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Stainless Software 1982-1985 Emulator users can enjoy several disks of Stainless Software programs.
Stainless Software was a computer software publishing business operated in the United Kingdom by Stephen Shaw from 1982 to 1985, catering only for the Texas Instruments TI99/4a Home Computer.
This web page exists to record the many items of software that Stainless sold for the TI99/4a, mostly on cassette tape.
From Page 7 onwards these web pages detail software programs for the TI-99/4a formerly sold by Stainless Software from 1982, which failed to be retained in the final 1985 catalogue, which is on Pages 1 to 6.
This page is extracted from the records of Stainless Software and includes brief sales records, contact records and software reviews. The reviews are linked to from the program mention on pages 1 to 16.
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6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 | | Stainless Software sales and reviews.
One question asked regards the lack of the name "Stainless Software" in the coding for most of the programs sold by Stainless.
Stainless did not purchase the copyright of any program, but merely licenced a title for sale in the UK and paid a fairly high royalty on the meagre sales that then came about. The programmer remained free to sell directly or through other channels- but using other distribution channels would make tracking piracy impossible. Only one originator that I know of tried to sell a title through other channels and received no royalties from that source.
In general there was no licence to amend the code, although I did some debugging where required. Sometimes an author would include the Stainless name but very rarely.
Generally the small amount of memory on the TI was better used for the actual program rather than any fancy graphic introduction (do you get annoyed when a DVD reels through a dozen animated introductions before you get to the menu?).
So programs that were only sold by Stainless usually had no indication in the coding that they were from Stainless Software, although the packaging always bore the name. There was one commercial pirate who supplied some retailers around the country who were more greedy than honest (using packaging with the Stainless name) but that one was spotted and stopped. There were probably others at a lower level.
It was mentioned at one point by a customer that there were more pirated copies of Stainless Software than originals- and this probably reduced sales and led to a reduction of titles and the cessation of Stainless in due course. Such is life. Legal protections are only for the very rich.
The early months
Best selling titles:
Top seller in each of the seven months December 1982 to April 1983 was Winging It from Not Polyoptics.
In number 2 position for each month:
Dec 82: Star Trek (Norton Software); Total gross sales of all titles in the month were GBP 1594 from which royalties of GBP 646 were paid out. Jan 83: Starship Pegasus (Not Polyoptics),
Feb 83: Outland (Roach Software) March 83: Cars and Carcasses 2 (Not Polyoptics). Total gross sales of all titles in the month were GBP 1043 from which royalties of GBP 515 were paid out.
April 83: Night Flight (Patrick Strassen)
In July 1983 Winging It remained at number one position with a total of 42 sales in the month. The next best seller sold a mere 15 copies. Total gross sales in the month were GBP 1447.
My VAT return for the quarter to the end of October 1983 shows that on gross sales for the three months of GBP 5,300 the gross included a total of GBP 645 VAT. My input tax for the quarter was only GBP 92 so I actually paid to the VAT collector GBP 553 from the sales, just over 10% of gross.
January 1984 saw one game with over 100 sales for perhaps the only time- a five star review and a low price saw Kong achieve 132 sales, while behind it with 59 sales was Golf. Both programs in TI Basic - Extended Basic programs just didn't sell. Not one sale of Winging It.
In April 1984 total gross sales for the month were GBP 1320.
October 1984 saw sales fall to GBP 499 gross.
October 1985 saw sales at just GBP 95 gross, and so ended Stainless Software.
A few programs in TI Basic sold quite well. No programs in Extended Basic sold at all well regardless of five star reviews or prices. There were too few Extended Basic module owners out there. Programmers received more income by having an Extended Basic program listed in a magazine than they did from software sales. So no patience with reviewers asking for cheaper Extended Basic programs- there just weren't enough sales possible to cover any sort of costs, the programs were loss makers no matter how good they were. And some were very very good.
Contacts made with US producers:
March 1982- FFF Software, Norton Software, PRP Computergraphics. June 1982- PS Software, Not Polyoptics, Oak Tree Systems. July 1982: Data Systems.
August 1982:Intersoft, Pewterware. The first program from Intersoft seems to have arrived in the catalogue in September 1983- 12 months after approach.
Reviews in the commercial computer press- Home Computing Weekly / Software Today. Reviews of Stainless Software offerings A note about the reviews first - reviews are personal opinions which you may agree with or disagree with, that is life. Sometimes they may be far too good if the reviewer has never seen a good program, or often they would be too negative if the reviewer was expecting a five pound TI Basic game to match a forty pound games module.
Especially in the older reviews, cost was an issue. American games quickly suffered from a rapidly sinking pound and the addition of UK taxes, but were still sold here for less than in the USA. There was also a problem with games from America that it could take 13 months from its US appearance to have the game on sale here, following contact and negotiations. By the time they hit the UK market, they were a little old in terms of ability to make the most of the language.
British games were sold at prices comparable to other suppliers and probably too little. There were no quantity sales to bring prices down - apart from a half dozen programs, for most programmers a dozen sales IN TOTAL was good going. The market was too small and too scattered to increase sales by means of low prices. Stainless was paying premium prices for tapes, tape labels, tape inlay, instruction cards, and plastic envelopes, postage, envelopes plus more general overheads such as advertising and catalogue printing (not cheap printing 50 copies of an 18 page A4 catalogue, photocopying prices have reduced significantly since 1983).
A five star review could result in ten sales. At this time the programmer could submit his program to a magazine to print the listing for which he would receive at least ten pounds. With owners not prepared to pay for games, and costs increasing, the amount of royalties had to be hit, and a programmer might receive less for a program that earned a five star review than if his program had been printed in a cheap magazine. Some programmers still preferred to chance their arm with Stainless. I was honest with them about their likely income levels. Maybe three programmers received reasonable pocket money from their endeavours, but none had to worry about the tax man.
Reviewer PB was a problem, he did not like the system, and was not a games player. His reviews were driven by technology rather than playability. Some rather anti-American comments came into focus when he went to live in the USA! You just have to accept such things. It is never a good idea to rail against the most unjust review, no-one will ever believe you. One highly talented programmer moved to another machine after PB very unjustly called one of his excellent games unplayable. The game was not even hard to play - I'm not that good and finished level one.
For comparison, reviewer JW gave the Tunnels of Doom module three stars. This appears to have become one of the favourite modules, and has now been ported over to Java.
Some of the reviews were very helpful in getting rid of some bugs. Several programs used up all of memory and total crash proofing was simply not possible. Some games I could not play and therefore could not find odd bugs.
One program that I got no-where with I got second opinions on, from two internationally rated TI owners, who both gave a strong thumbs up. The game got a five star review - and earned its programmer a meagre thirty eight pounds royalties in total (paid at 29% of gross. The gross included sales tax and dealers discount, so on some sales the royalty paid was 41% of the cash Stainless received, well above industry standards.) That was a TI Basic program.
[Update 2020: The program has now been compiled and is available for play on a TI99/4a module!!! The author was very badly rewarded for his efforts.]
Programs in Extended Basic did not sell nearly so well. Then again, one review was so embarrasingly too good that a game was dropped as one or two purchasers were thinking I was responsible for the wording and accusing me of mis-selling.
(sic) means an error in the review that I have left in place. It is short for sic erat scriptum (which means thus was it written) and means there is an error in the original that has been intentionally copied without correction.
3-D RACE.Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FIVE STARS
You are at the wheel of a high speed racer and you must overtake five other cars plus a ghost car which appears from time to time. After selecting a skill level (one-six), the five cars appear on the track and zoom off. You select first gear and accelerate after them. You can changes lanes, accelerate and brake. Even at level one the game turned out to be pretty difficult. Although instructions accompany the tape I found difficulty at first in understanding what was going on, in particular which car I was supposed to be driving. However, after several plays I got the idea and started enjoying the game. Speed, time, temperature and fuel are at the bottom of the screen. Graphics, giving a driver's eye view of the track, are excellent. There are some pretty sophisticated car racing games on the market and, to be fair, 3-D Race does not come up to their standard but then it is written in BASIC (it has to be for the standard TI) and the programmers have used the language extremely well. All in all, good value for money. DB
3-D Stalkers GBP 5.00 FOUR STARS
An interesting tactical game which requires two players. You are both trapped in a symetrical (sic) maze from which only one of you may escape. The object is to pursue and kill your opponent before he finds and eliminates you.
The screen shows an overhead view of the maze and 3D perspectives of what is directly ahead of each player, updated after each move. Your position in the maze is not shown, but may be displayed at any time if requested. Obviously this option should not be used arbitrarily. Confirmation of your whereabouts is not only critical to you, but of certain interest to your opponent. The length and difficulty of each game is determined by the number of shots that are required to kill your opponent, requested before each game starts. Movement, controlled by keyboard or joystick, is forward, or turn back, left or right. Not the sort of game I find particularly addictive, but at least it does make a change to pitch your wits against an equally fallable (sic) human opponent and who knows, will you be the hunter or the hunted? J.W.
3D STAR TREK GBP 7.00 THREE STARS.
(webnote- as there was nothing significantly 3d about the game it was listed in the catalogue just as Star Trek).
Scoring 0% for originality, this is yet another version of the game probably inspired by the film.
After about a minute, while the universe is being created, a 3D view from the bow and stern of your space ship is displayed, together with all the usual information including present position, stardate, number of photon torpedoes and number of Klingon ships. There are seven commands: navigation, fire weapon, multiple target firing, locate Klingons, convert fuel/weapons,locate Star Base, end. The two types of weapons are phasors and photon torpedos, the latter being surprisingly inaccurate. One would have thought that a computer clever enough to locate a distant Klingon would at least be able to destroy it with a torpedo. (webnote- wow. This reviewer has never watched Star Trek. It usually took one or more dozen torpedos to slightly affect an enemy!). Bearing in mind only ten torpedos can be on board at once and that the clumsy firing system uses up valuable torpedos, it is plain to see why the energy/weapon command is needed.
In common with most TI games, 3D Star Trek is very slow but is quite enjoyable. JJ.
Stainless Software GBP 10.00 FOUR STARS If you're still a Space Invaders fan, you'll enjoy this version. A mothership hovers over Earth releasing small attacking craft which you blow to bits with the aid of three cannons. After enough craft have been zapped, the mother ship takes off and the game resets quickly for the next wave. Good graphics and the movement is fast for TI Basic. If you beat a score of 5,000 you qualify for the Hall of Fame. I think that at ten pounds the game is a bit overpriced though. CE
Stainless Software GBP 9.00 THREE STARS Addvance is a board game in which up to two players and the computer compete against each other. A 7x10 board is drawn on the screen, consisting of different coloured squares.
The object of the game is to score a set number of points (you choose this number at the start of the game) by moving your marker up the board. If you land on an orange square, and you have got enough points, you can buy it. This means that if another player lands on your square he must give you some of his points. The number of points varies from zero to 15. If you land on a yellow square, your score will be either decreased or increased by a random number less than five. Purple squares are very nasty. If you land on one, you lose all your points. Another way to increase your score is to move off the top of the screen. If this happens, you will reappear at the bottom of the screen, and gain 10 points. I found that the game soon ceased to hold my attention, as the computer took such a long time to move. Overall, this is not a bad program, but in my opinion it lacks lasting appeal. J.J.
