1987
Simulation
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Hewson Slowload

28,29
Mike Dunn, Paul Sumner, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

Back to the age of steam, when railway tracks snaked through the country and a British Rail sandwich had never been made, let alone eaten...

The eponymous Evening Star is a robust locomotive which makes the tricky run between Bath and Bournemouth on the Somerset and Dorset Line. In Hewson's simulation, you are the smoke-stained driver of this triumph of engineering. Your object is to reach Bournemouth on schedule, earning points for safety and economy.

The main screen shows the progress of the Evening Star as it puffs beneath bridges, huffs through tunnels and dashes past places luxuriating in such names as Wellow, Chilcompton, Henstridge and Binegar. But don't spend too long gazing at the countryside - there are heavy penalties for running late, especially if you choose to take out the flagship service, the Pines Express.

You control the train using a regulator for speed and a cutoff for engine efficiency, which can be tested by checking the colour of the smoke coming from the engine' s stack. Vacuum brakes, a blower, an injector and a fire door and damper also help you get the most from your leviathan of the railway track - but you won't get anywhere without water and coal, and supplies are limited.

Signals must be obeyed, or you risk a fatal collision on a one-track line; and speed limits can deter your boyish enthusiasm for driving a steam train recklessly. They must be adhered to, or you could lose safety points, or even be derailed.

And don't forget the passengers - the Evening Star has to make stops. Overshooting the station can lose you points, and at Bournemouth you might hit the buffers; brake carefully, too, or the travellers will be thrown into each other's laps and injured.

The main object of Evening Star is to reach Bournemouth with enough points to pass; options allow you to challenge a time record or try to keep up with a strict timetable.

Hewson's (then Hewson Consultants) Southern Belle, another locomotive simulation, received 84% Overall in CRASH Issue 20 two years ago.

CRITICISM

'This one is more for the simulation buffs than the arcade freaks - it takes you half an hour just to digest the instructions! Some parts are quite playable, but don't buy Evening Star unless you're a train buff with a desire to control a steaming beauty.' NICK ... 39%

'So they've changed the name, but not much else is different from Southern Belle - It's all the basic repetitive actions from the last train simulation and more! And though the idea is appealing, after one trip down to Bournemouth I didn't fancy another laborious jaunt. The vector drawings are competent, and complement the footplate controls perfectly. But graphics aren't really important in this kind of game - it's the atmosphere created by accuracy that matters. So dedicated train fans will love the feel of Evening Star, but you have to be an enthusiast to enjoy it.' PAUL ... 70%

By today's standards the Southern Belleish graphics are a bit poor, with some huge jumps in the foregound. And though the accelerated-time facility is something of a godsend, Evening Star is by turns incredibly dull and far too complicated. If you're into trains and you haven't seen or played Southern Belle, you might find Evening Star fun; but it could almost be mistaken for a rerelease.' MIKE ... 48%

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics
Sound: only the phweeep of the steam whistle...
Options: a choice of eight levels presenting different problems; a computer-controlled run is also available
General Rating: A detailed steam-train simulation for the buffs, very similar to Southern Belle.

60%
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53%

Screenshot Text

Star of stage and steam.