PHANTOM COMBAT SIMULATOR
Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Strategy; Aircraft-Simulator
Authors : Nick Brown and Roger Selby
Standalone Release(s) : 1984: PHANTOM COMBAT SIMULATOR, Doctorsoft, £9.95
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron Side A, BBC Side B
Actual compatibility : As stated
Supplier : DOCTORSOFT, PO Box 66, Worthing, SUSSEX
Disc compatibility : Unknown
Instructions currently unavailable.
Instructions' Source : PHANTOM COMBAT SIMULATOR (Doctorsoft) Back and Inner Inlay
Review (Electron User)
Doctorsoft's PHANTOM is not one of your run of the mill flight simulator programs. The cassette carries two versions, one running in two colour Mode 4 and the other in four colour Mode 1. The former is slightly faster.
The game loads quickly, building up to comprehensive cockpit display of instruments, unique in that some information is given in analogue form as well as digital readouts.
I found that once the short but comprehensive instructions had been read and noted, flying the aircraft was a comparatively easy task. In the training mode the scoring is inhibited and crashes at supersonic speeds into the runway are allowed.
You can have two or one joystick operation plus keyboard. I found that one joystick plus keyboard for the other controls was the best choice.
In the Form mode, which is automatically entered above 12,000 feet, the enemy aircraft are controllable from the keyboard should you desire, and can be shot down in combat or used to practise formation flying. The combat mode does not allow target control, but the scoring is enabled and kills are logged. Should you get to the stage where your own aircraft is so badly damaged that it can no longer be flown, the <ESCAPE> key allows you to eject, preserving your score.
The aircraft flies true and is very manoeuvrable and the enemy a real threat, as I found to my cost shortly after starting. Full marks to Doctorsoft. PHANTOM is better than I expected and well worth the money, whether you are a computer flier or an RAF pilot of the future.
Sound ........................... 7
Graphics ........................ 8
Playability ..................... 9
Value for money ................. 8
Overall ......................... 8
Dave Richards, ELECTRON USER 3. 7
Review (Electron User) - "Phantom Of The Skies"
This is the single computer version of a program demonstrated on BBC Television's Micro Live. You may have heard of Doctor Soft's now famous Double-Phantom flight simulator, where two BBC Micros are linked together via their RS423 ports.
Each computer controls a separate jet, but both occupy the same air space and each is visible out of the cockpit window to the other player.
PHANTOM COMBAT is the single player version of the same game - or should I say, single computer version, because PHANTOM COMBAT does support a kind of two-player option.
The instrument panel at the bottom of the screen is superbly drawn in full colour with analogue dials and digital readouts. I have never seen as good an instrument display on the Electron. There is also a black and white version of PHANTOM COMBAT further on the tape, in Mode 4 for extra speed.
Flying is easier said than done. Although the manual lists all the keys, I kept fumbling because of the illogical and confusing choice for pitch and roll. However, all the other keys were sensible enough.
The handling characteristics of the Phantom feel good and Mach II flight can be achieved very quickly. When in combat mode, your adversary appears a delta-wing shape.
The enemy planes are based on two real life jets - the Soviet Mig 21 and Su 15 - and supposedly mimic their big brothers' accurately. I couldn't really tell, but they are certainly deadly enough and quite intelligent.
The cassette inlay takes great pains to stress the fact that this is a proper simulation and doesn't rely on arcade sprites to depict the objects. Everything, we are assured is calculated and drawn on the screen at 15 frames a second.
I must agree that I wouldn't consider a game to be a true simulator either if the landscape and objects were drawn as sprites. But no flight simulator does this, so I can't see why Doctor Soft makes such a big thing of it.
And I must take issue with the claim of 15 frames a second animation. The flicker is dreadful. The techniques rather than the Electron's slow speed are at fault here - the display is constantly being drawn and wiped again, resulting in it being blank for 50 per cent of the time.
PHANTOM COMBAT is a good simulator, marred only by a flickering screen display and a brief manual. This is a program which probably only comes into its own as the dual computer BBC Micro version, but as a stand-alone Electron simulator it is a good buy.
Sound ........................... 2
Graphics ........................ 8
Playability ..................... 6
Value for money ................. 7
Overall ......................... 6
Chris Nixon, ELECTRON USER 5. 7