ARIES Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS
A dodge-em and blast-em type game set in outer space. Your space pod descends from its mothership at top left of the screen. This must be manoeuvred through debris that continually crosses its path until in line with an alien space craft and its cargo. After blasting the alien and collecting its treasure you return to the mothership before you pod's fuel runs out. This continues until all cargo has been collected. The number of these depends on the rounds completed, there being five in all. After every round an alien control ship appears which must be blasted six times in succession to destroy. Points are awarded for the number of cargoes collected and ships destroyed as multiples of rounds played
and skill level adopted. There is a choice of five skill levels. Extended BASIC and joystick are needed. At the end of a game the score is given and if sufficiently high you enter the Hall of Fame. Here there is an option to save and load your high scores on file. Unfortunately the scoring system of the game is at fault as in all following games the program fails to reset to zero. J W.
Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS A game which will be familiar to everyone as there is a version for just about every computer and game console. You control a spaceship in the centre of the screen and you spin the ship using the S and D keys, to fire at asteroids and alien spacecraft coming at you from all angles.
This cassette, however, is written in BASIC - it has to be for the standard TI - and although it has all the ingredients of the game it is let down badly by the speed of the language.
Instructions on screen and the controls are easy to operate making the game suitable for the younger enthusiast. Graphics and colour are used well. As already mentioned, however, the speed of the action is too slow for this sort of game and I feel therefore that the price quoted is a little high. D.B.
AUTO SOUND UTILITY
This is not for the squeamish or those unfamiliar with what a DSR is or does. It concerns a powerful facility, only recently come to light, which is interrupt-driven to provide continuous music while a program executes, in much the same way that sprites are set in motion and continue to move while the program continues. It is a sort of "music while it works". The program was easy to crash, so you need to be careful, but if operated correctly it will provide all the necessary values to be LOADed into memory in order to produce a tune for your more sophisticated programs.
A sample program is included in the documentation which demonstrates how the resulting values can be inserted into memory by your program. This needs Extended Basic and 32K RAM.
Value for Money 100%. Ease of Use 85%. Overall 85%.
BACKGAMMON Not Polyoptics GBP 7.00 THREE STARS
This opportunity to challenge the TI was greeted enthusiastically by our household, but we were soon to be disappointed.
The program contains options to either play against the computer or another player. During the first attempt at the one player game, while the computer was considering its second move, the program crashed with a Bad Value in 2010.
The second game I managed to win, but at its end the board disappeared and I was informed my score was now one, meaning I had won one game. Scoring in the original game is done on a points system, the most being awarded for a backgammon.
Omitting this seems very strange, particularly as the program includes an option to double. On my third attempt everything was just going well when the display partially scrolled off the screen and the program locked. This couIdn't be cleared, so I had to quit and re-load. Fortunately, several subsequent games passed uneventfully, but the computer proved to be a fairly pedestrian and not altogether intelligent opponent. In view of the limited memory the program overall seems reasonable, but has little to offer an experienced player. Needs Extended BASIC. J.W. ((This was an Extended Basic program. I made several debug changes to NP programs that had been on sale in the USA for months. NP's later ExBas programs did seem problematical. Some I never offered at all. This Backgammon program had been deleted by the February 1985 issue of the catalogue. I could not replicate the problem reported- perhaps they were due to a bad cartridge contact etc but I did manage a position where the game insisted that I move- but no move was possible.)).
BANKROLL Not Polyoptics (from Stainless Software) GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS The only complaint I have is that nowhere in the instructions, and contrary to information on the cassette, is it mentioned that this program runs in Extended BASIC. Otherwise, this is a quite good text only, investment game for two or four players. Each player starts with $10,000 and the game ends when a predetermined target is reached. The upper limit is $999,999 so you've no chance to achieve millionaire status. The computer randomly decides the order of turns and when everyone has completed their choices, annual returns on all the players' investments are shown. Each player may buy and sell bonds or shares, but a sharp eye must be kept on interest rates and taxation. 'Headlines' may also have a long or short-term effect on the outcome. When the game ends the name or the winner is transformed into sprites which roll around the screen Overall, a complex and well structured program. You need to be a financial wizard to appreciate all the factors affecting capital and investments, but even if you arent, it's still fun to play. Needs Extended BASIC. J.W.
BATTLESHIPS Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS I would think that just about everyone reading this has played Battleships at one time or another. This computer version has all the ingredients of the game and has been well programmed using good graphics. The game can be set up to enable two players to participate or for one player against the computer. You place your battleships on the board using the direction keys and the spacebar and the second player, or the computer, places their ships on a second board. The players then take turns to locate and destroy their opponents' ships. The players can elect at the start of the game to play a set number of turns, where the winner is the one with the most hits at the end of the game, or to play until all of the opponents' ships have been sunk. Battleships is a nicely laid out program with adequate instructions given on screen before the start of the game.
BEETLE Stainless Software GBP 6.00 THREE STARS
An original game in which you play the unusual role of a beetle. The local gardener has carelessly stuck his spade through your nest. It is your job to collect the eggs and take them to a second nest. You start off in a cavern with several articles of food, as well as rocks and eggs. There are also invisible spider traps which, when trodden on, cause a spider to spin a web that my trap you to cut off your escape. As you move around you run out of energy. This is why you must eat the food. The eggs must be pushed to the next level underground. This is done by landing on them. When you have pushed as many eggs as you want onto the next level you must crawl through a hole at the top of the screen to join them.
Although this game is enjoyable to play at first, it loses its lasting appeal quite quickly due to the slow speed of TI BASIC. It is a great pity that the TI-99/4A is not equipped to use this original idea to the full. JJ
THE BEETLE RUN Stainless Software GBP 5.00 FOUR STARS Here's five different screens of fast action for your unexpanded TI. Using the cursor keys, a little cramped for comfort, you move a beetle round the screen either collecting or avoiding, depending on screen. Once you've started moving you can't stop or even go back the way you came as crossing your trail loses a life. On the first screen you must recover 20 rings or, if you haven't the right technique or luck, take a transporter to the next screen. Here you collect all the pills but avoid the rocks. Unless you are quick enough to guide your beetle through a carefully planned route, this screen will never be completed.
Screen three is a bottomless pit to cross. On screen four there are pills to collect again, but this time a random set of rocks to be avoided.
On screen five you try to prevent any collisions once more, but are unable to move up or down. Overall, good - even when you cheat. J.W
BILLY BALL PLAYS CATCH Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FIVE STARS
Another game featuring an amusing character by the name of Billy Ball. Last I saw of him he was at a hatchery, here he's busy playing catch. Various items fall down the screen, one at a time, and Billy must catch them. If he misses three times, he will lose a life.
A fierce green monster tries to stop our little friend, so Billy may either evade him by climbing ladders and jumping from platforms, or take more positive action by punching him, should he come too close for comfort. The monster sometimes goes rather red in the face, however, and speeds up his chase for revenge.
If Billy successfully catches, a box at the bottom of the screen is filled in. When all have been filled he progresses to more difficult screens. , All have superb graphics, which compensate for the somewhat slow action during the game's initial stages, but things definitely "hot up" after the fourth screen. Needs Extended BASIC, joystick. JW
Black Box is the scientific version of Mastermind. Originally a board game, it transfers well to a computer.
You use your powers of deducation to locate a given number of atoms (up to 10) which are hidden in an 8 x 8 grid. There are 32 rays positioned around the edge of the grid which are used to detect the co-ordinates of each atom, depending on whether a ray is absorbed, deflected or reflected.
When you think you know where the atoms are, you enter your guesses. A score is given based on the proportion of atoms you track down and the number of rays you use.
Understanding exactly how rays are deflected and relected took time to fully comprehend. The instruction give full details on the origins of the game, but provide only a few sentences and one example for the complete beginner. jw.
PLAYABILITY 70%. BLUEGRASS SWEEPSTAKES
Whether you enjoy the occassional flutter on the gee-gees or not, you will like this horseracing game for up to eight players.
Eight horses are displayed on screen together with their names and starting prices. Bets are placed and the race begins. The eight horses move across the screen from left to right and winnings are paid out on the first, second and third horses across the line. Each punter enters his or her name and the computer will then display the name and the amount that person has available to bet with prior to each race. You are given 1000 dollars to begin with. The winner of each race receives a sweepstake ticket in addition to any winnings and this is a race in which the runners are the winners of the previous eight races. The graphics and colour capabilities of the TI99/4A are used to excellent effect in this very well-thought-out program.
It is not a game where you continually involved in the action, but it is nevertheless a very entertaining program for children and adults alike. DB
Graphics 100%, Value for Money and Overall both 80%.
BOUNCING BUGS Stainless Software GBP 6.00 THREE STARS
Three games in one, each set on a different screen, but the style of play remains the same for all.
The stars are five differently coloured bugs. Each in turn stands on a springboard positioned to the right of the screen. Using keyboard control the springboard must be raised or lowered to the correct height from which to launch the bug, so he lands on various targets to the left. Once released the bug bounces off any walls that he contacts, so keys 1-9 are also used to determine the strength of his bounce. Each game may be played by up to 10 people who may compete in one to 10 rounds. Points are awarded for every successful landing, the total being displayed after each completed round.
Since there is no random element, before long the exact requirements to land the bugs can be remembered. In the multi-player situation the last player undoubtedly has an unfair advantage as he is able to benefit from all previous player's experiments and successes. J.W.
This is a really excellent version of the popular game of bowls. You either play against the computer or another player.
Before starting you select to either play a limited number of ends or agree that the first player to a set number of points wins. The green is displayed from a bird's eye view on which the jack has already been placed, by the computer. Players take turns throwing their bowl, the course of which is determined from four parameters, input separately as numerical values.
There are six possible starting positions, each marked clearly on the green, three directions - straight, left or right - and "finger" or "thumb" bias. The latter influences which way the bowl will curve as it slows down.
Finally comes the strength of throw, having values from one to nine. With such a choice of variables, experience needs to be acquired before bowling becomes accurate.
After all values have been entered you are offered the opportunity to change them before the shot is taken. A very useful feature.
When the end is complete, the computer measures to discover whose bowl is nearer the jack and how many points are scored. jw. Value for Money 100%, Instructions 90%, Playability 80%.
BRAINTWISTERS 1 Stainless Software GBP 8.00 FOUR STARS
The first of a series of cassettes all containing strategy games. The first program, Decoder, is similar to Mastermind, in which you must discover a secret number. The number may have up to nine digits. After your guess is entered the computer displays two digits. The first digit indicates how many numbers in your guess are in the secret number. The second digit indicates how many numbers in your guess are also in the correct position. One or two players may take part in the game. In the two player version, (sic) The second program on the cassette is calld Switchboard. A 3 by 3 grid is drawn on the screen, and each square is numbered one to nine. Some of the squares also have red squares drawn within them. The object of the game is to have a red square in each of the nine positions. If, for instance, '1 367' was printed on the screen, key 1 (on the computer keyboard) would reverse squares 3, 6 and 7. So if 3 and 7 had a red square in them, but 6 was empty, then by pressing key 1, 3 and 7 would be empty, but 6 would have a red square in it. J J
BRAINTWISTERS 2 Stainless Software GBP 8.00 THREE STARS
This second cassette in the Braintwisters series consists of two well-known programs - Solitaire and Echo. The object of Solitaire is to rearrange rows of cards, so that each row is made up of cards of the same colour. There are dots on the cards, too, and to complete the game the dots must run in order from one, on the left hand side of the screen, to nine, on the right. There are two skill levels, the hardest being rather pointless, as the game could be impossible to complete. Solitaire is, of course, for one player only.
