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

28
Phil South
Chris Bourne

(Da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum-da-dum). After a long, long, long time in the making, and a huge amount of pre-publicity, Knight Rider has finally driven onto our screens. Why did it take so long? Well, one of two things happens with a licensed game. Either you have a really good idea for a game and use a recognisable character to give it credibility and then seek the license, or you seek a license and then try your darndest to think of a winning game. Actually what happens in most cases is that you don't bother to think of a winning game, and just hope that the name on it will sell it. Ahem. So where does Knight Rider fit in this picture? Let's see now.

There are three basic game elements to the game - the map screen, the room screen and the driving screen. The first part is a map of North America, where you plan your routes to different cities in the US to search for clues. When you get there, you see a room. a plan view like Gauntlet (and I use the comparison loosely) where you must hide from guards to make your way to the clues. Finally, the screen where you spend the most time, the driving screen, is a 3D view out of KITT's windscreen as you speed along the road towards your destination, with a lot of digital displays on your dashboard. The primary gameplay consists of controlling the driving, leaving KITT to shoot at the hundreds of helicopters that are flying at you, or shooting at the chopper hordes while KITT burns rubber.

Because this is based on a TV show where the car is the star the strength of this game should be the driving part of the scenario. It's not. A boring yellow road, whose only sign of movement is the little horizontal lines that zip down across the triangle of the road. The helicopters (I assume they're helicopters, but they could be giant locusts) are cheap and very tacky UDG style sprites, whose only real concession to 3D-hood is increasing in size and zooming off the screen before they get too scuzzy looking. The most disturbing thing about this game is the level at which it can play itself. As KITT is virtually impervious to any damage, you can quite happily play the game (letting KITT drive you to the next location) and do something else. I am 'playing' the game now as I'm writing this, which I guess is a sure enough sign of how involved the gameplay is.

This would have been a fair effort for a budget game, but for a full price, licensed game from a major software house, it hasn't got a hope!

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