Product: Pres Games Disc 3
Publisher: ACP/Pres
Compatibility: Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #47

What's your favourite Micro Power game? Felix In The Factory? You need Pres' first disc, mate. Moon Raider? Disc number two. Cybertron Mission? Get a life. But if you're personal fave hasn't yet been covered by those Pres compilations, the chances are you'll find it on Games disc three - shipping you on eight more stops around the Micro Power office!

Actually, this compilation is the strongest of the three reviewed so far [There are six in total! - Ed] and has a greater "variety" factor - instead of eight arcade games, you get an Adventure, a Chess simulator and the tricky Danger Uxb puzzle plus some of the faster and more challenging arcade jaunts; namely Ghouls, Positron, Swoop, Felix And The Evil Weevils and Galactic Commander (in order of their playability).

Ghouls is a Mode 5 platform game with four screens to complete. It is easily the best title Micro Power ever produced even though it is not very big. [The Electron version of Imogen was produced by Superior - Ed]

You control a creature which bears more than a passing resemblance to Pac Man with legs and you must get from the bottom to the top of the screen by climbing/jumping from platform to platform. A simple idea but one done with a lot of style.

While you are grounded by gravity, floating around above you is the Ghoul (One of those from the title - his friends join him when you start getting too good!). He tries to 'home in' on whenever you're standing so you frequently need to lure him somewhere unnecessary then make a run for the jewels, eating any Pac Man style edibles on the way! Your progress is also hindered by huge bouncing spiders, retracting floorboards and moving platforms. An interesting effect regarding gravity is that if the ground underneath you is moving, you must also move with it - that is, if you want to avoid plummeting to certain doom! It's a trick that's easily learned but then becomes difficult to pull off sometimes.

There's also a power pill which makes the ghoul(s) disappear for a bit. Sometimes you need to think strategically when eating it though as the Ghoul will continue to move. He just can't pop you off until he re-appears (after a short period of time). Sometimes it pays to keep an eye on his position and avoid the pill.

Positron (Invaders) is an early Gary Partis game which is a manic space-invaders affair. You swing from left to right and zap merrily until you either die or you get to level eight and you are presented with the message "No FOR at line 34213, Bad Program". This bug is present on the tape version too and is connected with the Plus 1 interface. On the tape version, you can disable it and then the game works fine. But it's tragically easy to reach the bug here and it appears Pres were operating a conspiracy when this made it onto a format where the Plus 1 has to be connected!

Swoop is another space-invaders game. This one is a variation on the Arcadians theme and doesn't compare too favourably with the best of its type on the Elk. You are at the bottom, they are at the top...yeah, zzz. But watch out for "their" missiles. Instead of disappearing when they miss you, they remain active for a while and pose a constant hazard - maliciously sitting there waiting for you to crash into them.

Felix has gone through a shrinking machine! And The Evil Weevils, it seems, are cyan-coloured worms! Now, you're stuck in another factory, trying to spray them to death with Weevil-killer while treading on a maze of conveyor belts. Weird beyond belief but, that stated, quite good. Its "evil" weevils, named Sluggies and Zippies, are a departure from its two prequels and don't look evil at all!

The weakest arcade game is Galactic Commander, where you must guide your ship through nine phases of simulated space. Luckily, what it lacks in colour is compensated for by Danger Uxb, a Mode 1 arcade game set on a puzzle grid. You must defuse (move over) a number of bombs before your time runs out. Each time you cross a square, it disappears and a note is played. You cannot move over the hole it leaves so you to get back you can either run around it or use the 'slide left' and 'slide right' keys to rotate the row on which you stand left or right.

It's not particularly hard for the first few screens on the low skill level though harder skill levels introduce some boots set on squishing you which usually succeed. The notes played encourage quick movement (so you can hear your Electron playing The Sting!) and another nice feature is a dropping man bonus game.

The more mentally taxing games are not the best of their type. Chess is a very slow adaptation of that Game of Kings where moves can take upwards of an hour [Get Colossus Chess 4! - Ed] and the computer always wins. Frustrating in the extreme.

Adventure is, not unsurprisingly, reliant on NORTH, SOUTH, EAST and WEST commands. Yet it has an added feature in that you can play as a "Wizard" (and, amazingly, a French one!) once you've completed it once! It is an early adventure and not as well presented as it could be; the screen displaying white text on a blue background in Mode 6. But it's not bad as beginners' adventures go.

And so another of Pres' superb compilations brings us a lot of retro games we thought were only available on tape. However, the same flaws as the first two discs are present again - a very slow display of the menu system, a virtual force-field around the disc disallowing cheats or upgrades to the programs and the odd bug in the games themselves. But it's the only way to get Ghouls on disc and, for this alone, I can highly recommend it.