Is it a bird, is it a plane...?

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PICTIONARY was a nice game. I say was, because it used to be played by people, and the real fun was in how you worked for and against those people It was a sort of drawing game with rules where guessing the word hidden in the picture the other player had drawn would move you around the board. Just the kind of thing to play with a group of friends.

To make it different from the board game, the computer version uses the gimmick of the Amiga drawing the pictures. It also looks after the board and rolling the dice for you. But it sadly misses the mark when it comes to the guessing part.

If the Amiga is drawing one of its pictures, off it goes into a rather tacky black and white sketchpad program where every line or fill makes an absurd squeak, parp or pop. It's irritating the first time though. It gets more irritating the more you play it.

So, the Amiga scribbles away a picture, and once you guess the word you hit the spacebar. Then you have to hit Return to say that you really want to make a guess. Then it finishes the drawing and tells you what the word was and asks if someone got it right.

If it's a picture where anyone can guess, it has to ask you who actually got it right. It then makes you click the mouse on the Continue button and then makes you click the mouse on the Next Word icon. This bit is just to make you feel busy, because there is no reason to it. What it actually does is make you feel irritated having to repeat this monotonous process.

If you want to draw your own pictures you have to play as teams. And even then the game has plastic cards with words on them which you are supposed to use to stop you cheating. More tedium.

I tried the game with a couple of friends, but all the computer succeeds in doing is killing ay real game interest. The graphics don't help much, being tacky in the extreme with bad colour choices and a singularly static board, most of which can be put down to it being released across 8 and 16 bit machines and catering to the lowest common denominator.

Pictionary is an unsatisfactory attempt at computerising a game, both from the technical and gameplayer points of view. There are too many gimmicks. There is even an option to save your black and white rough sketches as IFF images. As if the Amiga was short on art packages!

Die "Montagsmaler" für zuhause

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Wer kennt es nicht, das fröhliche Ratespiel, bei dem ein Mitspieler einen bestimmten Begriff zeichnerisch darzustellen versucht, während die anderen laut losbrüllen, sobald sie etwas zu erkennen glauben?

Was vor einiger Zeit noch den Gästen einer beliebten Fernsehsendung vorbehalten war, darf jetzt am heimatlichen Rechner nachgespielt werden. Bei Pictionary gibt es insgesamt 2.500 Begriffe zu malen und erraten, wobei der Zeichner sowohl ein Mensch, als auch der Mikroprozessor sein kann.

Da die Pinselei meist unter Zeitdruck vonstatten gehen muß, hat der Amiga in Sachen künstlerischer Qualität die Nase meilenweit vorne: Er zeichnet wirklich gut...!

Maximal vier Parteien können im Wettstreit um Punkte und Zeitboni gegeneinander antreten. Neben animierten Würfeleien auf dem Spielbrett samt passender musikalischer Begleitung, wartet das Game mit einem hochwertigen Grafikprogramm auf, das bei Bedarf einfach herabgerollt wird.

Alle gängigen Optionen des "Dpaint II"-Standards sind darin enthalten. Hier dürfen sich Grafik-Akrobaten und angehende Picassos nach Herzenslust austoben - der kulturlose Rest muß dann herausfinden, was der Künstler wohl gemeint hat.

Schon aus Gründen der ausgleichenden Gerechtigkeit werden natürlich von Zeit zu Zeit die Seiten gewechselt, sodaß jeder mal den elektronischen Pinsel zur Hand nimmt.

Pictionary ist ein gelungenes Familien-spiel, das sogar eingeschworene Computer-Muffel (Tante Frieda und Onkel Erich?!) für einige Runden vor den Rechner locken könnte. (wh)

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Price: £24.99

Since the demise of Trivial Pursuit, everyone's favourite after hours board game is Pictionary.
What you do is come back from the pub with your mates, steaming drunk, get out the game and get more drunk whilst you fall about laughing at everyone's pathetic attempts at sketching Monet's "View From Tower Bridge" or a banana. Well, by that time you can't tell the difference.

The idea behind Pictionary for those of you who never do those kind of things, is to move your counter round a board to the finish before anyone else. What a great game concept! But hang on there's more... You move by having the rest of your team guess what a doodle - specified by the square and a card - you've drawn is. There's a time limit so higher arts degree students can't produce charcoal, goache or litho prints. It's all quite a laugh because generally, in the time you're given, most people's drawings are crap.

The problem with most board games is that when they're translated to the screen they lose much of their spontaneity. Pictionary sadly, is no exception. You are given a nice box to keep the game in, laminated, colour question cards, and are then expected to draw everything on the screen. If you don't split into teams (the game accommodates as many as six individuals) you don't get to draw anything at all - the computer does it. When the game is played this way it rapidly degenerates into a first-to-the-space-bar guessing game. Naturally, the computer draws accurately so there's no fun to be had there.

When played in teams at least an element of human fallibility creeps in. You have to draw the picture on what is effectively a basic art package. Various options offer you the ability to draw straight lines, circles and use freehand to create your doodle. There's certainly amusement watching people's weak attempts to draw with a mouse, but it's painfully slow work.

Pictionary then makes little sense in translation to the computer, especially when you consider that the Amiga version costs marginally more than the board game itself. Sorry Domark, but no way can I recommend that.

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Domark, C64 £14.99 cassette, £19.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Pictionary is a sort of charades using drawings instead of mimes. Two to four teams can compete, each member drawing a picture of a given word which his teammates try to identify within a time limit.

Get it right and you advance around the board; finish first to win.

The in-built art utility allows lines, curves, circles etc. to be drawn quickly. Alternatively, the computer can do all the drawing with individual competitors guessing the words.

Phil King This is more fun with teams - the computer drawings are usually far too easy to guess. Using the in-built drawing utility is fun, especially when you've only a minute to draw something obscure like 'sheepskin rug'! And although computer Pictionary hasn't really improved on the board game, it's still a good laugh.
Stuart Wynne This is one of those tiny minority of board games that actually benefits from being on a computer. The draw functions add an element to the game pen and paper obviously can't rival. Nevertheless to get the most enjoyment you'll need other people to play with.