ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
Bizet's "Carmen Suite No. 1" (The Prélude part; Allegro giocoso)
is thundering through my room. Nothing's as good as some GOOD
classical music to get rid of a formidable hangover of
astronomical intensity. Well, except maybe for having a very nice
girl around (I bet you already guessed that this was coming
sooner or later, didn't you?). My fingers type rapidly and make
dozens of mistakes. Lucky enough, you won't find most of them
back in this article since we're working with a word processor
Oh boy, I must get sobered up a bit, or the whole rest of the
day will be hell...
But let's start with the software news of this issue, YEAH!
A game that got raving BAD reviews in many a magazine was
Elite's "1943". I was surprised at reading them, since I found it
a rather nice game and, as a matter of fact, so do most people I
Well, in "1943" the player controls one of those World War II
(Battle of Midway) airplanes that has to fight its way through
many attack waves of Japanese enemies - flying in small planes as
well as quite large - tricky - ones. Basically, it's just another
vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up game, but this time with a
somewhat more rational plot.
The music and the graphics are moderate, and gameplay is quite
interesting. Joystick control is excellent, and the bonus
elements in the game make it enjoyable for a longer time. In the
long run, however, the game tends to repeat itself (just
additional attack waves over a repeating landscape), and that
makes it a bit boring.
"1943" lacks the graphical brilliance of "Star Goose", lacks the
speed of "Goldrunner I/II" and lacks the superb music of "Xenon".
All in all, I wouldn't particularly call it 'raving BAD'. I'd
consider calling it plain moderate.
Now here's a game that's nowhere NEAR to moderate: Mirrorsoft's
latest release "Speedball". It isn't merely original, but
supplied with some of the very best graphics ever seen (by Mark
Coleman), and has incredible fast'n'furious gameplay with
The game is located in the future. People don't visit those
stupid soccer games anymore, but rather prefer something
bloodier, more dangerous and faster: Speedball. Speedball mainly
consists of trying to get a metal ball in the other team's goal,
but it's much tougher. The walls can also be used, and the
players are dressed in harness-like constructions with spikes and
the whole lot.
Every single aspect of the game it beautifully detailed in its
graphic presentation, and the animations are (as said before)
smooth and brilliant. The music (by David Whittaker) is also up
to its usual standard, and the sound effects are mindblasting.
After "Xenon" (another Bitmap Brothers + David Whittaker
product), "Speedball" is surely continuing the tradition of
PERFECT games. Add to that the fact that the game can be played
by one or by TWO players, and you have a perfect Christmas
present for the dedicated game player. Isn't it a pity that
Christmas time will be gone by the time that you read this?
Finally, another Electronic Arts package for the ST. Rumours
were spreading rapidly about this company not creating more ST
software and, as users of a certain computer always noted, 'fully
specializing on the Amiga entertainment market'. Lucky enough,
these rumours turned out to be nothing more but frustrated Amiga
"Powerdrome" is, just like "Speedball", a futuristic game; this
time, the player controls a racing plane that has to fly through
several different circuits. This all happens in full 3D, with
tunnels, bridges, walls that open and close....the whole thing.
The main drawback of "Powerdrome" is the incredible difficulty
involved in controlling your craft. Especially with the mouse, I
found it a real pain. With the joystick, you have to get
thoroughly used to it before you can achieve completing even a
single lap without all your wings heavily damaged and all
competitors beating you.
The graphics are up to the standard you're used to in good 3D
games. All solid model stuff, and quite fast too.
All in all, I only think that "Powerdrome" is a bit too
difficult to control. For the rest, it's a pretty neat game.
International Karate +
Everybody remembers "International Karate +", right?
This game was originally written on 8 bit machines by Archer
McLean, and when he saw "International Karate" on the ST he was
greatly disappointed. The music was very bad, and the smooth
graphics animation was not present. No matter how impressed us
mortals were, Mr. McLean obviously found that it lacked all kinds
So he decided to do the ST version of "International Karate +"
himself. And a swell job he did. For starters, he created what
will probably remain the best intro ever designed for a game,
with dozens of coloured little men fighting karate in shadows,
utterly impeccable color effects and some great programming
tricks. Only the music isn't any good, written by Dave Lowe (and
I even sent Jochen's version of the "IK" music to System 3 over a
year ago, together with his address....strange!)
The graphics in the game itself are very good, and so is the
animation. The fighting men move very smoothly, and the
background is also constantly moving (water rippling, as well as
about a dozen other small animations that occur now and again).
Uptil here, "International Karate +" leaves the impression of a
VERY good game to me. And to everyone, as a matter of fact.
There's even some humour included: It is possible to drop your
man's pants, thus distracting the opponent. Funny!
But the old "International Karate" had about a dozen different
backdrops, which I found to be sadly missing in the new game.
There's just ONE background picture and although it's very well
drawn and very well animated, I still would have liked some more
graphic abundance. I think this is a shame.
Gameplay, again, is excellent. One can play solo, or with two
players against each other, or with two players against each
other and the computer. Concluding, it can be said that "IK+" is
very good. But not good enough to become the new leading karate
game on the ST - for that, more background artwork and some GOOD
(Jochen!) music would have had to be included. Pity, for Archer
McLean obviously is quite a talented programmer - he has the
Oh. Before I forget; "IK+" doesn't save any hiscores. Hmm.
What you're now going to read, might strike you to be a bit odd.
For I will not really write a positive review about this alleged
"Game of the Year 1989", about a game that received some quite
stunning reviews in almost all major magazines. This decision is
based upon the fact that the game offers many nice things - but
has just as many drawbacks.
