Oxford Digital Enterprises s have a knack of producing unusual activities on the Spectrum - remember Trivial Pursuit? Their latest release, Sailing, Contains another unusual idea, allowing the player to take part in a yacht race-with the inlay boasting one of the simplest simulation control methods to date.
An initial options screen allows the level of play to be decided - determining the starting position in the league table, and hence the length of the game. This is closely followed by a ship designing section where the 'trim' of the vessel can be altered to suit the long range weather forecast. As the dimensions and structure of the yacht are changed, a blueprint is altered to show the craft's new shape.
Following these structural rearrangements, the race selection is made and the league table appears showing your league standing and that of your competitors. Your opponents are highlighted, and their ship's blueprints may be inspected to enable you to decide which team to choose. Having selected your adversary, the view changes to that from the prow of your ship, looking toward the first buoy, with your opponent abreast of you.
The ship is controlled by steering left and right, and raising and lowering the spinnaker to alter speed. This is achieved by pressing the select key and 'winching ' the sail by rotating the joystick or keys - anti-clockwise to raise it and clockwise to lower.
The sea is represented in flight simulator fashion, with a moving horizon. The sea rolls up and down and changes colour, depending on the winds and other weather factors.
Beneath the viewscreen there is .a display panel giving the relevant details of the yacht: wind speed and direction, status of the spinnaker and also a radar screen showing the positions of your ship, your opponent and the buoys which define the course of the race.
After five days of racing, you are given a week in which to turn your vessel in readiness for the next bout of races. Inspecting the league position and blueprints of the other competitors allows you to see how the different designs respond to the current weather conditions, enabling you to achieve optimum performance from your ship.
Control keys: O/P left/right, Q/A up/down, Space to select
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: not over-used but very effective
Graphics: clean, large, with excellent sea effect
Sound: some sea noises, no gulls, but some bleeps
Skill levels: three
Screens: four different displays
'Sailing with your Spectrum ... whatever next? At first I was extremely dubious, faced with a topic I know very little about (the only sailing experience that I've ever had was on Ludlow boating lake!), and a sheet of poor instructions (even I know that you don't say boat when you're talking about yachting). However, I picked up the 'knack' of Sailing very quickly, and was helped by the masses of on-screen prompts and the ease at which you can manoeuvre your ship. The design/blueprint section is perhaps a little involved for the first time player, but K does add a lot to an experienced players game. Overall, Sailing is a pleasure to play.'
'Sailing isn't one of the easiest sports to implement on a computer, and ACTIVISION have done well to pick out the exciting parts and discard the monotony. The view from the front of the yacht is extremely well designed - with the wave movement, in particular, superbly animated. I loved the design stage, although it's very simple and contains a fair amount of flicker. The presentation is extremely good - it contains a great title screen, easy to use menus and lots of cute scrolling messages. This is highly recommended, despite the slight lack of course variation.'
'I'm not a simulation fan at all - but that makes no difference really, as Sailing is not a typical simulation at all. In short, it's a playable and competent game. The options are easy to use, and when complete navigational control has been accomplished you should have no problem in getting around the course. The sea's movements have been well executed, and the sight of other yachts speeding along the course adds a considerable amount of excitement. However, I 'm a bit dubious about Sailing's lasting appeal, as the excitement soon wears off.'
|Value For Money||67%|
Hmm, curious game. As you might have guessed from the title its a simulation of sailing a yacht. First design your own yacht by altering things like the height of the mast and what the hull is made of. If you're not very experienced in the sailing business then just make the biggest boat possible (like me)! Once you're satisfied with your creation choose which country you want to be and which to race against. Fun so far, eh?
The designing bit is a piece of cake compared to actually controlling the bleedin' yacht (excuse my French!). It seems to have a life all of its own. All you have to do is complete the relatively simple task of sailing around three buoys and back, but for me it's an impossibility.
Varying weather conditions make matters worse, with winds coming from all directions blowing you off course. Once you get the hang of the controls things brighten up a bit, but I still think there should be more to the game than just this.
Sailing was originally released in 1987 and got 76% from Richard, Ben and Paul who said it was a highly playable simulation. Maybe then, but I'm afraid this isn't going to keep me playing for very long now.
Ahh - the wind in my hair and the salt water splashing my face. So what if it's only Rachael with a hairdryer and a plant spray? Hoist the mizzen, splice the mainbrace and turn up Rod Stewart on the stereo because (altogether now), 'we are sailing'.
