Blitz Basic 2 is a bit of a marvel, all things concerned. Just look at Defender or Zombie Apocalypse and you'll see that you don't need to be a machine code programmer to create some rather stunning results. This is exactly Acid Software's aim, and one look at Skidmarks should be enough to silence even the most ardent cynic. Skidmarks is for car racing games what Kick OH was to football - the start of a new age.
Coming from the multiplayer school of games like Super Sprint and Micro Machines, Skidmarks takes the top-view racing scenario and kicks it into the Nineties with a style and flair that you just don't usually see in games these days. The basis is quite a simple one - take four cars and a winding track, and let up to four players race against one another, all fighting for the best times, sometimes just fighting to stay on the track.
Opening the box for the first time, you are presented with the main game disk, an AGA car disk for the A1200/A4000 (let's see AMOS do that!) and two track disks, the titles of which show off the programmer's music taste a little too obviously (Pearl Jam's 'Even Flow' and Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name Of'). By having the tracks, six to a disk, on separate disks, Acid are paving the way for bigger and better tracks as time goes on.
After loading, you can choose to link two machines, set up your function key messages (when two machines are linked, you can send messages back and forth), choose the number of players, set the difficulty level, select your car out of a list of four, choose the computer team to play against and finally get into the game. After you've chosen which of the 12 tracks to race on, of course!
The controls work in the same way as most games of this ilk. The fire button accelerates and the left and right buttons steer your car. Pulling back brakes, but who ever uses that? From this point on, everything gets different. You've probably noticed from the screen shots on this page that the game is viewed isometrically rather than straight top-view, which has given Acid a lot of scope to play with a more three dimensional track. Corners are banked, which affect the way your car steers, and rough areas of straights and jumps mean you lose control when your car is in the air. Keeping it under control is a real skill, and that's one of the secrets to what makes the game so damn playable. I haven't been able to put it down yet, and I doubt I will for quite a while.
One thing that I'd love to be able to show you, but can't, is the realism of the graphics. Okay, they might look a little pokey on still screenshots, but when you see everything moving you can see why it took so long to do the graphics. Each car is made up of 800 sprites (32 rotations with five elevations and five pitches), all rendered in Imagine 2, all light sourced and totally believable. All that's lacking are the turning wheels, but who's being picky?
Skidmarks is one of the most instantly playable games I have ever played, along with one of the best two player games ever released on the Amiga. Okay, so it won't take too long before you can beat the computer opponents on all tracks, but who can't beat the computer teams in Sensible
Soccer? The strength here lies in the electric atmosphere generated by a good two or four player game against opponents of equal skill. The manual suggests you should spill beer on the lap of your enemy to give yourself an advantage, and you can see why after a few games. Skidmarks is a landmark in computer games, and if future Blitz Basic games are as good as this one, we are going to see the Amiga and CD32 become the games machines of the next decade.
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