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Vega [1]
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

There have been a number of 3D Noughts and Crosses games for the Spectrum and now Visions have theirs out. The name of the program is justified by an extraordinarily long scenario, all about how super snails (well it is a sort of grid game) grew up aeons ago in a galaxy far, far away and mutated into super-thinkers who hated war. Then they had a bit of bother with those war-like Vigans (you know the type, all mouth and nuclear weapons) and they ended up settling the business by making the Vigans do this puzzle thing and somehow that got handed down to earth. Hence the name of the super snails were from Arcturus, hence the name of the game)
There is a very complex menu which must be used to play the game. This is displayed at the top and bottom right hand corners. A skill level from 0 to 9 may be selected, Mode allows you to select between defensive, attacking or neutral play, the sound may be on or off, printer on or off and the Evaluation on or off. The game itself is played on four boards of 4 x 4 squares stacked one above the other in perspective with a number axis horizontally and a lettered axis vertically. Players may move a flashing cursor onto any unoccupied square and ENTER the move. It is possible to play one player versus the computer, player versus player or the computer versus the computer. A timer can be set to limit time on moves or games.


This is a very slick looking program. Others I have seen along similar lines tend to look very difficult to play, but the perspective stacks of four boards do make the 3D thinking process quite easy - well, quite may be an exaggeration. It's still a difficult game with tons of subtlety.'

'If you enjoy puzzles you'll no doubt enjoy Arcturus. The only serious problem I found with it was the difficulty of getting to play a game. There seem to be so many options and stages to go through to start one or get back for another and the inlay and onscreen instructions don't actually help. Also, I don't really know why they wrote an entire novel to explain why the game got its name. There are 22 pages of written history, all very interesting but not very relevant. I would have preferred to do without it and have them charge a pound less for the game.'

'Apart from the confusion arising from all the instructions and getting a game going, it nowhere mentions that your cursor is actually moved with the cursor keys. Perhaps they thought that would be obvious, but it only adds to the general sense of confusion at the start. Once going, the very game idea is compelling and easy to play - very hard to win against the computer. Perhaps the flashing cursor block could have been a bit more obvious, it tends to disappear when it moves about.'

Control keys: numerous for setting up options, cursors and ENTER for playing
Joystick: AGF, Protek, cursor clip on
Keyboard play: responsive
Colour: good
Graphics: good
Sound: useful
Skill levels: 9
General Rating: very good for puzzler enthusiasts.