Reviewed By Simon Forrester In Amstrad Action #92
Roll up, roll up! Ladiiies aaand gentlemen, this is a computer simulation of a fairground game! Yes, kiddies, yawn! Sigh! Fall off your chair! Throw balls up a slanted piece of wood, and watch powerful horses galvanise themselves into a slow trot. Fun, huh?
I'm, sorry. But I mean really... The Kentucky Race was a fairground game that travelled around the southern states of the USA. It was not a sport. The idea was to roll a ball along a piece of wood, aiming for certain holes. The further away the holes, the farther your horse went. More sophisticated models actually had some automatic horses moving (the earlier models employed short people in fancy dress or something). Wow. Fab. Let's make a computer game about it!
You, the brave and skilled athlete, master of your profession, pinnacle of horse riding fitness, get to control the throbbing mass of muscle and sinew, one four-legged running machine, by throwing a ball into a hole. This is more than a little worrying.
That's the concept done with. So the game? Er, yeah. The graphics are nice and colourful, if a little garish in places (most places), but they do the trick. Sonics aren't exactly the height of 'bearable' either - with a version of 'The Camptown Races' that should make even the most mindless Rave fan collapse. Gameplay-wise, this game isn't winning any prizes either. It's got one 'skill' to master, and that's just how to get a hand to throw a ball. Hitting the holes is quite, quite random, you see.
You'll also need a little patience to play this game. Horses limping across your screen is one thing, but being forced to hear garish tunes before you're even allowed to play is pushing it a little far.
Sorry, but it'd be hard to justify Kentucky Racing as a sports game, and even harder to justify a reasonable mark for it. If it's a horsey game then it's not very good, and if it's a throwing-the-ball-into-the-hole game, then it's got an awful concept anyway.
Remember all those sprint games? With the top-down view of a little track, and lots of little rectangular cars whizzing round? Fun, huh? The basic idea is four cars, two of which can be human players, have to burn round a track, and, obviously, try to win. There are a nice variety of tracks to try, with speed corners, bridges and such, and various power-ups to collect.
There are also quite a few problems with those little things in life. Like the other cars. You know, the ones with better acceleration than your car, better grip than your car, and a completely pre-defined route that let's them bomb round the track without crashing once. Fun, huh? Remember BMX Simulator? With the opponent rider who was hell on wheels? At least with Championship Sprint they don't ride straight through you. You're effectively racing ghost cars round the track. So forget any cunning crash tactics, they don't care - they just sail on through the middle of you.
So you're up against some pretty stiff competition. The other thing that counts against you slightly is the fact that your car seems to be covered in glue. Yes, boys and girls, glue. You see, when you crash into a barrier, you don't bounce off. You don't scrape down it, and you don't die. You just stop. And you can't start again. You seem to stick to this barrier, so you have to very slowly inch your car out of the way, then rocket off ready to smash into something else. I would have felt much better if I'd have seen some of the other vehicles crash, but I didn't. They just burn by, laughing. Because if you get behind just once, they'll have lapped you before you can blink and shout "This is crap!".
There are some power-ups, such as point bonuses, car repair thingies and such but, apart from that, it's just a very simple racing game, dating from the Super Sprint series, which also lacked content. Championship Sprint, however, lacks content and quality.
Graphically, you won't have any problems, as it does look reasonable, but the total lack of all gameplay turned me cold. Be warned though - when you start playing, don't expect to be grabbed. Staying power is a joke as well, by the way. If you keep it loaded for anything over five minutes, have pity on me, 'cos I had to play it for a lot longer than that.
Hold on a minute! I'm a seasoned CPCer! I've seen this somewhere before! Oh yes, that's it? Cricket International is actually Tim Loves Cricket from Peaksoft. If you don't remember it, don't worry, it was probably a bit before your time (Argh! I must be getting old to write something like that!) Anyhow, witness probably one of the strangest cricket games in existence, in which it's not only the bat and stumps that are made of wood.
So, you start the game by looking at thousands (well, it seems like thousands) of statistics tables of the various players, and their various bits and bobs. This could probably be all very interesting to hardened cricket fanatics, but to the average game-reviewer in the street, it is just a little tiresome.
But in due time, the action begins. And what action it is. This sort of Lego man (not the shop-window display quality stuff, but the six-year-old stuff) shuffles left and right, finally clicking (and I mean clicking) forward and throwing the ball.
Said ball then flies up the pitch. When the ball gets to the batsman, you (if you're batting) get to attempt to hit it. Well, block it. It's very rare you'll manage to crack it straight back through the bowler's head, but you might get it a fair way.
Cut to pitch. The ball flies off, while the computer's fielders (represented by UDG men - ugh!) run after it. You can then control your running batsmen using up and down joystick waggles.
All very fun. Now the computer is in bat. You shuffle the bowler. Press fire. He throws the ball straight. None of the fancy trick shots (or is that snooker?) that the computer manages, just this dead lump of string flying through the air. The CPC's batsman then performs some lovely acrobatic moves, and cracks the ball for a six. Your only hope now is the excellent fielding team!
So this ball's flying through the air at the speed of sense. One of the fielders is flashing. [Careful - Ed] To select which fielder you're using, you press COPY. Each fielder flashes in turn. [Oh, I get it now - Ed] Slowly. By the time you've managed to select a fielder anywhere near the ball, it's hit the boundary, the game has finished, and the computer team is inside eating cheese and cucumber sandwiches.
So, for a game that has a variety of different matches, and a nice way of setting up customised teams, it could so easily have been brilliant. It is brilliant, except for one tiny flaw - it's ludicrously crap. Maybe that's a bit harsh - surprisingly crap. Sorry Alternative, I'll send a wreath.
At the time of writing, US Basket Master was not available for review. This, unfortunately, is the luck of the draw sometimes. We'll probably review US Basket Master separately in a future issue, but until then, I'm afraid you'll have to wait.
And finally, Esther...
So, this has been a bit of a non-starter of a sporting compilation, hasn't it? It's hard to say what exactly will have gone wrong. The problem so far seems to have been the run of weak titles - one completely naff game, one moderately bad conversion, and one title so old it was released first on gramophone record. Apologies to Alternative, but I really can't give this compilation the kind of mark that's going to make you go out and buy it - even if US Basket Master turns out to be the greatest game ever. You might actually enjoy the odd one or two of these, but not for long.