Publisher: Software Projects
Compatibility: BBC B, B+, Master 128 & Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #47

Frequently questions asked of the Electron regard compatible BBC software. The answer is usually to stick a Master RAM Board, Mode 7 simulator or DFS disk system on your Elk but a small minority of BBC software will work without any of these pricy extensions. Although Ewgeebez's front cover states '32k BBC Micro', it requires no jiggery pokery at all so is 100% Electron compatible. You don't even need to disable the Plus 1.

Software Projects' Ewgeebez is billed as a space station arcade jaunt and it is similar in some respects to Star Drifter by Firebird. However, in that exploration, you contol a spaceman and your surroundings have the distinct look of a space station. Ewgeebez space station is a maze of caves and you control a small 'fish'-looking craft.

The action is viewed from above and the idea is to navigate your craft (using the Z, X, * and / keys) from screen to screen in search of twelve power crystals. You will also need to make a map and avoid anything that moves in order to complete the game.

Aliens (resembling the Software Projects' logo, a pair of false teeth and a spider) teleport into many of the Mode 1 screens, appearing in random places after you have been on screen a random length of time. Contact with them means instant curtains for one of your three crafts.

Fortunately the aliens don't just 'appear' on top of you and lead to an unfair death - as they teleport in, they flash for several seconds giving you time to plan your strategy for avoiding, shooting or ignoring them. If the alien flashes close to you, you can use these seconds to pass through it without harm.

Apart from these foes, there are deadly machines firing bullets and fireballs on selected screens. Once blasted, they disappear but they are sometimes placed so shooting them is more difficult than simply avoiding them. The fireballs are fast and indestructible; they bounce off the walls of the maze and sides of the screen until they hit something! One way systems also hinder you in your search for power, forcing you to return via a different route.

From the loading screen through the instructions and the code itself, Ewgeebez is a colourful and visually pleasing game. The loading time is less than two minutes and the sound, while not wonderful, is very good. The mazes are of different shades as you journey either up or down so you can deduce how near or far you are from the first screen - and the quest before you is reasonably difficult to complete.

The strangest thing about this game though is that your multi-coloured craft moves with a 'flicker' - even though the aliens don't and they're animated! It also slows down not when the maximum three aliens are present on a screen but instead when the screen is completely empty. Therefore, if no aliens teleport onto the screen, your craft tediously takes five seconds to travel from one side to another!

Ewgeebez is neat and well-programmed, and I'm surprised no-one has noted its suitability for the Electron before, but I can't say it's brilliant. It has enough variety to keep it from being boring yet it lacks Star Drifter's crucial atmosphere. The quest, compounded by the lack of action on those screens devoid of aliens, is uninteresting and retracing your tracks takes a lot of time.

Produced in 1983 though, it was probably not only ahead of the Electron but its time too.