News, Reviews and Letters Index > Playing the Ace.
Personal Computer News June 16, 1983 'GAMEPLAY' page 50
Now that software for the Ace has gone Forth and multipied, Max Phillips tries his hand.
Playing the Ace
Speed is not one of the qualities of the 'fastest microcomputer in the universe'. It's taken ages for software and RAMpacks to emerge for the eccentric Jupiter Ace.
But now they're here, the claim that Forth makes for fast, value-for-money programs is easily tested. And you'd be surprised what can be done.
To start the Pacman roll-ing, there's Gobbledegook from old Jupiter itself. It runs on a 19K Ace and comes with the minimum of paperwork. Sparse cassettes with slightly smutty covers chara-cterise Ace software.
Congratulations to the brain that thought of the name Gobbledegook; it's the best imitation Pacman name in the business. It's a shame it's a touch too long for the Ace's filing system and the program actually goes by the name of Gobblegook.
But it's a fun program and it plays well. Everything's there . . . you eat the pills, and the gooks chase you. Eat a power pill and the gooks shrivel a bit.
My only quibble is that it isn't easy to spot the change from a violent gook to a shrivelled one.
Gobbledegook gooks move randomly - they don't have the comin'-to-get-you mentality of most Pacmen. You can select between two chase algorithms using Logic A or Logic B. So it's a different game from the one you're used to.
Program luxuries include an ingenious automatic score ladder and provision for two players to take turns and compete. There's screenful after screenful of pills, but there are no proper progressive playing levels. So apart from eating your friends into the ground, Gobbledegook won't provide eternal fun.
Hopper is, of course, Frog-ger. Discount Software's ver-sion for   the   19K   Ace
should be famous  for  its cassette cover. A heroic attempt to reproduce the unfortunate frog has come out looking like a demented four-legged acorn with measles. Well worth the money.
It is a bit of a dis-appointment to find that the joyous object does not turn up in the program itself. Still, there's plenty of graphics and music to make up for it.
The game is rather simple. You've got to cross a wide motorway, divided by two streams of traffic. This is much easier to deal with than versions where the directions of traffic are mixed together.
Your controls are simply left and right arrow to move left and right and up arrow to hop forward.
Hopper isn't too hard to master, but there are a few rough edges. There's no play-again option, and the frog can frequently be persuaded to fly over the backs of lorries. Fun for the minutes it lasts.
Frogger take two came from Remsoft, the Brighton- based software house that's also the Jupiter Ace user group and vice-versa.
Remsoft's 19K Frogger has a busy road with alternating traffic followed by a fast-moving river for you to cross. There's plenty of noise but it lacks the odd trimming - a high-score feature, for example.
The controls are 0 for right, 1 for left and 9 for forward. You can't move left or right once you're past the road.
It doesn't take long to be notching up free frogs like they grew on trees. But miss on the road and you turn into a small heap of frog. The same splat also appears if you drown.
If you can't get off a log quick enough, you are swept away off the left of the screen. But curiously, the frog wraps round to reappear on a new log at the right of the screen. You can hop it to safety only to discover that it turns into a splat the moment it reaches home.
Frogger is nicely programmed and reason-
able fun. But more work wouldn't go amiss.
Othello is more than a touch fashionable at the moment. Jupiter Cantab's 19K version is competently done and has the advantage that it plays a reasonable speed.
Ace Othello will play against you or act as a board for two human players. There's a welcome user interface, far ahead of the nasty old co-ordinates, commas and returns that ruin most Basic versions.
You pick your move by positioning a * cursor over the relevant square, using the four arrow keys. Once you've decided where you want to go, you press 0 to place your counter.
The display presents a neat board with slightly square pieces. But it updates quickly and pieces are turned over with reassuring speed.
Positioning the * involves a series of musical tones. Great fun . . . it's as interesting to play tunes on the cursor as it is to play Othello.
If you can't go, you can press 1 to skip your go. Unfortunately, you can do this at any time during the game, allowing for some sophisticated cheating.
But the proof of the pudding is in the beating. And Ace Othello managed to lose several times.
Time to hang up my RAM-pack and go back to the days dam of the 3K RAM. Greedy Gobbler comes with Blowing up the World, and is one of a vast number of tapes designed to keep people amused while they save up for the RAMpack.
The cassette is produced by Jupiter, and offers an amazing fun-per-byte-penny ratio. Program one is a complete but rather tiny Pacman. It's controlled by a sensible cross-shaped key cluster and makes more noise than you'd have thought possible on an Ace.
You are randomly foll-
-owed by four baddies plus a dead one in the middle that never seems to move until you walk near it. Eat a power pill and they turn into edible top hats for seven seconds.
Greedy Gobbler is great fun - even addictive.
Program two raises the odd political issue. You are a satellite that flies over a map of the world. The idea is to completely erase everything within a count of 3,000 by dropping bombs. You just sit there and press 1-8 depending, on the distance at which you want the bomb to explode.
It could be a sedate pastime for retired megalomaniacs. The world puts up very little resistance . . . kind of satisfying.
Now if the world fired back at you and your satellite got lower and lower you'd have a competitive game. It's called Bomber! But Blowing up the World is an earth-shattering experience with a charm all its own.
I tried another 3K tape to see if Jupiter could do it again, and Fish has much the same qualities. You control a beautifully animated fish in a strong right-to-left current.
The only object is to eat as much of the strange-looking food and debris as possible without getting swept off the screen. There's a counter of how many things you've eaten and that's it.
Flutterer is another noncompetitive game. A strangely menacing fly wobbles its way down the screen while you fire your inexhaustible supply of jerky rockets at it. Hit a flutterer and you score one point. That's the sum total of its 3K wonder.
Jupiter Cantab Cheshunt Building, Bateman St, Cambridge. - Gobblede-gook £7.95, Othello £7.95, Greedy Gobbler & Blowing up the World £5.95, Fish & Flutterer £5.95.
Remsoft XX George St, Brighton - Frogger £6.50.