From its excellent, animated title screen, you can see at once that this is a salty sea-dog of a game in which you play Jim (me lad) the cabin boy on a hazardous quest to collect all the booty strewn around the decks of an old galleon.
This is the first game from a very new company, but hardly an unknown one, for Firebird is the trade name for British Telecom (Firebird being the evil alter ego of that much loved feathered fellow Busby).
There are 20 holds in the ship (screens) with eight rooms making up each hold. All the doors are numbered and require the appropriately numbered key to be collected before going through the door. These keys are dotted about in different rooms, so it requires some nifty thinking to work your way round. Additionally there are doors which lead out of the screen here and there into other screens.
Each screen is arranged as a platform game (there's a logic here - each level being a deck of the galleon of course) with the platforms connected either by ladders or by lifts. Some deck floors on certain screens tend to vanish now and again, and on some the combinations of lifts are very complicated. Cabin Boy Jim's life is not made any easier by the prowling activities of the ghost pirates who march up and down within a room, cutlasses drawn. There's also the occasional rat and the Captain's berserk parrot that signal instant death. Collecting booty is done simply by touching it, but beware some items are booby trapped and explode a second after contact, so Jim must get out of the way fast!
Control keys: user-definable, four direction and a fire (going through back doors) needed
Joystick: almost any via UDK
Keyboard play: suit yourself for positions, very responsive and capable of finely tuned movement
Use of colour: excellent, varied
Graphics: nice and solid, generally very good
Sound: continuous tune with on/off facility, plus some effects
Skill levels: 1
'I'm always wary of cheap games but interested, with this one being British Telecom's first (arcade) game. To say the least, I was astounded by the superb, very solid graphics. The idea of a ship's interior is quite a novel one. Collecting booty at first seemed quite trivial but this is made considerably more difficult by needing the right key to open the correct room to be able to even get at the treasure. On some screens you need to wander all over the screen to get at the doors, and this can take ages to say the least. Each screen is inter-connected very nicely, each one needing a different type of skill. I especially like the way the lifts on some screens have been used, for example in one case there are five lifts all spaced next to each other, travelling in different directions at different speeds, which requires good timing skills to hop across to get a key, only to make you recross the lifts again several times - an excellent idea. Sound is continuous - a well known sea shanty tune, but if it drives you mad you can turn it off - I found I was able to pace myself by it. I'm amazed that Firebird are selling a well programmed game like this for a measly £2.50, when it could quite easily have sold for £5.95. This makes it tremendous value for money, and destroys the fallacy that cheapies are always nasties.'
'The first impression of Booty is its lovely title page, second is a rather flat looking platform game, although the graphics are lively, animated and well designed. On beginning to play the game, this impression of okay-ness doesn't fade, as it's reasonable fun, just a matter of getting the right key to the right door and collecting the treasures. A few minutes later and this secondary impression is beginning to evaporate rapidly as the rich complexities of the game sink in. Not so simple after all, then. Not damned likely! All the screens are inter-linked and you cannot really just clear one and move to another - well you can sometimes, but the ghosts often make this impossible. Some of the screens which incorporate lifts, horizontal moving platforms, collapsing floors and lift stop floors which vanish after a second or two, start to give you the nightmare feeling that you may have been here before - is this galleon the true insides of the Yacht moored at the end of Jet Set Willy's Mansion? The content of the game reveals itself coyly minute after minute, with lively and ever-changing graphics. In fact Booty is marvellous entertainment, a challenging game and very addictive. It's also at a budget price. Incredible value. Get it!'
'The graphics in Booty are colourful, well detailed, well animated, smooth and look real - a feature which many games don't boast these days. The pirates look real mean with their cutlasses and beards as they bouncily walk along the ship's decks. I think this game will appeal to people who enjoy exploring games such as Jet Set Willy. There is the thrill of going through a door to see what comes next - often it's a meanly positioned pirate and you're only a step away from death - can you get to the button in time? The various screens have all been well designed to offer a different set of tactical problems - and it's nice to note that each one is remembered by the program, i.e. if you leave a screen and then re-enter it later, the pirates will be in exactly the position they were when you left it before. There's no doubt about it, Booty is a highly playable and addictive game, loads of fun and well worth its asking price.'
Dave: Booty is a platform game in which you have to move around in the hold of the Black Galleon collecting - not surprisingly - booty. There are 20 holds to empty and, when all have been cleared, you have just 45 seconds to find the key to the next section. Hazards in the game include deadly parrots, ghost pirates and exploding treasure.
Each screen has a number of doors (some of which lead to alternate holds and others which simply get in the way) and there are various numbered keys lying around which can be used to open the corresponding door.
Music plays throughout the game but can be switched off when it gets too annoying. However, now we're onto the annoying features. The thing that really bugged me was that when you die you always return to the first hold.
For the price, Booty is very good value, but it does rather lack addictivity. 2.5/5 HIT
Ross: This represents good value for money. It requires a slightly different approach to other 'ladder and levels' games - but I still didn't find it that compelling. 2/5 MISS
Roger: If only my daily life had 'doors' to escape into the next screen... but cabin boy 'Jim' has to cope with parrots that bode terminal illness reminiscent of the Inland Revenue on heat... 3/5 HIT
BARGAINS ARE BOOTYFUL
IN A BID to capitalise on the computer gaming scene, British Telecom has recently entered the market with their Silver range of games - priced at £2.50.
