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Mike Pertwee
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Roger Keane
Chris Bourne

For those about to take their Driving Test, we salute thee! The practical test is most likely to cause the real heartache, yet many learners can fail through incorrect answers to those few friendly little questions the Tester asks at the end. The HMSO Highway Code book gets bulkier each year as more laws go on the statutes. This program from CRL with its Automobile Association seal of approval, is designed to help the learner motorist with the Highway Code theory.

It is presented in two forms, either as a 10 question game or a longer 25 question game. The object is to score 75% or better. Each question is presented on a three or four answer choice of which only one answer is correct, or on a true/false basis. Your answer is given by pressing the appropriate letter key and ENTER. A red arrow points to the correct answer and your score is updated.

At the top left corner a small panel shows a page reference to the HMSO book so you can look the relevant information up in revision. On completing a game you are given your total score and are told to re-read your Highway Code if it is below 75%. It's a small niggle, but with 10 questions it is of course impossible to get 75% as 10% is awarded per question.

Rather more serious niggles begin to emerge when using the program. The value of something like this resides in the variety and number of possible questions asked. CRL's inlay states that the questions asked are selected randomly from 'a huge pool' of questions stored in the computer. On four tries at the 10 question game and three tries at the 25 question game, I was asked no less than six questions each five times. This doesn't suggest all that big a 'pool' to me. The program is written entirely in BASIC (with the exception of a small machine code routine which creates the siren sound effect at the start of a game). Many PLOT and CIRCLE routines are used for the graphics (with one UDG for a car shape), PRINT statements are used for the large block lettering, and page after page of PRINT statements for all the questions and answers. English text in PRINT statement form is notoriously wasteful of memory, so it's little wonder that the program takes ages to load and contains not that many questions. Is it really very wise of CRL to make absurd claims for this program when anyone with their finger on BREAK or STOP can find out in a few seconds how large the ' pool ' really is?

I'm a bit surprised that the AA should have so unreservedly put their stamp of approval on Highway Code, since a much better and larger version could have been done with some machine code and compression. But perhaps it is because this is the first attempt at such a program that they were swayed. In itself the idea isn't bad, and Highway Code could well prove useful as a revision guide for the most asked questions, and certainly this is more fun than doing it all from a book or getting a friend to ask the questions.

Roger Kean


General Rating:

Not Rated