Echo, the second game on the cassette, is amazingly similar to a popular electronic game. The object of the game, for those of you who don't know, is to repeat various sequences of lights/sounds made by the computer. The computer starts off by playing three random notes. If you repeat these without any mistakes, an extra note will be added to the sequence. This carries on until you make a mistake. There is a time limit on how long you have to respond, which decreases as you reach higher levels. J.J
BRAINTWISTERS 3 Stainless Software GBP 8.00 FIVE STARS
This consists of two programs, Hangman and Decypher. Hangman is an excellent reproduction of the old favourite. There are three skill levels which range from a single word to a common phrase. The graphics are very good, and colour is used wel but sound could be improved upon. If you correctly guess the word, a simple tune is played. If not, the computer ruthlessly proceeds to execute the poor man in the gallows, and displays the correct word on the screen. The object of Decypher is to crack a substitution code. A series of lower case ietters are displayed at the top of the screen, These will forrn some words or a phrase when the substitution code is cracked. The lower case alphabet is displayed at the bottom of the screen, and after you have positioned an arrow over your chosen letter, you must enter another letter from the keyboard. This letter then replaces all your chosen letters at the top of the screen.
The procedure continues until you have completed the phrase at the top of the screen. Help is supposed to be given if the space bar is held down, but, unfortunately, this only caused the program to stop due to an error. JJ
BREAKPOINT Stainless Software GBP 5.00 FOUR STARS
Dare you load this program in your TI? It may never be the same again after an encounter with the dreaded "byte bug". A circuit board is displayed. Suddenly one of its components fails. Your task is to guide your man between the working components to find a replacement, then install it in place of the faulty one. But we all know that where computers are involved, it's not that easy. For a start the byte bug is out to get you and he'll happily take a life if you're caught. Then there's the splatter zaps. These appear unexpectedly and crunch round the circuitry. Worst of all are the static zaps. Unless the Q key is pressed the instant these start, you've no chance.
If this weren't enough, there's the occasional "portron transportation medium" that blocks your path. These take you to another location, usually just where you don't want to go. Detailed graphics make this enjoyable to play and watch. My only complaint is one game had to be abandoned because the failed component could not be reached. J.W.
Despite its name, there's no chess involved; I assume that the strategic requirement caused the author to equate it with chess.
It is much more sophisticated than the usual variety, and will probably not appeal to those who don't like thinking about the bashing.
There are two kingdoms separated by a river, - you are the ruler of one, and the ruler of the other has told you to keep out of his river. The result is war. The computer acts as moderator, deciding who gets to move how far before they can shoot, and the graphics are good. The game does not take itself very seriously and for those who prefer toy soldiers this would be a good buy. This needs Extended Basic. PB
Ease of Use 85% and 80% for each of Instructions, Graphiucs and Value for Money. Overall 81%.
CRASH-UP CAR RACING DEJ (from Stainless Software) GBP 7.00 TWO STARS TI BASIC rarely lends itself to car-race games because of its slow execution speed and poor response to keyboard or joystick input. This program makes a valiant attempt to imitate arcade quality graphics but alas, fails miserably. You can race against another player or the computer. The graphics display takes quite a time to set up, and has to be redrawn after every completed game. You can select 1 to 99 laps, accelerate and decelerate and speed and fuel are indicated on screen, albeit rather unclearly. There are four reserve cars at your disposal; you will need them as it is easy to crash on the bends. There is a pit area in which you can stop, although if driving against the computer this will reduce your chance of winning to zero. You can even specify the efficiency of your pit crew. The documentation makes this program appear more special than it is, and unfortunately this contributes to the overall impression that this is definitely not value for money. P.B [ With his negative attitude to the console, TI Basic and games, PB was the last reviewer you would want for this. The price was based upon the American one- this came from America. The value of the pound was plummeting, and in the UK we had to add sales tax (=VAT), which in the case of Stainless was a pure tax, as almost no inputs were taxed. DEJ Software was the last American publisher to be contacted by Stainless, and poor Mr Johnson had very little reward. The documentation was in Californian of course.
CRAZY CLIFF Stainless Software GBP 7.00 TWO STARS (see note at end)
This rather odd game is well named. The aim is to scale buildings from the outside, avoiding hazards. I have a half-formed memory of some daft American trying such a stunt, only when he got to the top he wasn't rewarded with an extra man and a fresh, slightly more difficult building. The minimal instructions are in 11 lines on the inlay -the author has provided only a cursory demonstration - in which you are advised to avoid closed windows, refrain from climbing to the window below a "face" as a flower pot will be hurled at you, and to avoid other hazards including falling bottles from a party upstairs. There is also a "special guest appearance from a famous arcade character, if you make it that far" - I got no further than the ground floor. One face and three closed windows scuppered me every time. There is a score and a high score. I never raised either above zero, which may have been due to my incompetence. A frustrating, and, judging by the spelling of "alfa lock", American, game with reasonable graphics. Needs Extended BASIC, joysticks. P.B.
[NOTE- Incompetent is the right word here- I am not a good games player (screen 3 of Parsec is my limit) but even I made screen 3 of this program. It isn't hard. PBs apparent distaste for things American was funny- he went to live there! This review so upset me I made a no-holds-barred no limitations offer: If someone bought the game and then agreed with this review, return the game in seven days for a full refund. Nobody took up the refund. I still enjoy the game.]
[A different reviewer wrote the following mini review in a User Group magazine - it didn't help sales as they had just about stopped by then:
Cliff has to climb to the top of a skyscraper avoiding flower pots, opening windows, aircraft, etc. Increasing
number of hazards and height on advanced screens and surprise guest appearances at the top of some
buildings. Uses joystick. The key to success is to keep moving. An addictive game and good value for
money. (****) — PAS.]
CROSS COUNTRY CAR RALLY
The aim, well documented, is to drive safely across the USA from California to New Jersey. Sprites are used to good effect to give an almost vertiginous sense of relative movement.
You must avoid crashing into other motorists, blowing up your engine, missing detours, and the police - well, we all know what American roads are like - and you start with a lump sum of $50,000 which is eaten away by the cost of motoring, States-style.
pb Graphics 95%, Instructions 90%, Playability 90%.
CU*BERT Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS Having reviewed the Extended BASIC version of this game, QBono, [see note at end], I was pleased to see this adaptatior for the unexpanded TI.
The screen displays a pyramid of cubes. You guide a man along them, diagonally only, and press the space bar to change the cube colour. The object is to complete the screen by changing all cubes to the specified colour. Continually bouncing down the pyramid, however, is a white ball. A collision with this loses a life. There's also a black ball capable of transforming itself into various creatures that may move in any direction and change back the colour of the cube it occupies. This poses more of a threat to Cu*Bert as its moves are unpredictable at times. Although the program worked without interruption for several runs, it subsequently crashed with a Bad Value -just as success was in sight, wouldn't you know it! Overall, I found Cu*Bert to be just as much fun as QBono, but was surprised that the keys were not the same. They weren't as comfortable to use, I would have preferred an option to re- define them. J.W
[CU*BERT and QBONO were not by the same programmers]
CUT OFF Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS This is a fun game which one or two people can play on the standard machine (or faster with Extended Basic) using keyboard or joystick. The object of the game is survival. As you go along you have to avoid houses and your own or opponents track. At first all obstacles are visible but as the game progresses they become invisible. Further on, a bouncing ball comes into play and also has to be avoided. You gain points for track laid and passing through flashing power squares. The game lasts a reasonable length of time. Unfortunately the game surround flashes along with the power squares which makes it hard on your eyes and although the invisible obstacles can be seen momentarily when you pass through flashing squares they aren't revealed when you crash into them. Instruction 90%. Playability 75%. Graphics 70%. Value for money 70%. CE
DEVIL CRAZE Maple Leaf Microware from Stainless Software GBP 12.00 THREE STARS Your unlikely sounding hosts for this game are the Crazy Red Devil, the Great Imposter, and the Five Big Bad Boys. Three rules govern the game of quick reflexes and decision making. Rule One: If the centre box colour matches the left box press 1 on the keyboard. If the centre box matches the right side, Press 0. Rule Two: If four red devils appear, do the opposite. And finally Rule Three, ignore the Great Imposter. Confused? Upon completion you are rated according to your score, descriptions ranging from "Genuine Wimp" to "Grand Master". At GBP 12.00 plus an extended basic cartridge this simple game is likely to prove too expensive for most people. Good graphics and sound, superb presentation. Shame about the game. Instructions 70%. Playability 40%. Graphics 80%. Value for Money 30%. VA.
DISPLAY ENHANCEMENT PACKAGE
This is a set of assembly language routines which can be called from TI Basic to give a powerful addition to the language. TI Basic cannot normally access the RAM expansion - this is achieved by the MiniMemory module.
The documentation is brief, but discusses a wide range of useful utilities like windowing, access to 40 column mode, and paging - all can be used to great effect.
There is a demonstration program which puts the routines through their paces but cannot do justice to this remarkable product.
If you use its facilities to write a commercial program, you must obtain a licensing agreement from the distributor. Some restrictions are placed upon certain TI Basic functions, the use of which interfere with the operation of the DEP.
The DEP is divided into four 'segments', each of which is available for your own programs, but I feel that a disc system is a necessity, although this is cassette-based.
pb. 85% Instructions ; 100% Graphics ; 90% Value For Money ; 91% Overall
DUNGEON GOLD Stainless Software GBP 6.00 TWO STARS This is the sort of game for which I have little patience.
You have a 10 x 10 maze to explore with the purpose of discovering gold to buy spells and potions. As each room is entered you are shown the walls and exit points. Basic graphics, but saves time waiting for anything more elaborate. Below this a clue is given as to how many rooms away the gold is. Then comes your current status recorded as hit points and experience points. Monsters lurk in the maze and, unless combatted by sword or spell, will attack and bring the game to a close. If you survive, however, your hit points will increase so the healing powers of potions really are necessary. Once gold has been obtained experience points are awarded, but the higher these become the faster the monsters attack. Once the game has ended you are given your final status. If you've excelled this is "god". A low score means you will be addressed as "scum". Very amusing for the programmer I'm sure, but not what I would call the best possible taste. J.W.
Extended Character Definition Stainless Software GBP 4.00 FOUR STARS Extended Basic . Working out hexadecimal codes to define characters or sprites can be both time consuming and tedious. Using this utility up to four characters may be defined within minutes and your TI takes on the job of supplying the hexadecimal codes. Further options allow characters to be magnified, rotated, or redefined and different colour combinations can be explored. Although the program was well written I did find small discrepency by missing the option to redefine, ending the program, then running it once more. Previously defined characters would appear on the screen unless redefined in the new run, although the accuracy of the definition code was unaffected. Instructions 90%. Ease of Use 80%. Value for Money 75%. JW
FIGHTER PILOT Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS
Search and destroy is the name of the game. Enemy planes must be destroyed before they have the opportunity to bomb you. You start with five but are awarded one extra after 3000 points. The joystick is used in conjunction with the keyboard to control speed, height and direction. The screen shows a control panel with guages [sic] for all these parameters as well as radar. But before you even start looking for the enemy the fighter must be lifted from the airstrip. The first few games are usually wasted in trying to find the requirements for a perfect take off. Once in the air you launch the attack on the enemy who has the added advantage of cloud cover. For each adversary hit, points are awarded. Failing to take evasive action will probably find you one fighter less and back on the ground! When you feel you've had enough you may return to the ground - but only if your fuel is not too high and, more importantly, if you are not so disorientated that you can't find the runway. J.W.
