Falcon Computing
David Holden
1984
Strategy: Management
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

53
Chris Bourne

New Venture will probably be a useful guide to setting up your own trading business, as its all about making money out of being a shop keeper - a uniquely British thing, we're told. Falcon is a new company and this is their first game. It comes as instructions on one side of the cassette and a loader routine for the game which is on the other side. It's worth looking through the instructions first, which are detailed without being confusing and contain many useful hints on the parameters by which your performance will be measured, as well as some explanation on the random elements in the process of shop keeping both for real and in the game. None of these instructions is so complex that a printer is essential for play, although during the game a printer makes life easier.

You kick off with a fairly generous £25,000 (a legacy perhaps). First task is to select the site and type of shop. Up for grabs are four types: a small frontage local village shop costing £15,000 freehold; a double frontage local village shop costing £22,000 freehold; a medium sized town central shop costing £10,000 per annum rent; and a large store in the shopping precinct costing £20,000 per annum rent. You must sort out which you would like, since they each have their obvious advantages and disadvantages. In order, they each have a rising potential in turnover. When this is selected you must pick what to trade in - clothes, DIY/Hardware, Sports gear, Groceries, Newsagents or a shoe shop. Again, each has characteristics, some being more dependent on seasonal changes than others. When this is done you are informed of the rent/sale price, solicitors fees and costs or repairs. Together these will probably take you over the £25,000 you have, but the friendly bank manager is there to help.

Now you may elect to commence trading (not much good without stock of course), place advertisements in the local free sheet, local daily, local radio, or have posters delivered locally, visit your bank manager (as mentioned!), check your bank statement (not good at the start!), check your update stock, take out insurance or quit. At the bank you can apply for a loan, extend one, repay it or shoot yourself. Checking stock will reveal zero, so it's time to buy - a graph shows how much you are purchasing and in what category. There are six to select from labelled A to F, some seasonal, some good all round sellers (you start off in January), and a 'new line'.

Having stocked up, and advertised if you can afford it, you start trading. Again the graph reappears and shows sales in each category. This is followed by the monthly figures status, showing how much money was made selling each category, the percentage of bought-in stock sold and the total takings. A total stock sold figure is given and the total takings. A key press then reveals your balance sheet for the month and will include the variable costs like wages, housekeeping, gas, electricity etc., with a total profit/loss figure. This is followed by the bank statement and also shows the amount outstanding on your loan from the bank. You are now ready to repeat the process for the next month.

From time to time people keep coming up and asking you whether you would like to buy something from them, always luxury goods of some sort. You score points the more of these items you can afford, and they are tax deductible from the business, so it's worth it if you can. The overall objective of the game is to become rich enough to buy the fabulous Falcmobiie. There are a number of random elements and variables which include wage demands, the taxman, Vatman, accountancy problems, insurance and associated risks to stock and property, and inflation.

CRITICISM

'New Venture is fairly sophisticated as these strategy finance games go and allows for an absorbing game. The program is very user-friendly, prompting at each stage and mostly accepting input at a key press. It isn't in any sense 'flashy' but it does seem to be pretty comprehensive and demands a lot of common sense from the player. It is also mercifully free of the more usual random element disasters that ultimately lower the addictive qualities of such games. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it.'

'Having a variety of shop types as well as commodities in which to trade is a good idea, since it gives more playability to the game. If you do well in a small village shop, you can then try your hand at a larger town one, where there are many more headaches like taffy staff and insurance problems. This sort of game can take a long while to play if you're good at managing a shop, and if you like strategy games of this nature, then this is a good one for you.'

'The program allows for printouts at most stages, which is useful because many times you have to make decisions about the categories of stocks you have, like whether to have a sale, and as they are only labelled with letters it is easy to forget quite what it is you're deciding on. The printouts also form a permanent record of your progress and allow you to see patterns emerging as one year flows into another. I thought New Venture was a realistic simulation, at least as realistic as possible on a small computer, and certainly better than many other similar games I have seen recently.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: mostly single input
Responses: reasonable to very quick
Colour: sensibly used
Graphics: text only with clear bar codes
Sound: very little, but useful entry beeps, nice tune
Skill levels: variable depending on shop and stock
Originality: first of its kind given that the financial strategy game isn't new, but the nature of this scenario is
General Rating: Very good.

73%
N/A
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83%
78%
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78%

Screenshot Text

They say we're a Nation of Shopkeepers - but how good are you?