Activision Inc
1987
Simulation
£7.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

88,89
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

It's a life on the ocean wave. The slap of the sails, the spin of the compass, the clash of the attributes.

Actually, the graphics are what make this simulation.

Sailing puts you at the helm, and various other parts as you're thrown around, of a racing yacht.

Nothing will prepare you for the massive wave rolling at you from the back of the screen. The wave rolls under you and your bow rises out of the water towards the very blue sky.

Before I loaded the game I had nightmares that the screen display would be a bird's eye view of two grotty little flat sprites gliding around the screen.

Not so, OED, the programming team which created Trivial Pursuit for Domark, has come up with what'll surely be another stunner.

The spangled sea effect, and the graphic speed with which the boat races through its paces, hit the eyes so quickly that you're suddenly all at sea, at a loss to know what to do.

You start near the bottom of an international racing league table - c'est la vie - with the option of taking on one of three other losers - try Italy or Agentina. Before you actually begin to sail you must first set your level of difficulty, selecting weather conditions and wave height, as well as choosing the type of hull you want.

Hull is all important, not that you'd think that if you'd been there. If you choose a metal hull, such as aluminium, you'll come off the best in rough conditions or if, horrors, you hit Len 9 another boat. The down-side is metal hulls hang low in the water. Wooden hulls, however, are lightweight but are easily damaged by waves or the bows of other boats - cutting across the bows of another boat is frowned upon, but legal.

The boat has few controls, but those it does have at the bottom of the screen need to be monitored and trimmed very carefully. A radar scanner splits the course up into square sectors. It shows the two participating yachts as dots, hopefully chasing each other.

The yachts are ultra-manoeuvreable when you least expect it - just watch the compass twirl. Course info is given at the beginning of the game - along with a weather report - so make sure you keep your bow pointed towards the next course marker buoy. If you stray too far from these buoys you'll be disqualified as out of bounds.

In some ways Sailing is similar to Football Manager There's a league up which you can climb, and races - games - you've got to take part in before you can move above your competitors. But then, Sailing, like CRL's Endurance and Formula One simulations, has arcade elements which breaks it out of the strategy market - and I don't mean a bunch of pin figures legging up a flat football pitch. It truly creates the atmosphere of the sea. I for one see it as a triumph of simulation.

Label: Activision
Author: ODE
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

*****

A unique sea-bound simulation. Puts you at the mercy of the elements rather than in a pilot's seat. Very clever.

5/5