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1984
Arcade: Action
£5.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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12,13
Chris Bourne

Whether the 'B.C.' before Bill's name means Before Computers or Before Crash is not stated on the inlay, but the game is certainly post-Imagine and is now marketed by Beau Jolly, the London company that secured the rights to market Imagine's games.

B.C. Bill will probably cause some furore or other as it is a game of sexism, sex and violence. The basic object is to club women into a state of insensibility so that Bill can drag them off to his cave to be wives. Once in the cave they start producing children, signified by the periodic arrival of a red stork, baby in beak. The screen shows the cave, two belching volcanoes and a large collecting area where the women wander around waiting to be clubbed. The more women ,and children there are in the cave, the more food Bill must give them. Fortunately the food also wanders around waiting to be clubbed and dragged off. One problem is the predatory dinosaurs that eat anything they touch, including Bill.

The game is played across seventeen years and the amount of food available depends on the seasons which can be seen changing as you play. A shortage of food may result in some wives dying, in which case the kids will leave home then Bill finally dies of a broken heart.

B.C. Bill comes with a lavish inlay card which also contains a long and absurd account of the life of Eric the Bear, supposed writer of the game but which one may assume is entirely apocryphal. The game idea apparently comes from Mark Butler himself and so he must take any blame which attaches for its chauvinistic attitudes! Incidentally, although it doesn't say so on the inlay, B.C. Bill will load and play with the Currah micro-speech unit plugged in, so you can enjoy the very good music by Abdul Ibrahim as well as the rest of the effects.

CRITICISM

'After being subjected to Imagine's last two programs I loaded this one with some misgivings - please don't let it be another Cosmic Cruiser. My prayers were answered and I was rather pleasantly surprised. B.C. Bill is the best thing out of Imagine for a long time (even the last time?) The game is original, has very good quality graphics and it IS PLAYABLE! A thing recent Imagine games have not been.'

'B.C. Bill is full of very good graphics and excellent sound. Clubbing wives and feeding kids can be quite difficult as the game is played over many seasons with less food about in the winter than in the summer. The edible dinosaurs must be clubbed from behind, while the dangerous ones can be killed for points. I think this one's a bit chauvinistic (if it had a girl/boy option like Ant Attack, perhaps it might sell better). The detail of Bill is especially good when he uses his club or gets eaten. Very addictive and fun to play. I'll be coming back to this one for more.'

'B.C. Bill is a rather strange game which has its points. The animation of Bill is very good, when he jumps up into the air to smash his dub down, but the other graphic characters are pretty flat and uninteresting. Also, while it may be realistic to raise kids and keep them for seventeen or eighteen years, it's very strenuous in a game! Another touch of fairyland joy is the stock bringing in the babies (well - didn't they)? The graphics of the women leave no doubt as to their gender - enormous black blobs sit heavily on their chests so that they resemble pre-historic versions of Dolly Parton's big sister. There is a good tune and some nice effects, although on occasion it does slow down play. Overall a novel idea that lacks something in playability. However, it may have been the game to save Imagine - too late now - too bad.

COMMENTS
Control keys: alternate bottom row keys for left/right, third row/second row for up/down, top row to dub
Joystick: AGF, Protek, Kempston, Fuller, Sinclair
Keyboard play: reasonable responsiveness, but slightly awkward positions
Use of colour: quite good, the type of game precludes too much
Graphics: very good on Bill, less so on others, overall reasonable
Sound: excellent tune, may be amplified via Currah micro-speech
Skill levels: progressive difficulty
Lives: 5
General Rating: Mixed feelings from reviewers from average to very good.

75%
78%
77%
76%
69%
64%
73%

Screenshot Text

B.C. Bill sets out on another wife hunt. With no 'hold', the wildlife is rather blurry.