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Melbourne House
1987
Strategy: Management
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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83
Jack Daniel
Chris Bourne

Enterprise - what a wonderful title for a game in these progressive times of the true-blue entrepreneur. Set your self up in business, apply for several million pounds worth of grant from a regional development council, get a workforce of YTS trainees in, exploit them, and then see how fast you can do a runner to the Seychelles. Right? Wrong - if only.

In fact Enterprise is a variation of that old game Trader - admittedly with a few flashy bits bolted on - but ultimately not as satisfying Sort of Elite-ish, but not that good.

What has happened is that having just got out of jail for transgressing some trivial law or other (well, borrowing some money from a bank without asking), you're looking for a way to make your fortune. Obviously, you've decided to go straight, and it's off into the wide open reaches of the galaxy to wheel and deal, dodge and weave, duck and dive, apples and pears, trouble and strife, etc, to make yourself an intergalactic pony, so as you can retire to the Paradise Planet.

The problem is that because of rampant inflation, the amount of money you want to make to win the game, goes up dramatically with time.

You begin orbiting a planet and admittedly the graphics on this phase, and almost every phase come to think of it, are quite pretty. The main section of the screen is made up of mono dots, but it's very effectively done, so the planet turns around quite neatly in a sea of stars.

Below the main display are gauges showing how fast you're going, your altitude, amounts of fuel on board and total time elapsed. Above are shown your co-ordinates, plus the pitch, yaw and roll of your craft All jolly helpful. You accelerate/decelerate by pressing Fire and moving up/ down... so off you go to land on the planet. Unless, that is, you'd rather check out other systems, in which case you can press M to display a map of the nearest stars.

You dial up information on each system by moving a cursor over a star, then pressing Fire. Then you get a full screen's worth of data showing its co-ordinates (irrelevant), distance from your present position, then the four ratings of Economy, Helpfulness, Honesty and Mineral Base. The latter tells you which type of the 16 minerals you will pick up if you buy metals on that planet. If you want to visit said planet, press H for hyperspace and you'll be deposited within the system.

Accelerate towards the planet and the screen will change to a visual representation of the planet surface itself, again in mono, with a foreground of dots (showing things like the landing strip, etc) and a background of mountains. They call this bit a flight simulator... something akin to comparing a cream egg eaten at a bus shelter to a five course meal at The Ritz. Not that there's anything specifically wrong with that - but a full blown flight simulator it isn't.

Once you land (don't forget to put the landing gear down, will you), turn the engines off and you're immediately in text communication with a little green alien (shown weebling away in the bottom bit of the screen).

Text communication... come on. It's an Eliza program - the sort all of us have typed in at one time or another from a mag, and been massively unimpressed with.

For those who've had their heads in a bucket for the last few years. Eliza-type programs attempt to have a conversation with you - responding to stuff that you type in. Generally they are infuriating. This one, high-cal though it may be, is no different.

You have to try and trade with the aliens via this method, and it's dashed hard work, even using the ten or so preprogrammed phrases that are brought up by pressing Symbol Shift, plus a particular letter.

OK, so you buy the minerals (flood, or fuel, or insurance yet. Insurance), get your repairs done (hard landing was it?) then off into the wild blue yonder to try and make a trading profit on another world.

So what about the combat, ah... surely must be some combat somewhere.

No. No combat.

No blasting - a feature that might have livened the proceedings up a little.

Over five billion worlds to visit they say. I'd be surprised if you made it to more than three.

Enterprise isn't Melbourne House's finest hour.

Label: Melbourne House
Author: IC&D
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jack Daniel

**

Trading game with some reasonable graphics and an Eliza program bolted on. Lack of combat means it's boring.

2/5