"Thunder Blade" is what I would call a 'clumsy' game. It's big
(supplied on two disks), loading times are lengthy and movement
is shocky and quite clumsy as well. The main reason why this game
let me down is the fact that it has been plugged to an extend
that I found only fitting to a game that has the brilliance of a
game like....let's say...."Starglider II". Every magazine started
writing very positive about this game, and some versions of the
game (C-64 and Amiga, for example) were called "A significant
addition to your software library" and "the best conversion
Yes, we're talking about an arcade conversion here. I didn't go
to the local arcade hall this time, because it would probably
wreck up my opinion about this game even more.
As I already said, loading takes a long time. This is probably
also due to the lengthy digital intro music that is included, as
well as two fairly badly digitized pics that are thrown on your
screen while this is done.
Then there's the actual game.
On the first level, you look at your helicopter (in the game,
you fly a helicopter) from above, and you have to fly over a
landscape with high buildings, tanks that want to blow you to
bits and some more different enemies. Control is a bit awkward
but you get used to it. The problem about this stage (and all
other stages) of the game is that it is slow. You do not control
the helicopter smoothly and accurately, and flying to the left or
the right is much too slow. The background scrolls by slowly and
I like the second level more. This is much more like 3D, and
this time you see yourself from behind (compare with something
like "Space Harrier"). Control is still slow, and the graphics
aren't much to get excited about. Basically, you see the same
enemies from a different angle. There are no other enemies
further in the game either - so no surprises there.
"Thunder Blade" isn't a bad game. It is just enormously
overrated. Priced at slightly over £9.95, "Thunder Blade" would
have been a nice game - since the graphics are just slightly
above 8-bit level. It's nice. But nothing more.
By now, one would have thought, bringing out yet another
"Pacman"-style game would be a stupid thing to do. Quite
unoriginal, in fact, and whether the game would sell well?...
Somehow, the British company Grandslam seems to have come up
with a good idea to bring out such a game anyway - and
successfully! They introduced a well playable third dimension in
the game, and the game is called "Pacmania".
Really, there's nothing to describe here. Basically, "Pacmania"
is any "Pacman" you pick put on its side and viewed at some point
slightly above. There are the usual bonus elements (fruit
bonuses), angry shapes running after you (and turning blue if you
get a bonus ball so that you can get them) and even some angry
shapes that never turn blue.
The third dimensions works great and scrolls fine, and the extra
thing the programmer introduced in this game was the presence of
four graphically different playing fields. This ensures prolonged
interest in the game. Add to that the fact that it is completely
PLAYABLE, and what you have on your hands is a nicely addictive
The music (by Ben Daglish) is very nice, and differs depending
on the level you are one. There is digital and normal sound in
the game. The animated sequences between the levels, however,
take too long to look. Often you start wondering when the game
will finally resume, especially after having seen these sequences
once already (which is very likely to happen).
"Pacmania" is a very nice game. Playable. Addictive. Well
programmed, with good graphics and music. Unfortunately, the game
doesn't save hiscores (STUPID STUPID STUPID - it's so
mindstaggeringly simple). My hiscore, by the way, was 235150.
That was the second time I played it.
Just a minute. Bizet has ended and now I feel a need for some
real heavy and solid speedy trash now. I need a wall of sound
around me, that makes sure I get rid of all frustrations. Sodom's
"Mortal Way of Live" will do nicely.
Wow! I am now going completely out of my roof (just to use some
Dutchie English). Groowwll. Grunt.
Now for the next (and last) game. Ouch. My fingers feel sore
after I have tried to play along a bit with their "Outbreak of
Evil" (mainly straight E, G and A chords). Ouch.
It's late already, and I want to demolish something. But I
suppress the feeling.
The Return of the Jedi
"The Return of the Jedi" completes the "Star Wars" trilogy of
games published by Domark. Unlike its two predecessors, "Return
of the Jedi" is no wire-frame 3D game but a diagonally scrolling
game where you have to avoid crashing into obstacles and avoid
being shot by Darth Vader's evil men, too.
The graphics are of a quality slightly above average (sorry, but
I have been spoiled by "To be on Top" and "Speedball" recently),
and the scrolling is fairly smooth.
On the first level you control princess Leia on her Speederbike
on her way to the Ewok village. Leia is left there, so that you
control Chewbacca's Scout Walker next. Han Solo will be waiting
after that, and he will deactivate the shields protecting the
rebuilt Death Star. On the second and third levels, you control
Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian as he flies the Millenium Falcon -
having to ultimately destroy the Death Star once again. First,
but you could have guessed that already, you have to fight off an
enormous wave of T.I.E. fighters, though.
Playability is quite good, and I would rate the game of average
difficulty. It's not as FAST as the two other ones, but I really
like the fact that they did something different this time. I
don't think people were waiting for a THIRD 3D vector graphics
game just like the other two.
Concluding, "The Return of the Jedi" is a very nice game. It's
original when compared with the other two, yet unfortunately
launched in a time when some better stuff has appeared.
Thanks, by the way, to Nadia Singh of Barrington Harvey PR for
sending this latest Domark release! May the force be with you!
OK. So here's yet the end of another "ST Software News" column.
I really wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and
I hope to see you all again in 1989. May the lords of Software
grant all your wishes, and may all virus programmers
spontaneously cease to exist on 00:00 AM on January 1st 1989 (I
wouldn't particularly mind if they would have ceased to exist
YESTERDAY, but you get my message)!