ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
I don't seem to remember an issue of ST NEWS in which so many
true (whole-article) reviews appeared than in this one: Twelve
(including two hardware ones). And it could easily have been two
more, since "Operation Wolf" and "The Last Ninja" also inspired
me to such an extend that I could easily have written full
reviews of them. But alas....time ran out for "Operation Wolf"
and the reason behind "The Last Ninja" not being fully reviewed
here can be found in the article about "Software Piracy",
elsewhere in this issue of ST NEWS.
So that's why this article is a bit shorter than usual. But
let's start right off! I boosted up my amp to make Iron Maiden's
"Live after Death" CD audible, and I think I'll get along with
A Question of Sport
Before I tell anything about this, I must tell you that I am a
resident of Holland and not of the United Kingdom. This makes my
opinion about this game no doubt not all too good. Although I can
receive the BBC on TV here, I rarely look at it except for some
"A Question of Sport" is a popular quiz program at English
television. I happen to have seen it twice, so I can tell you a
bit about it in case you haven't heard of it yet.
In the program, two teams of sportsmen compete against each
other on the subject of general sports knowledge. Each team
exists of three people; two of them change with every issue of
the quiz, and one remains the same. There are two teams, so two
sportsmen remain the same all the time.
The quiz is presided by David Coleman, who asks all kinds of
questions about sports, and now and again asks the players to
identify a fellow athlete by showing a picture (in the game,
this is replaced by several clues).
So Elite's "A Question of Sport" is the computer version of this
game. And let me tell you: It's a lot less interesting than it is
already if you don't live in England! The questions are
specifically about English sports (also a bit 'foreign' stuff)
and there's a lot asked about cricket (Krikkit?) as well. "AQOS"
is less interesting than most 'trivia quiz' games, since it is
only based around sports. If you're not into sports, don't buy
Although the questions do not repeat each other within the same
game session (there are thousands of questions, so it seems!), it
becomes boring quite soon. There are no bonuses, hidden aspects
and other things that make game playing fun. It gets boring
But, before I turn out to utterly and totally devastate this
program, one needs to look at the technical side of the program.
Because that's quite brilliant. The sportsmen-and women (as well
as the program authors) are displayed in highly accurate pictures
that are displayed with more than 16 shades of grey using raster
tricks. Although this causes the pictures to flicker a bit, it is
still very nice to see.
All the rest of the game is very well taken care of, too. The
scores, the picture displays....everything is very well done.
Pity the game only appeals to a limited audience. I'd like to
give it an 8, but since many people are not into Sports, ST,
being British and looking at quizzes, I think a 7 would be more
Thanks to Gaston "News Channel" Smit for lending me his
original that he got from Elite.
The highest new entry in this issue's pop poll is Ocean's
"Operation Wolf". This program has been waited for a long time,
and has received raving reviews in ALL computer magazines.
Since I have this principle about doing the same as other
magazines, I went to the arcade hall with Stefan and Frank some
time ago and went to look if the game REALLY looked that much
like the real thing like all the magazines wrote. Frank and I
dumped Stefan at a brilliant new "Galaxy Force" arcade and I had
Frank play "Operation Wolf" for a while.
I was impressed. Basically, it's just a shoot-every-soldier-
that-comes-in-sight game, but with excellent scrolling, beautiful
graphics and exquisite sound effects. The front-mounted Uzi
replica made it very nice to play as well and creating a very
realistic effect. "Operation Wolf" is one of the better arcade
When Frank and I left, we had to drag Stefan from the "Galaxy
Force" machine; he was looking blankly at the screen that
displayed stunningly fast 3D graphics and had a chronical urge
to put money in the machine. We rescued him from total
obliteration and arcade machine addiction (although he didn't
particularly thank us when we did it).
A little while later, we had a look at the ST version of the
game. We were stunned. The graphics are (I know it sounds crazy)
identical; huge shapes of soldiers that walk through the screen,
carefully aiming their guns at you...fantastically drawn
helicopters that circle through the sky, seeking to annihilate
you...good sound effects...and more! The game reflected every
tiny aspect of the game but for the Uzi replica and the super-
smooth scrolling we saw in the arcade.
