John Hunt
1984
Strategy: Management
£5.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

90
Chris Bourne

The title page of this new strategy game shows a millionaire's mansion next to a drab looking block of flats - rags to riches. When the loading is completed the screen clears and you hear a telephone ringing - could it be fame on the other end?

As a home computer owner, you have written a program and are willing to invest £500 of your own money into marketing it. Can you make it to the top?

First up comes the inevitable strategy option menu - in this case a choice of what the program is to be: arcade, adventure, board game, business/serious program, educational, management game, utility program, wargame or Other. Having made this decision you are told that every good program will consist of a) good writing b) good presentation, c) original ideas or d) should maintain interest. You have 20 points and you must allocate the points according to your thoughts on these four headings. When this is done you may choose to market the game yourself, or sell it to a software house to raise more capital. Should you sell there are a few offers (the biggest of a meagre bunch of bids coming from Incentive of course). If none are acceptable you can carry on yourself.

The game presents most of the likely problems confronting a small software business and takes in such items as the cost of advertising and duplication. Decisions must be made regarding articles and PR in magazines, raising loan capital at the bank, writing new programs and whether to increase sales by adding short second programs to the other side of your tapes.

Each month a chart shows your progress, how many tapes have been sold in the month, how many games on the market, total sales, tapes still in stock, and on the debit side - rates, phones etc, total assets and amount borrowed from the bank. Interspersed news items inform you of things such as weather condition affecting sales of games, or whether a magazine has published an article about your products. If the worst should come to the worst, you can always sell out...

CRITICISM

'Millionaire has some very neat graphics for a strategy game. Colour is well used for the text to distinguish items at a glance, and the monthly bar chart showing your progress is quite an exciting matter. Every now and then, if you're doing well, you are offered "a chance to reconsider", which takes you back to the first option menu where you can decide on the value of content, presentation etc. I thought this was an enjoyable romp with several grains of truth buried in it!'

'For anyone contemplating marketing their own software, Millionaire may turn out to be less of a game and more a way of life. Given the normal limitations of a computer program, this one seems to echo problems encountered rather well - at least, if you've never encountered them before, it might seem to! It does tend to get a bit repetitive after a while, but I thought that was offset by the interest created in seeing your company rise and rise.'

'Chance elements can sometimes seem needlessly cruel in strategy games. Millionaire has a recurrent busybody who causes you a loss of sales by raking up your past which has obviously not been all that savoury. But on the whole life treats you kindly in this game compared with some. The graphics are very good, especially the pictures of your company's headquarters, which starts off in a terraced house, and moves onto a more salubrious suburb (I haven't made more money than that yet). I noticed that the scale on the bar chart alters to take into account the sums being discussed. Millionaire may not have quite the depth of options open to a player that some other strategy games have, but I found it all quite compulsive.

COMMENTS
Control keys: mostly numeric keys, all screen prompted
Keyboard play: very fast responses
Use of colour: very good
Graphics: effective text, detailed scenes
Sound: average
Skill levels: 1

General Rating: A relaxing game, and a compelling strategy.

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