If you were one of the many people heard to mutter 'Coo, fab' at the sight of the Arcadia machines on the Mastertronic stand at PCW last year, then perhaps the news that Road Wars is to be released on the Spectrum will make you giggle a bit. "S'not possible on a Speccy, is it?" people were saying left, right and centre.
Well, fill my trousers with sand, turn me upside down and call me an egg timer, 'cos Road Wars is on the Spectrum is fab.
The plot is strongly garbage collection orientated - unusual in an arcade game. It has been decided that you are the ideal person to clean up the roadways that surround the moon of Armageddon. Now, since Armageddon's moon has got dozens and dozens of bits of roadway floating around the place, you'd think that whoever commissioned the road-sweeping in the first place would provide some decent equipment. Giving you what looks like a large chocolate orange and telling you to get on with it seems a tad strange.
The chocolate orange is not all it seems though and by pulling back on the joystick you can 'peel' the top off your orange, and wammo - there's a dirty great gun nestling underneath. Very useful in road clearance this since tidying the road depends on blasting away selected 'bricks' in the road barriers.
Each road is a continuous loop, you zoom on round and round until you've managed to take out all the tinted bricks on the barrier. A deceptively simple task, you may think, but in fact it's easy to roll on round and round in circles just missing one elusive brick every time.
There is another problem between you and getting your bricks, - a whole other battle ball. Another large chocolate orange rolls alongside you, trying to get in the way and stop you doing your job. If you play with a friend, then the whole thing becomes vastly more exciting, as you can play 'Push-yer-Mate-off-the-Road-into Oblivion'. This gives lots of opportunity for you to get stuck in and shove the opposing ball into spikes, walls and the bottomless void.
The sensation of travelling down and round the road itself is very well done. Smooth and effective the illusion of perspective is superb. Things appear as specks on the horizon, whizz towards you, trip you up without so much as by your leave and whizz off again. And with the other ball getting in your way, your chances of dodging the offending object are usually pretty slim.
When you manage to shoot out all the bricks on a level you'll be shunted to the next roadway, where a whole new ballgame (if you'll pardon the pun) awaits you. On some roads there are bricks which emit sparks, you must either shoot out the bricks, or quickly pop up your protecting cover dome (joystick up) and thus roll past unscathed. You can't just stay in this defensive mode, though. Other levels feature spikes, rolling balls, people-who fire at you and large walls on which to trip yourself up.
If the idea of piloting a battleball round varying roadways in space isn't an idea that tickles your senses, that's your funeral. Road Wars is one of those games that grows and grows on an original idea, and tribute to some brilliant programming.
Label: Melbourne House
Author: Binary Design
Reviewer: Tamara Howard
An original concept that's well implemented. Spotless conversion from the original, great fun to play. A winner, methinks.