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US Gold Ltd
Strategy: Management
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

Other Links

Mike Dunn, Gareth Adams, Paul Sumner
Chris Bourne

The Psi 5 trading company carries anything, anywhere, anytime, it has to... it needs the money. At present the big dollars are earned hauling freight through the Parvin Frontier to the beleaguered mining settlements beyond.

As captain you have control of a freighter headed for that space quarter. Courses and cargoes can be chosen to maximise reward - but the larger the profit the greater the danger; space pirates are active en route, and may attempt to board. But try and avoid them and you could be forced onto a route too long for your perishable cargo.

Candidates for the six crew are available, including aliens, droids and humans. The ability profiles of potential candidates can be viewed and their suitability for the mission assessed. Select the crew with the best abilities for your journey - success may depend upon it.

The mission can now begin.

As ships captain, you sit before a two screened communications console, a space scan on the left and with the portrait of the crew member you are commanding displayed on the right. Screen indicators give weapon status, motion, speed and heading.

Using the ship's communication system, messages can be passed between departments, tasks assigned, priorities changed, commands added or countermanded. Crew members do obey orders but are a wilful bunch, and can take it upon themselves to perform tasks if not instructed quickly enough.

All departments are under the Captain's ultimate control -whilst giving orders to one department the status of another can be monitored on the icon display. From the navigation department course and speed can be set and evasive manouevring performed; a risk monitor indicates if insurmountable odds lie ahead.

The scanning department tracks and identifies other craft and works closely with the weapons section. From here target information, ammunition status and past performance of personnel can be checked. Both friendly and hostile ships can be destroyed, so they should be identified before engaging.

Equipment power is regulated from the engineering department. Engines and defensive shields (which require a minimum energy flow to operate effectively) eat into the ship's power reserve. In order to efficiently manage the ship's systems, different departments can have their power shut off to conserve energy.

The repair department undertakes damage assessment and rectification to the ship's equipment. Robodroids can help the repair department's personnel, but are not continually available as time is taken re-allocating them between tasks, collecting tools or travelling to damage sites. Certain crucial items should be fixed as soon as possible - cargo support devices, life support systems, and power reactors are essential to your operation. Should the ship ever be allowed to flounder in space with dead engines, shields and weapons, pirates can board, and loot the cargo.

Protect your ship from too much damage as repair costs are deductible from your overall profits.


'I was really looking forward to this strange trading game - the thing is that it's just a bit too strange for my liking. The whole presentation of the game is full of colour (and clashes), but is let down by the input method used, and the over-responsive keys. I tried all I could for ages, but didn't feel that I could get anywhere with it. Psi 5 on the Spectrum just doesn't work at all. I'm extremely disappointed with it as it's no fun to play.' PAUL

'This is not a typical arcade game, but it has plenty of fast action. To get anywhere you need to persevere, due to there being so many things to monitor at the same time. The impressive instruction sheet comes in very handy for the first play, as ft describes each aspect in great detail. The game itself is quite impressive, each crew member is given character and personality by well animated and colourful graphics. There's very little sound, but it's not needed and would be annoying. Overall Psi 5 is addictive with its smooth running, but it probably won't appeal to any arcade game freaks.' GARETH

'From all the glossy advertising and packaging, I was realty expecting a good game. As if I didn't know better! The concept is brilliant, with stacks of potential for a mega-game, but US GOLD's version is far from that. I'm not saying that it ' s bad, but if a game can be both mind-blowingly complicated and still have insufficient content to make it interesting, then Psi 5 Is just about as good a cross as you'll be able to find. Essentially, it's a fun, but I think my general feeling, coming away from it, is one of disappointment.' MIKE

Control keys: left/right cursors, Caps Shift to fire and cursors plus Enter for crew selection
Joystick: none
Use of colour: lots of colour, but some inevitable attribute clash
Graphics: detailed and nicely animated
Sound: very little
Skill levels: one
Screens: one main playing screen with sub-screen detail
General Rating: A great game that has somehow lost potential in implementation; more appealing to strategists than arcade players.


Screenshot Text

The action in the left-hand screen is being monitored by the crew-member seen in the right-hand screen.

From your command console, you can 'talk' to the human, alien and android crew, as well as directing their actions.