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This is a nice simulator which offers plenty of challenge and excitement to any budding armchair stunt pilot. The program comes with some very impressive documentation which explains all the different stunts, flying terminology and also gives hints and tips on flying the plane. The graphics are a bit wobbly but quite effective for this type of simulator. There are two good flight simulators released this month. Personally I prefer
Solo Flight Plus with its excellent trainer mode, but if you're after something more exciting then this might be the one for you.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Acrojet
1985 Microprose Software
Programmed by William F. Denman Jr. & Edward N. Hill Jr.
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the fifteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: June 12th, 1986).
 

ACROJET
Microprose/US Gold, 14.95 disk, joystick and keys


A BD-5J AcroJet is one of the most manoeuvrable little sports jets in existence and like most aeroplanes it takes years of experience before it's possible to fly one, let alone try horribly complex and dangerous stunts. Until now, that is. With the aid of Microprose's latest flight simulator you can sit back in the comfort of your favourite armchair and try to complete all sorts of aerial acrobatics without risking life and limb.

AcroJet is quite an unusual simulator and uses the Solo Flight type of viewpoint, with the cockpit dials shown at the bottom of the screen and the actual AcroJet plane viewed out of the window in 3D style from behind and above. This makes flying a lot easier because you can see exactly what the plane is doing. The point of view can also be changed so the plane can be seen from the rear, port or starboard.

The plane can perform all the basic manoeuvres normally associated with flying -- nose up and down, bank left and right, but because of its design can also perform special movements called slips and rolls. Normally these moves need careful use of rudder and ailerons but Microprose have made the whole process easier -- all you have to do is press the fire button when you're performing a manoeuvre and the program automatically balances the rudders and ailerons for you.

The plane is controlled in the traditional joystick style but other controls like the throttle, flaps, landing gear and speed brakes are accessed via various keys.

The cockpit dials show all the information needed for flying. The display is made up of four main dials, a large readout area, a smaller display area and a radar type screen. The four big dials comprise an altimeter, attitude indicator and artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and vertical velocity indicator (WI). The other main display area shows numerically the exhaust gas temperature, engine power, speed brakes, fuel remaining, clock and CRT change clock (pressing F1 at any time changes this display to show the current weather conditions). The smaller display shows the flaps indicator, compass heading, ball compass and airstrip direction indicator. The radar display comes into action when you're trying to complete a stunt or course and by showing a map of the surrounding area with any course or landscape features and with the AcroJet displayed as a flashing pixel.

When first loaded the screen displays a large number of options allowing you to tackle a single event, decathlon, pentathlon or unlimited event schedule. A single event is just that, the pilot tackling a single event. A pentathlon allows you to string together five different moves and decathlon is ten different moves one after the other. Unlimited is the best option of all and allows you to create your own aerobatics display or set course.


[This screenshot was not in the original review]

There are ten AcroJet competition events, but all have checkpoints, a mark over or around which the plane has to fly. The first event is a Pylon race where the pilot has to take off from the runway and fly outside four pylons planted in the ground in the quickest possible time. The Slalom race follows a similar pattern, but this time the pylons have to be negotiated in a different order, making the event far more complex than the previous one.

The next set of events are ribbon races, featuring a series of dual poles with ribbons strung between them. The first ribbon event is the simplest one and the idea is to take off and fly between two sets of ropes, successfully cutting the ribbons hanging between them. The Inverted Ribbon Cut is the same as the previous one, only the ribbons have to be cut whilst flying upside down. Ribbon Roll takes ribbon cutting a step further and to complete the event you must cut the ribbons while doing a 360 degree roll, a very difficult and precise manoeuvre. The next event is a highly dangerous one -- the pilot has to take off and perform a loop, and at the bottom of the loop fly underneath a ribbon . . . there's no room for error. The Under Ribbon race is one of the most simple of this type of event -- just take off and fly under the three sets of poles, but the most dangerous event of all is the Cuban eight. After leaving the airstrip the pilot must fly through a gate, then complete a half loop, half roll on the descent and fly through another gate, and conclude roll back through the first loop again. It's a very tricky event to perform due to the complexity of the manoeuvre and the fact that the whole thing takes place at very low altitude.

The other two events are Spot Landing and Flameout Landing. A Spot Landing is where the pilot takes off, climbs to at least 2,000 feet, loops back over the runway and lands again. Very precise flying is needed to complete this event and one slip of the joystick could mean that you overshoot the runway. A Flameout Landing is similar to the previous event, but when the plane reaches 2,000 feet the engine has to be switched off and the plane glided in to land under no power.

       

All the events have a judged difficulty and a score is given for completion or part completion. When the plane lands (or crashes) on the runway, a score is awarded and (if good enough) automatically saved to disk to appear in an 'all time greatest' highscore table.

The difficulty of all these events can be changed on the second options screen, firstly wind conditions can be changed from no wind through breeze and low wind to high wind. The pylons can also be changed from non-lethal to lethal. The performance of the jet has four settings, from easy to real, and a stunt can also be started from the air rather than from the runway.

   


Presentation 92%

Glossy and informative documentation which explains techniques and also gives hints and tips.

Graphics 72%
Flickery graphics but they work reasonably well.

Sound 29%
Very poor jet noise and little else
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Hookability 79%
Easy to fly but difficult to land...

Lastability 81%
Loads of stunts to tackle and tournaments to enter and there's also a highscore table to keep you coming back to better your records.

Value For Money 79%
Fifteen quid for a nicely packaged flight simulator which proves addictive and fun to fly.

Overall 83%
An exciting flight simulator which has plenty to offer.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (16 Jan 2006)

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