The CD Games Pack
Code Masters Ltd
Crash Issue 73, Feb 1990   page(s) 26,27


It's here!! The CodeMasters CD Games Pack has arrived at the Towers. Does it really offer something new for Speccy owners? Richard Eddy grabbed a compact disc player and gave it a spin.

The things your Speccy can get up to these days are amazing - and here's something else to give it a Taste of What's Yet to Come: a compilation of thirty games stored on CD.

What CodeMasters is offering here is not truly CD ROM, because CD ROM really needs a dedicated slave CD player, which naturally your average Amstrad Hi-fi doesn't have. With a slave CD player the computer selects the tracks of data information to load in and when to play them. Using an ordinary CD player you have to select the tracks, and the computer just accepts them. And that's what this games pack is all about - a simple and very effective way of storing data to load in.

So, what do you have to do? Well the first thing is to connect your CD player to the Speccy. This is fine if you've got a Discman or any kind of personal CD player - that can easily be shifted around. But, if you're using a stack hi-fi CD player you'll have to get your Speccy within seven feet (about two meters) of your CD, because that's how long the interfacing cable is.

The cable connects from the headphone socket of your CD player (the cable has a 2.5mm jack attached, but a quarter inch jack adapter is included) to the joystick port on your Speccy. The 'box of tricks' which was originally going to stick out half way along the cable has now been condensed and sits inside the joystick plug.

At the heart of all this technology is a good old cassette: The system requires an initializing program to be loaded from the supplied cassette to prepare the Speccy, though it is a very quick load. Additionally, it helps you set the volume on the CD player correctly - you first turn the volume down to zero, then as track one plays, slowly increase it until the screen turns from green to red. It should all work fine now.

To actually load in a game select a track, say track 8 for Dizzy, just select 'load' on the screen and press track 8 and then Play on the CD player. When it's loaded, disconnect the cable from the joystick port, plug in your joystick and play. Should you leave the cable in the port, the game could well play itself, getting directional information from the CD player!! Games load in roughly 30-40 seconds, not the ever-so-quick 20 as originally thought.

REVIEW BY: Richard Eddy

Blurb: WHADDYA RECKON THEN? The arrival of Speccy CD ROM is brilliant, though there is a risk of it being a short-term sensation which fails due to lack of support. If you buy it, you're encouraging other publishers to take a good look at the system and, hopefully use it. Ideally, by next Christmas, CodeMasters would like to see all games put out on CD single, all formats on one disc, and those who don't already own a cable could buy one separately. But for now, is it worth getting? We reckon yes - as long as you've got access to a CD player. You're getting nearly £90 worth of games - a varied mix which are good to pretty brilliant; and, of course, it's the ultimate in Speccy one-up-manship.

Blurb: INFO BOX Product: The CodeMasters CD Games Pack Price: £19.99 Supplier: CodeMasters, 0926 814 132 Games: BMX 2 (Dirt bike, standard), Treasure Island Dizzy, Snooker, Fast Food, Rugby Sim, Jetski Sim (part A), Dizzy, 3D Starfighter, BMX 2 (quarry race, expert), Pinball Sim, 11-A-Side Soccer, Pro Ski Sim, Ghost Hunters, JetSki Sim (part B), Grand Prix Sim, Super Stuntman, Fruit Machine Sim, BMX Freestyle, ATV Sim, Street Soccer, Moto X Sim, Twin Turbo V8, Death Stalker, Indoor Soccer, Bigfoot, Arcade Flight Sim, Skateboard Sim, Soccer Skills, Street Gang Football, Super Robin Hood, Vampire, Ninja Massacre. Plus a slideshow of all the games' loading screens.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 51, Mar 1990   page(s) 29


Just as the SAM Coupe launches itself upon an anticipatory public, heralding a new dawn in Speccy development, so another innovation looks set to make its mark on our playing habits. Jonathan Davies reports on the CodeMasters' new CD Game Pack, a simple little system with encouraging potential.

Product: CD Games Pack
Contact: CodeMasters, PO Box 6, Southam, Warwickshire CV33 0SH
Price: £19.95

How does this sound? Thirty Codies games in one pack for just 20...Oi! Come back! The kids from Southam have actually come up with rather a neat idea. You may have heard rumours about their triff new method for connecting your ultra-high tech CD player to your even more cutting-edge-of-technology Speccy, thus enabling them to cram literally loads onto one disk. Assuming you haven't here's what it's all about.

