Oxford Digital Enterprises s have a knack of producing unusual activities on the Spectrum - remember Trivial Pursuit? Their latest release, Sailing, Contains another unusual idea, allowing the player to take part in a yacht race-with the inlay boasting one of the simplest simulation control methods to date.
An initial options screen allows the level of play to be decided - determining the starting position in the league table, and hence the length of the game. This is closely followed by a ship designing section where the 'trim' of the vessel can be altered to suit the long range weather forecast. As the dimensions and structure of the yacht are changed, a blueprint is altered to show the craft's new shape.
Following these structural rearrangements, the race selection is made and the league table appears showing your league standing and that of your competitors. Your opponents are highlighted, and their ship's blueprints may be inspected to enable you to decide which team to choose. Having selected your adversary, the view changes to that from the prow of your ship, looking toward the first buoy, with your opponent abreast of you.
The ship is controlled by steering left and right, and raising and lowering the spinnaker to alter speed. This is achieved by pressing the select key and 'winching ' the sail by rotating the joystick or keys - anti-clockwise to raise it and clockwise to lower.
The sea is represented in flight simulator fashion, with a moving horizon. The sea rolls up and down and changes colour, depending on the winds and other weather factors.
Beneath the viewscreen there is .a display panel giving the relevant details of the yacht: wind speed and direction, status of the spinnaker and also a radar screen showing the positions of your ship, your opponent and the buoys which define the course of the race.
After five days of racing, you are given a week in which to turn your vessel in readiness for the next bout of races. Inspecting the league position and blueprints of the other competitors allows you to see how the different designs respond to the current weather conditions, enabling you to achieve optimum performance from your ship.
'Sailing with your Spectrum ... whatever next? At first I was extremely dubious, faced with a topic I know very little about (the only sailing experience that I've ever had was on Ludlow boating lake!), and a sheet of poor instructions (even I know that you don't say boat when you're talking about yachting). However, I picked up the 'knack' of Sailing very quickly, and was helped by the masses of on-screen prompts and the ease at which you can manoeuvre your ship. The design/blueprint section is perhaps a little involved for the first time player, but K does add a lot to an experienced players game. Overall, Sailing is a pleasure to play.'
'Sailing isn't one of the easiest sports to implement on a computer, and ACTIVISION have done well to pick out the exciting parts and discard the monotony. The view from the front of the yacht is extremely well designed - with the wave movement, in particular, superbly animated. I loved the design stage, although it's very simple and contains a fair amount of flicker. The presentation is extremely good - it contains a great title screen, easy to use menus and lots of cute scrolling messages. This is highly recommended, despite the slight lack of course variation.'
'I'm not a simulation fan at all - but that makes no difference really, as Sailing is not a typical simulation at all. In short, it's a playable and competent game. The options are easy to use, and when complete navigational control has been accomplished you should have no problem in getting around the course. The sea's movements have been well executed, and the sight of other yachts speeding along the course adds a considerable amount of excitement. However, I 'm a bit dubious about Sailing's lasting appeal, as the excitement soon wears off.'
: O/P left/right, Q/A up/down, Space to selectJoystick
: Kempston, Interface 2, CursorUse of colour
: not over-used but very effectiveGraphics
: clean, large, with excellent sea effectSound
: some sea noises, no gulls, but some bleepsSkill levels
: four different displaysGeneral Rating:
An unusual, and highly playable simulation of the sea.
Coming up to the first marker bouy, is that Simon le Bon in front? Oh no it coudln't be... that yacht's still afloat!