FIRST AND LAST This program demonstrates what can be achieved using graphics, and surpasses descriptions of excellence.
Careful use of colour and design has produced a polished chrome effect which is highly appealing.
The game has an anti-war theme, with such gems as "After each war, there is a little less democracy to save" and "The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it".
The main character is Zebediah, a wandering hippy who has had the good fortune to discover an alien machine in the desert which he uses to venture into the violent past. Zeb, not possessing a violent nature, has to be guided in jumping over signs, holes, weapons, and avoiding the low-flying clouds. Joysticks are optional. Each screen is completed when the weapon has traversed from one side to the other, and you have three lives. Zeb has a slow response, so skill is necessary in judging the right moment. All in all, a game which is really best suited to the younger user. This program needs Extended Basic. PB.
80% Playability ; 95% Graphics ;
FLIP FLAP Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FIVE STARS This has all the ingredients of an addictive arcade game -- good graphics, fast action and plenty of bonuses. The first screen shows a pattern of squares. You must visit each of them twice to change their colour. When all have been turned to the second colour you progress onto the next screen where squares are arranged in a more difficult configuration, and so on. On all screens there are black skulls, making good timing imperative if you are to avoid them. Points are deducted should you hesitate, and a life lost if caught. On every screen there's a letter square containing one letter from the word EXTRA. When you've managed to reach and cross all five letters a bonus life is awarded. Ringing the bell will boost your score, but this may only be done once. The letter square also changes into a bonus square to increase your score even more. Definitely one of those games that becomes more addictive the more you play. To begin with it all seems very easy but by the time you've reached the fourth screen, fingers are clenched. Needs Extended Basic and joystick. JW.
This is a difficult and intriguing game for the unexpanded TI. You must collect eight gems that are located along the screen. Only when all have been recovered can you enter the transporter that takes you on to a different layout.
The problem is how to reach the gems. There seems to be only one route possible. Bricks are safe enough to walk on, but footrests have the alarming habit of starting to disappear while you are standing on them. Loitering tOO long on these may mean you are unable to use them on a planned return visit.
If all this weren't overwhelming enough, another factor is involved - your oxygen supply. A meter at the top of the screen indicates oxygen consumption. Should this run out before you reach the transporter, or you fall too far, then it's back to the beginning yet again.
There are two versions of the game on tape. One uses the keyboard to control movement, the other requires a joystick: each works adequately. jw. 90% Instructions ; 80% Graphics ; 80% Value For Money
FORCED ROUTE Stainless Software. GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS. An intriguing tactical game for two players. The display is an 8 x 8 squared grid with four innermost squares removed. Top left and bottom right are the starting positions of each player, marked by red and blue counters. The object is to move the counter until it occupies your opponent's starting square. Inside the remaining squares of the grid are arrows, randomly located when the board was set up, which point in three of eight possible directions. It is these indicators that determine the moves as you are only able to go in one of the directions shown on the square that your opponent occupies. So if you plan to outwit him some subtle manoeuvring is required. Before the game starts you have the choice of playing with unlimited or limited moves, from 5 to 9999, to control the length of each game. When in the latter case the selected number has been played the computer decides the winner based on who is nearer to the goal. In the event of no legal moves being possible the participants must decide this for themselves. JW
GALACTIC ENCOUNTER / CHECKERS Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS Galactic Encounter is a modern version of Othello for one or two players. In the one-player version, the computer takes the role of Evil Astex 99, who is fighting you in Sub Quadrant 4A. In the two-player version, player two takes the place of the computer. The object of the game is to capture the opponent's troops. This is done by moving your troops into galaxies adjacent to those occupied by the opponent. The game finishes when there are no unoccupied galaxies, or if either player has no troops left, or if both players are unable to move. A clever graphics effect is used to make the troops' eyes and feet move. I assume this is done by constantly changing their character codes. The second game on this cassette Checkers, is a variation of the old strategy game of Solitaire, except that the layout used is an 8 x 8 grid, with the centremost sixteen squares left blank. Stainless is awarding a free program to the person who sends in a solution for Checkers before the end of the year. The prize will go to the best solution. J.J [There were no solutions sent in]
GALACTIC GUNFIGHT by Intersoft, from Stainless Software GBP 10.00 THREE STARS EXTENDED BASIC. Yes it's time to take on those aliens again this time in a Galactic Gunfight. Before the game starts you are given the option of using joystick or keyboard. If the keyboard is selected, you can then decide which of the three keys you want to use for moving the star fighter up and down and to fire. Next comes the level of difficulty which is set from the laser firing time and can be from one to 100 seconds. Twenty is regarded as SuperPro. Play then starts as you attempt to blast the aliens which appear in squadrons of five. Since you only have a limited time in which to dispose of your attackers some strategic play is called for. Any time remaining when you have destroyed a squadron will be required when the next arrives, particularly as this moves twice as fast. There is a limit to the number of times your laser can be fired in succession.More than two rapid bursts will result in overheating for which a cooling period is required, which wastes time. Quite a good game, made that much better by having such a range of difficulty levels. JW.
As the title suggests, you take the jewels and run, but running is not too easy when you happen to be deep under the ground.
The screen shows a series of subterranean passageways surrounded by solid ground and crossed, in places, by walls of impenetrable rock. Randomly located in the ground are other rocks and explosives. Using a limited supply of TNT you must bore a route through the ground into the passageways where five jewels have been placed. Obviously you must avoid moving into the explosives, but passing directly beneath an object proves equally hazardous, as it will fall and crush you.
Since your man has only one life, after a brief rendering of "The Death March': the score is displayed and you are left to start again. Control of movement is from the keyboard.
When all the gems have been collected, a bonus jewel appears. If you can take this and make your way to the exit successfully, a bonus screen is awarded. Here you gather gems once more whilst avoiding laser shots. JW. The jewels have been made even less accessible.
80% : Value For Money
GLOBAL RESCUE Stainless Software GBP 7.00 FIVE STARS The earth is threatened by an evil genius, the Shadow. Using Eagle's 1 to 4, which are an aircraft, flying carrier, spacecraft, and submarine in strategic deployment you must attempt a Global Rescue. The screen displays a world map, the status and current position of each Eagle and the game starts with the first of a series of disasters. A rescue must be made by despatching the appropriate Eagle in time. The length and complexity of play are determined by fuel supplies of the Eagles, the catastrophe limit and clue target. The catastrophe limit is the number of current disasters which if unaverted will bring the game to an end. The clue target is the number of rescues which must be effected before the lair of the Shadow is revealed. Once this is destroyed the game is won. At the start you have the option of selecting one of four skill levels to automatically determine the parameters of play. Alternatively you may select them yourself which gives plenty of difficulty levels to explore. A well designed and fully documented game which makes a refreshing change from zapping aliens. Instructions 100%. Playability 90%. Graphics 80%. Value for Money 100%. JW
GOBLIN'S REVENGE Pewterware GBP 7.00 FIVE STARS
The object of this game is to find your way through a maze and escape without being caught by a goblin who is in hot pursuit. The northern maze is divided into three sections, and you only see the section that you are currently in. When you reach an opening of one section which adjoins with an opening of another section, you may pass freely between the two. The old section is cleared from the screen and the new section appears either above or below it. (This obviously depends on whether you are moving up or down, and all happens in a fraction of a second)
As the game is played, you can hear the goblin. The closer he is, the lower the pitch of the sound you hear.
You can only see the goblin when he is in the same section as you. The keyboard is used to move around the maze. Keys S and D are used to move left and right, and keys K and L are used to move up and down. The latter two are rather a strange and confusing choice. Graphics, colour and sound are all used very well. J J
GOLF Stainless Software GBP 8.00 FIVE STARS This is probably the best golf game that I have ever seen on a computer. The course played on has 18 holes and, not surprisingly, is in Texas. It has a par of 72. The player has a choice of 14 clubs -four woods, nine irons and a putter. All the usual hazards are there: rough, trees, water and bunkers. After you enter your handicap, the hole is drawn on the screen. The graphics used to do this are excellent. The par of the hole, the number of shots that have been taken and the length of the hole are all shown at the too of the screen. When the ball is hit, it can be faded down the Screen, drawn up the screen or shot straight towards the hole. My only criticism would be that when the ball has landed in a bunker, it cannot be seen. This is because both bunker and ball are white. (webnote: It was not easy to see but I could see the ball in the bunker on my tv set. The ball was in fact in white on a grey background. Using yellow was worse and any other colour spoiled the realism of the colours. Turning brightness down or contrast up on the tv screen would have helped.) When you manage to hit the ball on to the green, the display of the fairway is cleared from the screen and is replaced by a larger scale picture of the green. An indication of the speed of the green is also displayed J.J
GOPHER Titan from Stainless Software GBP 8.OO THREE STARS Gopher is a caterpillar type game for one or two players in which you rush through a maze munching numbers but avoiding your tail. The maze is displayed with several bolt holes permitting exit and re-entry on the opposite side of the screen. When ready you start the gopher moving and will be unable to stop again until you've travelled through 200 squares without crashing. After this you progress to the next level where the points are doubled for each number eaten. If you survive this then at the following level points are tripled and so on. There is a choice of three speeds. Speed one is the fastest but speed two provides more numbers to eat and bricks to avoid. Speed three is slow but challenging especially when attempting the two player game. The latter variation is the most enjoyable feature of Gopher. It's far more tricky to outwit your opponent by blocking him off as well as race against him to obtain the higher score. JW.
A different labyrinth of rooms at each of the 18 levels of Grail Castle requires a high degree of sustained concentration for Parsifal the bewitched mushroom, whose quest is to seek the Holy Grail and thereby transform back to human shape.
If in your fungoid role you can outrun or kill the various monsters, the next step is to find and carry three coloured keys to their correspondingly coloured rooms before moving to the next level. At each level you are given less time to achieve your task.
But if you fail, you are cast back down to level one (unless you know the password) JW.
Graphics:80%. Overall 65%.
HALLOWEEN SP Software GBP 7 OO THREE STARS As the title suggests there s a decidedly spooky theme to this arcade type game Halloween. On Halloween night five children are happily having a
party in their garden when in the nearby castle the ghouls awake. In the first attack witches on broomsticks fly across the screen from the castle at various heights. Unless fired upon by your gun which may be move between castle and house the children will be picked up one at a time and carried back to the witch's lair.
Successfully destroying a witch, however, gains points and a score and high score are displayed. When 10 witches have been obliterated the attack is continued by devils who lance each child with their spear - very nasty! The game progresses with the ghouls becoming more terrifying until all the children have gone, when you have the chance to play again. There is optional use of keyboard or joystick to move and fire your gun. J.W.
HANG GLIDER PILOT Maple Leaf Microware from Stainless Software GBP 13.00 FIVE STARS
If you have ever fancied soaring from a sheer cliff aboard a hang glider, bit without the added thrill of breaking a leg or two, then this hang glider trainer is for you.
The object of the game, for one to four players, is to jump from a ridge and glide for the greatest distance and time before landing safely in a designated landing zone. More difficult in practice than theory, a survival rate of around 30% indicates (I hope) that the transfer is more difficult than the real thing. You are presented with a graphical display of your position on the landscape together with instrument readouts covering such factors asheight, orientation, wind speed and direction. Clouds of different sizes on the display indicate the positions of thermals which give lift. Instructions 80%, Playability 80%, Graphics 70%, Value for money 40%. VA.