As a confirmed landlubber who gets queasy on the park boating pond, I'm not even sure how to respond when someone says, 'Hello, sailor.' and the instructions with this simulation don't do much to help. It's not really enough to tell an America's Cup competitor, 'You'll just have to experiment with different designs in different conditions.' No wonder we didn't win!
Sailing is just part of winning. First you have to come up with a craft to thrash your competitors. Take note of the weekly weather forecast, which scrolls along the bottom of the screen. My advice for nautical novices is to start playing on the simplest level and don't alter the ship design much at first.
Do take advantage of the facility which lets you sneak a look at the plans of your league table neighbours though. Only then will you be able to tell whether those nobby bits on the keel, known as wings to the old salts, will really help manoeuvrability, or just slow you down. Is it worth having a longer keel and bigger sails, or would a shorter waterline suit? Unluckily outboard motors are not an option.
Once you've checked out the day's conditions it's out onto the briny and you're heading for the first buoy. Inevitably Rachael said she always heads for the first boy so I made her walk the plank, ignoring her cries of, "Gormless tottie overboard!"
Raising the spinnaker, the big sail, is cleverly simulated by moving your joystick round and round, just as if you were winding it out. But don't be seduced by this effect. Unless you've got the wind right behind you, you could find your yacht becomes unsteerable and you shoot helplessly out of bounds.
The key is to use the instruments, which give you rather more information than a real-life Francis Chichester, to make the most of the breeze. The triangular course may look simple, but at least some of the time you'll be sailing into the wind, which calls for some clever zig-zagging, or tacking.
After five days of racing you have a chance to study the next week's weather forecast and make alterations to your ship accordingly. Then it's on and up the league table until you too are ready to compete with the Aussies and Yanks.
This is quite a clever simulation - there's nothing else like it that I can think of - but the instructions don't do enough to demystify the topic for absolute beginners, which could put a lot of people off. The radar is also too small, which makes accurate manoeuvres a trifle difficult. While the boat design section is very detailed, I'm not sure there's enough to the actual sailing. It's a program with limited appeal, but if the topic interests you, it should give you hours of pleasure.
|Value For Money||7/10|
Ever wondered what the America's Cup was all about? Me too. Multi-millionaires spending trillions of pounds building boats and then racing them across huge stretches of water in what's got to be the dullest spectator sport since synchronised swimming (now, synchronised drowning - there's a sport!) Woss the point, we all cry? Well, if you have ever wondered, here's Sailing. Here you get to design your own yacht, sail it, and if you've got it all right, lift some trophy or other. Of course it's not quite as simple as that, as unless you know a lot about this sort of thing to start off with you're a bit in the dark. It's not all bad though, appealing more to football management sim fans than arcadesters, I'd suggest. Essentially, then, we're talking Very Limited Appeal. Indeed.
It's a life on the ocean wave. The slap of the sails, the spin of the compass, the clash of the attributes.
Actually, the graphics are what make this simulation.
Sailing puts you at the helm, and various other parts as you're thrown around, of a racing yacht.
Nothing will prepare you for the massive wave rolling at you from the back of the screen. The wave rolls under you and your bow rises out of the water towards the very blue sky.
Before I loaded the game I had nightmares that the screen display would be a bird's eye view of two grotty little flat sprites gliding around the screen.
Not so, OED, the programming team which created Trivial Pursuit for Domark, has come up with what'll surely be another stunner.
The spangled sea effect, and the graphic speed with which the boat races through its paces, hit the eyes so quickly that you're suddenly all at sea, at a loss to know what to do.
You start near the bottom of an international racing league table - c'est la vie - with the option of taking on one of three other losers - try Italy or Agentina. Before you actually begin to sail you must first set your level of difficulty, selecting weather conditions and wave height, as well as choosing the type of hull you want.
Hull is all important, not that you'd think that if you'd been there. If you choose a metal hull, such as aluminium, you'll come off the best in rough conditions or if, horrors, you hit Len 9 another boat. The down-side is metal hulls hang low in the water. Wooden hulls, however, are lightweight but are easily damaged by waves or the bows of other boats - cutting across the bows of another boat is frowned upon, but legal.
The boat has few controls, but those it does have at the bottom of the screen need to be monitored and trimmed very carefully. A radar scanner splits the course up into square sectors. It shows the two participating yachts as dots, hopefully chasing each other.
The yachts are ultra-manoeuvreable when you least expect it - just watch the compass twirl. Course info is given at the beginning of the game - along with a weather report - so make sure you keep your bow pointed towards the next course marker buoy. If you stray too far from these buoys you'll be disqualified as out of bounds.
