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Ocean Software Ltd
1986
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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92
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

In the latest in a line of irritatingly mediocre TV licencing deals from Ocean, you take the role of Michael Knight, owner of the astounding K.I.T.T. car in his fight against injustice across America.

Knight Rider has a strong strategy element, as you will discover as soon as the instructions appear on the screen. First choose your mission, ranging from 'Democratic Convention' to 'Presidential Dinner'. All of the plots are really very similar, involving lots of racing around in K.I.T.T. and very little else.

Once the plot's been chosen, you can get on with the game. There are three different screen layouts, which appear depending on which part of the game you are currently playing - the map, driving and operation nase screens.

The Map Screen is very straightforward. The upper portion of the screen depicts a map of the country, and all the interconnecting freeways which are available for K.I.T.T. to travel along. You program your destination in the computer and begin your journey. If there is a building nearby, you enter it and have a look around. The Map also gives you an idea of how tough your journey is likely to be, as the larger curves in the road are shown in detail.

Next up is the 3D driving screen (whoopee!) which is really the main part of the game. Here, you guide your car along the freeway towards the destination of your choice. It all looks very similar to Zzoom, the Imagine oldie of a few years back, in which you had to shoot down some thoroughly unconvincing objects in semi-3D.

In Knight Rider, though, the foes are a little more menacing. Helicopters loom up out of the desert with frightening regularity weaving their way left and right in front of you. They fire rockets at K.I.T.T. for which there is no logical explanation that I can think of. But they seem to know what they are doing, so who am I to argue...? it's all just like the TV series really.

Now, as anyone who has tried it will indubitably testify, trying to steer a doctored Toyota Supra at 240mph while picking off murderous helicopters is no mean feat. Luckily, you are in the possession of such an amazingly talented motor (John) that you can simply hand over one of these operations to K.I.T.T.

The graphics at this stage aren't very impressive, consisting of a wide yellow road with an occasional black line shooting down the middle, and the aforementioned helicopters doing their level best to look menacing on the horizon.

Other information on screen tells you how fast you are going, the time left before something ghastly happens, how much damage you have sustained, your laser temperature and skuds. A skud is the rather unfortunate name given to the units of distance left before you reach your target (Standard Kitt Unit of Distance. Geddit?)

Should you manage to get to your destination before your time runs out and something ghastly happens, you go back to the map screen. YOu either begin another journey - often you will not be able to drive directly to the desired location - or enter a building and have a look around inside.

Should you choose the latter, the screen will change for the final time, and the operation base will be depicted in plan form. The aim of this part - as K.I.T.T. will inform you by means of an incomprehensibly irritating scrolling message - is to reach the room on the other side of the building.

Walk past guards and packing cases, both of which seem to have a similar IQ. Once you reach the room, there is a delivery not, or a packing slip. This is your clue as to where your next location lies.

So, it's back into the car and off on another road-race to the next city. And the whole thing starts over. It's not all that inspiring is it?

Label: Ocean
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

****

Easily as amazingly mediocre as the TV series from which it's taken but it doesn't qualify for so-bad-it's-good.

4/5

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HINTS AND TIPS

Always wait and see what K.I.T.T. has to say, and then move quickly, as the clock continues to tick, no matter what you are doing.

While on the race screen, put the car in control of the lasers, and drive the thing yourself.

Put the speed up to 240mph, as it's still possible to control the car at this rate.

In the operational bases, wait and see what the guards do, and then rush past them, using your knowledge of their movement patterns.