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Excluding
Super Huey, this is the only flight simulator to have really appealed to me in any way. The effect on flying was pretty poor, but the excellent attention to detail on the inside of the plane made up for that. Successfully destroying the dam is easy enough on the practice dam run. Flying over Europe, avoiding enemy fire before getting to the dam is incredibly difficult, frustrating and off-putting, though.

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This is a great combination of flight simulator and action, although the opposition is incredibly tough over the land. The lack of a score is annoying, as is the finality of the crash, but these are minor points in a tremendously tough challenge. This won't be an easy mission to complete, but it will be one of the most satisfying there is.

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Very impressive, with a superb Lancaster Bomber sound. A nice touch graphically is a view of the lights from towns and cities as you fly over. Instrument panels are excellently drawn, but seem lacking in movement. Having great instant appeal, this should be a commercial success but I think it could get rather boring in time.

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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!
The Dam Busters
1984 Sidney Development
Programmed by Stuart Easterbrook
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the second issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (June 1985).
 

DAMBUSTERS
US Gold/Sydney, 9.95 cass, 14.95 disk, joystick and keys

Strap on your goggles and leather helmet and take to the skies in a glorious flight simulation game where you have to blow up dams.

The raid is one from the Second World War which has been immortalised in film, and now on the 64. Your task is to drop a single 'bouncing' bomb and blow up a dam at night. However, dropping the bomb is the easy bit, getting to the dam across occupied Europe in the dark is what's really tough.

The whole burden of the raid rests on you -- you do the jobs of all seven crewmembers. You can choose one of three missions of increasing difficulty. The practice dam run lets you just do the bomb run without any ground-based opposition to fly over.

A barrage balloon looms into view in front of a
scanning searchlight. A few other ground lights can
be seen through the windscreen. Readouts at the
botton are of height, direction, artificial horizon and
airspeed.

The other two missions are much harder, starting you on the French coast and a British airfield respectively. This gives you much longer and tougher flights to complete, with a take off required from Britain in the 'squadron leader' option.

When you're in the air you have seven instrument screens to control, plus an extra one on the squadron leader mission. Each of these represents a member of the crew, except for a status screen which shows you your damage and success against the enemy defences.

Each screen is accessed by a number on the keyboard, the most important being the PILOT where you actually fly the plane. Here you control compass direction, the plane's banking, height, and also an airspeed indicator. This screen shows the terrain you are flying over: either blue streaks for sea or yellow dots (lights) for land. Searchlights, barrage balloons, night fighters and flak appear here, and except for the flak you can shoot these on the FRONT and TAIL GUNNER screens. These feature tracer fire, which looks and sounds excellent.

The BOMB AIMER screen is used to set your altitude precisely in the final bombing run (see panel), while the NAVIGATOR shows a six-screen map of Europe including your Lancaster and lots of ground installations like population, military, industrial, airport and radar centres, as well as the three dams. The map helps you to guide the bomber away from the main danger areas on its way to the dam.

Your bomb overshoots, leaving the dam intact.

The other main screen is the ENGINEER, in which you control the throttles and boosters for your four engines to maintain speed. A second screen is introduced for the SQUADRON LEADER, so that you have to watch fuel and also use the flaps and undercarriage on take-off.

The instructions come with some weighty briefing notes which are needless but interesting. The sound effects are realistic and atmospheric. One disappointment was the lack of a scoring system and the fact that after you'd crashed you couldn't access any instruments to see exactly why.

BW
.


Bombing the Dam

Once you are within range there are a number of factors which have to be set exactly in order to successfully bomb the dam. A blue marker will appear on the speedometer and the needle must cover it exactly. Your height must also be exact and a special bomb aimer screen lets you gauge this.

Once you are below 100 feet it allows you to turn on two spotlights which when perfectly overlapping mean you are at the right height. With that done you can get the bomb rotating, and when it is up to speed, sights will appear on the front gunner's screen. When these line up with the dam's towers you should release the bomb.

The bomb is now seen skimming across the water and a successful drop will blow a huge hole in the dam through which water will pour. If you miss, you will be told what you did wrong.
.

