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Lord Bromley's Estate (ZX Spectrum)

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Lord Bromley's Estate was made in 1990 by Divide by Zero for the ZX Spectrum. It was released as part of the so called James Bond Action Pack bundled with a ZX Spectrum +2A micro computer, two other games and a joystick. As feelies an envelope containing James Bond's passport and a letter were included. On one of the included tapes are messages from Q, each giving an introduction to one of the games. I will play the message in its entirety after the review.

In the game's story James Bond is invited at Lord Bromley's Estate to join a clay pigeon shooting event. Among the other guests are some of Europe's most important people. A short while ago 002 was killed while gathering information about a low flying helicopter in Turkey. Responsible for his death was an organization called Spectre, which plans to attack Bromley's event with a helicopter.

The hit detection in this game works similarly as in the two NES games Strike Wolf and Lethal Weapon, which I showed in the episodes 69 and 18. The gun is measuring the Y position precisely but struggles to determine the X position in a raster based manner. Therefore a Nintendo Zapper like workaround is applied to gauge the X coordinate. A band at the correct Y position is turned black. Then the system draws a fuzzy white bar up to that position where it expects the gun to be pointed at. If no light is sensed the system continues to poke for the right position by altering the location of the white bar. Once the gun senses light the system draws the bar at about the same location again to confirm the prior measurement. If the gun still senses light the target is considered to be hit. As visible in the footage here the hit box of an object doesn't have to fit perfectly with the outer rim of the white bar. Instead the game divides the stage into tiles, like Snatcher on the Sega Mega CD.

The game consists of 10 levels. In the first level 10 out of 40 clay pigeons have to be shot. In the second level three groups of pigeons have to be shot. Next 5 clays have to be shot in a consecutive manner. Levels four to six ask for the same requirements as levels one to three before but the clays fly in new patterns in front of a fresh background. Levels seven to nine are again similar to the two groups before but the requirements are higher. There 20 of 40 clays must be shot, then five groups and finally a consecutive series of 10 pigeons. In level 10 Spectre's helicopter finally appears. It has to be shot 10 times which causes it to retreat.

The game just accepts light guns with a BT connector and refuses to accept DE-9 light guns. Furthermore the game doesn't seem to work well with the Cheetah Defender.

Lord Bromley's Estate is a very simple game, but personally I enjoyed playing it. It's a nice touch that the used shot gun is visible and that it tilts depending on which location of the screen is shot. The hit detection is unforgiving and takes some time to get used to. The lack of music and loading screen is a bit disappointing. The graphics are pretty and the game uses realistic colors, which is unusual for a ZX Spectrum game.