J.D. came over to me today, and spake thus: 'Ubi Soft'. So, thinking that he was talking in some weird Devonshire accent, I hurled a desk at him to prove that, really, I'm that 'ard. This was when it struck me that what he probably meant was Ubi Soft. So I untangled the package from the remaining mess of limbs, and found Skateball.
Skateball is a Rollerball-esque sport sim and is Ubi Soft's debut in the Spectrum software world. The rules are simple: Score goals, slash, skate, maim, skate, kill, score more goals ...
You have three team members, only one of which can play at any time, and the idea is simply to score goals. You also have a goal keeper (computer controlled) which seems to have been programmed to let the players get the ball into the net with the minimum of hassle and obstruction. The bad goalkeepers are one of only two real faults with the game. The other point worthy of making a note of is that your player seems to spend most of the time "On 'is bum" as you have only to touch the other player and your feet lose control.
Apart from these two bad points, Skateball is fair. The graphics are big and can be quickly manipulated on some fairly hairy pitches. There are eight pitches, the first being just a normal footer pitch shape, the next has a mushroomy obstacle thingy in the middle. From then on, all manner of evil appears, such as pillars which rise up out of the ice, not to mention the pits which all but the most skilful players fall into.
When playing Skateball against the computer, you have to score five goals to go on to the next pitch (anyone asking what next pitch?' will be shot for not paying attention earlier when I explained that bit). After one of the two teams have been totally obliterated, the computer shows an aggregate score for all the pitches that you managed to survive.
The sound in Skateball is basically basic in a very basic sort of way. I think they could've improved the game by having that music from Rollerball incorporated in the program, to add atmosphere. I'm sure you'd agree if you knew what the hell the music I'm talking about is. (Bach's Toccata and Fugue, Mr Philistine - CJ).
There are a few good features of the pre-game preparation, including choosing both your own, and the computer's team members (or if it's two humes, you take turns in picking a player) which means that you can take the best and leave the computer with the worst ones, right? Wrong. Each of the players has four different properties (strength, shoot-skill, balance, reactions); you have to experiment to determine which players to constantly pick and which not to.
There have not been that many skate/mutilate games on any computer, so this looks fairly good. I'm sure that soon, someone will produce an excellent one (a desperate plea for a Spectrum version of Speedball!)
Skateball, while being quite good in a psychotic way, is not what could be called a brilliant game, because of the two aforementioned faults, which caused to kill three members of the SU staff by shocking to death with the use of profane language (and believe me it was PROFANE language). To put it in short Skateball is a good game but caused aggro and confusion, especially if playing against the computer.
Ubi Soft have made a fair entry into the Speccy world and providing they keep up the speedy, pretty games, maybe adding more gameplay (and, of course, some music wouldn't go amiss!) they could do well.
Almost excellent, spoilt by a couple of faults. Nice try.