INVASION Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS Here you have the task of single handedly defending your island from landing parties of enemy ships. The display on screen shows the coastline and your gun, which is strategically placed near the bottom in a bay. The invasion force appears one at a time to the left of the screen and travel horizontally towards the shore. Using keyboard controls to move and fire, your gun is placed so as to blast each ship as it passes. When one is lost however it leaves a shipwreck which forms a barrier to any further gunfire. As the game progresses and more ships are destroyed direct hits become increasingly difficult. Should a ship land on your island the width of the bay in which your gun is placed becomes narrower. The game ends when either you accidentally crash into the bay or complete invasion is accomplished. A simple yet enjoyable game, well crashproofed and with some pleasing graphics, but it is one which you can never actually win. The only goal is to achieve the highest score possible before you are ultimately stopped. Some comment on your performance at the end of each run might well make this more motivating. JW
Watch out - the aliens are on the attack again, and these are the worst kind - kamikaze aliens. They descend from the skies in UFOs, to crash into your city, unless you have the skill and reflexes to stop them.
The screen shows a profile of your city, plus the current score, high score and status. The aliens come down from the top, the number, formation and speed of which depends on which screen you are playing and the skill level employed. Using your joystick, you must position the sights of your laser on the alien craft. A quick flick of the fire button and he will be blasted from the air, but if you miss he will crash into your city. The game ends when ten of the aliens have penetrated your defences.
Invaders from outer space is hardly the most original theme, but if you still have the appetite for this you'll find it fun. Personally speaking, I'm rather tired of zipping and zapping in this hostile manner. Surely there must be something more peaceful and serene to do? This needs Extended Basic and a joystick.
JW. 80% Instructions ; 80% Playability; 70% Graphics; 80% Value For Money; 78% Overall
A simulation of the Tet offensive in South Vietnam during 1968. You have five platoons and four helicopters, which you must use efficiently to seek out and efficiently destroy two companies of North Vietnamese regulars, which are invisible and controlled by the computer. On the map is a military base, with road roads leading to it, an air base, a Vietnamese village and the player's five troops. A truck travels to the base every so often. If part of the road along which it travels has been destroyed, the truck will wreck and points will be awarded to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). This road must be repaired, and can be by using platoons and a helicopter.
The procedure for moving the helicopters has been badly thought out. The numeric keys are used to input a coordinated position, which is the destination of the helicopter. Unfortunately, the screen is not marked out in any way at all, so the positions have to be estimated. Obviously, a game such as this should not have to do with rough estimations of positions.
Although I feel that pleasure should not be gained from the subject of war, Khe Sahn may hold the interest of a wargames enthusiast. JJ.
100% Instructions; 75% Graphics ; 76% Overall
KONG Stainless Software GBP 5.00 FIVE STARS The gorilla has got the girl, and you must rescue her. You would think that she would be more careful after that business in New York, but no.
No sooner is she rescued than she's caught again, and you repeat the performance scoring 100 points for each successful mission. Avoid barrels thrown by Kong and holes in the floor which you can jump across. I found this game to be quite enjoyable and relaxing to play, since there is no time limit involved. Even so, it was difficult to reach high scores - those barrels can be tricky! The screen presentation is neat, with pleasing use of sound. The game can be played using key-board or joysticks. One minor annoynace (sic) is the need to use ENTER when responding to the instructions prompt - this can be avoided simply by changing the INPUT statement to a CALL KEY routine - but this is my only quibble, in all other respects this program functions well, loading easily and apparently bug free. Instructions 100%; Playability 100%; Graphics 95%; Value for money 95%. CE
LUNAR BASE plus TORPEDO FIRE Stainless Software GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS Leaving the safety of the mothership, you must guide your lunar pod through the asteroid belt to a lunar base standing above a marsh. After landing your pod must immediately return to its mothership. On lift off the base disappears leaving only marsh. Manouevres continue for as long as you have pods scoring with each successful move. When all landing bases have disappeared a new more difficult set up is given and the game progresses. Unfortunately there is one bug in what would otherwise be a crash proof program - an INCORRECT STATEMENT turned out to be a typing error.
Torpedo Fire sends you down through oceanic depths to a submarine. Here you take charge of a five-position gun with which to torpedo war and cargo ships as they pass across the surface.
There are five classes of vessel worth different points and in each game 25 ships. At the end of a run your score and accuracy are displayed. Left and right movements are controlled by the cursor keys.
Both games have good graphics and sound. Neither is disadvantaged by the inevitable slowness of TI Basic. JW.
LASER TANK GBP 10.00. Not Polyoptics from Stainless Software. THREE STARS EXTENDED BASIC. Laser Tank provides a futuristic emulation of warfare as it would be seen from the turret of a Coherent Infra Red Equipped Vehicle. You have three such vehicles with which to destroy another three controlled by the computer. Each is located by adjusting the attitude and position of your tank with respect to readings from radar and video screens and a bearing marker. Once on video the tank is manoeuvred until your adversary is within range. Hopefully when you open fire the enemy will be destroyed, but pause to think about it and he may well attack first. There are three levels of difficulty. The score given at the end of the game is based upon the skill level played, the number of tanks left in your command, and the time taken to destroy the enemy. Movements are controlled by either keyboard or joystick, the former being the more formiddable as it allows left and right tracks to be steered separately. JW.
LUNAR LANDER GBP 8.00. Stainless Software. THREE STARS A version of the arcade game in which you must safely land in a valley avoiding the rocky mountainsides. You have the choice of five venues, each becoming more formidable as the local gravity increases. When you finally come down to Earth, which is the most difficult, there is the additional hazard of a lake. The keyboard is used to control your descent by the spin and variable thrust of your lander. These require careful and constant adjustment. Instrument readings are displayed at the top of the screen. The action is slow - a limitation of any program written in TI Basic - but this in no way detracts from the game. The more experienced player can turn the readings off, thereby speeding everyhting up. Two minor points are that the Y character has been misassigned to a blue block and poor navigators might displace parts of readings. JW
MAN AND MONSTERS GBP 6.00, STAINLESS SOFTWARE THREE STARS Perhaps the inflated price includes a bottle of aspirin? The sound at the beginning of the game and when the monsters move is enough to give anyone a headache.
You are in a multistorey building and your task is to paint the floors while monsters track you down. If you complete the painting without being caught then you can dig holes and lure your pursuers to their death. But be careful not to fall into your own traps or tumble off ladders or edges of levels. You have a long supply of oxygen but don't let this fool you - it can run out. A fresh supply of oxygen is given to each of your three men. Arrowed keys control movement and R and L wields your pick-axe to left or right. There is a long delay between the game segments and the colour contrast on the replay instructions screen and the score could be better. This is quite an amusing game, if a little slow. Instructions 90%; Playability 70%, Graphics 90%, Value for Money 65%. CE
The title of Martian Monsters has nothing to do with this Donkey-Kong lookalike. There are the usual ladder-linked levels, the object to be rescued by you in your spaceship is a man. The only obstacles are the Androids, who are the Monsters in question, and who chase you around the screen.
The game is one of strategy, as the number of homing androids increases with the number of men rescued, and some nifty footwork is necessary to avoid annihilation.
Directional control is achieved through the keyboard's E, S, D and X, and there are three lives.
One peculiarity is that if caught while carrying a man, and with lives remaining sufficient to continue, you will still be carrying that man and must finish the rescue before returning to attempt another. Documentation is sparse but sufficient, and the speed is reasonable considering the deficiencies of TI Basic, but this seems to be at the expense of adequate keyboard "debouncing". The level of difficulty increases gently, and this game would be suitable for all but the younger child.
PB 85% Instructions; 90% Playability
MATHS FLASH ASTRONAUT Maple Leaf Software (from Stainless Software) GBP 6.00 FIVE STARS An original, really motivating program designed to test six to 10 year-olds on addition and multiplication skills. By answering 15 questions correctly, a rocket is sent into orbit. The screen is the instrument panel of a spaceship. Display includes a view of the rocket, altitude meter, galaxy map and fuel supply. The questions appear in the centre; above this a timer counts down until the question is answered. A correct response produces a smiling sun, planet or star, depending on the time taken. A wrong reply causes an exploding planet and the correct answer is supplied. These graphics are placed at the coordinates corresponding to the two numbers in the question. This means a supervising adult is able to see where there are problems, although the computer does help by continuing to ask wrongly answered questions until the correct reply is input.
Several difficulty levels are included, the response time allowed in each , becoming less. If the childs performance is satisfactory the computer will move to a higher level. The converse also applies. J.W
METEOR STORM by Intersoft from Stainless Software GBP 10.00 FOUR STARS. Your objective is to blast meteors as they move around the screen manoeuvring your ship to avoid collision. The ship may be rotated left or right through 360 degrees with 45 degree [next illegible - stepwise? ] turns, and accelerated. The latter feature makes the game [???] as the faster you are travelling when a meteor is destroyed the higher your score. There are two modes of play, normal and advanced. In normal play you are confronted with five showers of meteors, the game ending when either you've blasted through all of them - or crash. In advanced play there are an infinite number of meteors provided, the game ending only in the event of a collision. With a choice of [?] skill levels there is plenty of scope for expert and beginner alike. Control of the ship is keyboard or joystick. The instructions state there is an additional feature for younger children whereby an adult may manoeuvre the ship with joysticks while the child uses the spacebar to fire. JW [My copy of the review is not fully legible].
Mr D. by SP SOFTWARE. GBP 5.00 THREE STARS.
Mr D is certainly strange. Not only does he resemblea little horse, but goes underground to collect charries. I always thought they grew on trees. It seems dinosaurs are also fond of these fruits - on each screen there are two that pursue Mr D, who will lose a life if caught. Using keys or joystick, Mr D must collect all the cherries to progress onto another screen and score points. Also beneath the ground are apples. If Mr D passes directly under one, it will fall down the screen. Should one fall on a dinosaur's head the monster is killed. If Mr D can't manage to outrun the monsters he does have five magic balls to use in each screen. When fired, it will follow the path left by Mr D, destroying a dinosaur if it happens to be in the way. Compared with other games of its type, this doesn't stand out as being particularly original or inspiring. J.W.
MR FROG SP Software GBP 7.00 ONE STAR
Mr Frog is quite remarkable in that it must be one of the worst adaptations of Frogger that I've ever seen, and among the most expensive. Furthermore, when you come to play the game itself you are soon left with the impression that something is drastically wrong. A small insert provided with the cassette gives hints like 'try not to land at the right hand side of boats' and 'you may roll off the logs'. What this means is that if you safely land on a log or boat you may still be treated as though you drowned, whilst at other times you can land in the water by the side of a boat, yet float along as though you were on it! A similar situation exists when you attempt to land in a home. The instructions say 'land slightly to the right'. It's more likely that the homes themselves are in the wrong places.
You can jump into the bank itself to the right of the home and be awarded points for a safe landing, whereas landing to the left actually in the home leads to instant death. J.W.
