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Dambusters

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Released: 1984

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: US Gold

Developer: US Gold

Submitted by: Ian Marks

Dee-dee-dee-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo… that was the Dambusters theme. Or was it 633 Squadron? I can’t remember, but I can remember the game of Dambusters for the ZX Spectrum. It was by US Gold, and came in a huge box, with a coupon off an Airfix model inside the box. I never sent off for my kit, and I never got anywhere with the game either… because it was bloody impossible, I’ll explain why.

In Dambusters you had to fly a Lancaster bomber to a dam in Germany and bomb it. The clue was in the name of the game you see. Inside your bomber there was a gunner, a pilot, a bomb man, a navigator and an engineer (no politically incorrectly named dog though sadly).

What made the game so hard was that in playing the game there was only you, and you had to play the part of the five other people. As you’d expect from a situation like this things went wrong often. Whilst you were gunning Jerry fighters out of the sky your altitude was (unbeknownst) to you dropping as no-one was flying the plane. As you were lining up your bomb lights Jerry fighters blew you to shreds, because no-one was manning the guns. And so it went on.

The idea was good though, and it looked pretty good. I seem to remember being impressed by all the instrument dials, and the German searchlights on the horizon.

Dropping a bomb on a dam is obviously supposed to be complicated. In the film (which must be historically accurate I’m sure) it took Mr. Wallace many attempts to get it right. In the game it took me many attempts and I never got it right – lining up those bouncing bomb lights was a Herculean task . Probably in an alternative ZX Spectrum universe Hitler won the war, because nobody ever bombed his dams. I do feel guilty about this.

The main problem was that it took about 30 minutes to fly your plane to the dam – if you weren’t shot down first – and then you only had one real chance to get it right, which I didn’t. I know what you are thinking, that the real pilots only had one chance, and that is true, but this was only a game and I was only 12 and very poor at most games.

I seem to remember I enjoyed it though, playing it again yesterday I can’t really see why. Still a good effort by US Gold, and by all accounts the C64 version was quite good.