984   page(s) 75

Producer: Ultimate, 16K
Also available in ROM cartridge form at £14.95

Ultimate's graphics are famous. In Cookie you are Charlie the Chef, with mixing bowl below and dustbins to the side. On the right is the pantry containing the ingredients which must be got into the bowl. Unfortunately, the ingredients are pretty wild and they're accompanied by assorted objects that shouldn't be in the pantry and would upset the Ministry of Health officials if they knew about them. Using flour bombs to momentarily stun, you must knock the ingredients into the mixing bowl, and the rollers into the bin. Should you get it the wrong way round you lose points, time energy and everything. Each screen provides different and more difficult ingredients. Another game that needs a joystick, Kempston or Protek. Hi-score, one or two player games, 8-directional movement and the smoothest of graphics around. Addictive and highly recommended.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 8, Sep 1984   page(s) 66,67

Cookie, along with Tranz-Am, was the second batch of releases from Ultimate. Of the two, perhaps Tranz-Am was the more popular, possibly because in some respects Cookie resembled Psst, and oddly Psst wasn't quite as popular as Jetpac had been.

This game was never really heavily pushed. Why? I don't know, because I think it's a great game and and probably the most difficult to master out of the entire Ultimate range. The graphics are well up to todays standard and the game is very playable still, although some of its original addictive qualities are let down due to its dramatic increase in difficulty with each stage. Nevertheless, I would recommend this game highly. Good value and plenty of unique touches.

I liked Psst, in fact it was one of my favourite games. Cookie I found much more difficult to master, and playing it again - nothing's changed! I think I would agree that it is probably one of the most, if not the most, difficult of Ultimate's games, and it has been grossly underrated. To judge it by today's games is no problem, it certainly equals anything available. The graphics are detailed, amusing and fast. The game content is very high, and I always admired the idea that objects first have to be 'stunned' so that when hit for a second time they can be directed in the direction you want. This makes 'zapping' into a quite complex art. Yes, I think Cookie would be a fine buy for anyone who hasn't already got it, and is wondering why all the recent releases have been boring. Sometimes, it pays to look over your shoulders!

(Matthew) Cookie is a game that demands a lot of skill, timing and patience, so I'd give it 79% for playability today; it has a high level of addictivity if you've got the time and patience! About 72%. The graphics are great, very original and colourful. I'd give them 83%.

(Lloyd) I would go higher on playability, the game is great fun to play, and I agree with the other ratings. I think if Cookie were to come out now, this month, it would do very well on ratings overall.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 19, Oct 1983   page(s) 38


You must flour-bomb the ingredients of your new cake into the mixing bowl if you want to serve dinner in Cookie, a new game for the 16K Spectrum. Your job is to make a cake but the ingredients will jump out of the pantry and try and avoid you. You must put them into the bowl before they knock you into the mix or they fall into the dustbins on either side.

As with all Ultimate products so far, the graphics are of arcade and cartoon quality. The game concept is novel but it is easy to lose interest after you have played through a few levels of those evil ingredients.

When you have been playing the game for a short time you will begin to see that it is easier to play than you first thought. We found that by staying above the mixing bowl we could bomb through several levels of the game before being hit by a pike bone. The game could have been made more difficult at the start so that players do not get used to it so quickly.

Cookie is on first impressions everything that you could ask for in a game. The graphics and sound are superb, the concept is original and the presentation is professional. The customer will be drawn to it because of those aspects but may feel cheated after two playing sessions.

Cookie costs £5.50 and can be obtained from Ultimate Play the Game, The Green, Asbhy de la Zouch, Leicestershire LE6 5JU.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 24, Mar 1984   page(s) 54,55


John Gilbert reviews the ROM cartridge software currently available.

The Sinclair Research Interface Two has had few kind words said about it and that it is not surprising. The add-on is supposed to give the Spectrum the ROM potential of the Atari games consoles and computers into which you can plug ROM cartridges which will load games into the machine directly on power-up. It should have been the ideal add-on for users who want a quick-load device and no messing with tape recorders or even Microdrives.

