In contrast, Convoy Raider is down to earth with a bump.
Despite the fact that you don't know Port from Starboard, or an Exocet from a Seawolf, you've been given a hulking great ship and told to get on with it, scouring the coastline for enemy invaders.
From the map screen, you'll see your ship (which bears more than a striking resemblance to a pair of handlebars on a rubber ring) sailing across the ocean, bits of land, and a scaled-down version of the whole area. Plot your course according to the little map, using the compass at the top of the screen, select a suitable speed, and off yer go. At this point you'll either run straight into a land formation as the screen flips over to the next sector, or be indecently assaulted by a submarine.
The courses of action are as follows. One. If you run into a land formation you'll have incurred a vast amount of damage to your ship. Go to the repair station, designated by a chevroned flag and get fixed. If you've been sunk, start again and try not t to be such a wally next time around.
Two. If it's indecent assault, return to the main menu an launch a helicopter.
Yoh, ho, ho and a bottle of rum. A helicopter. The best thing to destroy a sub is a chopper. (The best thing to damage a boat is an Exocet. an the best thing in the case of aircraft is the Seawolf, more later).
Enter helicopter mode. (Press Fire). The screen changes to a sort of transparent, 3D swimming pool. Above the surface hovers a little, innocent helicopter. Below the surface lurks a mean, nasty submarine.
Getting the submarine is a matter of letting off a few choice depth charges and watching bits of metal float away. But it's important to let off the charge at the right moment. Because the section is in 3D you have to be directly over the submarine, as well as in line with it. There's a depth gauge running up the side of the sector, and you have no control over it. It's vital that you let off the charge when the gauge is at the same height as the sub, because that's when it will explode. An explosion will reward you with a lot of pretty flashing lights and the disintegration of the enemy.
Taking out airplanes and ships works on the same principle, picking the right weapon and following the detailed instructions. If you're lucky, you'll kill everything immediately. If you're as competent at employing missiles as I am, then you'll have to have a few goes before you work out how to use the damn thing.
Convoy Raider is all controlled by a series of screens selected from a Main Menu. The menu shows three radars, one each for aircraft, ship and submarine groups. And when an enemy vessel comes within firing distance, a warning ALERT sign will flash by the appropriate radar to let you know.
Aside from the rather questionable Sun 'Gotcha' thinking behind it Convoy Raider is really quite impressive game. Although the graphics of the ship and your enemies are small and totally unrecognisable for what they are (see above description of ship) there's enough of them to make the game attractive to look at.
Unlike some simulations, it doesn't come chock-a-block with detailed instructions about how to fasten your seatbelt. You can plug yourself in and get straight on with the game. You learn as you go and you don't need a degree in nuclear physics to work out what the hell's going on.
Label: Gremlin Graphics
Reviewer: Tamara Howard
A sea warfare simulation that's not full of instruction. Easy to get into and loads to do once you're there.
JOHN JARVIS wrote Convoy Raider as his first game program to published commercially. He has previously worked producing a number of educational software packages.