After 'Laserball', which is also appearing in this special issue of Maggie, we have a review of the second production from SimonCam, namely a racing game to end all sensible racing games, Anarcho Ride!
Simon said that he did not have plans for any further gamed in an interview given to the Retrogamer magazine. However, he'd found some more very old GFA Basic code. This was showing a very crude concept for a racing game, coder graphics drawn up in five minutes and all.
From that unpromising start, in the space of a few summer weeks, with some new graphics from Alan Garrison Tomkins and great chip music by XFalcon, he's managed to whip up a playable game to the delight of everyone. Anarcho Ride is a racing game with a difference. Rather than for the rather pedestrian plodding around of a circuit with a time limit, points are earned for colliding with other oncoming vehicles and scenery, not avoiding them! Also missiles can be fired to great effect for even more points. There is an end result from the mayhem. Crashes make points, or flowers. Which you can exchange for upgraded vehicles and to unlock new and different circuits. As SimonCam puts it. "Sounds logical? No?? PERFECT!"
Nab him! Jab him! Tab him! Grab him! Stop that pigeon NOW!"
The game is intended for Atari STE and above. It will run on an STFM, but compromises rear their ugly head, such as a reduced frame rate and no DMA sound. It seems a blitter equipped machine is important here. The more extra system resources available, such as CPU, RAM and hard drive, the better. It also runs on a Falcon, even up to CT60 level. Where there would presumably be no issues at all with frame rate.
The setting up process is quite involved for a game of this nature. It even comes with an installer program like on a PeeCee game. You can tinker with various options to get the best experience according to the amount of Atari you have to hand. Once installed, you can ignore this and run the game. That said, there is also an option to add in expansion disks as and when they appear, which could be useful later on.
Getting into the game itself and playability, is responsive and quick enough. For people conditioned by normal racing games, let alone any real road usage, it is hard to overcome an instinctive fear of crashing into things. As stated earlier, you win points, or flowers for the more things that you crash into. Obtain sufficient flowers and you can build up your score to unlock more advanced levels and purchase better cars. You start off with a reasonable Audi or Aston Martin as it is, but can upgrade to the likes of a Bugatti Veyron or something very strange indeed as the points pile in!
The graphics are cartoonish and fun, which suits the mood of the game perfectly. The cars are well drawn within the ST's limits, the backgrounds are funny. The overall feel is of a superior budget game with big ambitions. Some of the circuits and other object data on expansion disk pics look interesting. The sound is variety of cheerful chip tunes, celebrating the mayhem and DMA action samples, of suitably crashy explosion noises.
It works on both versions of Hatari. It is also said to work on most other physical Atari hardware including up to a CT60.
The first expansion pack is now available, which includes some very weird looking vehicles and extra tracks.
Area 51 has a test track!?
The tracks I've played so far include 'City Fun' where you can crash into buses and VW Camper vans among other things, and a 'test track' which looks like a crusade to banish the Google driverless cars.
There are options to play as a straight arcade mode, or a 'quest', where you have to score (or crash into) a certain number of points in a specific time period. Accomplishing the task will provide bonus points, failure will deduct points.
On his website, SimonCam helpfully answers a number of questions about this game. The extract below is my favourite answer.
"Shouldn't I see a perspective view on the cars when they drive by? Like in other games?"
"The ANARCHO RIDE Laboratories have spent millions in researching that topic. The answer is: NO."
"The other games are wrong."
Simon Cam is seeking further support. The game is public domain and not for sale in any limited edition, but contributions of whatever nature are very welcome and will make further development of it more likely.
The website is at Simon's special Anarcho Ride page!
We now turn to the ratings to finish.
Graphics:- 79% - Cartoonishly enjoyable but still well drawn, not a game that takes itself overly seriously. This is most definitely for the best.
Sound:- 70% - Attractive tunes and appropriately 'action' sound effects go well here.
Playability:- 85% - Once you are used to the idea of crashing into the other cars on the track, there's a somewhat compulsive 'one more go' factor. The gameplay flows nicely, controls are responsive. Expansion disks are also great for further development.
Overall:- 82% - Another enjoyable classic, conjured up from old code. What else has he got hiding on his old source disks?
CiH - Maggie 25th issue - November 2015.