The main difficulties with the idea are that the software available consists of reproductions of arcade games which are already on the market and that many software companies have been deterred from producing software for the interface because of the conditions attached to ordering.

At the moment companies have to order batches of 1,000 cartridges in a sector of the market which is not fully-established. It is a risky business even for a company as established as Melbourne House or Psion. The situation could develop so that Sinclair is the only company producing the ROM cartridges. It certainly has the monopoly now.

The first ROM packages, together with their colourfully-styled display boxes, to arrive on the market were titles which already existed on the cassette format in the Sinclair software library. They included Planetoids, Backgammon and Space Raiders which are all from Psion.

The packages, one of which appeared originally on the ZX-81, are not particularly innovative or awe-inspiring and they are certainly not the kind of titles which would be expected to be produced when bunching a new peripheral for a prime-selling microcomputer. It is as if Sinclair could not wait to get Interface Two out of the way and so complete its obligations for peripherals for the Spectrum. One reason may well have been that the new QL machine was occupying its thoughts.

Backgammon featured as the only mind game in the first release, the others being held back because the Psion games were the quickest to produce. It is a pity that Backgammon was first instead of the chess package, which was left until later - chess has a far greater appeal to the majority of home computer users. Fortunately there was a gap of only two months before Chess was released and it has proved to be one of the better software packages in the launch.

Space Raiders is a painfully slow version of Space Invaders and could just as well be bought on cassette more cheaply. There are three spaceships with which you can fire at the aliens which amble across the screen.

Once you have finished one screen of the game, and that is not difficult, you will progress to the next level which is just as difficult or easy as the first. That makes the game a push-over and there is little challenge to tax even the newcomer to the arcade game scene.

Like most of the games in the range the price of the program on cassette is only £5 but the ROM version costs almost £10. Considering that the software does not show off either the graphics, colour or sound of the Spectrum to best effect it does not seem advantageous to buy the ROM version.

Planetoids is another arcade game with a familiar theme. Your spaceship first appears stationed at the centre of the screen and asteroids start to close in on it. You must try to destroy them and avoid the ones you miss. Alien spaceships make your task even more impossible.

The standard of the game is reasonable for the market, even though it was first produced in late 1982. The graphics are better than the original Atari version of Asteroids. The ship and the planetoids have been given a solid, almost three dimensional quality.

The program has a wrapround screen which allows your spaceship to go off one side and return on the other. That causes a strange effect when your ship fires across the screen, as the missiles will disappear off one edge and reappear somewhere else. The rogue missiles could even cause you to have some nasty accidents shooting at yourself.

Those packages comprised the ROMs available at the launch of Interface Two and there was a considerable wait until the other ROMs were launched in December.

The new packages include some old favourites from Melbourne House, already in the Sinclair software library, and some releases introduced by Ultimate Play the Game.

The Melbourne house offerings feature the clown of the software scene. The newest Horace adventure is not on ROM but it is pleasant to see Hungry Horace having a re-birth and Horace and the Spiders on ROM.

For those who know nothing of the Horace myth he is a little round, Pacman-type creature who has the habit of annoying everyone he meets.

Each of the games has a cute plot and Hungry Horace sees the round man taking the part of a Pac-man. He is, however, no ordinary powerpill eater. He has to eat the flowers in the park and avoid the keepers who will throw him out if he is discovered. If you go through one maze into another there will be more surprises and if you are adept enough you may start to think that there is no limit to the number of mazes in the game.

Horace and the Spiders is slightly different Horace has to dodge the spiders to gain points before he can reach the main part of the game which takes place in a cobwebbed house. You must destroy the spiders and their webs if you are to win the game.

The Horace adventures are a pleasure to play and it is good to see them in a format where they can be loaded immediately you feel like a quick game.

