ACORN ELECTRON – FIVE GAMES FIVE MINUTES #06


Welcome to another episode of
Five Games Five Minutes… …from acornelectron.co.uk HELTER SKELTER is an
ugly sort of game. A sort of poor
conversion of a title that… …on more powerful computers
might be quite good. You’re in control of a
bouncing ball… …and the idea is to
bounce around each screen… …hitting all the patrolling
monsters on the head. The order to hit them is
shown on screen with an arrow. If you hit any other
monster besides that one, … …it splits in half, meaning you
then have more monsters to hit… …with no increase in time. Essentially, the basics are
here for quite a good game… …yet HELTER SKELTER
simply does not pull it off. All the action is jerky… …so it’s difficult to aim
your ball correctly. And that’s if your ball even
responds to your keypresses at all! It’s maddeningly hard to control it. You spend all of your time
either ploughing into… …the very monsters
you’re trying to avoid… …or sitting on a platform… …desperately pressing the Bounce
key to try to get onto the one above! The most infuriating thing is
that you can see that… …this game has got
a lot of potential. You’re just left
wondering what went wrong. A long time ago… …the STAR DRIFTER spaceship
of the title, disappeared. Suddenly, it’s come
back to Earth. You have been teleported in,
unarmed, to discover what happened. You’ll quickly find a gun… …with which to kick some of the
alien ass that now roams the ship. You’ll also find bonuses
and keys littered about. The keys are important. Without them, you can
only make limited progress. You can only carry three
items, including your gun, … …at any one time, so you
need to do some careful planning… …as the game progresses,
selecting your inventory carefully. STAR DRIFTER was one of the
Electron’s most popular games. And deservedly so. Because it’s a hearty mix of
blasting, exploring and mapping. The authors, also quite thoughtfully,
start the game with a small puzzle… …to find and return a radio
to the starting location, … …instead of launching you into
the bigger puzzle that awaits you. You have three lives and
you’re going to need them. This game is huge. Man, I love BEACH HEAD. The first little jaunt you
can skip if you wish. You enter a hidden passage… …and you move the ships
of your fleet through it. It’s all animated quite well
and is by no means easy, … …all those bullets
flying around and whatnot. Why bother with it? Well, because if
you complete it… …you’re rewarded with more
lives for the next stage – This is the Naval Battle… …which is actually two separate
stages, each subtly different. The first is a
straightforward shoot-’em-up… …where you blast
planes out of the sky… …before they unleash
double-bombs upon you. You can’t avoid taking
the odd hit here… …but you need to master the
up and down controls… …to keep this to a minimum. In the second bit, it’s
the ships that now attack you. Now you need to accurately
raise and lower the gun turret. If you shoot long – or fall short –
you get feedback… …and you can adjust your aim
accordingly for the next time. Now you land on the Beach Head… …and play a quite fantastic
sideways-scrolling arcade game. You can’t stop this tank. It’s like it’s on ice. So deft up and down
manoeuvres are needed… …to wipe out the enemy
emplacements and reach Kuhn Lin… …where you need to blast
away the targets… …before you are inevitably taken
out by the big gun on the top. Then you have to
send in another tank… …across the Beach Head again. Every level in BEACH HEAD
is more enjoyable than… …the one preceding it. I love it. SUPERIOR SOCCER tries to
be all things to all men… …and fails quite spectacularly. Before this game, there
were arcade football games… …and football strategy management
games, all done in text. SUPERIOR SOCCER tries
to combine the two. Here, we’re playing
the arcade game only… …as I suspect will be
99.9% of players. The game has throw-ins, goal-kicks,
a pitch ‘radar’ on the left of the screen… …and all manner of weird and
wonderful key combinations… …which are meant to affect
heading, passing and tackling. The management sections also
have a large number of options. Unfortunately, all the arcade
bits are just too awkward to play. Characters move jerkily. All-too-easily, the ball’s pinched
from you by the computer… …who then powers down the
field like some mad P.E. teacher… …knocking the whole
Sixth Form out of his way! Really the game is for the
hopelessly football-addicted only… …and I can’t recommend it. SPHERE OF DESTINY
is a game like no other. You’re Bruce the
bashful jet ball… …and you need to traverse 64
eons of fast-scrolling squares… …to see a picture
of a naked woman! The game is so
fast, and so hard, … …that you’re doing well if
you see the vast majority of it. The idea is that you speed
up and slow down, … …navigating around all the coloured
blocks that will cause you trouble. Blue and yellow blocks
are no problem at all… …so if you get a stretch of
these – like the entire first level! – … …you can push
forward at 100mph. Other blocks affect
Bruce’s speed. A red one slows him down,
a green one speeds him up. Then there are
sections of the run… …where blocks are
replaced by black holes, … To sail across these you must
roll over a magenta block… …or hit the RETURN key
to bounce over them… …incurring a time penalty. What tends to happen, however, … …is that the game moves
so fast that your brain… …simply cannot process all
the different colours. And before you know it,
you’ve rolled over a… …dreaded cyan block. This swaps Bruce’s controls… …so that left actually
moves you right! It’s a shame that this game
isn’t a touch slower… …as this would
make it much more playable. Subtitles by
Subtitle Workshop

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7 Comments
  1. pappachook

    Loved Beach Head on the Elk

  2. BlaizeV

    Shame about the Sphere of destiny problems. It Reminded me alot of My fav Gizmondo game Trailblazer

  3. raycourtsi

    Love Beach Head, great game!

  4. Andrew Carrie

    Rather play a nes soccer game mostly, but you can sportingly work superior soccer if played turn based, hence, let the AI push on and go at your defenders and then it`s your turn, and so on. skill level 4 is balance!

  5. Andrew Holland

    My memory tells me that I used to play superior soccer for the attack part and an LCD goal keeping game for defence and i won every time and was toatally entertained. check Ashens too!

  6. lurkerrekrul

    Sphere of Destiny is obviously just a port (or clone?) of Trailblazer.

  7. Pj Gathergood

    Helter Skelter, as you say in the review Dave, looks like it has the possibility of a great game in there somewhere. I might have to give the BBC version a go, to see if maybe it's the Electron struggling, and maybe with the Beeb having a little more oomph to it graphics-wise it might help. (Also I wonder if it's one of those games that emulation just does it no favours and needs to be played on the original machine?) Can't make too many excuses for it and I've never yet played it… but a shame, as decent game in there somewhere.

    Star Drifter haven't encountered before. Might have been one that I may have enjoyed occasionally if I'd had it back in the day.

    I had Beach Head; I bought it (BBC version) probably second hand on cassette at some event or other I went to with my Dad as a boy… then was disappointed to find it didn't run on my B+; the first of a number of games we encountered with this problem. When I finally did get to play it (thanks to some jiggery-pokery of a switch to change the computer to/from a B/B+ my Dad later installed) I really enjoyed it. Very good selection of different levels and fun to play. I've seen a comparison video for the game comparing it to other systems and in that respect the BBC/Elc version(s) generally do suffer; but on their own merit, make for a very enjoyable game.

    Soccer… Not a sports fan and just not my sort of game; not much more to say on that one.

    Sphere of Destiny – I've only played this in my emulation days (BeebEm), looks again like a decent game that suffers for various reasons. I recall seeing a systems comparison video on this one too, and again it sadly doesn't hold up best on the BBC/Elc. I think they tried to over-compensate for speed (which later, more powerful more computers could simulate better); if they'd slowed it down a tad it would have been far better; plus the colours, a bit limited on the Beeb/Elc, whizzing past like that, just blur into one and add to the game's problems when at such a very high speed. Again, a shame.

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