Ah, Sir Humphrey. Come in, come in. Do sit down.
"Thank you, Prime Minister."
Well, what can I do for you?
"Well, it has come to my attention that those personages who may be described, if not by me, certainly by those people who could by no means be described as being, well, me, as the writers of a notable and highly lucrative series of entertaining half-hour humorous playlets on the televisual apparatus, have been branching out from these humble, if not actually modest beginnings and perpetrating further outrages and satirical comments on the workings of government and, specifically, the civil service, by means of books, T-shirts, radio programmes and now, it seems, some form of information technology which I believe is commonly known as the 'Speccy'..."
You mean there's a computer game version of Yes PM? Yes I know.
"You know, Prime Minister? How did you find out?" Well, I'm in it, Humpry, as are you. Take a look...
Yes, Yes Prime Minister (as opposed to No No Nanette) is but the latest 'licence' to be bought up by a software company and slapped onto your Spectrum. The company behind this wheeze is Mosaic, known in the past mainly for a few low-key adventures. But YPM is a very different kettle of memos, what with its plush red packaging, its digitised pics of the characters and the hefty price tag (15 nicker, I ask you!). So wossit like?
In a move that'll gladden the hearts of Mrs T and all the other YPM fans, the Speccy game is immensely faithful to the spirit of the show. It's mainly reminiscent of US Gold's Killed Until Dead, with that splendid game's desk-and-phone scenarios and colourful graphics. Moving your cursor around, you identify what's going on (meetings with bigwigs and so on) and react accordingly. You get phonecalls from your advisors and attend meetings with them, in which you take decisions that are the basis of your success or failure in the game. Your long conversations with people are very funny and based, I'd guess, on dialogue used in the shows. There's the occasional hint around if you can find it, and if you can get into the safe, you'll find the latest poll results, which measure how you're doing. You score brownie points for showing judgement and knowledge, which by some curious process bump up your poll rating. Similarly, the polls decline if you keep making boo-boos.
The game's a multi-loader and takes place over five days, during which you have to avoid the big E. There's a random element in each game, but after a few plays you'll find the same events recurring - I suppose it's called 'experience'. There's a lot to it, and even though it sometimes seems a little slow, I found you can speed up the game by clicking the cursor over the clock, which'll take you to the next moment something's due to happen. It's a problem solvers' game essentially, which means it's all right by me. There are a few ways of winning, I'm told, but loads of ways of losing, many of which I've already found!
So if you're a fan of the wittiest and best written gag show on TV, you'll want to snap this up swift-ho. It's only just this side of Adventureland, so it may not appeal to hardened zappers, but I look forward to many a warm winter evening trying to crack the Whitehall code and survive my week in office. As Jim Hacker himself once said, "You've just got to grit your teeth and bite the bullet..."
Addictive and faithful translation of Dr B's favourite sitcom to the Speccy. Now who's going to do Black Adder...?