The range of Ultimate games is also worth having on cartridge, although they could be bought more cheaply on cassette from that company.

In chronological order, Jet Pac was the first game Ultimate produced for the Spectrum. In it you play a spaceman whose task is to deliver and assemble spaceship kits and to collect valuable treasures on the way. You will be faced with all kinds of odd creatures which you must avoid and destroy to complete your task.

The other games from Ultimate are Pssst, which involves a robot keeping away the bugs from a sunflower, and Cookie, which involves a chef bouncing ingredients for a cake, avoiding the nasties in the larder and keeping clear of the bins. Both games are arcade standard in quality and benefit from the ROM treatment.

The only mind game in the second release of ROM software is Chess. It is the original cassette version which has existed since the title was launched, with no changes. That is surprising since Mikro Gen, the original manufacturer of the game, has produced an upgraded version.

The game is standard so far as computer chess goes with options for playing or setting-up the board to play in particular situations. There are 10 levels and the highest, nine, takes several minutes to make a move. Each move for both you and your opponent is monitored in seconds, minutes and hours on a chess clock above the board on the screen.

The future of the ROM interface is still uncertain and many software houses are unsure what they will do in the way of supporting it. It seems unlikely that any large-scale production of programs on Sinclair standard ROMs is planned in the software industry and Sinclair could be in the unenviable position of having a monopoly of ROM software.

Sinclair Research hopes to produce some language and utility packages for Interface Two but the company still has no idea which language or utilities will be available, or when. It is likely that a ROM version of Micro-Prolog will be available soon but no firm date is being given even for that step forward.

The indications are that it will be the last interface for the Spectrum. The buffer at the back of the board will support only a ZX printer and Sinclair has given no intention of producing more peripherals for its home market machine. It would therefore seem logical to support the interfaces it already has as far as it can and to promote the use of those devices as much as possible. As far as Interface Two is concerned it has crept on to the market with more of a whisper than the bang which was expected.

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Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 11, Nov 1983   page(s) 82,83,85


Ultimate Play the Game, The Green, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire LE6 5JU.

Every software house, from the giants to the leprechauns, seems to have programmers chained to terminals, frantically churning out products for the massive Spectrum market. For Spectrum owners the pot of gold under the rainbow is the now huge variety of software available: their only problem is distinguishing the genuine article from the fake.

One game you certainly will not need to bite into is Zzoom from Imagine. This is the Real McCoy, a quality arcade-style game of skill and destruction in the comfort of your own armchair. The game starts with the Dambusters theme tune, enough on its own to make you start twirling imaginary handlebar moustaches and warn Ginger about the bandits at 4 o'clock. You find yourself in command of an aeroplane whose gunsights appear on the screen; also displayed are a dibar to show your relation to the ground and a long-range scanner.

Before you have time to think, hostile aircraft are approaching from the east; they speed in and suddenly, unexpectedly, wheel 90° towards you, presenting the slightest of targets for your cannon. Those earthbound refuges you are trying to protect do not have much of a chance. Poor blighters, I wish I could have done more to help. After the waves of planes, the landscape changes. Now its the desert, complete with palm trees. Over the horizon come battalions of tanks. More skill is now required, as you have to dive low enough to shoot your earthbound adversaries without crashing to your doom.

After the desert - the sea, with enemy destroyers trying to blast the refugees' lifeboats. The standard of graphic display and excitement combine to make Zzoom a most exciting game, one that has deservedly become a micro-classic.

DK'tronics, though, has produced a game which could rival Zzoom's popularity. Maziacs may seem, initially, to be just another maze-game. In fact, it has subtle qualities which make it one of the best available in this genre. The scenario is familiar: you must get through the maze, collect the treasure and get out. You can ask the way from prisoners, and pick up swords to combat the maziacs.

