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New Concepts Ltd
1985
Sport: Action
£11.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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125
Chris Bourne

Surfchamp is the first in a range of sports simulations due from a new soft ware house based in Ireland New Concepts. Apart from the usual program cassette, the package includes a plastic surfboard which fits over the keyboard of your computer pivoting on a little fulcrum fitted over the G key.

The simulation itself requires some knowledge of surfing and the terminology of the sport, and a tutorial program is included on the B side of the cassette. Loading the tutorial allows you to step through menus which lead to descriptions of the various moves that score points in the game as well as information on the selection of gear, a glossary of surfing slang, a history of surfing and twenty tips for safe fun in the surf.

Before starting play proper, the program gives some information on the climatic conditions prevailing and then leads you through a set of options, requesting information on your age, sex, height and weight before allowing you to select the type of board and clothing you wish to take to the water. Each time the game is played the conditions change, and as in real life the best surfing is only to be had when the sea is good...

The final option in the menu allows you to specify whether you want to practise riding the waves or enter a competition. In practice mode you can select from ten speeds and surf away merrily, without running out of energy while you practise manoeuvres. In competition mode, competition rules apply and you get ten rides in which to build up a score performance deteriorates as you get tired.

The game begins with your surfer on the beach, carrying a board. Pick a spot to enter the water, press down on the nose of the surfboard on your computer to leave the beach and paddle out to sea. A large surfboard in the sky gradually disappears as energy is used up paddling the board gets tiring very quickly. Once a suitable spot in the sea has been reached, the next step is to turn round and wait for a wave. Pressing the 2 key puts your surfer onto the board, and catching a wave allows the real fun to begin.

Once a wave has been caught and the surfboard mounted the display changes to give a view of the wave you are riding with your surfer zooming along on the water. Using the surfboard overlay its then up to you to attempt point-scoring moves as you ride the wave towards the beach. The board pivots about its centre and makes contact with some of the Spectrum's keys. As the little surfboard is tilted and slanted during play, the keypresses produced are translated in movement on screen. The aim of the game is to go for the highest score possible by assembling a routine of slick stunts. Your performance is governed by the type of wave you are riding, the choice of equipment and physique entered at the start, the weather, and the energy remaining a tired surfer makes mistakes! New Concepts have based this simulation on the conditions and seascape at Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall during the 1984 World Championships.

If you manage to master this particular beach, becoming a true Surfchamp, modules containing the data for other famous surfing haunts should be available in due course to test your skills to the limit.

CRITICISM

'While New Concepts have come up with a good idea, and have created a very interesting and different sports simulation, they should have paid mo re attention to the front end of the game. The instructions are very difficult to master, as is the game itself. If you are already a surfer, you'll probably drop straight into it, but most people well have to put a fair bit of effort into getting to grips with the game. That said, of you take the trouble, Surfchamp can be a lot of fun, and could teach a lot about the sport it simulates. With a bit more attention to presentation, New Concepts could have had an excellent product'

'Surfchamp is essentially a good game. According to the packaging, the game is compatible with the Spectrum Plus, but I had problems getting the two to work together - if you own a Plus, try the surfboard first! Sound could have been used much better that it is, but graphics are well above average, although a little disappointing on the beach, and colour is all it should be. If you like surfing, or have your heart set on getting this novel game, then by all means nip down to the shop. Otherwise, think about it - the game is worth the asking price, but a few people may be put off by the price tag'

'Reading instructions, especially long winded ones, is something I try to avoid. I had to resist the temptation to dive into Surfchamp head first as it is impossible to get started unless you study the instructions very carefully. Even after reading the leaflet and looking at the instruction program on side two of the tape I found it difficult to get into the game. Graphically, I found the game a bit disappointing - there's a fair amount of colour clash and your character isn't exceptionally animated. There is no sound, which is a pity as the noise of the odd wave crashing over the beach would have added to the atmosphere. Generally, I wouldn't recommend Surfchamp unless you are the sort of person who likes to get really involved in a game. You need to stick with this one before you have fun'

COMMENTS
Control keys: CAPS and 1 to paddle out, 2 to catch wave and stand, otherwise use surfboard
Joystick: N/A
Keyboard play: interesting...
Use of colour: not bad
Graphics: fairly good, though not slick
Sound: none
Skill levels: one
Screens: two surfing screens, plus introduction program
General Rating: An interesting sports simulation if you're not put off before you start.

73%
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Screenshot Text

Riding a wave in New Comcepts' SURFCHAMP. Fast reactions and an understanding of the principles behind surfing is needed if you want to go for a high score.

Inside the tutorial program - each manoeuvre is illustrated, described and the points it scores displayed. Lots of other tips and hints can be found on side two of the cassette.