Home computer adaptions of TV games are notoriously suspect - remember 3-2-1? Despite the micro's excellent televisual qualities, most TV games are not games at all but cult events based on the personality of the presenter, whether its Crowther, Wogan or Monkhouse (personality?)
So, where does Richard Whiteley stand amongst the elite of Aspel, Andrews and Bowen? Who? I hear you ask. Good ol' Dickie - the first face on Channel 4 and the presenter of the first programme on Channel 4 - Countdown.
Countdown - the programme pulls massive audiences considering it's on at 4.3Opm. Countdown - the game is sure to do the same 'cos it's a lot of fun and a very good adaptation too. If you're already a Countdown groupie, all I can say is go out and buy it now! It's an exact repro that'll keep you happy over the weekend while you're waiting for your Monday fix. If you're not still go out and buy it 'cos it's a damn good play.
It's basically a nine-round words and numbers quiz. In the six word rounds you're dealt nine letters (you choose how many vowels and consonants to get) from which you have to make the longest word possible. In the two number rounds you're asked to calculate a number randomly generated by CECIL, YTVs answer to ERNIE, from six numbers you've been given. The last round is a straight anagram.
You can either play solo or against a single opponent and there's plenty of built-in tension as you've only got 30 seconds to complete a round. The ponderous clever-dickness of Scrabble squashed.
All credit to Macsen. Not only has it accurately reproduced the original but it hasn't felt the need to glam it up. The only change it's made is an improvement - the computer works out the longest possible word from its dictionary memory bank thus disposing of Gyles Badbreath's lousy guesses and lousier jumpers.
Of course, Macsen can't reproduce Whiteley (my guru) the cringeworthy punner nor his blushes at introducing Carol Vorderman as his Vital Statistician, nor Bill Tidy's cartoons. But it has produced not Just a good replica but a good computer game.