What lifts Maniacs above the common land is its graphic sophistication. The monsters are the most grotesque I have ever seen on a micro; nightmarish squatting creatures, all legs and jaws who enjoy nothing more than gobbling you up. The prisoners are sad creatures, writhing in their shackles inside blue circles. One feels great pity for them but, sadly, one can do nothing to help. And you, the brave treasure-hunter, are a perky little fellow with a jaunty rhythmic step. You are never downhearted and your jubilation when you have destroyed a marine is quite heart- warming. These qualities give Maniacs that something extra, and make it a very compulsive game.

Best of the other offerings from DK is Hard Cheese, in which you have to eat your way round the board, creating your own maze, in order to get at the cheese in the middle. Naturally, you are pursued by monsters. Naturally you can shoot these monsters, but this is not so easy as they move very quickly and you must replenish your energy. Again the graphics are of a high standard, and Hard Cheese is almost, but not quite, as compulsive as Maziacs.

In comparison, DK's Road Toad and Jawz are rather dull.

The first needs no introduction and is as expected; though the graphics are, perhaps, a little clearer than usual, and the tankers are truly fearsome. Jawz is a disappointment; here you are underwater, firing at Sharks and Jellyfish. It is quite tricky to hit them as you have two cannons converging from either side of your control. Otherwise the game is low on interest.

Ultimate Play the Game has a reputation for quality software, and it does not besmirch it with Cookie and Tranzam. Cookie has one of the wackiest situations for a long time; Charlie Chef's ingredients have escaped from the pantry-yard and he must recapture them by dazing them with flour bombs and knocking them into his mixing bowl. As well as the runaways Crafty Cheese and Colonel Custard there are nasties such as Wally Washer and Terry Tack. Crazy, but true. The graphics are very good and Charlie is a sympathetic little figure in his white chef's hat.

It is very difficult to avoid the nasties; if they get you, you end up in a dustbin. Cookie is a witty and enjoyable game, but one which you might do well to use a joystick for. Tranzam is set in the year 3474; it is your Red Racer versus the Deadly Black Turbos in the search for the Eight Great Cups of Ultimate. The screen displays a barren landscape where the only land-marks are cacti and petrol stations. You guide your car around looking for the cups, while trying to avoid your enemies and the obstacles. This is a tricky business if you are doing 400 mph and steering on the keyboard; again, a joystick would be useful. Tranzam is an exciting game which gives a taste of the Mad Max experience.


And so to Quicksilva. Do people buy their programs for the game or the blurb? Aquaplane's scenario begins "The contrasting blues of sea and sky provide a perfect backdrop as I relax with a Pernod and lemonade..." and goes on in the same vein for two sides of packaging. Indeed, Aquaplane's sea and sky are very blue, suggestive of hot Mediterranean summers. And, the game is very good. There you are, out for a bit of water-skiing, when the speedboat goes bananas. You are being pulled away to almost certain death.

Rocks, driftwood, tacking yachts, cruisers piloted by drunken play-boys, snapping sharks; get through all those and you have mastered the game. Aquaplane is made more intriguing because, as the boat accelerates, you are pulled to one side or another, thus increasing the risk of meeting a sticky end on a piece of driftwood. The graphics, too, are very colourful and realistic. Aquaplane is a highly entertaining game - almost as good as the blurb.

On the subject of watery graves, Bug-Byte has Aquarius "an underwater espionage game". As commander of a frogman team you must destroy the bombs planted by an enemy nation. Problems you will encounter are sharks and electrifying jellyfish. Your oxygen will run out and must be replenished by collecting fresh tanks from the sea-floor. While the undersea world is fairly convincing and the sound effects are genuinely squelchy, Aquarius is not a very exciting game, lacking the speed and variety top-class programmes.


In Styx, also from Bug-Byte, you are supposed to be battling your way across the mythological river to Hades "towards an encounter with the Dark One himself". In fact, it is a rather boring maze game, where the "deadly spiders" look like bits of dried grass and the Piranhas - did you know there were Piranhas in the Styx? - are most unconvincing. If they have micros in Hades as well they may well be playing Pool, another Bug-Byte game. The graphics are much better than Styx; a bright green for the baize and red for the bolls. Curiously, the object balls are all the same colour. Control is straightforward, using the cursor keys.

