Classic Games 4 is - yes, you've guessed it - a compilation of four classic board games (in a computer version, of course). On one disk, you get chess, bridge, draughts and backgammon, all for £14.95. Good value for money, you might think - and you'd be right.
The bridge game is excellent. I'm an indifferent bridge player, who enjoys the anticipation of waiting to see what sort of a hand I'm going to get and the drama of actually bidding and playing, but hates the post-mortems and recriminations that accompany playing with real people. With this program, I get what I like and just as much of what I don't like as I can stand. Any more, and I can just tell the Spectrum to get lost.
The programming seems to be good, and the computer shows a remarkable amount of sense; it knows how to follow suit and play the low card without having to be told. It plays what to me looks like a fairly strong game. Finally, the display is more than adequate, although if I were buying just one game I would have demanded much better graphics from the +3 than you get here. But then, given that the program was written for the rubber keyed 48K, you have to accept a lower standard.
With the other three games, however, the screen displays are diabolical. In fact, they are so bad that they make it almost impossible to play the games at all. If you persevere, then make sure that you have plenty of aspirin around, as you will end up with a heck of a headache. The problem is the same as the one which mars CP Software's Clock Chess 89. The colours of the pieces and the board are so badly chosen that the lighter pieces disappear against the lighter squares of the checkerboard in chess and draughts; the problem is less intense with backgammon, although the colours are still somewhat garish.
I had initially been relieved to see that you could change the colours of both pieces and board: but relief turned to dismay when I found that every combination of different colours that I could come up with had exactly the same problem. Come on CP you can do better than this!
The actual strength of the different programs is good, as far as I was able to work out. The computer plays both chess and draughts very well. With backgammon I find it more difficult to judge, as it is not a game I have played much; but certainly it could wipe the floor with me.
There are four very good games here, with a lot of programming effort expended on them. It's a shame three have been let down by dodgy screen displays.
A package of games, one good, the rest poor and most let down badly by very bad graphics. Oh dear.