 

 
PRESENTATION
ORIGINALITY
85% Stunning package and impact, but lacks any scoring.
73%
A flight simulator with a difference.
GRAPHICS
HOOKABILITY
80% The still graphics are superbly atmospheric.
90%
Huge appeal thanks to the great graphics, superb feel.
SOUND
LASTABILITY
70% Not too many effects, but what there are are superb.
73%
The squadron leader mission will take a lot of cracking.
VALUE FOR MONEY
78% An excellent program and certain commercial success. Slightly tarnished by a couple of annoying quirks.



APOLOGY CORNER

Those reviewing boys, who think they know it all, just noticed they plumb well went and totally missed noticing that their copy of Dambusters (reviewed on page 77) was bug-ridden! They merrily wrote reviews and are now horribly contrite: New and better ratings will obviously result next month -- or a bouncing bomb may well end their careers...



Most text of the following article comes from the review published in the third issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (July 1985).
.

DAMBUSTERS
US Gold/Sydney, 9.95 cass, 14.95 disk, joystick and keys


You may remember that we already printed a review of this game last month. You may also remember a statement in that issue, rushed in at the last minute (p69), saying that our copy had turned out to have bugs in it (thereby rendering a couple parts of the review, including the ratings, a little inaccurate).

That's why we're now printing this addition to that review and a revised ratings box. However, the discovery of the bugs was interesting in itself. This is what happened.

We (and Commodore User) were given pre-production copies of the game by US Gold. When we first saw it, like everyone else, we were stunned. Great graphics, superb authentic atmosphere, etc. But after extensive play, certain frustrations set in: you seemed to die at random after being hit by a single piece of flak, and when you died there was nothing to indicate why, or how well you'd done. You just had to start again.

We passed on these criticisms to US Gold. They contacted the programmers in Canada who then telephoned us in some dismay for further explanation.

It was only as a result of that phone conversation that it was established that our copy (along with the others in Britain) was seriously defective. Unfortunately at that stage we only had time to rush in our stop press statement. But now we've had plenty of time to assess the fully working, final version of the game which was rushed over from Canada.

Basically, two major niggles have been cleared up -- you no longer die from single flak hits, and the game doesn't just lock up on dying. The flak now only causes gradual damage so that you may eventually lose an engine or two, thus affecting the plane's performance.

And now, when you die you are given a screen showing your status when you died with numbers of flak hits, planes shot and encountered, searchlights shot and flown through, and barrage balloons shot or avoided. You are also told exactly WHY you died.

Another thing that wasn't evident in the earlier copy is that your front and tail gunners can be put out of action by the night fighters. A hail of bullets shatters their screens and you are left with the noise of the whistling wind. You also don't have an infinite runaway any more, and almost perfect take-offs are required.

So, basically, the game is now significantly more interesting and enjoyable to play: we have been able to reach the dam from Scampton airfield, slipping up only on the final bomb run due to having a damaged aircraft.

A couple of minor annoyances remain: there's still no score or rating given at any stage. And on the cassette version, when you drop the bomb you don't see it skipping across the water or exploding, but only a cross marked on the dam showing where the bomb would have hit.

Despite this, we reckon the game's worth a few extra percentage points, and thereby clears the 80% barrier value for money, turning it into a worthy sizzler. Sorry for the confusion, but one good result is that the bugs we experienced were stamped out before the game's British release.

PRESENTATION
ORIGINALITY
79% Good, but not quite as stunning a package as we were expecting.
73%
A flight simulator with a difference.
GRAPHICS
HOOKABILITY
80% Graphics are superbly atmospheric.
92%
Huge appeal thanks to the great graphics, superb feel.
SOUND
LASTABILITY
70% Not many effects but engine noise and machine guns are superb.
76%
The whole mission will take a lot of cracking.
VALUE FOR MONEY
81% An excellent program bound to appeal to many tastes.

The tape varsion, (c) 1985 US Gold, is worthy of a look.

Check out also the review included in the Flying High! article of issue 5!

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (26 October 2001)

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