MOTOR CROSS/ RALLY CROSS Stainless Software GBP 7.00 THREE STARS These two programs are sold together for either joystick or keyboard use. Although good use has been made of the TI's BASIC facilities in an attempt to get the utmost speed, both programs are essentially identical. They differ mainly in the graphics used for gates, making this very expensive duplication. Both are moderately challenging: you must drive around the screen, negotiating cones and trees and attempting to pass through eight gates. In Motor Cross only, the gates are numbered and must be negotiated sequentially. You have control of left and right turns only, which can be a little confusing as they are dependent upon the direction in which the car is heading. There are five levels of play and your efforts are timed within the restrictions of TI BASIC. If you complete the course unscathed, you will receive a rating. I didn't even rate pathetic, as with the computer in control of the speed and no brakes I frequently became entangled with the trees. If the games had differed more I would have considered this fair value for money. P.B
MUSIC SYNTHESISER Norton Software GBP 10.00 FOUR STARS
This program, also available in TI BASIC, is in two parts. The first, quite large, program is the synthesizer, and the second enables you to play the music created by the first and stored on another tape as a series of data files. As an amateur musician who can't read a note it held my interest. Having set up sharps and flats and chosen a tempo, you are presented with a fairly complex display consisting of the treble and bass staffs: graphics representing musical notes and options for choosing one of three notes for the 'voice' with which you will 'draw' or play. It is possible to create music using a score which you may have bought and to produce most necessary effects - you can even transpose a voice up or down. You can play all three
voices or any one independently, and one edited to your satisfaction using the usual eight direction keys, you can store on tape. It is a very useful utility for someone who wants to produce a melody but doesn't want the chore of having to learn music in any depth P.B.
NIGHT FLIGHT Stainless Software GBP 5.00 FOUR STARS As Commander of the Starship Patscram it is your task to clear a landing strip in a hostile city defended by ground lasers and spacecraft. This is an addictive game which requires dexterity to manipulate the ten keys needed to play fully. There are plenty of skill levels and great scope for player improvement. You score points for forward movement and firing splat bombs but these diminish your fuel. Points are also awarded destroying the enemy, safe landing, and refuelling. High scores can be saved to tape. This is a lengthy program to load, but there is only a minimum of delay in setting up.
It has at least two bugs (1) The acceleration command lets your ship eat the right hand boundary (2) Bomb speed keys are inoperable if ships control keys are reselected. But these are minor irritations in what is otherwise a very good TI game. CE
This is another of several programs I've reviewed that has been written by R. Trueman. Like all the others, the graphics are superb and the game fun to play. In this game a smiling little blue capture bounds along the screen. To score points, he must eat notes that are found along several floors. He leaps up to each floor by jumping beneath large power blocks in the ceiling. When he reaches the top, he exits to the next screen. There are monsters to avoid. Using smaller blocks on the ceilings, he may jump over them. Further hazards include spikes that point down from the ceilings. At intervals these shoot down, then retract. Should your creature be under one, a life is lost and he begins the ascent again, but not from screen one.
As each screen is completed the current score is shown. This is based on bonuses for the number of screens completed in addition to the number of notes eaten.
This needs Extended Basic. 90% Instructions; 80% Playability; 85% Graphics; 90% Value For Money; 86% Overall JW
OCTAL plus KEYS OF THE CASTLE PS Software from Stainless Software GBP 11.00 FIVE STARS The aliens appear as invading Spyders in Octal-1 which has optional keyboard pr joystick control. From your base in the centre of the screen, you must ward off three waves of attack for which different points are scored. Your Octal base may be rotated through eight positions either left or right. You fire with twin Octazer bolts. The game ends when your base is destroyed and the three highest scores shown. In Keys of the Castle, you have three castles to explore. Each has six floors with a maze layout and increasing hazards at each level including derkened hallways and electrified walls. Your objective is to explore all the castles. To gain access to the next level keys have to be collected from rooms some of which are guarded and taken to their correspondingly coloured chests. All your explorations are made in a race against the clock. The game ends either when you succeeed in your mission, sustain ten wounds, or run out of time. A final score is given. JW. Instructions 95%. Playability 90%. Graphics 90%. Value for money 100%.
OPHYSS Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS The object of this rather unusual game is to keep a number of newly-hatched ophyss eggs alive by steering them around a serpentarium An ophyss is a snake-like creature found in the Antarctic islands. The young ophysses (or ophyi?) must have nourishment, so they eat frogs. In the two-player version a lifeline is displayed at each side of the screen. The length of this line shows how much nourishment each ophyss has, constantly decreasing. If an ophyss eats a frog, its lifeline returns to the maximum length and the ophyss grows by one unit. When it is 15 units long it expires, and a small ophyss emerges from its den. This ophyss must also grow to 15 units. The opponent's tail may also be eaten. This does not give any nourishment, but 20 points are gained. When an ophyss has been bitten, it is paralysed for one move, so if possible, it should be bitten again. In the one-player version of the game, the computer controls the opponent's ophyss, and there are seven levels of difficulty. Overall, a good game that would be even better if in machine code. J.J. [But you cannot run machine code on an unexpanded console, and sales of disk games software are - nil. Hmm- has JJ been talking with PB?]
As the commander of the Starship Patscram, your mission is to guide your ship to the heart of the alien planet. You must steer your ship through twisting tunnels, avoiding or destroying the enemy missiles and refuelling as necessary.
There are 20 sectors to go through before your mission is complete. I have only mastered half of them, but this just adds to the excitement of this very good game. Full instructions are given on an inlay card, and brief prompts are contained in the program. The graphics are very well presented and so is the sound which is generated while the game is in progress.
The program seems to be bug free with one exception. The refuelling instructions say fire your gun at the fuel dumps to refuel, but I have found that colliding with them has the same effect.
This game is well thought out, and makes the most of TI Basic and colour. CE
90% Instructions ; 90% Playability ; 90% Graphics ; 90% Value For Money ; 90% Overall
POTSCRAM MISSION (sic) Using the wrong game title doesn't help... it is spelt correctly in the opening sentence.) (They really mean PATSCRAM MISSION. Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS. The third in a series featuring the Starship Patscram. Your mission is to restore the Cube of Peace, that the Zirgons have made ineffective, by penetrating their defences on five different screens. After the title screen you choose the momentum type that your spacecraft will have and keyboard or joystick control. You then have the unusual option to practice operating the ship before play starts. Another feature is the choice of a demonstration game by the computer. Once the preliminaries are over, you make a start with Starship Patscam lift-off. By steering through Zirgon mines, it has to be taken to the top of the screen. On screen two you have a limited time in which to destroy Arrowite weapons. This you do by crashing into them! On screen three the converse applies as you have to avoid asteroids. On the fourth you manoeuvre gliding cubes to recover the Cube of Peace, and on the fifth take it back home. But when you've landed the game won't end here as the action re-starts on screen one. Needs Extend BASIC (sic). J.W.
PENGI Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS Pengi is an original game in which a small character is being chased by yetis. (Judging by the scenery, the action takes place on a mountain range.)
On the first screen, you must kill two yetis, in the second, four, and in the third six, and so on. To kill a yeti, you must use the space bar to push a block of ice at him. This isn't as simple as it sounds, because each block of ice must travel over at least one space before hitting a yeti. If an ice block is pushed into another ice block before moving over any spaces, it will shatter. Things get really tough when the screen becomes very yeti-infested. Every time a yeti moves into a block of ice, the ice vanishes, and the more yetis, the less ice.
Only a very small portion of the screen is used to display the action. This, as well as the lack of sound, is probably to speed the game up, but it does not make full use of the TI's facilities. However, very good graphics are used in the top half of the screen to show beautiful, snow-caped [sic] mountains. J.J
PS PESTEROIDS PS Software from Stainless Software GBP 10.00 THREE STARS "Your ship has entered a mysterious zone of shifting reality. Wave after wave of strange objects drift through this starless void endangering your ship". Asteroids in other words. It's true to say that as the game progresses the asteroids adopt some very strange shapes indeed, including at one stage, the logos of rival computer manufacturers. Colour graphics are adequate, making extensive use of Extended Basic's sprites facility. Sound effects could be improved though. Dedicated asteroids addicts will probably find this game too slow and easy. But it's worth a try for less skilled gamers. VA
QUADRABLITZ Stainless Software GBP 6.00 THREE STARS Quadrablitz is a reproduction of the traditional game of Bagatelle, with four different variations. The first game is called Minefield. First of all, the deflector is positioned, then the strength of the shot is chosen and the ball is fired. When the ball rebounds from the deflector, it moves across the screen and explodes any mines which it hits. Each round consists of five shots and each shot ends when the ball hits the bottom of the screen. In game two, Colour-Connect, bollards of the same colour have to be hit in sequence. In the third game, Pin Ball, the ball has to be deflected to hit pins.
Game four, Breakthrough, is a combination of Mine-Field and Pin-Ball, the only difference being that the pins don't score points. They just deflect the ball, hopefully, onto the mines. A nice feature of the program is a Medley option, which enables the player to play one round of each variation. This game is not really for those who like fast action, but may suit you if you enjoy a more leisurely pace. JJ
QUASIMODO / Q BONO Stainless Software GBP 8.00 FIVE STARS
Here's two Extended BASIC games for the high scorers among us. Each is loaded separately. Quasimodo requires the use of a joystick but Q Bono is for keyboard only. In Quasimodo you have five lives with which to survive as many screens as you can - ringing bells all the way. The purpose is to rescue damsels in distress. On each of several screens you run and jump along a brick wall. Hazards to avoid are combinations of arrows, cannonballs, and holes in the wall.
Points are scored for ringing a bell or rescuing a maiden. Q Bono is a simple yet addictive game. Your man starts at the top of a pyramid of cubes. Using four arrow keys to control his diagonal movements he must travel across all the cubes which changes their colour fo cyan. He is persuded (sic) by a snake which will take one of his lives if both land on the same cube together. After the first screen each cube must be visited twice. In subsequent screens this number increases. JW.
QUICKER QWERTY Stainless Software GBP 9.00 FIVE STARS
This program is designed to teach you how to type on the TI-99/4A using all your fingers. The keyboard is drawn on the screen and you are told to place your fingers over the 'home keys', with your thumbs over the space bar. A white dot is displayed on one of the keys. This key must be pressed as quickly as possible. If you hit the right key, another dot is displayed on the keyboard.
This procedure is repeated several times before the computer tells you how, many mistakes you made and the length of time between key presses. If you made no mistakes, and you didn't take too long between key presses, the computer displays 'Well done'. This is then followed by another series of keys which must be pressed.
The program has 22 levels which are progressed through one after another. Because it takes a long time to complete all the levels, the program can be left and continued later. This is simply done by entering the level you've reached at the beginning of the program. JJ.
RADAR DEFENCE Pauline Programs GBP 5.00 THREE STARS. Another in a long line of programs which urge you to defend yourself against marauding aliens. Given the deficiencies of TI BASIC, the graphics and keyboard scanning are above average, although the instructions are sparse but adequate. There are three screens of aliens attacking you one at a time - this owes more to the slowness of TI BASIC than to any alien chivalry - and you control your defending base (one of three) through the keyboard. There is a force field which can be used a maximum of three times to provide protection, and you can fire at and destroy the aliens, although some do fire back. There are additional hazards in the shape of invisible aliens, but it is fairly easy to find and destroy them, especially since some cannot resist firing and giving themselves away. The "radar" is actually more of a gimmick than any real help, often pointing in the wrong direction. The aim is to score as many points as you can but, as usual, once you stop playing and switch off, you'll have to rely on a friend to vouch for your ability. P.B
RAGING RIVER / SUPER JACKPOT Pete Williams
GBP 6.00 THREE STARS The first is actually called The Raging Amazon, and one wonders why the author gave it two titles. It is of the ski- run type: you must glide your canoe through a vertically- moving panorama. Graphics are very good. Hazards include fallen trees lying half- submerged, rocks and man- eating aligators (sic) (who also have a penchant for canoes it seems). You can speed up or slow down the movement by controlling the rate at which the panorama moves
past you. There are occasionally delays while a melody is played - at the beginning and whenever you fall foul of a hazard. The cassette label claims that you should aim to travel 82 miles but I found that frequently the river was blocked completely by more than one hazard and it was quite an effort to travel just a few miles. The second is yet another in the fruit machine mould and, although the graphics are excellent and every effort has been made to overcome the slowness of TI BASIC, in the end it is just as boring as all the others on the market. P.B.
