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Not Known
Strategy: Management
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Bossman is a graphical strategy simulation where you run your own factory and try to make a million. New software house, Avalon, are venturing into the realm which C.C.S. have made very much their own until recently. Your factory manufactures Robovacs and, as the owner, you presumably know what those are since the producers don't tell you - robotic vacuum cleaners no doubt. The kinds of problems you will encounter include the hiring of a workforce (and the firing of it), coping with wage demands, illness, strike threats, deciding how many Robovacs to build and paying your stock costs and income tax. As usual with this type of game, there are various random disasters that tend to crop up such as Flu and flash floods. You can also increase the retail price of your product to take into account inflation and rising

The game commences with a fixed factory report, to which you return after each round for an update on the status. This starts you off with an amount of capital (not much), Robovacs in store (none), present cost of manufacture per unit, total number of workforce, weekly wage, total weekly wage bill, maximum output per person, and total output possible per week. Your first task is to decide how many more people you can afford or want to employ. Next you must decide how many Robovacs to make in week one. You are then told how many were made, the target figure suffering because of absences through illness or adverse travelling conditions, or perhaps stock delays or machine failures.

Having established the actual total made, the computer then sells your stock for you, informs of how many were sold and updates the status report. When this is complete you are shown the wage bill and income tax amount, and finally whether you made a profit or a loss. The game is accompanied by graphics throughout, about six different pictures from the exterior of the factory unit to the sales office with its optimistic graph in the background, right through to the Crown Court where you are bankrupted!


'Bossman, because of its colourful graphics, is a quite lively industrial simulation. But I suspect the graphics have eaten up some valuable program space with the result that the simulation is rather simple. There could have been more made of buying stocks of raw materials and relating this to overall production: also perhaps more made of the selling side. This would have lifted the skill factor in playing the game and counteracted the usual irritation of those random elements like high winds flattening your factory or your workforce going on a go-slow for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, Bossman provides a few hours of fun.'

'This is one game where I can guarantee you won't make a profit! Graphics add a bit of colour to the game and there is good use of sound to enliven the proceedings. The main problem to playing this game is that it is too difficult to expand as the possible p rofits keep getting eaten up by adverse happenings. I discovered a way of getting round wage rise demands. Refuse the Union's demand - say 4 % - and then offer them 10%. The computer then reports that the Unions are happy to accept your offer of 0%! Now that's what I call harmonious working! The responses are a little slow. Overall, not the best 1 have seen of this type of game.'

'To be really enjoyable to play, this type of strategy/simulation game needs to echo real life as much as possible, but Bossman suffers too much from the random disaster element to be compelling or addictive. I gleaned all the enjoyment I thought I was likely to get from it within three-quarters of an hour. The graphics make a nice change to the usual, although the claim to 3D only refers to the way they are drawn, and they are quite static.'

Control keys: numerics and ENTER all screen-prompted
Graphics: nicely detailed
Colour: well used
Sound: lively beeps and whistles
Skill levels: 1
Originality: typical of its kind
General Rating: Fair to average, providing only average opportunities for skill. Probably a good starter for younger children.


Screenshot Text

An idyllic setting for making Robovacs - and money if you can...

Neat, clean and ideal surroundings for electronics workers don't stop them making wage demands.