Electronic Arts
1988
Simulation
£8.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

64
Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

Yo-ho-ho, splice the mainbrace (what is a mainbrace anyway?), here's another chance to put to the open sea, visit exotic surroundings, and then blow them to bits. This time, you man not a battleship or a pirate galleon, but an oh-so-modern hydrofoil, a sort of boat that thinks it's on skis. The game take you all the way from basic training, through various search-and-destroy, surveillance and escort missions, and on to a megaapocalyptic total war scenario.

The opening screen consists of a map depicting the area off Key West. From this you move to your bridge display, which shows a view from the cockpit, your controls, a radar display and weapons aiming system.

Various weapons are at your disposal; guns, for short-range work finishing off enemy ships; sea-to-sea and sea-to-air missiles for distant targets and aircraft; and chaff (clouds of radar-confusing reflective foil) to ward off homing missiles from enemies.

Points are awarded according to how close you get to completing the mission; for instance, in "terrorist attack", for sinking enemy gunboats, but in 'The Better Part of Valour" you're rewarded for the speed with which you escape from a war zone. You are also awarded a rank for each stage. The instrument display is pretty complex without being too detailed but the screen graphics are pretty unremarkable. The gyrocompass indicates your current heading, while the RPM shows your engine speed, the Speed meter your actual rate in knots. The range of the radar can be adjusted to show only close targets, or long distance ones, and there are also depthmeters, fuel gauges, weapons status indicators and a graphic display of damage sustained.

The manual goes into a great deal of detail about your weapons systems, scenarios, and possible enemies you will encounter. In this sense PHM Pegasus is very much like the popular Microprose simulations such as Gunship. The large number of easily-confused control keys are also familiar, but there doesn't seem to be much of the excitement of the Microprose programs. Time compression allows you to play through the scenarios at up to 128 times faster than normal, so you can speed up to skip the long journeys. This can lead to missiles pursuing you at eight times normal speed, though.

PHM Pegasus was developed by the Lucasfilm games team, responsible for several Activision hits including Rescue on Fractalus, The Eidolon and Ballblazer. It isn't as innovative as any of these; falling half-way between a simulation and an arcade game. Sadly, it doesn't quite capture the depth of the one or the excitement of the other. But there's plenty of material there, and if you enjoy this kind of mixture you might just get hooked.

Label: Electronic Arts
Author: Lucasgames
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Kempston
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Ambitious strategy/simulation which doesn't quite deliver the thrills you might expect.

6/10