(Don't you love the enthusiasm that PB has!)
This program comes in two parts. The first program loads the graphic character definitions, and loads and runs the second. If you have a disc system you must use CALL FILES (I) before program one, otherwise program two won't load. The textual character set is unusual but readable, and offered continuous background music, using a recently discovered programming technique. I preferred the silent option. The game may be played using either joysticks or the keyboard, but not both. Robin Hood is pitied against a variety of objects. The first is an archery target and subsequent mobile objects. They include the Sheriff's men, deer and a falling apple. The game is demanding. requiring you to visualise the trajectory of the arrow, taking into account wind speed and direction (indicated by clouds) and the bowstring tension which depends upon the length of time that the 'fire' key is held down. This program needs 32K and Extended BASIC. pb [another game that PB totally failed to play due to lack of games skills and patience, hence very lowly rated, killing sales...just three stars. And although I am a poor game player- I managed to play it and still can. Why would you send games for review to someone who could not play and did not like games??]
ROO SP Software GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS.
Run, climb, jump, punch and duck your way along three different screens in order to reach the baby kangaroo that some wicked monkeys have stolen. The first screen shows four levels with a ladder leading to each level. Your kangaroo must climb to the top for access to the next screen. Apples whizz across each level, and unless dodged or punched will knock down Roo, and one of his three lives will be lost. In the second screen, Roo is bombarded by those apples again as he attempts to jump up and across logs suspended from vines. It's no use trying to duck his way round this time, however, so apples must be firmly punched. In the final screen Roo's poor joey is held aloft on a central column of monkeys. Only by punching these evil primate, one at a time, will the captured baby be recovered. Control of Roo is from the keyboard, and with so many different actions he can make, sustained concentration as well as deft fingerwork is required to succeed.
SAVE A SKETCH
This program is not intended to reside within the MiniMemory module, but makes use of some of the extra functions provided by the module for TI Basic. Using a character redefinition technique, the program allows you to either draw a limited high-resolution picture on the screen, or to print a picture already defined within the program. It is unusual in that it is of the type known as self-modifying; that is, the program re-writes part of itself so that, if you save the program after it has finished its stuff, when you reload it will print up your picture in double-quick time. Control of a small pen is achieved through the keyboard, using the W, E, R, S, D, Z, X and C keys. Also active are the 1, 2, 4 and 5 keys, giving pen up, pen down, initiate re-writing, and pen erase.
This is not a fast program because of the restrictions of TI Basic, but nevertheless with patience a satisfying image can be produced. The program works with both the TI-99/4 and 4A, and overcomes the CALL KEY() bug on the 4A. PB
[What CALL KEY bug??? Perhaps the reviewer should have mentioned that this program used code he had written....]
70% Instructions ; 80% Ease Of Use
SECRET AGENT Stainless Software GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS
We've all seen the classic film stunt of running along a moving train, leaping from one carriage to another. Now here's the chance to try it without leaving the comfort of your armchair. You have five enthusiastic agents with which to recover a briefcase - full of secrets, of course! On the first screen your agent crosses the train by jumping over pylons and taking care not to fall between the carriages. The briefcase is located at the far end of the train, but once recovered another appear at the opposite end. This continues until a total of six have been collected, the number of pylons increasing with each complete traverse of the screen. The train then disappears and your agent reappears on one of a series of cable cars. By jumping up and down onto the cars he must once again take possession of the briefcase which has been hidden in one of the cars. If he survives this screen he returns to screen one which continues at a faster pace.
Makes excellent use of the sprites available in Extended BASIC, providing graphics that are both amusing and effective. JW
SHUTTLE COMMAND FFF Software from Stainless Software GBP 12.00 FIVE STARS The astonishingly inventive use of graphics and programming in this game tends to obscure its rather nasty origin. The basis for the game is the launching by the Russians of thousands of unmanned unarmed robot satelites with the intention cleverly uncovered by the Americans of literally bumping off the naturally more peaceful American satellites. What a scream. Your mission of course is to destroy all the Russian hardware. As each enemy satellite approaches it gets bigger and the number of points for its successful plastering diminish. If one gets too close it causes damage to you - mean trick that. At 100% damage the game ends. Points scored, damage sustained and fuel left are displayed beneath an incredible view port display. The movement of both stars and satellites in response to keypresses begins to rival machine code on other machines. PB. [The only 5 star review that PB ever gave to a Stainless program, and I rather disagree with it. He is as usual overtaken by the technology and ignores the playability (scored at only 50%). This program hardly sold any copies and I didn't get the feared for negative purchaser feedback following the review. They tended to take too-good reviews out on the supplier... ]
SPACE RESCUE 2.0 PS Software from Stainless Software GBP 11.00 EXTENDED BASIC. FOUR STARS. The instructions to Space Rescue 2.0 give a full scenario of the game which is set in the 21st century. In brief, Earth has been robbed of the space factories and lunar mines which provide its energy. Using the last ten landers aboard their mothership you must penetrate the defences of the Xyolians to gather as many power pods as you can.
The pods are placed on three pylons at the bottom of the screen. Each lander is released from the mothership, guided past the crossing alien defences to land on the pylon, then returned to the ship. Once all the pods have been collected the action becomes progressively more difficult as defences are increased. This lasts through four screens after which the mothership returns to Earth. The game then restarts at a higher level. Control of the landers is either by joystick or keyboard. As the lander is moved continuously in one direction it starts to accelerate. To counteract this the direction must be reversed until stopped. This makes manoeuvring more difficult than in a straightforward dodging game. JW
100% Instructions ; 80% Playability ; 95% Graphics ; 70% Value For Money ; 86% Overall
SPLODGE Stainless Software GBP 5.00
[For some odd reason the magazine published two reviews of this program, by different reviewers - it may be that the programmer also sent in a copy himself which they didn't spot. Here is the first, the second follows. I'm not sure how this program got through, it even sold 26 copies. The other review was by the usually ungenerous PB - he gave it two stars. But reviewer one thought the tape loading sound was music??? ]
Cross the Gulf of Splodge if you can. After listening to a repetitive tune for a full one and a half minutes, the game was ready to play. I lost three lives in less than the set up time and the game was over. My second game was brought to an abrupt halt by a "bad subscript" report.
[The repetitive tune was not in the program- that was the transfer of data from the tape to the console. How can you take a reviewer seriously who has NEVER before loaded a tape? ]
On subsequent attempts I managed to cross half the gulf, dodging ten rows of obstacles which moved from side to side. My task was made easier after every successful crossing as some of the obstacles unplotted leaving a clear gap. Whether this is part of the program or an error I cannot say. At the end of the game the score - if high enough - is slotted in to a 'score table' and the player is invited to play again. The graphics are fair but a better choice of colour would enable the player to see his piece more easily. The over use of sound slows the game down. This game is unrewarding - TI-99 users deserve better. Instructions 5%. Playability 30%. Graphics 40%. Value for money 30%. CE
[Many thanks to the Italian User Club for finding this rare program after thirty years, it was on sale for about three months in 1983. 2020 update: This program is now available to load from a TI99/4a module. The irony.]
A game supposedly like Frogger which I found slow, difficult and in the final analysis, rather boring. The aim is to guide an odd looking little character using the ESD and X keys through a screenful of continually moving objects. The obstacle course is divided into two halves, in the upper of which you are forced to move diagonally eg up and to the left. The two sections are separated by a bare area containing moving currents which sweep you along adding to the difficulty when choosing the moment to move. The instructions are sparse but sufficient although the purpose in displaying a high score table to the screen defeats me. [illegible section] Perhaps the difficulties of TI Basic never fast at the best of times have contributed to the poor impact that this game has made on me. It might have some interest for younger gamesters but I doubt if they would stay interested for very long. PB.
SPRING HEELED JACK
Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS A simple, uninvolved game yet great fun to play and most addictive.
At the start the screen displays eight lines on each of which is a hole that glides along, at different speeds, to give the illusion of a series of moving pavements.
Your task is to guide a man from his starting position at the bottom up to the eighth level by walking him along and jumping up through the holes. Should you allow him to fall or hit his head on the next level, by mis-timing his jump, a life is lost.
Control is from the keyboard, using keys of your own choice, and he may be moved left, right or up. Points
are scored for reaching each level and both current and highest scores are displayed. After you have reached the top you move onto a new, more difficult screen - more holes or obstacles such as cars to avoid. Once a life is lost you re start at screen one, until finally all lives have been used. J.W
Update 2019- Based on a 1983 Spectrum game released by Imagine which required you to fall all the way to the bottom to be killed. Now considered a classic game with its own webpage (as "Jumping Jack") and more recent versions.
SPY'S DEMISE Challenger Software GBP 8.00 THREE STARS.
This game makes a welcome change from others based wholly on manual dexterity. Its theme is typically American: you against the KGB. The documentation leads you into the Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Pyongyan. Ahem.
While tippling in the Bangkok Hilton you have discovered that the KGB has the key to a fortune in computer data in the form of an encoded message. Your task is to avoid the spritely guards through the 11 floors of the diplomatic mission, not once but nine times, building up a score and piecing together the message as it is revealed to you. If you are one of two UK solvers of the code you can win free software.
You use the joystick or the keyboard's s and d keys to control movement, while the guards patrol continuously. You can pause by pressing p or the fire button, but this is very difficult, needing quick mental reactions.
Graphics are quite good, and interest is held very well indeed. Needs Extensive [sic] BASIC . P.B
[No claimants to the offered prize.]
Starprobe 99 Counterpoint GBP 7.00 FIVE STARS Just as it seemed that the Xyolians had been expelled from the galaxy, a starprobe has reported underground activity on a small moon. Now it's up to you to penetrate the defences of their hidden base by controlling the probe. As the game starts your probe descends into the depths of a cave. Using (sic) keyboard control to hover, move left, right or fire either QuasiThermite bombs or the Superbeam, the probe must be guided down the maze of tunnels that scroll up the screen, blasting Xyolian defences all the way. Any fuel depots you see should be bombed to boost the probe's reserves. The same applies to (sic)
When the game ends you are given the total depth, reserve fuel and ammunition, and your deepest probe, although this information can be called any time during the game by the P, pause, key.
You may play again in the same cave or in any of another eight different ones. lf you're looking for an entertaining program for your unexpended (sic) TI this is an excellent choice. It's by far the best that I've seen for a long time that exploits the better qualities of this under-rated machine.
SUMS ARE FUN/ TAKING AWAY FOR FUN Stainless Software GBP 5.00 THREE STARS
These two programs are designed to test the youngsters on simple addition and subtraction, but do require adult supervision. Sums for Fun has two difficulty levels, for whether your child is able to count up to 10 or 20, and progresses through three stages. The child's name is entered, then he or she is asked if they would like to count in apples, lemons, cherries or oranges. Five questions follow, illustrated by the graphic chosen. After each answer has been input the screen clears and a right, wrong or well done message appears in large letters.