In some ways Sailing is similar to Football Manager There's a league up which you can climb, and races - games - you've got to take part in before you can move above your competitors. But then, Sailing, like CRL's Endurance and Formula One simulations, has arcade elements which breaks it out of the strategy market - and I don't mean a bunch of pin figures legging up a flat football pitch. It truly creates the atmosphere of the sea. I for one see it as a triumph of simulation.
Reviewer: John Gilbert
You wouldn't think it would be possible to create an interesting game from the idea of a sailing simulation - and you'd be right! Whether you're a salty old sea-dog or a scurvy landlubber, you'll find Sailing about as much fun as a violent bout of chundering over the side in a force nine gale. Originally a full-price Activision title, this one should never have been re-released on budget - it deserved burial at sea.
The problem is that the programmers, O.D.E., who specialise in grindingly realistic simulations, have captured all the sheer tedium of floating across the Atlantic, without managing to inject any of the excitement of the race.
Things start off in quite a promising manner, with your chance to design your ideal racing craft. After entering your name, choosing a team from the eighteen international sides represented, and picking an opponent for that round, you name your ship and set about changing the hull type, mast height, hull length, and the size of the "wings" on the keel. Of course, until you've started racing, you have no idea which specifications are suitable for which weather conditions; you have to keep an eye on the meteorological reports which scroll across the bottom of the screen, and learn to cut your jib to suit the hoist of your foc'sle, or whatever it is that Captain Birdseye says.
Once you start the race, you' only real task is to control the rudder to steer clockwise around three buoys, and to hoist or lower the spinnaker, which gives you a sort of turbo-boost when the wind is behind you. The wind direction and speed, your bearing and speed, and the location of your ship and your competitor, are shown on various screen displays. The sea rolls and tumbles, little yellow ships scoot across the water, and a numbing sense of boredom soon sets in.
If you complete one round ahead of your competitor, and don't get disqualified through straying outside the radar display, you get a league table display and proceed to the next leg.
The sound effects and music are at their best when they're switched off, and overall you can't deny the packaging is right when it claims this is "the most accurate ocean going simulation yet" - unfortunately.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
MACHINES: CBM 64/Spectrum/Amstrad
VERSION TESTED: CBM 64/Spectrum
It was with a slight sinking feeling that I loaded up Sailing. I'd reviewed US Gold's America's Cup Challenge a few months back and hadn't exactly gone overboard about it. I wasn't particularly keen for more life on the ocean waves.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find I quite enjoyed Sailing. I couldn't honestly say it would keep me enthralled for more than an hour or so.
It's all about racing against 16 other nations, designing your own craft and pitting your wits against man and weather.
The game kicks off with a yacht blueprint. You can alter its length, keel, master etc. The weather forecast scrolls along the bottom of the screen at this stage, presumably to allow you to make certain changes which will be better suited to the current weather conditions.
I must admint I don't have a clue which type of mast or keep is best suited for any particular weather. It's really a matter of trial and error. At least I didn't sink.
You then select the opposition and then it's off into the wide and wild blue yonder, pitching and rolling in quite an atmospheric manner, and, hopefully, heading off towards the first marker buoy of the race course.
The screen is split into two. The top half shows the view from the yacht. In my case it was mainly sea and sky. Lots of both. The lower half consists of the yacht controls, the compass and speed centre, wind direction and speedmeter and radar.
The sails are raised and lowered by hitting the fire button and moving the joystick in a circular movement.
Once the sails were hoisted I found myself doing zipping along at an amazing rate. At one stag it looked like I was doing 55 knots. Surely some mistake. This was a yacht not a powerboat. It was probably 5.5 but it was a little difficult to spot the point.
Most of the time I kept getting disqualified for straying outside the course or I saw the opposition disappearing towards the horizon leaving me feeling like a lone yatchsman.
The only major complaint I have about these types of simulations is that I never seem to get anywhere. There's no instant gratification to make me want to keep on playing.
Spectrum, Amstrad, C64 £2.99
Well splice me main-brace! "What," I thought, "could be more boring than a 3D sailing simulation?" But, no, this is a surprisingly enjoyable game - a bit like a more subdued Pole Position. You get to design your yacht then sail it against the international opposition, working your way up through a sort of world league.
Success is apparently all down to judiciously hoisting and lowering your spinnaker, and tacking into the breeze like a mad thing, but it really isn't as complicated as it sounds. The sound chip makes appropriate "SWOOOSSHHH" noises and the horizon dips and rolls convincingly - and more realistic and you'd be throwing up over the side.
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