From Automata U.K. Ltd. comes Ten Pack Vol. II, a compilation tape containing the ten best games sent to Automata since Ten Pack I. The ten titles include a mixture of programs, among them utilities, adventures and arcade games. Our in-house Piert, Gary Liddon loaded them Pi There.
Playing Rastapiman you have to rescue Christian Penfold (the ally pally wally) who has been locked in a cage on screen twenty. The game format is similar to that of arcade favourite, I, Robot. Trapped in a maze, Rastapiman has to turn all the red blocks to purple by running over them. There are gaps in some parts of the maze and he'll have to jump them. Jumping is dodgy because of the continual surveillance of the 'Eye of Pi'. The eye can destroy you if it sees you jumping a gap, though you can avoid its stare by waiting until the eyelid closes, when it's safe to jump. The eye's anger can also be invoked if you stay too long on one maze: its intolerance to your presence increases as the timer ticks down. Also in your way are the Eye Scream Men, whose touch is fatal. Despite the title of the first sheet, Easy, ain' t it?' , it isn't and will take some practice to clear even the starting screen.
This is a nice little graphic adventure putting paid the 'rule' that no one programs games in BASIC any more. Hak T'anger is psychopath trying to kill you, Jaze Kilroy, to stop you from saving the intergalactic ark full of rare animals. The pictures appear on a window taking up the top half of the screen and second window, containing text, is directly underneath the graphics. Your input is displayed on the bottom line. The graphics take some while to appear, being individually drawn, and are a bit sparse when they do arrive. The problems presented are of a quite high standard, though the slowness of the game detracts from its addictive qualities. Really not a bad adventure, just awkwardly presented.
Pi in the Sky
Travelling in a big pink balloon with a big Pi scrawled on it you have to keep aloft while avoiding the gas sapping clouds. There are ten countries to travel through each 500 miles in length. If your gas supply becomes too low then help is at hand - grab a tin of baked beans you'll find drifting by. The baked beans boost you gas supply, though I can't see how. The ground scrolls smoothly along the bottom while jelly fish like clouds wander the skies.
Though not the most stunningly executed game on the tape, Pi in the Sky is definitely one of the best to play. The clouds do get a bit too wobbly but if you ignore that you're left with quite a nice little game.
Zak the snail, careless soul that he is, has fallen down the lavvy. Your job is to guide him out of his porcelain prison back into the real world. (Real? ED) There are twenty sheets to negotiate, each completed by collecting the screen's supply of toilet rolls. Everything else on screen is deadly to snails and must be avoided at all costs. Zak can move in the four basic directions up, down, left and right but he can't stand still. The screen titles run true to normal Automata wit, the first being named 'You Can't Beat the Cistern'. The game's a bit flickery with character movement. After a while it can get a bit tedious.
Paradise in a Microdot
The Quill and Illustrator have been used to excellent effect in this entertaining adventure. Trapped in a microdot you have to solve various puzzles to pass the seven defences to reach the secret object. To accompany you on your journey is the disembodied head of Professor Norden, a scientist rendered headless by the secret police. There are various jokes and riddles scattered about the microdot and it can get confusing trying to sort the meaningful from the meaningless. The riddle snakes were a constant source of entertainment, quizzing you as you pass on by. I can honestly say Paradise in a Microdot never bored me; the program was always able to come up with new rebukes. This is the best adventure on the tape and very good it is too.
This simple arcade game casts the player as a hovering egg trying to collect twenty True Blue Hatching Pills. The background is very similar to that of New Generation's age old 3D Monster Maze, with a 3D maze background. There are various objects blocking your way, some deadly some just impassable. When the twenty hatching pills are in your possession then a gateway opens in the next screen. All in all pretty average stuff but it can provide a few thrills for arcade junkies.
Chambers of Death
Every compilation has a stinker, at least one game that doesn't quite fit in because of it's the worst on the tape. Well I'm afraid the Chambers of Death is it. Clement has disappeared in London's sewer system and ever since, the place has been overrun with a horde of nasties. You have to find the main n flood gates so you can get them open so all corruption can be washed away and the sewers once more made a safe place.
Chambers of Death is an Arcade adventure with a lot of screens all looking extremely similar indeed. Usually with this type of game you'll be able to remember various routes after a few goes, but at the start of this game you'll be able to remember various routes after a few goes. But at the start of this game the maze is randomly generated. Your man can move character squares only and is pretty unresponsive to your key-presses. Various baddies do cross your path but they're easily vanquished. All in all really not worth bothering about.
As fruit machine simulators go Nudgeit is one of the most proficient to date. Taking a very similar format to Frogit, a real fruit machine, the features included are close to those on the real thing. You are given two pounds and fifteen minutes to you're your fortune. The screen is attractively presented in blue, mostly, using yellow as a highlight. The reel graphics are very good with a real fruity look to them. Nudges are awarded allowing you to try and better your winnings. Holds are also implemented. The only thing lacking is cash, though continual practice with this handy piece of software should improve your chances of making money in the arcades.
Anyone out there remember Transversion from Ocean? Well Nth Zone is very similar indeed. For those of you unfamiliar with Spectrum ancient history the plot is as follows. You control a small triangular space ship able to move up, down, left and right. Trapped on a grid, bounded by four walls, you must collect a number of blob type characters by travelling over them. Patrolling around the perimeter wall are four Barbs, one on each wall. The Barbs move across their walls and shoot at you if you are in line with them. The game moves at a furious pace and is quite addictive. The graphics, though crude are effective. All in all, I reckon it's a great game that's pretty addictive.
Piman's Cocktail Cabinet
Depending on your age, Piman's Cocktail Cabinet could prove to be very handy. Containing a database of 160 different cocktails the program allows you to either list the ingredients of a particular cocktail or type in the ingredients you've got. If you type in what your drink cabinet contains then the Pi Man will list all the cocktails available to you. Automata's knowledge of drinks is second to none. Other software houses are merely beginners, barely out of their heads. To keep your favourite cocktails forever with you there's a printer option as well. Overall, very addictive and I got an amazing high shcore (Hic).
Automata's ten pack presents excellent value for money at 80p a game. A couple of the games, Paradise in a Microdot and Nudgeit, are of a very high quality indeed, not really budget software at all. If you need some variation in your software diet then Ten Pack would be worth considering. For Pimaniacs everywhere.
Paradies in a Microdot