Indoor Sports logo

Price: £19.95

Sports simulations go on and on; Databyte's Indoor Sports, licensed from the US is an uprating of the 64 version. The sports in question are ones which are not so frequently computerised. All can be played either against the computer, or as a two player game. Four games are on offer: tenpin bowling, darts, air hockey and ping pong/table tennis. All boast clear, large graphics and uncluttered displays, but playability varies considerably between the four.

Darts is much the most accessible, with simple joystick controls. The shot selection screen features a huge, authentic-looking dartboard. Press the fire button to choose which part of the board to aim at, again to determine the level of arc of the dart and again to select the strength of your throw, all using clear pictorial menus.

This screen then clears to give you a view from behind the oche of your throw being taken. One delightful touch here is the cat snoozing on the floor below the board. If your dart hits one of the metal dividers and falls on the floor, the cat wakes up with a start.

The darts section is easy to master. Tenpin bowling is another matter. The controls for bowling is another matter. The controls for bowling balls are (unnecessarily) complicated and you get a side-on view of the bowler's end of the alley only, which is not the most straightforward way to plan your throw. The joystick must then be manipulated to indicate the amount of curve of the bowl and the fire button pressed to release the ball from the bowler's hand - or else he falls flat on his face, no doubt with a dislocated thumb.

Only then does the screen change to show a head-on view of the skittles and your ball thundering down for a strike. Having played Accolade's Tenth Frame, I can tell you there are better ways of implementing this particular indoor sport on computer. Sound effects are nice, though.

Air hockey's presentation is extremely simple: table, two "hitters" and a puck. This is not intended as a criticism; after all you do not need much else. Movement of the puck and your hitters is smooth and the game rapidly warms up into something pretty fast. Ping Pong also minimalises screen clutter by dispensing with any representation of players and portraying disembodied bats instead.

These bats can hit the ball quite hard and fast; in some cases faster than your joystick can move your bat into position to hit the ball, o matter how hard you yank at it. As you cannot reposition your bat between shots, only during play, this is quite a drawback to building up a series of rallies.

Playing as one person against the computer, or completely solo in the case of tenpin bowling and darts might amuse you for a quiet twenty minutes, but Indoor Sports really needs to be played with a human opponent to get some competitive edge and excitement going.

All the four games are nicely presented and the graphics are pleasing, but I have my doubts about the playability of the ping pong and to a lesser extent, the tenpin bowling implementations.