At the end of the round a score is given. Should this be satisfactory, further questions are provided in Stage 2. These are asked as sentences without the use of graphics. A sufficient score after five of these questions begins Stage 3 where sums are given in the conventional A + B = ? format.
Taking Away for Fun is similar, but questions are asked in only two stages. The first offers graphics displays of ships, cars, fish or birds. The second uses conventional A - B = ? subtraction, but does give a graphics illustration of how the correct answer is obtained, should the wrong one be entered. J W
TICKWORLD Not Polyoptics from Stainless Software GBP 9.00 THREE STARS Tickworld takes place in a sparse jungle inhabited by eight man sized and hungry ticks. You control a small figure, with the aid of the arrow keys on the keyboard, attempting to both avoid ending up as a mid morning snack and to capture the eight ticks with the aid of an unlimited supply of nets and eight cages. The only way to capture these nightmare escapees is to throw nets around and hope they stumble into one as they move relentlessly towards yoo. Luckily their brains stayed normal size and this is not difficult. There are three skill levels to choose from, the only apparent difference being less trees to hide behind on the higher levels. Graphics and sound effects were quite impressive, adding much to the playability of the game. My only criticisms are the slow speed of the game and the extreme difficulty in gaining a foothold against overwhelming odds. Instructions 50%; Playability 50%; Graphics 80%; Value for Money 40%. VA
The documentation for this educational utility is the cassette inlay, containing all necessary operating instructions. The program teaches Time at four levels: o'clock, quarter hours, minutes past and to the hour, and minutes past for the full hour. Each tutorial is followed by a quiz, and the lesson is then re-presented or advanced to the next level.
Graphics are slow but effective, with a tidy display of both analogue and digital representations of time. Clues are given as to the number of digits in an answer, helpful for the child who is unsure.
There is one small fault. The wording of the information provided on-screen is too advanced for the smaller child; at times the level of English employed seemed more suited to a young teenager. All in all, this is very useful for the parent searching for educational software which will make the computer more than just a toy. PB
85% Instructions ; 85% Ease Of Use ; 85% Display
TNT SP Software GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS
A fast-moving action game in which a bomb must be defused before time runs out. The screen displays an 11 by 11 grid on which appear skulls, flags, the bomb and your man. Using the keyboard to control movements the man may be moved up, down, left or right. As each square is crossed it is blanked out and may not be crossed again unless 'slid' over. Sliding, however, may only be done left or right. Landing on a square with a flag scores bonus points, on one with a skull loses a life. As the game starts digital display on the TNT square begins the countdown. When a total of five [bombs] have been disarmed a bonus screen is entered. Here your man zooms rapidly across and down a grid, on the bottom line of which are skulls, except for one square where there's a flag. This must be reached to save a life.
The game continues on a different 'sheet' which has even more skulls and on the fifth there's also a stamping boot to avoid! A sufficiently high score qualifies you to enter the Hall of Fame, among those other greats such as Popeye and - Bagpuss? JW [Bagpuss fans will know that that very laid back cat was an ace at all video games....]
TOWER. Not Polyoptics.. GBP 7.00 FOUR STARS. Here's a chance to exercise some brain power instead of finger muscles, in this simulation of a flight controller's duties at Washington Airport.
There are three levels, ranging from beginner to pro, but even the easiest proves demanding.
The screen shows runways and surrounding area as it would be seen on a controller's scanner. The aircraft appear as small white blips and there is a storm cloud for them to avoid. The object is to safely land five planes. As you may have to take control of a possible ten aircraft some snap decision making is required. Using several commands you control the course and altitude of planes that are airborne and coming in to land. At the same time you must not forget to plan take off for those still on the ground. Because the program is continually undating (sic) the screen display and aircraft data, trying to input commands seems very slow, and can be inaccurate. If you don't correct your mistakes a "Message garbled" appears on the screen. This sometimes locks up the program. (Unsigned review. Undating should read updating.) (This was an Extended Basic program. I made several debug changes to NP programs that had been on sale in the USA for months. The error reported above beat me however. The program had been deleted by the February 1985 issue of the catalogue).
TROGMAN Stainless Software GBP 5.00 FOUR STARS
Pursued by White Wraiths, you have to guide the Trogman around the maze, eating dots and other objects along the way. When you are ready, you can proceed to the next level by reaching a white hole. Each level is harder than the previous one, as the Wraiths can hide behind and pass through obstacles. There are plenty of White Wraiths about, but they only move one at a time. This is clearly a device to prevent this TI BASIC game from being slower than it already is, as well as making it easier. A nice addition, which I have yet to see on other TI games, is a high score table which displays the top six scores after each game. Instructions are provided on a separate sheet, and also within the program. Though adequate, they are slightly inaccurate, stating that only one person can play. Trogman is in fact for one or two players. This isn't a bad implementation of Pacman, but didn't hold my interest for very long, because it's slow - probably the only unfavourable aspect of the game. J J
TUKOM'S KINGDOM Stainless Software GBP 6.00 FOUR STARS
In this arcade/adventure game you take the role of a knight from Nige on a quest for the Great Stone, stolen by the Zok Monsters. The first screen is a maze with a Jump Spell, door, key and monster. You must collect the key before going through the door at the bottom of the screen.
If you get the Jump Shell (by landing on a capital S near the bottom of the maze) you can jump to a random place in the maze. This action can be carried out only once each time the spell is gained. Unfortunately there is a bug: the monster sometimes moves over the spell, clearing it from the screen.
In screen two, you enter the dark forest. The only difference from the maze is that the forest has trees, not walls, randomly placed around the screen. There are many other screens; throughout, your weapon of defence is your sword. J.J
VIDEO TITLES Stainless Software GBP 8.00 FOUR STARS This program, written by the man behind Stainless Software, is the Extended BASIC version of TI BASIC original. If you have ever seen the demonstration program which used to be run on the TI in retailers, then you will have some idea of the presentation this program can produce. By giving the computer instructions in the form of three-letter mnemonics, you can print text horizontally or vertically in many directions, scroll up or print normally - that is, on line 24 with upward scroll. You can set screen and character colours pause for a specified time, and the instructions can be saved and reloaded from either tape or disk.
Up to 400 entries can be made using this version, and any files produced with the TI BASIC version can be run as well - good to see compatibility between the original and the update.
The documentation is quite good, and must generally be referred to when using the mnemonic instructions. Suggestions are also given to assist those wishing to expand the program's capacity and facilities.
THE WALL STAINLESS SOFTWARE GBP 6.00 FIVE STARS
A wicked wizard has set you the task of climbing castle walls. For every wall successfully scaled points are awarded, but on each there are forces of spritely adversaries poised to attack, archers, dragons, withces on broomsticks and multi coloured cannonballs, just to mention a few. Before attempting to bid for freedom you need to study their moves carefully. On each screen the attackers and the way in which they travel are different. A collision loses a life, but for every 500 points there's a bonus life. The game ends when all lives are lost and the score displayed.
If you're lucky this may be high enough to qualify your name to be entered in the Hall of Fame. Control is from keyboard or joystick. You are unable to start until the alpha lock is up, a useful feature if you intend using the joystick option.
I can't say exactly how many different screens there are to survive. Ten was the most I could manage and there are more. There's certainly enough variety to keep you hooked on trying. Needs Extended Basic. JW.
WALLABY Counterpoint GBP 7.00 FIVE STARS (Extended BASIC and Joystick) Poor Wally the Wallaby is trapped inside a Thing-A-Ma-Jig factory and must find his way out. Exits are on four different screens along which he will encounter various obstacles. Successfully completing all four screens, however, only returns Wally to a more difficult screen one. The first displays a series of ladders leading to upper floors, at the top right is the exit. Wally must not only climb these ladders but jump over sliding baskets and duck to avoid overhead buckets. Should he be hit not only does he lose a life but must start again. Having reached the exit, Wally receives bonus points before continuing on the next screen, where he must travel down slides. On the third screen are both slides and ladders, and on the fourth, moving holes. The program runs smoothly unless you attempt to move sideways off screen. Then it crashed with a BAD VALUE. I had to enlist the help of a nephew to find what lay beyond the first screen. "What a Wally,", did you say? J.W
WINGING IT Not Polyoptics from STAINLESS SOFTWARE GBP 10.00 FIVE STARS Could this be the first flight simulator for the TI? Once you've mastered basic flying, you can progress to one of three games. In Game 1 you locate and fly over a meteorite, Game 2 sets you the task of finding and destroying a flying saucer, and in Game 3 you are pitted against an enemy plane. There's no 3d view of the runway or the like, but there is a first class display of the instrument panel and realistic engine noises. Comprehensive instructions are supplied. The instructions warn that beginners may have a rough ride and they aren't kidding. Taking off was OK, but once in the air I found an affinity for flying upside down and making unscheduled and rather violent landings. Still, practice makes perfect. I thought this was an excellent program, which should appeal to budding pilots of all ages. DB. Instructions 100%. Playability 90%. Graphics 90%. Value for money 90%.
WONKAPILLAR PS Software from STAINLESS SOFTWARE GBP 6.00 THREE STARS You are the Wonkapillar, trying to escape from a series of mazes. But a few new twists make this slightly different from the other maze games on the market. You start out inside a square maze, and the only means of escape is to blow yourself out with a time bomb. But don't set the fuse too short, or you'll blow yourself up as well. As you travel about the mazes, you leave segments of your body behind. Collide with one of these or the wall of the maze and you're a dead Wonkapillar. At least there are no ghosts or other nasties to look out for. You get a score for getting through each part of the maze and also for passing over pieces of fruit lying around at various locations. Reach the end of one maze and you find yourself in the centre of a second one, up to a total of eight. Reach the end of that and you might find your name on the high score table. You can use the direction keys to move around or change them to the keys of your choice at the beginning of the game. DB
All the ingredients for an absorbing game are here - perhaps too many for comfort. Use of either the keyboard or a joystick for control is given, and the graphics are colourful.
The aim is to protect three 'humanoids' from a fate worse than death, occasioned by contact with an alien ship's mutative secret weapon, and the dice seem loaded heavily against your success. You begin with an armada of three ships, and you can lose them by colliding with something, being shot by an alien, allowing an alien ship to get through to clobber a humanoid, allowing your engine to overheat, and being got at by a 'killer mine'.
There are also 'invisible craft' whose presence is announced, naturally enough, by a sound described as 'Boing,boing'. PR.
80% Instructions; 85% Playability; 80% Graphics; 78% Overall
ZOMBIE MAMBO plus WALLS AND BRIDGES TImagination from STAINLESS SOFTWARE GBP 19.75 FIVE STARS In Walls and Bridges you play against the computer or another player. The object is to win land with your knight by strategically moving around the screen. Once territory has been captured however, it cannot be re-occupied, whether by your own or opponent's. Other dangers include monsters, easily visible when moving, forbidden forest and lava pit. Battle is waged through ten rounds, points awarded to the winner of each. A range of options is provided to increase difficulty of play.
Zombie Mambo is a two part game each being loaded separately. The first is set in a cemetary where you must unearth three keys to open the sorcerors tomb.
Each grave either contains a key or a zombie. If the latter, your progress is impeded by pursuit. The second part is in the tomb itself. Here you open vaults to collect money, sometimes finding monsters or perhaps a weapon for defence. JW. Instructions 100%. Playability 90%. Graphics 100%. Value for Money 90%. [It is so pleasant to end this list with a five star review, an American game, and the most costly game offering from Stainless, which still achieves 90% for value for money. It is a pity sales were so low].
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