Activision Inc
1987
Strategy: War
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

70
Jason Roseaman
Chris Bourne

You've probably seen the large advert gracing the computer press. It brings to mind images of the Gulf crisis, lots of Arabs, oil, Iran and President Regan. Not surprisingly, Guadalcanal has nothing to do with any of them.

Guadalcanal covers the campaign of the latter months of 1942 (hang on wasn't there another game about this veritable year?), and you get to camp it up as commander of land, sea and air forces. You even get to choose whether you're on the Japanese or American side. Your aim is to take full control of the Guadalcanal island whilst keeping the enemy at bay.

Your forces include various warships, land marines and the Japanese equivalent (rand marines?), and a number of seaplanes which can be used as scouts over the map area. You can move units by going to map display, choosing a unit with the rectangular cursor and, using the directional keys, giving it orders. The menus throughout the game are icon controlled which is standard for today's wargames. Unfortunately, said icons are a touch on the crude side graphically speaking. They're not really large enough for the player to easily guess their use. I managed to mistake the ear icon representing INTELLIGENCE, for a foot.

Some icons are shown along the top half of the screen but the few that are recognisable are incredibly ridiculous. Having a cloud to represent weather and a key for clock winder are not exactly the innovations of the year. When you do go to the weather information itself you're given the totally amazing ratings of POOR, GOOD, etc. Is this really going to help you win a major battle in the Second World War?

The main problem I found with Guadalcanal is that it it just too involved. The large instruction book could have been condensed into one inlay, as even with this mighty tome in your lap you still won't have a clue how to do something as simple as changing positions. After much toying I found that I had to go through five menus and back again without making a single mistake if I wanted to move a unit.

I managed to get about halfway through the game before getting totally and utterly stuck. My battle was about to come to a halt and I wound the timer on to see happened when I lost. (The simple, short message along the lines of "You lose", didn't aid the bad mood I was already in).

Put simply, Guadalcanal is much too complicated, which makes it bad, when it could have been very good indeed. Activision had got itself a very original storyline but the game just doesn't grip you.

Label: Activision
Author: Software Studios
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: None
Reviewer: Jason Roseaman

Even hardened strategists will be put off by this over-complicated game: sadly unimpressive.

4/10