The first thing to make clear is that the Codies'system bears little resemblance to CD-ROMs, which were meant to be taking the world by storm but didn't really. The CD-ROM involves piles of expensive equipment and is really only of any use to boring businesses and things. Instead, Richard, David and co have done the whole thing with an innocent-looking length of wire. One end plugs into your joystick port (either your +2 or +3's built-in one or a Kempston-compatiWe one plugged into your 48K), and the other goes into the headphone socket of your CD player. Cunningly hidden with this cable is a 1-bit analogue-to-digital convertor which takes the horrible squeaky noise coming from the CD, converts it into much more sensible ones and noughts and then feeds them into the Spectrum.

But then what? This is where the distinctly old-fashioned cassette that comes as part of the deal enters the scene. It contains a little snippet of software which interprets all these ones and noughts (binary digits, to those not in the know) and bungs them into memory, where they take shape and become Street Gang Football or whatever.

The games, all 30 of them, are recorded on the CD in much the same way as normal, only masses of times faster. This means that a) they load in astonishingly quickly, in about 40 seconds in most cases, and b) if you were hoping to copy a friend's disc onto tape you'll be disappointed - there's no way your average D90 could handle this kind of speed.

The games are arranged on the disc so that each one fills up one (very short) track. What's more, they're each recorded twice in case the disc gets scratched or something (CDs aren't quite as damage-resistant as they were originally made out to be).

To load up a game you load in the software from tape, use the program's volume-setter to, well, set the volume, press the knobs on your CD player to select the appropriate track and hit 'play'.

Once you get bored of whichever game it is you've chosen holding down Q, U, I and T returns you to the loading bit. This is because each game has been modified to incorporate the important part of the loader (about 150 bytes), so you only need to bother with the tape once per sesh. It's a bit of a shame it's needed at all though. Owing to the need for the cable to be compatible with all three 8-bit computers (to reduce costs), and hence the abandonment of the poor old ear socket, they've been unable to put the loader onto the CD with everything else.

In practice, I was suitably surprised by how well the system works. Using it with my ace full-sized Sony CD player I encountered virtually no problems, and it should work just as well with all known varieties of player (including portables). The only hitch I encountered was that I couldn't get either of the copies of Snooker to work. Oh, and ATV Sim went a bit strange on Level Six.

The loading speed is most impressive, with a loading screen appearing after around ten seconds and the whole game being up and running in around 40.

As for the games themselves, well they're a pretty predictable bunch. Ranging from cult classics such as the BMX, ATV and Rugby Simulators to the truly dreadful Twin Turbo VS (no matter what Dr B might think of it), with most tending towards the latter category, the quality is hardly overwhelming. All the same, getting the whole lot for the price of one crummy 16-bit game is undeniably good value.

Whatever you might think of them, I reckon the CodeMasters are to be heartily congratulated for coming up with the idea. There - I've said it. The potential of the system is enormous, as once everyone's got their connecting cable (the most expensive part of the package by far), games can be put onto CD very cheaply indeed. Much more cheaply than +3 disks, for example. And as well as just chucking loads of little games together, an absolutely huge multiloader could be written (the total capacity of a Codies CD is meant to be 12 megabytes, or 250 Speccies' full). Instead of winding tapes backwards and forwards all day, all you'd have to do is play various tracks of the disc when prompted. And, of course, Speccy, Amstrad and Commodore (spit) versions of a game can all be put onto the same disc.

Yep, the CodeMasters are onto a winner, no doubt about it. In fact, as I write, demand for the pack is vastly outstripping supply. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether I'd actually recommend you to buy the thing. At the end of the day (if you'll pardon the expression) the games are hardly the most inspiring around. But, fair's fair, they've done a dam good job and the technology could be just the boost the Speccy needs as it comes up to its eighth birthday.

REVIEW BY: Jonathan Davies

Blurb: THE GAMES Fast Food BMX Sim 2 Treasure Island Dizzy Snooker Rugby Sim Jetski Sim Dizzy 3D Starfighter Pinball Sim 4 Soccer Sim Pro Ski Sim Ghost Hunters Grand Prix Sim 2 Super Stuntman BMX Freestyle ATV Sim MotoX Sim Twin Turbo V8 Death Stalker Bigfoot Fruit Machine Sim Arcade Flight Sim Skateboard Sim Street Gang Football Super Robin Hood Vampire Ninja Massacre and a bonus slideshow demo

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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