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IMS Software
Richard V. Tonkin
1984
Sport: Action
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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18,19
Chris Bourne

Show Jump comes in one of the larger sized plastic cassette cases, the sort that have a wallet for the inlay. However, there are no instructions or descriptions on the inlay. This might be considered a drawback to IMS since jumping horses over fences doesn't sound like too good a thing on the Spectrum as Hickstead proved. Which is a pity, because Show Jump actually has a rather elegant way of presenting the simulation. When loading is completed the player is offered a choice of definable keys for the five controls - faster, slower, left, right and jump, and a choice of 8 courses over which to jump. These are of increasing complexity in layout, but all with ten fences of various types. The playing screen is divided into two areas. The larger is a green rectangle bordered by the traditional; show jump flowers with a plan view of the fences, a blue chequered block for starting and a red one for finishing. Your horse and its rider are represented by a short line with a small Y for the head.

Above this is a narrower strip with a red bordered square containing the time elapsed since crossing the start (real time) and fault points accrued. The rest of the strip is an animated simulation, and form the elegant solution to presenting this game. On the right is a large graphic of horse and rider. They can be seen walking, trotting or cantering to speed quite accurately although they stand on the spot. On approaching a fence, seen on the plan below, the fence seen from the side appears from behind the timing square and rushes towards the rider, allowing a very accurate judgement to be made as when to jump. Equally, running into the edges of the jumping area results in the flowers appearing until the horse runs into them and you retire hurt.

As in real show jumping, the fences must be taken in a specified order. This is indicated by the next jump to be taken flashing. Taking a wrong jump or going over it in the wrong direction will mean disqualification.

CRITICISM

'On first looking at Show Jump I thought, oh no. another very basic looking attempt at a sport simulation that can't work well on a small home computer. But I changed my mind after a few minutes. The screen looks attractive, always a big help, and the animation of the horse and rider is excellent. A lot of detail has gone into the game, for instance the border round the jumping arena has various coloured crosses representing the flower boxes. When these appear on the top section if you ride too close, the coloured flowers in the boxes there exactly match those seen on the arena border. Such details don't actually make a game of course, but they do help. In play, Show Jump proves to quite difficult, and your horse seems to have as much character and individuality as one would expect from an animal, which is to say, it has a mind of its own at times! Very interesting and playable without being, perhaps, madly addictive.'

'Show Jump is a fairly original type of game which does have enough appeal to make it above average. It is not addictive enough to make it a 'super' game. The animation of the horse is very good. Perhaps more variety in the layout of the courses etc. would have made it a little more interesting.'

'I found this game interesting as an idea, but in the end a little unplayable. Controlling your horse isn't very easy. The problem being the 'left' and 'right' are always from the rider's point of view and therefore alter to opposites for the player watching the screen. In fact it's easier played on the keyboard than a joystick, not being ultra-fast, as this seems to allow better control. I would have thought that there could have been a wider allowed jumping- area on the fences, certainly on the simpler courses. As it is, it's rather narrow and accuracy sometimes gets in the way of fun. A novel idea and generally well executed, I thought, which will probably appeal to many players, especially if fond of equestrian events.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: preset as Q/A up/down, O/P left/right and K for jump - good positions, but also user-definable
Joystick: almost any via UDK
Keyboard play: responsive but rather hard in control
Use of colour: above average to good
Graphics: generally clear and simple, but horse animation is impressive
Sound: not much, fault beeps
Skill levels: different difficulty levels with courses
Screens: 8 courses
General Rating: Original, playable but not very addictive.

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Screenshot Text

'Coming up to full speeed - and there goes Harvey Smith, bucketing over the jump...'