The latter is very simple to understand: A significant part of
the screen scrolls horizontally (with ALL planes and 16 colours),
and very large (sometimes very MANY) nicely animating objects are
moving over it. Strange enough, I found the scrolling in the ST
(which is a bit blocky) no bother at all.
So the ST version of "Operation Wolf" is very good as well. I
know I have just had to cast aside my principle, but it's worth
The only reasonable thing left to complain about is the number
of disk swaps one has to perform: There are four disks and you
have to swap just about each and every one of them before you can
actually start playing.
In "Operation Wolf", you have to battle through six levels of
enemies, tanks and helicopters. You have to free hostages,
destroy enemy installations, gain vital information and,
eventually, you have to get on a plane and get the hell out of
there (that's level six). This isn't made easy: Everybody is
shooting at you and trying to deplete your life-energy. Some of
them just shoot, others throw knives, some others even throw
grenades or shoot missiles at you!
But you have to watch your steps....you might just accidentally
kill a little boy that runs along, some nice nurses that hop
around or an Andes Condor (endangered species!) that suddenly
flies over the battle scene.
You can shoot your gun and fire rockets; the latter blow away a
whole helicopter or tank with one shot!
"Operation Wolf" is a brilliant coinup conversion. It is well
worth its money (£19.95 for a game on four disks...!) and if
you're into shoot-'em-ups this is the one for you. I wouldn't be
surprised if this one would eventually turn out to be coinup of
the year 1989 (when compared with the one from previous year -
"Outrun" - this one's MUCH better!).
"Operation Wolf" is a game that truly deserves an excellent
rating: I'll give it a 9, therefore!
Early this morning, it looked as if it was going to rain here. I
was in kind of a gloomy mood because of that. But as I write this
and Iron Maiden is still continuing, my mood is getting better
and better and...the sun started to unveil itself! Its weak rays
are fighting now to get rid of some low mist and clouds, and its
warmth gently touches my face.
Yeah! Now I'm really cookin'! So let's go on...
Everybody had high hopes for this one. Jez San (of "Starglider
I & II" fame) had already stated that it would be much better
than "Outrun", and there was no reason to doubt it.
But now I doubt it all right!
"Afterburner" is about the lousiest game I have seen in recent
weeks (and months). It's clumsy, shocky, has bad graphics and is
quite unable to keep anyone's attention for more than five
minutes. These five minutes are generally spent waiting for the
program to load, looking at the ghastly graphics and then cursing
a bit about the money one has just now wasted on it.
The arcade machine, again, was very famous. You sat IN it, it
moved, and it has quite good graphics as well. And it was fast.
It actually made you FEEL in the flyer's seat, something that but
few games ever realize.
The ST version is plain lousy, especially after all the things
that were said about if beforehand. The graphics are large and
chunky, the movement is all but smooth, the sound is below
average and the player control is illogical.
I won't spend any more words on this one. It's BAD (just like
Michael Jackson). A 6 is more than it deserves! I bet Jez wasn't
even co-operating on this one!
The Last Ninja
Just for the contrast: After the lousiest game of 1989 (up to
now, anyway), I'd like to offer you a brief preview of what might
become one of the best games of 1989: "The Last Ninja" of the
British company System 3.
I was originally planning to write a full review of this game,
but decided not to, due to reasons I have explained in the
article about "Software Piracy", elsewhere in this issue of ST
NEWS. For "The Last Ninja" is an excellent game, well, even a
MORE than excellent game. It comes supplied on FIVE disks and
combines the talents of some of the world's finest programmers -
including Jochen, the best sound programmer around.
I was already completely and utterly stunned when I loaded the
intro. There was the usual picture, but through the speaker of my
monitor came the many-voice-digitized-10-minute version of the
one and only "International Karate" music!
