There I was, thinking we'd had the last of the summer dross. Not quite. Tunnel Vision is one of those 'futuristic' games we've all learned to leave well alone.
We're in the 22nd Century, two players in spaceships are locked in mortal combat electromagnetically suspended inside a holographically projected tunnel in outer space. Apart from the big words there's nothing to commend this scenario because the game itself looks nothing like it.
Anyway, the two spacepilots must compete to capture an orb that whizzes around the tunnel. Having got it, they score a point by carrying it to the goal. The opponent can take steps to grab the orb for himself and then go for touchdown. If they're playing games like this in the 22nd Century, they've obviously forgotten how exciting blow football can be.The game can be played either against a computer or another human opponent. The fun factor is slightly higher with another human since the computer always seems to win.
Other options include a one, three or five orb game. There are five different tunnels which can be chosen individually or in order of difficulty - difficulty here means the number of bends. There are also three skill levels to select. Then there's a tunnel editor to modify existing tunnels.
The screen is split in two horizontally, showing both players' view of the tunnel. At the left side if a map of the tunnel for each player, indicating his or her position and that of the orb. Simply whizz along until you get the orb within range. Pressing the Fire button then releases a tractor beam that grabs the orb. Now go hell for leather for goal.
The opponent is obviously doing the same thing and can fire at you or bump you until your shields run out. So you must constantly be looking both at your own and yor opponent's tunnel position. Both players can change direction and bank both left and right.
There's another craft that whizzes around the tunnel. This crashes into both players indiscriminately and will damage their shields. This can be zapped with your laser bolt. By the way, the laser bolt looks remarkably like the tractor beam.
To stop one player destroying another and then picking up the orb with ease, you can set an automatic timeout. This simply restarts the game whenever fuel or shields run out. Timeouts also stop stalemate situations but they can be used to advantage. Say you have no chance of stopping your orb-carrying opponent reaching the goal, simply scrape the walls, run your shields down and you both start again ha!
Now for the graphics. The holographic tunnels look like a Brixton subway. The spaceships look like two tangled up coat-hangers and the orb looks like a flashing orange fruit pastille. From this, you'll gather that the graphics are a little meagre. Add to that an anaemic title screen and that much maligned Bach toccata as the title tune and you've got a lot to recover from.
Graphically more stunning is the tunnel editor. Here you get to alter the shape of any of the five tunnels by taking out pieces and replacing them with ones from a set of 18 provided. Some of the pieces are so small and so badly defined they look like ink blots!
How does the game play? Well, it's really one of those road racing games dressed up. The spaceships handle the same way, accelerating and decelerating as you push the joystick forward and back. Granted, there's a little more to the game tactically, but not much.
A few words of mitigation. The speech is probably the best I've heard. According to the blurb, certain meaningful phrases ("Well done, player one") were recorded at 5.85KHz. Blimey.