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Cheetahsoft Ltd
Duncan Nightingale
1984
Strategy: War
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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43
Chris Bourne

Mediterranean Europe is divided into grid squares. Your aim as emperor is to gain 100 squares of territory as quickly as possible in the graphics strategy game, Conquest. You'll have to contend with barbarian counter-attacks on your flanks, random plague attacks which may wipe out one or more of your legions, and the possibility of civil war.

Conquest is for one player, and the game takes place over a map of Europe and half of Russia. The cassette comes with instructions on screen on one side and the game on the other. The known world is divided into 600 territories, or squares, which include sea. Movement onto land is permitted, but not onto sea squares. The game starts by choosing a location for the capital city, which can support only one legion, commanded by the emperor and coloured purple. As this legion moves it colours the territory occupied red. For every five squares captured, you are awarded another legion, commanded by a general, and these captured territories are coloured black. If territory is lost, so may the legions be, as there may not be enough taxes to support them. The legions are allowed to move one square at a time, controlled by the cursors.

The emperor's legion has unlimited movement within the empire but also makes a single square capture per move. There is a maximum of 16 legions available. Attacks by barbarians on an unprotected flank may wipe out a captured territory. Such attacks occur more frequently as the game progresses.

There are five levels of difficulty, each adding more playing factors such as generals falling in battle, the legions receive combat records indicating their chances of successful conquest, the emperor may also be killed, in which case a general will declare himself and civil war may break out. In between moves the computer takes action like outbreaks of plague and deciding whether legions become disloyal.

CRITICISM

'This tactical game set in Europe ages ago is fairly typical of the strategy layout and in its aims. It's also fairly 'typical' in the sense that it isn't exactly very exciting (remember the one about watching paint drying?). The best part of the game is the map of Europe, which is very well drawn. My recommendation would be to avoid it like the plague, especially at £7. Cheetah Soft's catchphrase is, 'Soft we're not'. Well perhaps they should realise that the average Spectrum owner isn't either.'

'After reading through 48K of instructions 1 felt 1 needed a rest. It took four or five months for the game to load and then a key display appeared on the screen and I was asked whether I would like a printout - for the cursor control keys? As suggested, I selected skill level one to get used to the rules of the game and my legions expanded across the continent rapidly. Only it 's rather boring, moving legion squares and watching things turn red, and waiting for the slow response time of the computer as it wipes you out with the plague and barbarians. Feeling bored, I broke into the program and went onto skill level five leaving my original conquests from level one intact. Despite the higher skill level it's still boring due to the fact that the plague can take about half a minute to spread. One of the more boring strategy games I've encountered, and in my opinion, a rip-off at £7.'

'The lengthy on-screen instructions in Conquest manage to make the game sound involved and exciting, although why most of these couldn't have been printed on the inlay, I don't know. Not everyone has a printer. But the game itself is slow and tedious to play. The map is very good but watching squares flashing on and off on it isn't so good. There are strategical elements contained in it to liven things up, but the more that's happening, the slower everything goes. This simply isn't the kind of programming that should be on sale today at this sort of price. In all honesty it's no better than any Mastertronic game at three times the price, and some Mastertronic games are better.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: cursors, plus three command keys
Joystick: Cursor type
Keyboard play: key layout is hardly important but responses are very slow
Use of colour: very simple
Graphics: good map, but rest very poor
Sound: none
Skill levels: 5
General Rating: A poor program and a slow game which is over-priced.

42%
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Screenshot Text

The Conquest of Europe is about to finish - 19 years of struggle for a few red squares.