But perhaps these denizens of Hades might prefer CDS Micro Systems' Pool. I know I do, if only because the object balls are divided into blue and red. Otherwise, it is much the same as Bug-Byte's version, easy to control and pleasant to look at. Both programs are for one or two players.

Purer pleasures of the mind are entered for by Artic's Chess Tutor. The novelty of this program is that it not only plays chess - at three levels - but takes the beginner through three different opening variations; King's Indian, Ruy Lopez and Sicilian Dragon. There is also a section which demonstrates the moves of each piece.

This is indeed very useful and would be suitable for the absolute beginner. Unfortunately the board is none too clear, as the white pieces do not show up well on the light squares.

As a game chess is not in much danger of being overtaken by any of three new programs consisting of logical board games: Hanoi King from Contrast Software, Lojix from Virgin and 3-D Strategy from Quicksilva.

In the first of them you have three pillars on which are a series of rings. You have to transfer them to the third so that they are in the same order, moving only one ring at a time ind without placing a larger on top of a smaller ring. It sounds easy, and with only three or four rings, it is. More than that and it can become fiendishly difficult.

Lojix is a game in which you have to fit 18 irregularly shaped pieces onto a board. A sort if fiendish jigsaw puzzle, it is difficult and interesting. Virgin is offering a cash prize for the first correct solution.

3-D Strategy is billed as "a multi-dimensional mind game". It is 3-D noughts and crosses on a 4 by 4 by 4 cube. After 3-D chess Mr Spock might not have much trouble with his, but ordinary earthlings will find it very hard to beat. Despite being essentially simple ideas, all three of these games are well produced and will provide hours of entertainment for the puzzle happy.

Perhaps the most interesting new program for the Spectrum is The Forest, from Phipps Associates. This is a complex simulation of orienteering, the sport in which you have to follow a course over difficult terrain using only map and compass. The program comes with a beautifully printed orienteering map ind a long, but clear, explanatory booklet. The screen displays various topographical features and, using the map, you have to negotiate the nurse.

Thus, The Forest is not merely a game, but an help introduce people to map-making and the relation between maps and the physical features they represent. As the program notes say, this program will be of particular interest to students and teachers of geography as well as armchair orienteerers.

Plunder is a strategy game from Cases Computer Simulations. Set in 1587, the year before the Spanish Armada set sail, the game gives you the opportunity to be an English privateer whose task is to prevent gold from the New World getting back to Spain. You must also be more successful than your deadly rival Sir Francis Drake. There is more to this than mere yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum; you must weigh up the chances of success in taking on merchant, troop and warships. Too much damage or too many lost crew and the game is up; it's Davy Jones' locker for you.

Camelot, an adventure-game from the same company, is not quite so good. As Arthur Pendragon you have been banished from Camelot by the Black Knight. Understandably you want to get back; who knows what Lancelot and Guinevere are up to round the Round Table? You have some warriors and money to help you find the necessary seven items. There are graphic displays of landscapes and obstacles, unfortunately rather crude. The "evil magician" looks rather like a conjurer at a children's party.

Those Spectrum owners keen to develop the machine's graphics potential should look at Melbourne House's 48K Melbourne Draw. This program will take you on a tour of the Spectrum's graphics, allowing you to choose colours, draw, and store graphic displays.

Once you have drawn your picture, you might want to make it say something, in which case you are referred to Abbex's Supertalk which, with no extra hardware, will enable your Spectrum to speak. The demo facility lets you hear Supertalk's Dalek-style voice exercising its small vocabulary. To enter your own vocabulary you record the words on tape and then feed them in, afterwards adjusting them to make sentences. First "Jolson Sings!" now "Spectrum Talks".

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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