When I was given Virgin's Leisure Genius pack of Scrabble, Monopoly and Cluedo I thought, ruddy marvellous, all me old fave board games to play in the office, with the added fun of playing them on screen.
But unfortunately, it all proved to be a bit pooey, and not much fun at all, a bit disappointing really. Call me a moaning Minnie (you're a moaning Minnie - rest of SU team) but it seems a lot bloody easier and quicker to wop a Monopoly board on the carpet, dosh out the counters and paper money, roll the dice to see who goes first and then get on with it. What could be simpler?
None of this faffing about, having to read a book full of instructions on how to play the damn thing - something you thought you'd got the hang of years ago. Anyway, grizzles out of the way - what did I think of this jolly trio.
When I was a "yoof" I remember many a holiday whiled away playing Cluedo. God knows why, there's absolutely nothing to it, but it's just one of those game that are simple enough for the whole family to play (however simple the family are) without being too mindless.
You all know the idea; the board represents the floor plan of a mysterious mansion, in which the owner Dr Black has been murdered. Up to six players take the parts of house guests Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and so on; your task is to establish the murderer, weapon used, and the location of the crime.
The computer version is a very faithful representation of the game, complete with the floor-plan, Murder Cards, and a window for each player's notes, which you have to cover with your hand each time you want to refer to it!
Players take turns to throw the dice, move around the board, and make suggestions; the computer keeps track of who holds which cards, and if you fail to show cards when requested, it kicks you out of the game (hyuck hyuck!) Classic fun, well implemented; should keep the whole family quiet for at least the duration of Billy Smart's Christmas Circus.
The board on screen is set out much the same as the usual carboardy one, but unfortunately, it's all black and white - no jolly coloured squares to indicate word scores etc. Instead you get a black, grey and white boxes (see key), and seeing as most people can't be bothered to keep looking at the key you tend to just plonk your word anywhere, regardless of scoring extra points. When I played Scrabble it was just me against the computer, but you can play it with up to four players. When it's your go, seven letter tiles appear at the bottom of the screen. Try to make a word with these letters.
To help you sort the letters out you can press 7 and the computer will juggle them about for you. I'd rather have those little plastic tiles in front of me to juggle - seeing them move around on screen didn't help me find new words at all. Alternatively, if you're a bit lazy you can press 8 and the computer will suggest words for you, but that seems to defeat the object really. If you really don't like the letters you've been given you can press 6 and change some, or all, of your tiles. Remember though, this counts as a go, so you miss a turn.
To make the game a little more racy there's a clock facility to limit the time of each player's turn. The clock can be set from between 10 seconds and 59 minutes 59 seconds (for complete and utter wombats).
One thing I was unhappy about was the fact that each player letters are displayed down the right hand side of the screen, so your opponents can see what you've got and therefore attempt to block your next word.
I don't dislike Scrabble on the Spectrum, but I just feel that it's more fun to play the real thing with board and plastic tiles and little wooden ledge things. but then again I'm just an old-fashioned girlie.
When I was a kid (oh gawd, here we go - JD), there was no Trivial Pursuit, no Pictionary or Scruples. If you wanted to play a board game, you played Monopoly or you played nothing, simple as that. AL: Mum, I'm bored. AL'S MUM: Go and play Monopoly (2 hours later) AL: Mum, I finished Monopoly, what can I do now? AL'S MUM: Er, why don't you go and play Monopoly? AL: Oh alright Mum (sigh) And so it went right through my childhood. And now just when I thought it was safe to enter the games room, it's back, back, BACK. Monopoly on the Speccy. It's a pretty good representation of the original game and here's what it looks like.
The top two thirds of the screen displays the board and before you start to play you have to pick a counter (these appear in the bottom third). The choices are the boat, a car, a boot, a hat and an iron. The bank then automatically gives you £1,500 spending money.
Each player in turn presses D for dice, and the dice is rolled to see who goes first. Now you're ready to start playing for real. Roll the dice and your counter moves around the board. The property it lands on is then displayed in the bottom third of the screen and the computer asks if you wish to buy it. Press Y and your account will be debited.
Should a player then land on your property, you must order him to pay you rent, thus boosting your bank account. If you land on a Chance square you may either be awarded cash for say, winning a competition, or cash will be taken away from you for say, school fees. Land on the 'Go to jail' square, and that's exactly where you have to go, and it'll cost you fifty quid to get out. The point of the game is to buy up as much property as possible, and make loads of cash at the same time.
The fact that you can't actually see, by looking at the board, which squares belong to you is a bit annoying. This is kind of remedied by going to the Owner menu (press O). With the actual board game you receive a card for each square you buy, so it's easier to keep a record - less annoying than having to keep flicking screens to and fro.
Monopoly is not as cruddy as I thought it was gonna be, but I really missed having all that lovely coloured paper dosh to wave Mr Money Bags style under your opponents nose when he's sliding towards bankruptcy - look at my wad!!