Publisher: Computer & Video Games
Compatibility: BBC B, B+ & Master 128
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #70

These rediscovered program collections just keep on coming! Computer & Video Games still holds the record for longest running multi-format mag; it hit the shelves in 1982 and was still there more than two decades later. Thirty years later, this disc is the complete collection of 46 games it published for the BBC Micro and Electron both within its pages or supplements and, like the Computer Gamer Collection, has been made available in large part due to efforts of the World of Spectrum site in hosting scans of all of the C&VG issues.

There's a full cross-range of programs here, all written entirely in BASIC and with the varying degrees of quality you might expect from the early 'type in's. Many of the programs appear on this collection exactly as they were published in the magazine; some have had very minor alterations made to them to correct obvious errors or to give the player more favourable control keys.

You can get stuck into almost all of the games immediately as the playing controls and desired outcome is either obvious or given in a page of instructions before it starts. Given the size of this particular disc, I am only going to give my thoughts on the better games in the compilation so, in no particular order, here are my favourites:

Purple Turtles is, I believe, a conversion of a famous Vic 20 game where you need to leapfrog from one side of a river to another by using the bathing turtles as a bridge. The Mode 5 screen display and colourful playing characters are nice and inviting. I have also managed the premise several times, so I know it is possible - but, extremely annoyingly, the turtles seem to bob up and down at complete random, meaning you can often simply be stranded in the middle of the river for a long, long time.

Eggs. A colourful Mode 5 game in which you must scuttle to catch eggs laid by clucking farmbirds. The shortcomings of the game are very obvious - the movement is jerky, you can be instantly picked off by rogue 'rotten eggs' hurled across the screen without warning and, should you jump in the air, you remain there for a ridiculously long amount of time. That said, it's cheerful (and noisy!) enough for a few bashes.

Enchanted Castle. A graphic text adventure game, this is one of the 'stars' of the compilation and puts you in a haunted house charged to kill the Vampire of the Castle. You don't have to look too far to find his coffin and the wire-frame graphics are interesting, if slightly unusual in a game of this type. It is typical adventure fare - GET, LOOK, READ, N, S, etc - but the animations and musical riffs make it more of a children's game than a real challenge.

Ball Trap. A very simple idea and only a few lines of code. You must trap a bouncing ball inside a small red box at the top left of the screen. To do this, you simply draw with the cursor and each time you move, a line extends in that direction, eventually giving the ball less and less space to ricochet around in.

Harrier. This is another simple Mode 5 game which actually gets the thumbs up despite being only a few lines long. Your mission is to land Harrier planes on a moving aircraft carrier, and you do so by simply flying at the same speed as the carrier is moving and softly approaching it to gently touchdown. It should be easy - yet you'll find you often misjudge, overshoot the carrier and get lost somewhere off-screen or even worse explode your harrier and the carrier in a ball of flames!

I'll give Missile Command a nod for its use of Artificial Intelligence. On first glimpse this looks like a straightforward Space Invaders style game but with only a single wave of aliens to shoot down. However after they descend a few lines, the formation falls out and individual aliens come at your bases simultaneously from all angles! A high score table and variety of beasties lift this one above the norm.

Reversi is a version of the strategy game which is riveting and, in my opinion, far superior to any other version that I have played, including all of the professional versions produced by the various software houses. It plays a very good game, and does not hang for long 'thinking' periods whilst doing so. On top of this, a lot of thought has gone into how the moves appear on screen, with animations galore really lifting the game to a new level.

Smarty Berty is one of two versions of Crazy Er*bert that appears on this disc and is a good mixture of pyramid-based arcade and skill, getting progressively harder as the levels tick up.

We also have Super Sharks, a promising-looking underwater shootathon where you need to blast away mechanical sharks with three rather large guns. The trouble is that the currents of the seas play havoc with your aiming mechanism, meaning your frequently well-timed shots end up sinking your own battle cruisers. However, you learn very quickly that firing with gun number three is always best - because the current can never whip your bullet off the screen as it can with both of the other guns! Also, the completely random and uncontrollable currents make this a game of pure luck rather than reaction skills.

There isn't really too much to say about those that do not make the cut; they are passable but many have been done elsewhere (better!) a million times before. You get two versions of Dodgems, about three versions of Pacman, Bomber, Hunchback and Simon variants, several more Space Invaders clones, some truly abyssmal screen-scrolling efforts like Caterpillar and Grand Prix and borefests like Dodge City and Tank Battle.

It is worth mentioning that there are some new ideas in here that don't quite 'work' - Defuse (a reaction type game involving navigating a cursor through several bombs) and Skywalker (a strange dueling game based on the film Star Wars) are the most interesting, although there are others! There is also a true 'text adventure' called Operation Kristos, a football simulation called World Cup and one 'joystick only' title called Shuttle.

Overall, this is an above average selection of programs and, in a league table of collections of this type, it would probably occupy the third or fourth position. The collection is menu-driven and a particular game selected with either the ZX*? combination or with arrow keys. It is also available across all disc formats with most games designed for the BBC. Many also work on the Electron.

With the completion of this collection, there remain very few missing-in-action type-ins from other games-based multi-format magazines (Only Personal Computer News, Popular Computing Weekly and Your Computer spring to mind!). Perhaps the Companion Discs archive of Acorn Electron World will soon be nearing completion...?