Dragon 32 Universe
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There are now a fair number of games for the Dragon. PCN has picked a mixed bag at random and after a bit of rummaging around we've come up with half a dozen 'typical' packages.

Backgammon

As the sound of leather against willow goes straight to the heart of a cricketer, so the click of tumblice dice rouses the spirit of the backgammon player.

Much of the pleasure in playing backgammon lies in the equipment itself. And so shrinking the rather elegant board and shoving it onto a screen takes away a lot of the enjoyment of the game.

It is also simpler and quicker to pick up and move a counter than to instruct a computer to do it for you. Having said that, a micro can be a useful friend for the solitary backgammon fiend.

This game is best played by those who already know the rules as they are not included with the package. There are various skill levels, so in theory you should be able to improve your game. As a backgammon afficionado, playing against the computer was a bit of a doddle.

Reproducing a backgammon board on a screen is difficult to do attractively and imaginatively and this company doesn't try. Unless you have a very large television you will find the combination of little counters and lines a bit of an eyestrain. When it comes to the computer's go, I kept getting lost, as it is difficult to work out which counters have been moved.

In general the game is worth getting you are a novice wanting to polish up your skills before you hit the big time. But if you are a serious player you will find the game loses a lot of its sparkle.

Concentrate

Do you remember the hours of fun you used to have turning over playing cards to find pairs? I always remember this game, 'Pelmanism', as being possibly the most boring card game invented.

To confuse the public Mk1 has renamed the game Concentrate, which makes it more interesting. But in fact the game is even more boring that the card version, as instead of having a pack of 52 cards to choose from there is only room on the screen for 28. The players take it in turns to turn over two cards by tapping a number between 1 and 28 to correspond with the card's position. The winner is the person with the most pairs at the end of the game. I can't see the point of buying this card game unless you want to improve a young child's memory powers and ability to recognise patterns and numbers.

Games Pack 1

Games packs are always a good idea, especially if you tire of individual games quickly. There's always a great sense of value for money, and even if the quality of games is not that good, eight games for the price of one cassette can't be bad.

There are four traditional games on the cassette: 10 Pin Bowling, Micropoly (a micro version of Monopoly), Noughts and Crosses and Mastermind (the coloured peg board game). There is also a memory game called Simon, a problem-solving game, King of the Valley, an adventure style game, Wells of Omicron and an arcade type game, Muncher.

Although none of these games are original or particularly exciting they are all quite good fun to play, particularly for the younger users. It is pleasing to see a balanced mixture of games. There should be at least one game in the pack which interests one Dragon user.

Park of Death

This was my favourite game of the bunch. It has variety and it combines all the best elements of a good game. The object of the game is to make your way across the Park of Death, sticking to the pathway. You have the options of going north, south, east or west, but you can't get very far without meeting an obstacle. You only have one life so if you fail to pass the obstacles you die.

I won't give away too much of the game, but the sort of problems you come across are finding keys, meeting a rather unpleasant egotistical android, doing simple addition sums and having a go on the dodgems. i didn't make it through the park alive but if you keep your wits about you I'm sure it's possible.

A good game, with nice graphics - worth the money.

Empire

Another 'Conquer the World' game, good for megalomaniacs and strategists. You need to read the instructions carefully before you start, otherwise you will find it very confusing. I always think it is better to put as many instructions in the game as possible, but the problem with this one is that there is so much happening on the screen that it would probably only add to the confusion.

To start the play you select 13 territories on a world map and the Dragon, your opponent, does the same. You then allocate your armies and start attacking each other. There is a constant progress chart on the screen so you can tell what's happening and there are eight levels of difficulty.

This game needs quite a lot of concentration and you will probably need to play it several times before you get the hang of it. I found it bewildering.

Dragon Trek

This is another game where you really need to get a good grasp of the instructions before you load the cassette. You are the captain of the Starship Enterprise and you have a five-year mission to seek and destroy all enemy vessels throughout the galaxy.

There's a lot going on in this game and it will take you a bit of time to master your weapons and command options. I found the graphics rather confusing and half the time I couldn't really understand what was happening. But to an experienced space traveller it is probably quite good.