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%% Lock-n-Load                                        by Jason Compton %%
%%                                               jcompton@bbs.xnet.com %%
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I've tangled with the Fred Fish and AmiNet CD-ROMs on some
local BBSes before.  They're nice compilations, but sometimes
it's hard to find what you're looking for.  NorthWest Public Domain
has its own entry to the CD-ROM market for compilations of PD
material, and they call it Lock 'N Load.

"Hundreds of games ready to run on most AMIGAS" reads the CD
label (rather nice blue tone to it, I might add) and they're right.
This CD is games-only, for the most part.  One of the rather nice
non-game inclusions is a version of Workbench 1.3, 2.0, and 3.0,
meaning that virtually anybody can use this disc and find everything
they need on it.  It also means that CDTV and CD32 users alike can
boot off of it.  This is a rather nice feature.

Let's say you boot off a CD32 like I did.  After a considerably lengthy
wait (Workbench usually goes faster from floppy than this, but I won't
complain too much), you're treated to a rather nice picture of a jet
fighter cockpit with the Lock 'N Load logo above.  (Clever, eh?  It's
firing on another jet...)  The CD32's joypad is supported by a somewhat
helpful program called JoyMouse, which means you can chunk the
pointer around the screen, usually with more accuracy as holding
down shift and doing the keyboard combination.  It doesn't support
a right mouse button on the pad, though, which is sort of silly 
considering all the buttons we have to spare.  Then again, the program 
wasn't written specifically for the pad.  At any rate, there are two 
primary divisons on the disk: Assassins disks and "Mega-Games", which 
could just have easily been called "Everything else".  Anybody who has 
had an Assassins disk knows what they look like-if you don't, they're
floppy collections of, oh, usually 2-5 PD games.  The menu is
accompanied by a decent mod and the game is selected by keyboard.
(CD32 USER ALERT)  The Mega-Games directory is broken up into
some smaller, fairly logical subdivisions, which are also in turn divided,
and so on, until you find the program you want to play.

This is when fun things start to happen.  A fairly good job has been done
to make sure that all of the games will run-I saw an awful lot of Nico
Francois' PAL 1.0 and Jolyon Ralph's KillAGA popping up in the 
scripts that launch when you double click (or single click with the 
joypad) on a game.  Sometimes, it doesn't always work, though.  I had a 
good handful of programs not react well with the script, and a couple 
actually had scripts that failed because of incorrect assigns or commands.
The former can usually be fixed by booting ECS or OCS (I try to make
it a habit of doing so with this program unless I KNOW I'm playing an
AGA game), and the latter...well...you'll have to tinker a bit and not
use the icons.

So how does it rate as a compilation?  If memory serves, about 300
megs or so are used up on the disk.  Not bad.  I wouldn't have minded
300+ megs of other things, but some people may have been upset by
repeats of things they already have.  The assigns are, for the most part,
helpful and welcome.  The bootable option is great, and the CD32
support isn't bad.  Of course, the CD works in ANY SCSI Amiga CD-ROM
drive (actually, probably the IDE ones, too) and has the Parnet software
on it, so it's probably more suited for a full-Amiga user.  The other
option is to hook up a mouse and a keyboard (remember, that keyboard
adapter is $5 at Radio Shack...) on a CD32 and plug away.

I won't bore you with listing the compilation.  There are, of course,
the good and the bad on this.  With the Assassins, you can always
go and look up what the first 150 or so disks held, so that should give
you some indication.  The Mega-Games are, of course, random chance,
but there ARE things worth playing-case in point, Megaball 3 AGA.

This is a disc you've got to look around...Card games are classified
under "Strategy"...which is true, to a point, it's just that I never
thought of it.  "Strategy" clicks wargame images, not Klondike AGA,
but that's just me, I suppose.

One very pleasant surprise was the Spectrum Emulator V1.7...
complete with about 30 games!  Granted, they're not speed-demon-
esque on an 020/14 CD32, but they're not bad, either, and were
quite a bit of fun.  

My final decision?  For less than $25, for someone who doesn't
already own PD compilations, it's a good buy, especially if you're
handy with Degrader or the like.

NPD knows about the assign problems and is fixing them for the 
next Lock 'n Load, scheduled for July or August.  Other than that,
a very well presented, well put together CD.

NorthWest Public Domain
P.O. Box 1617
Auburn, WA  98071-1617  USA
(206) 351-9502