This is a game I’ve had a long time. If the copyright date is anything to go by then since about 1988! Back then I owned an Atari ST - and whilst the Atari kit itself has long gone - thanks to modern emulators like Steem - I can still play some of the old games I hung onto.
Quite why I hung onto it is a good question as I didn’t play it much when I bought it. Mainly I remember it being too slow - even by the standards then. However it did come with a nice set of box contents - including reproductions of period newspaper covers and pictures of the cockpit and makeup of the Spitfire itself.
Frustratingly enough I also seem to remember that it was incompatible with both the Mega STE and Atari TT computers I also tried it on. Both these machines were more powerful than the standard ST and would have helped a lot.
Fortunately though - Steem is plenty clever enough to get around these limitations and set to a speed of 16Mhz (twice the standard speed of a normal ST) the game becomes a bit more playable. Also using a programable joystick like a Saitek Cyborg Evo allows the most frequently used controls to easily reached.
So what then about the game itself? Well basically you get to fly a Spitfire Mk II and shoot at enemy fighters (Bf109E) and bombers (JU 87 - Stuka, HE111).
The game has 2 made modes. In the first - named ‘Game’ you start from a flying position almost on top of the enemy plane. You only get one enemy at a time and another one appears if you shoot the first one down.
In the second mode, “Simulation” you start on the runway and are given details of where the enemy can be found and how many there are. You then intercept them before landing back at base.
By modern standards - there is little difference and both fall into the category of quick combat. However the simulation mode does allow you to keep a logbook score of your victories and as your logbook entries rise you are awarded promotions and decorations.
I’ve not played the simulation mode much as you can see from the above picture - not least because it is quite hard. Actually whilst the Spitfire is easy to fly - its really quite difficult to shoot anything down. Forget everything you thought you knew about deflection shooting. It does work - but the bullets drift across the screen much more slowly than in many other games so getting the correct deflection can be difficult. Also the game is very fussy about targeting and spraying the vicinity of the target with your 8 machine guns generally has no effect even at quite close range. Of course the enemy rear gunners in the bombers don’t seem to have any problem hitting you.
There are very few player aids - but at least you can call up a decent map at any time. However their are no external views and you don’t even have the ability to look left and right out of the cockpit.
The main controls are very well done for the time and in addition you can also get a HUD display of altitude and speed which is very useful
In conclusion then - a worthy attempt from the dawn of polygon based flight sims which is worth giving a go - but don’t expect too much.
Despite owning an original 720K floppy of this game I was not successful in making a working disk image. However one can be downloaded via this site:
Spitfire 40 was published by Mirrorsoft (c)1988. This review relates to the Atari ST version running under Steem 3.2
Reviewed December 2005