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1983
Strategy: War
£5.50
£3.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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86
Sean Masterson
Chris Bourne

Stonkers harkens back to the first Imagine incarnation and the daring days of software design. The game can be played either solitaire or with a second player. It's an abstract strategy game where each side controls an army consisting of four infantry divisions, four armoured divisions, four artillery divisions and four civilian supply units. Each side also controls its own port (essential for a constant flow of supplies) and HQ. A total war zone map is displayed in bright colours on the screen. A cursor can be placed over any part of this screen and can then magnify the area below to show details of terrain and units. Terrain includes hills, marshes and plains. Units can then be ordered or resupplied as necessary. The objective is to simply defeat your opponent and capture territory. Forces are initially on opposite sides of the map on areas of land separated by a bridged river. The bridge is the only means by which an army may move from one side of the map to the other.

The reason why the game is so good lies in the deceptive simplicity of its playability. Terrain does affect movement, but only trial and error reveal how much. Logistics are fundamentally important to a successful game. The player must learn to pace the game, so that whilst an efficient advance is made into enemy territory, units do not risk running out of supplies too soon. This makes the game a test of both will and judgement and an ideal vehicle for beginners to play in order to realise the importance of different unit types in more complex games. Yet playing Stonkers is an easily learned and enjoyable affair in its own right.

Stonkers is a remarkably straightforward game that never really had the credit it deserved. Reviewed back in CRASH No 2, the reviewers, none of whom were particularly enthusiastic wargamers, all found the game to be addictive and entertaining. One of the main problems encountered was a bug which crashed the game every so often. This bug was never really dealt with effectively but given time, it could have been rectified.

Screenshot Text

The strategic map from STONKERS. The whopping great hatched oblong isn't an enemy weapon. Press a key and the area below it expands before your very eyes.