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John Jarvis
Strategy: War
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

So what does wargame mean to you? Lots of flashing squares and tartan terrain as you command forces to sweep a cursor around a map, issuing orders?

That's the traditional way the armchair generals get their jollies, learning the problems of strategy and tactics as they go. But wargame means cult to most software houses, which is why companies better known for their arcade games issue attempted cross-overs like this.

Now there's no need to repeat that Gremlin's action titles are great, but when it trys to popularise a genre it obviously doesn't understand, the result is a real mish-mash - something like lighting Waterloo with lasers!

Forget any real strategic decisions - this is about as taxing as Beach Head. It's really three mini-arcade games, all linked by a map sequence in which you set the course of your ship and patrol the coast, seeking out the enemy or returning to base for repairs. Try to avoid the shore, too, or you'll end up with a dent in your bright new battleship.

Your first encounter could be a submarine, in which case you switch to the helicopter and depth-charge game. Just in case you can't get your head round this strategy, an icon flashes to help you. You steer the tiny chopper above a slice of sea (at least thats what it looks like, with its contoured base) avoiding missiles and dropping charges.

Aircraft have to be handled by your deck guns, which duplicates the Beach head tracking and elevation of shot sequences. Luckily you can put up such heavy blanket chelling that not too many planes get through. For battleships you have a stock of Exocets, which have to be stabilised as they roar to the area then visually targetted with the video screen.

So there you have your three mini-games. They're fun the first couple of times round, but there's nothing to justify the strategy tag - and little to please the arcade freak for long either. And games about Exocets may be fun if you've got a Sun-reader's mentality, but I reckon they're just plain tacky!

Series of three inter-linked mini games disguised as an arcade wargame. Little challenge and quickly repetitive.