After I had regained total consciousness, I listened to it fully
and again noticed a certain drooling in my oral cavity. When the
song eventually started anew, I pressed a key and was treated to
some brilliant graphics, a jumping Kung-Fu figure and the
SOUNDCHIP version of exactly the same song. Really, Jochen IS and
will probably FOREVER BE the best sound programmer on the ST or
I'm not called Richard (as a matter of fact, my name IS Richard,
in case you didn't know or had already forgotten).
Anyway, I pressed a key and the game started after some
In the game, you are a Ninja that has to walk through a scenery
where he will meet many obstacles: Varying from fellow-Ninjas and
other thugs that want to shorten your life to 'simple' rivers
that you have to cross. Scattered all over the scenery, you can
find some equipment you can use to enhance your abilities.
Controls are a bit messy (maybe because I played a preview
version), and I was quite disappointed when I noticed that the
game didn't scroll at all but just switched screens when the
figure walks to the next one.
It was then that I reset my system, for I considered it to be
torturing myself when I would play it further while not being
able to write a full review about it. And I had not even had to
insert disks three and higher (all double-sided, as far as I
know).... So there's a LOT more hidden in the game, I suppose.
I won't give this game a rating, since I feel it's not too
honest to do so with a preview version. I hope to be able to
review the actual game soon (when it's ready). And then I WILL
write a full review including a Mythical introductory novelette.
The sun has disappeared, and it is now raining; the wind is
whipping the windows. Isn't Dutch weather something strange? The
Maiden CD has finished some minutes ago and Racer X' "Extreme
Volume - Live" album is now playing. Bruce Bouillet and Paul
Gilbert do some astounding things with their six-stringed
Mastertronic is planning to launch quite a number of budget
games soon, titles of which include "Hacker", "Bombfusion",
"Rigel's Revenge" and "Chase", all priced at £9.95. The last one,
"Chase", reached me just before this issue of ST NEWS was
launched so I could include it still in this column.
"Chase" is a 3D vector-graphics game that in some aspects looks
and plays like "Star Wars" (from Domark). It is a graphically
pleasing combination of shooting and evading, where one'll need
quite some fast reactions to complete the levels.
You are deep in the seventh galaxy of the Nebulus system, and
you have to rescue beautiful princess Chardonnay from the
clutches of the evil Disgusmatrons. It's quite a difficult
mission, and you have to wait whether the princess if worth it or
The first stage consists of having to chase Disgusmatron ships
through a meteorite storm. You have to shoot five of them, each
of which has to be hit five times. And you'd better not collide
with those meteorites! The second stage consists of what the
manual calls 'something just like slalom-skiing'. You have to fly
between two monoliths each time; when you have done so ten times,
the third stage will come.
This is called the Quadrilateral Vortex (in normal words: Flying
through quadrangles that lie behind one another). Don't hit the
edges! When you have completed this (or lost a shield by crashing
into an edge) you get to the next level: The game will start anew
but now just a bit more tricky. The meteorites have different
shapes as well.
Controls are good, sound is below average (no music), graphics
are above average, and the game is fast. If you're into 3D vector
graphics games with a calibre less than "Starglider II", this
might be a bargain for you. At £9,95, is should be! I'd give it a
The end of this column is near. Now I only still want to mention
three games VERY BRIEFLY. One of them will probably be reviewed
fully in a future issue of ST NEWS, since Frank is buying the
The simulation amongst simulations. Better than "Flightsimulator
II" and "Jet", with astounding graphics. It's fast and furious.
You'll love it!
Another one of those vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups. Quite
nice: Nice colours, nice sounds, nice gameplay. A bit above
An enhanced ST version of the extremely simple 8-bit game where
you have to collect eggs (or was it food?), whilst avoiding being
hit by any of the baddies walking around on the platforms. The
graphics (especially those in the background) are very neat. I've
only seen it briefly and it seemed very funny and nice.
Tha...tha...tha...that's all folks!
Pflflfleeeease, let me see you all again in the next issue of ST
NEWS, due for launch somewhere at the end of March/beginning of
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.