Scrrissshhhhhhh, scrooosssssssssh. Blarrp. It isn't easy steering Bobsleigh, the merest touch can send the thing spinning into the air and - wummmpfh - another run bites the dust.
Now I can easily understand that bobsleighing, far from being an innocent sort of snowy pastime loved by laughing children, is, in fact, a viciously competitive, utterly macho and staggeringly dangerous sport.
What I was less certain about was whether all that whiteness would look good on a computer game. Snow is a pretty hard thing to capture on the average Spectrum - check out all those skiing games where it just looks as though somebody forgot to draw the backgrounds. The other thing about bobsleighs is that they have a low knob- count. Simulations usually need to be of things with lots of controls - eg helicopters, submarines.
In Bobsleigh - after the hectic initial Daley Thomson style sprint to get in the thing - there are only two controls essentially - left and right. This ought to make it dull.
But it isn't. Digital Integration is nothing if not thorough. True, the controls of the Bobsleigh are simple but the sleigh responds very precisely to the slightest nudge. Getting the thing down the track is an infinitely subtle series of carefully judged nudges on the controls - a constant tension between doing enough to get round a bend without getting into an impossible position to take the one after that.
The basic technical problem of the game - how to give the illusion of hurtling through a gully of sheer ice at more than a hundred miles an hour is very well done. Simple shading effects brilliantly convey both the twists and turns in the ice walls and the illusion of perspective and distance.
There is an element of strategy and management in the game - planning anyway - in the way you must match your selection of runner blades to weather conditions on the run and keep track of your cash. You also need to allocate money for crew training - a special screen that lets you improve your waggle and improve those running starts.
Not winning and bad bobsleighing use up cash quickly conversely if you start raking it in you may decide to up-grade your bobsleigh and go for some serious speed.
Aside from the actual steering there are a couple of other key elements in each run - starting and stopping. Starting - which the real thing involves running along with the sleigh and leaping on to it at the last possible moment is simulated by the good old two-finger left-right (or joystick) waggle - as seen in countless Track and Field games. How deft your waggling is.
Like many of Digital's games, the more you play the more you get out of it. You get to know where and when the left and right swings in the track occur and clip more and more seconds off your time to get closer to the kind of speeds that will begin to earn you money.
You need a little patience - stick with it and get half way good and I think you'll find Bobsleigh utterly captivating.
Label: Digital Integration
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Highly original. A subtle simulation of an exciting sport. It looks good and rewards effort.
Digital Integration produces all of its products in-house. The Spectrum version of Bobsleigh was mostly the work of RICHARD HUGHES and ROD SWIFT although various members of the Digital Integration team contributed.SOFTOGRAPHY:Fighter Pilot (Digital Integration, 1984), Night Gunner (Digital Integration, 1984), Tomahawk (Digital Integration, 1985), TT Racer (Digital Integration, 1986), ATF Simulator (Digital Integration, currently in development).