Accolade Inc
1990
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£10.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
None

46
Mark Caswell, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

No prizes for guessing what Gunboat's all about - it's a river combat simulation (hence the title!). You're the skipper of a PBR (Patrol Boat: River), and your mission is to destroy set targets in different locations. Your rank determines your location, and as you start the game at the bottom of the promotional ladder, your first few hours of duty are based around Vietnam.

There are four positions to fill on the boat: the pilot's seat, the bow gunner's seat, the engineer/midship gunner's seat and the stern gunner's seat. How can just one person fill all of these positions? Well, if you're in one of the gunners' shoes the computer contols the pilot. However, its steering isn't as good as yours, so try and spend as much time as possible in the pilot's chair.

The target is usually deep in enemy territory - miles up some of the most tortuous rivers ever seen. Continuous use of the map is advised because it's all too easy to lose your way; its also very easy to walk into the enemy. Your gunnery skills are tested as you throw everything you've got at the tanks, boats and enemy troops that patrol the river banks. But a word of warning: make sure you've identified a target correctly because it's all too easy to hit civilians! And make every shot count because the enemy fire back, often hitting one of the crew.

There are three ways to end the mission: the successful completion of a task, the death of all the crew or you chickening out and returning to base (guess which one I did most!).

Gunboat is a tough game, so make good use of the practice options. I fount the PB:R difficult to control at first, and hitting targets isn't easy because the waters are pretty choppy and the PB:R bounces a lot! Graphically, the game's good, especially the guns and pilot's cabin, though background sprites are unimpressive. Sound is also a bit of a let down with bog standard engine drone and whee, boom gun effects. If you have the patience for simulations Gunboat is for you - paid blasting fans may soon find their interest drifting elsewhere.

MARK ... 75%

CRITICISM

'Gunboat is a strange simulation. These boats are some of the slowest vehicles you could possibly take control of, and that is what this game is... Slow! You select your mission and have to manouevre the boat through the tiny rivers in the landscape to arrive at a target. When the target is destroyed you've accomplished your mission. I managed to get to the target, but about half an hour after the designated time! The graphics used on landscapes and enemies are not the best in the world. Most of the time you're attempting to steer through a mess of lines which are hidden by the window frame to make things extra difficult. Gunboat is a reasonable simulation of marine machines, but who wants to use them anyway?' NICK ... 59%

A reasonable simulation with appeal for afficionados only.

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