Compendium is a four-pack of familiar board games with a tiddly twist - it's presented as an ordinary tale of the everyday Wink family. Father Wink, a not-so-secret tippler, his wife Mavis, their three children Ralph, Victoria and Tiny Tim, and Sniffer the dog make up the weird Wink household.
The Winks spend their time upon this planet playing Snakes And Hazards, Christmas Ludo, Shove-A-Sledge and Tiddly Drinks.
In Snakes And Hazards, the children and their dog aim to get from the bottom left corner, square 1, and reach the upper left square - number 100 on the chequered game board. Whoever gets there first is the winner.
The players take it in turns to move a number of squares determined by the automatic throw of dice. A display beneath the main screen indicates the present square a character stands on, and the square that they should move to after the throw.
If one of the characters lands on a square containing the foot of a ladder, they go to the top of it, thus avoiding intervening hazards. These include snakes which sprawl across the playing area - if a player lands on a square which incorporates a snake's head, the unlucky victim slides down the serpent till the end of its tail is reached.
But in Snakes And Hazards there are more problems than you find in real Snakes And Ladders, because the non-playing members of the Wink family interfere and attempt to push their children and dog on to the squares with snake heads.
Still, none of the playing Winks are particularly interested in what they're doing, and this creates the ideal opportunity for the other players to distract them - by picking up objects they might find on the board and dropping them in the path of others.
With luck, the wicked Winks will be diverted by what's dropped in their path. For example, Sniffer stops at lampposts, the baby at a dummy, Ralph at reference books, and Victoria at the telephone.
But Shady Leaf the holly piece, Meanus Puddus and Sam Snake are further crazy creations which can end a player's life straight away if they make contact.
After Snakes And Hazards comes Christmas Ludo. Again the Wink children and Sniffer are involved. Each player has four counters which must be moved from their individual bedrooms around a four-armed Ludo board to reach the safety of the HOME square.
To put a counter into play, a 6 must be showing on the thrown dice. Each counter carries the initial of the player it belongs to. When a 6 is shown another go is allowed. If a counter lands upon another, the lower counter is removed from the board.
This time, mum and dad Wink patrol the board and contact with them immediately ends a player's turn.
At last Mavis and Tiddly, along with Victoria and Ralph, get in on the games-playing act in Shove-A-Sledge. Snow is thick on the ground and Tiny Tim wants to sledge, but he needs some help to push him.
So a grid is marked in the snow with ten divisions, and each of the Wink players has three turns in which to push the sledge between the division lines. The winner is the player who manages to do this successfully in all ten divisions.
A good run up is needed to push the sledge, which can be positioned at the start line, but if the sledge is shoved too hard Tiny Tim may not be home from hospital in time for Tiddly Drinks.
And Sniffer does his best to hinder all this by scampering about in the run-up area.
Almost exhausted by so much activity the Winks come to their final game, Tiddly Drinks. Old Tiddly himself is down at the pub, rather drunk and being irritating. The barmaid serves Tiddly with between one and six pints of beer and after quaffing these drinks at the bar, a tiddly Tiddly wanders away throwing the empty glasses into the air one by one.
Mavis, Victoria, Ralph and Sniffer take it in turns to position themselves as best they can to catch the arcing glassware before it lands upon the floor. A shadow upon the ground gives them some help in judging where the glass will land.
The winner is the Wink who has caught most glasses by closing time.
Compendium was a brilliant game for the Christmas season, with snow all over the ground and its of little festive ditties, but seems less interesting in the cold light of January. But the graphics are excellent whatever the season, with bright characters, detailed playing boards and background scenery.'
NICK ... 83%
'Let's face it, board games are for boards, and computer games for computers. Sometimes they mix - but more than often the licence of a board game turns out as a miserable translations. And all the subgames in Compendium are very boring and repetitive. There's no computer opponent, which is a major flaw - this always limits the life span and appeal of a game no matter what it's like. Tiddly Drinks is a strange part of Compendium because it has to resemblance to any board game, or even to tiddlywinks. And to make Compendium even less appealing there's a decidedly Christmassy feel.'
PAUL ... 48%
: Cursor, Kempston, SinclairGraphics
: festive but funSound
: a wide range of Christmas tunesOptions
: 1-4 playersGeneral Rating:
Simple fun for all the family, so long as it's only once a year.
Weak and mild: Compendium