Okay - I'll come clean. We've actually done this one before. Sort of. Well, actually it was called Skateball then, and it was ever-so-slightly different (but not much. In fact, not at all). The thing is, you see, that it's French. And as we all know, the French have a bit of a 'reputation'. Unfortunately, however, Skateball didn't quite live up to this 'reputation'. Quite simply, it wasn't weird enough. But what could be weirder than renaming it Skatewars (which 'sounds a bit nicer, apparently) and re-releasing it '18 months later? As I thought - nothing.
And that's what they've done. 'Skating on thin ice' or what, eh? Still, Jackie gave the original a corking eight (out of ten, that is) back in issue 38 and generally seemed fairly pleased about it, so perhaps its reappearance is no bad thing after all. But then again, there are two sides to every coin (whatever that means) and Old Father Time might have had a bit of a go at it with his great big egg-timer. Let's have a nosey.
So what's it all about then? Basically, Skatewars is a subtle blend of extreme violence, ice-skating and (groan) football. You'd think the skates would sort of pop the ball (but they don't). The idea is to knock the ball into the other team's net while laying to waste all those around you. You're going to have to be a pretty nifty beat-'em-upper as well as a seasoned footie player, I fear, as the only way to dispatch your opponents from the playing area (apart from through the use of your sporting prowess) is by skating into them at the highest possible speed.
And there's more. Blimey, yes. As well as trying to stay upright without wobbling about too much you'll also need to negotiate a selection of obstacles. While there are none on the first level, and only a few harmless lumps of rock on the next few, higher levels contain some really quite appalling hazzards such as pits, spiky things and, erm, all kinds of horrible bits and pieces. (Shudder.) The trick here is to aim to shove the other player into these without actually getting impaled on them plummetting down them yourself. Not easy when you're also sliding about all over the place and trying to get the ball into the net. And trying to clean a rather unpleasant-looking stain off the TV screen.
But is it any good? Well, not really. Actually it is pretty good fun for a while, especially playing against another person (the computer-controlled players seem a bit easier to beat than the ones in Skateball, though - but that's just my over-active imagination I reckon). And the scrolling is quite nice and 'slippery'. And the skating is pretty 'skatey'. But in the long run it's just not quite 'there'. And whether it's 'there' or not is really what counts.
So what's the verdict? It's slick. It's quite good fun. It's pretty original (if you didn't see it first time round). And it's certainly inclined towards the weird (although not excessively by French standards). But, at the end of the day, all things considered. It's just not quite 'there'. Not quite.
Footie on ice, with a fair smattering of violence. Quite good(ish).
Er, is that the ball? Looks like it. I'll kick it and see.