They are a mixed bag. BT's claim that the games are worthy of a five pound price tag seems to be applicable to only two of the games reviewed here. The remaining two would be expensive at any price over £2.50.
In Booty, you play the pan of Jim the Cabin Boy who finds himself aboard the infamous pirate ship - the Black Galleon. One night while most of the pirates are sitting down to a steady drinking spree Jim creeps round the levels of the ship to steal their loot.
However, life is not always a game and Jim finds himself in the suds when he realises that not all the pirates are drunk - some have been left on guard. To get into their cabins, he has to steal the keys from under their noses.
The graphics are excellent with half the game portrayed in the increasingly popular style reminiscent of Sabre Wulf and Pyjamarama.
Viking Raiders is a different kettle of fish. It is a strategy game set amongst warfaring vikings back in the days of King Canute.
There are four armies, each headed by a Viking chief. The aim is to defeat the other three armies and become victor and ruler of the area. Dirty tricks abound and your catapults can be used to devastating effect.
The graphics are sparse and basic. Each army takes a different colour which is hard on the eyes. Bright blues, pinks and greens may look nice in the programmer's imagination but they look terrible to the player who has to squint to see what is going on. However, there is enough appeal in the game to detract from these basic graphics.
The remaining two games are The Wild Bunch and Exodus. The Wild Bunch is an adventure set in the wild west. Framed for a murder you didn't commit, you are out to nail the Wild Bunch. The game resembles a superior multiple choice with a selection of options given to you at every move.
Adventures written in that style are rarely as exciting as those written in the more conventional mode - they rapidly become tedious. Billed as a graphical adventure, The Wild Bunch has a few scenes dotted around the adventure which are well depicted. For the most part though it appears to be mostly text.
Exodus is your average arcade game packed with characters cloned from other games. Mutant llamas abound, hovver mowers, galleons and TV sets lurk and assorted aliens merely wait to get you. The game lacks excitement, the graphics flicker and the sound is fairly average.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Programmable
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
CONTROL: Keys, Kemp, Curs, Sinc
FROM: Firebird, £2.50
The game is a platform and ladders affair, not dissimilar to Pyjamara but nowhere near as good. You, cast as Jim the cabin boy, must run about a ship exploring its twenty holds and collect various treasures. Many of these are hidden behind numbered doors and to open these you need to find the key with the corresponding number.
Every screen is packed with cargo, treasures, doors and keys, most of which overlap rather badly when you walk past them. This overlapping sometimes makes it difficult to see whether or not you have picked something up.
To make your job more difficult there are ghost pirates, trapdoors, the captain's parrot and some extremely large rats. Also lying in wait are booby trapped treasures which, when picked up, give you very little time to get away. The idea may not be original but the elements come together to form a fairly nice game which needs some quick thinking and a sound strategy.
Generally, graphics are good, though animation is a bit jerky and there is quite a lot of colour clash which, though inevitable, can be kept to a minimum by some not-so-tricky programming.
The game starts with a pretty seascape with a jaunty hornpipe tune which continues throughout the game. If it gets a little tedious you can turn it off.
If you manage to collect all the treasures you have to find a bronze key to the next collection of booty which is tougher to get.
Despite Booty's lack of originality, I feel it is very good value for the mere £2.50 you have to pay. And it certainly bodes well for the full-price range of Firebird games.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that discount software could be as good as this. With so many screens and lots of treasures to collect, doors to open and things to avoid it really is marvellous value.
The colours are a little garish and the overlapping of characters is unpleasant but I suppose you can't ask for too much £2.50.
With three different levels there's certainly lots to keep you going. If this is only the silver range from BT I can't wait for the gold.
I found the game to be a little low on concept and really more strategy than anything else - deciding which key to pick up and when.
The graphics are chunk and rather un-Spectrum like and, unfortunately, this means that when the cabin boy climbs the ladders the machines colour problems were never more in evidence. The sound is also rather poor.
A brilliant title screen sets the mood well and there is a catchy little tune. Quite a lot of screens for your money as well - some of them quite good, others best forgotten.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K, CBM 64
FROM: Firebird, £2.50
Reviewed in our November issue, this is another cracking bargain with 20 linked screens of platforms and some novel game ideas.
Value For Money: 8/10
GAME TYPE: Arcade
From the time the title screen, showing a pirate galleon in a shimmering ocean appears, it is clear that Booty is a game on which a lot of time and care has been spent. As the game progresses it gets better and better with a variety of problems and a multitude of different ways of producing the final solution.
In the role of Jim the cabin boy, your aim is to collect all the booty from the pirate galleon. In your way are many locked doors, for which you must collect the keys, angry pirates waving their swords, randomly appearing rats and parrots and booby trapped booty.
As if this were not enough, each screen or hold is different in layout. All are on several levels, attached by ladders or lifts, but there is a vast variety involved in the arrangement of each element on screen.
Demonstration mode at the beginning of the program shows you the various holds but does not give you any idea of how they are connected.
On most screens there are doors leading to three other holds, and it depends where you land on a screen as to how far you will be able to move easily. Some of the screens are very complex in arrangement and to arrive at them through a one way door often proves a mistake.
An excellent game, astonishingly good value for money, Booty is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Firebird, Wellington House, Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2.
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