Websters Software
1984
Board Game
£19.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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Chris Bourne
Chris Bourne

EMULATE the exploits of Prince Andrew and cause havoc with a Harrier in ATRAM, a computer-moderated board game. The name stands for Advanced Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Mission, which should ring warning bells from here to Port Stanley that we are in the realm of heavy wargaming, in spite of the homely lumberjack-shirted dad and his beaming son on the box-cover.

A wizard wheeze of diplomacy pits an RAF force of harriers against the US Air Force, also equipped with Wonderjet, so nobody has to play the Argentinians. The board shows a highly stylized coastline, and although card board-like has a steel core which allows the use of flat magnetic pieces representing aircraft, landing strips and even a mid-air refuelling tanker.

The object is to take out a number of the opponent's installations, by manoeuvring bombers and fighters across the ubiquitous hexagons. The computer's only role is to keep track of the status of individual aircraft - fuel, missiles, and so on - so two players are required, and the rules suggest ways of incorporating more with a hierarchy of command. The whole thing is clearly designed to feel like a NATO exercise, with four-star generals pushing pieces round a board.

If however, you can understand the rules and even enjoy several pages of over-enthusiastic technical praise of the Harrier and other weapons of destruction included in the game, you may enjoy ATRAM.

As such, it would make an ideal birthday present for your favourite prime minister or American president. Just think of the fun they could have, blowing each other to oblivion over the hotline.

Chris Bourne

Memory: 48K
Price: £19.95

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