SAM Pack 1
Your Sinclair review, (Recovered) courtesy of the YS Rock 'n' Roll Years YS78
SAM Pack 1 (SAM) Revelation £35 Jun 1992
This compilation pack from SAMCo comes in an impressively large video case (a la Sound Machine) with a badly-photocopied inlay (a la Sound Machine). Hmmm. Opening it up reveals seven small blue disks, and a single sheet of paper. This holds the - ahem - perfunctory instructions for Star Atlas. The rest of the box is, well, a big box. Hmmm. Anyway - the disks. They're Manic Miner, Batz 'n' Balls, Splat!, Vegetable Vacation, Star Atlas, Void and the Megadisk. I've already reviewed the first three (they received 84°, 77° and 68° respectively) which leaves lots of room to have a look at the others...
Silly as it may sound, this one's a flip-screen, platform arcade-adventure which has you playing a flying tomato attempting to go on holiday. Disaster strikes when you find your suitcase still unpacked, and so you have to nip around your extremely strange house, dodging baddies and gathering your belongings.
If nothing else, the programmers get full marks for plot originality. As a game though, Veggie leaves much to be desired. Yes, the graphics are well-drawn, smooth and bright. Okay, the soundtrack is bouncy. Fine, the control method is nicely different - as in the puzzle game Hexagonia, your character keeps moving until he hits a wall. The trouble is, the game just isn't there. Flitting around screens, learning the safe routes and searching out objects which will help you get to other objects hundreds, of screens away - it quickly gets tremendously boring. Sorry chaps, but this game is a bit of a clunker.
Another compilation, this time of puzzle games with an educational flavour. Quix and Quix 2 have you matching shapes to form rows - quite playable, but easily forgettable. Manic Mazes is that old stalwart, the 3D maze game, and is just as addictive/pointlessly frustrating as all the rest. Le Box is a mini version of Plotting that's good for a few plays.
The surprise hit of the disk is Math, a fruit machine that spins numbers instead of symbols. You have to add up the numbers and type them in, all within a very tight time limit. It's amazingly simple, ridiculously addictive, and a good workout for the old grey matter.
A simulation of the various constellations, with information on the stars' magnitude, distance and the best time of the year to view them. After choosing a constellation, the Atlas draws a star map, logging the brightest stars. You can bring up further details about your chosen constellation, and then rush to the window and scan the heavens with your binoculars, proudly demonstrating your newfound knowledge.
The program is well presented, and while its definitely of minority appeal, there's enough there to pique the interest of any casual SAM user. Go on, borrow a telescope and give it a try.
This is actually a collection of three simple games, with a screen manipulator and pattern generator thrown in for good measure. On the games side, Pairs is a decent little version of Pelmanism, Mem-Ex is Simon played on a grid and Lines is that light-bike game from Tron. Patterns creates, well, a lot of patterns. Once you've seen them all, that's it. The Transformer, though, is the prize of the pack. It takes normal SCREENS files and through a series of icons and sub-menus, allows you to mess around with them in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. It's a lot of fun, and quite useful.
At an average of £5 a disk, this compilation is good value for money. With three jolly good full-pricers alongside a clutch of semi-educational programs, there's plenty of variety. The only real disappointment, Vegetable Vacation, at least seems much happier in a compilation. It's also been released on its own, at £9.99, which is frankly far too expensive. Well, grumble over. As far as the SAM Pack One goes, I'd give it a definite thumbs-up.