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Adrian Sherwin
1983
Arcade: Action
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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40
Chris Bourne

As a game type, The Birds and The Bees is a sort of 'Scramble' cum 'Defender' with 'Centipede' connections. It's all about Boris Bee from Birkenhead, who has discovered a fabulous field full of flowers, and dragged his hive into the field ready to start collecting nectar. Unfortunately there are a number of problems. For a start off the birds aren't too happy about the bee's intrusion, and the more nectar Boris collects, the more they chase him. Centipedes also appear, and a bear, which tries to steal the nectar from the, or rather the honey being made in there. Towards the end some wasps make an appearance. Boris's life is hard!

The screen display shows the blue sky and green ground. The sky is full of clouds, some raining, and the sun. It's also full of various birds which fly back and forth. On the ground ducks waddle about, centipedes and caterpillars crawl up and down, and of course there are the flowers. If Boris manages to land properly on a flower, it opens up and releases its nectar.

Below the main display is a bar code which shows how much nectar Boris has collected on his trip. There comes a point when he is fully loaded and must return to the hive to deposit it. The more flowers he visits, the slower he flies, and the more birds home in on him. There is also a 'Scramble' style radar screen which shows Boris's position and that of other creatures. The playing area is totally shown on this screen with the landscape scrolling back and forth as Boris flies about.

The game is compatible with the Currah Microspeech unit, which enhances the sound enormously, as well as providing spoken comments like 'Nectar' when a flower is touched, or 'Oh dear' when a bird is run into.

CRITICISM

'With a micro speech unit on, the sound is very good, but I tried it without, and it's still very good. The title tune, 'Flight of the Bumble Bee ' of course, sounds marvellous. At first I thought the controls were soggy, but it becomes apparent that this is done on purpose, and simulates real life better. Boris has to slow before he can turn, and before he can change height. The more nectar he has on board the more sluggish he gets, so flight tactics and radar watching become very important to honey production! If it looks a little simple at first, don't be misled, it turns out to be very difficult to play, and satisfyingly frustrating too.'

'The graphics, as one might expect of Manic Miner's author, are very good. The bee is nicely animated, legs and wings on the go, so are the ducks and other birds, and the flowers when they snap open. Every character is big, and drawn with lots of detail. The game is a lot of fun to play, because of the graphics, and because the basic idea is quite original. I think it will prove to be quite addictive too.'

'This isn't one of those massively complex games to play, but the problems are sufficient to make it interesting and the graphics are powerful. It takes a bit of getting used to the way Boris is controlled, but once you can fly him about, you can get to be clever at avoiding the birds until they all gang up on you.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: sensible, O/Z up/down, IIP left/right, B drops nectar to speed Boris up in an emergency
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, AGF
Keyboard play: responsive when used to it
Colour very good
Graphics: excellent
Sound: very good
Skill levels: 1 gets harder
Lives: 5
Features: Currah Microspeech compatible

General Rating: Very good, addictive, recommended.

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Screenshot Text

Boris Bee from Birkenhead behaves badly, buzzing back and forth between bunches of flowers.