Saturday, 28 January 2012

New to me: Number 5 - Eddie Kidd Jump Challenge (ZX Spectrum)

Feels like it's been a while since my last update. That might be because it has been a while. Oh well, there's plenty of new stuff to be added over the coming weeks, and I'll start with a quick review of a game that I've been attempting to play for a long time. It's Eddie Kidd's Jump Challenge for the ZX Spectrum. Being an Acorn Electron owner, it was one of those games that I always seemed to see listed in Electron User when advertisers used to list pretty much every single game that they sold, usually in categories depending on the game's label. Eddie Kidd's Jump Challenge was a game by Martech, and I remember thinking to myself that it's a game I'd quite like. The whole idea of jumping over buses and barrels and suchlike had a certain attraction, and I already owned another Martech game for my Electron; that was Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge, which I really liked. Haven't got a clue who Brian Jacks is though. So, finally, I've got around to playing Eddie Kidd's Jump Challenge thinking that it might be a bit like a combination of Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge and Excitebike. And I decided to play the Spectrum version just because I was looking for a Spectrum game to review.

And, I hate it! The only instruction manual I can find for it is in Spanish (instruction manuel, que?), and with my rusty knowledge of Spanish, I can kind of figure out the keys. But even so, I still can't get bloody Eddie Kidd to perform even the simplest jump. I can get past the first level on his little BMX, seeing as it takes no skill at all, but when it comes to doing it on a motorbike, the daredevil extraordinaire just doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

The idea of the game is simple. You have to ride Eddie's vehicle of choice up a ramp and leap over as many things as you can (cars, barrels, and I presume buses at some point, I haven't got far enough to find out). You start on a BMX, and ride away from a ramp before deciding where to turn and start your run-up towards the ramp. Or you could just ride and ride forever away from the ramp if you feel like it, which is what I did for a while. Getting over the BMX jump is quite easy. After getting Eddie to cycle in the direction of the ramps and barrels, just hold 'z' and watch with delight and glee as he leaps to glory. If you keep 'z' held down after landing, he'll eventually come to a wall and you can do the jump again. If you hold 'a', he slows down and comes to a stop and the game moves to the next level. Logical, no?

The next level begins with Eddie on a motorbike. Again, you have to ride away from the ramp to find yourself a location from which you would like to start your run-up. Or again, just ride away from it forever. It's probably less infuriating in the long run. If, like Eddie, you wish to be a bit of a daredevil, you'll decide to attempt the jump. You'll get yourself in position, put your foot on the accelerator with the 'z' key, and put your head down with the space button, or the CTRL key. One of them puts your head down, the other lifts it up. Lift you head up a bit and you can peform wheelies if you so desire. But wheelie too much and you'll only end up coming a cropper, such is the realism on offer here. Providing you haven't already fallen off your bike somewhere in the run-up, you'll reach the ramp, ride up it and begin flying like a bird over the cars below you. Eventually, you'll need to land, and doing so safely is where the fun begins. No matter how you try to control your bike, it'll end up crashing to the ground anyway, thus ending your one and only chance at stuntman stardom. It'll either spin out of control and crash, or you'll land on your front tyre and crash, or land on both tyres and crash, or land at what you think may be the right angle on your back tyre.... and crash. I've attempted this jump a number of times, and still can't get it right. I'm determined that it's not going to defeat me, but so far it has. Adding to the frustration is the fact that when you decide to restart the game to attempt the motorbike jump again, you have to play through the tedious BMX jump again.

Graphically, the game does what it needs to. There is a good sense of speed when you race up to the ramp to attempt your jump. This is helped by speedy scrolling backgrounds which move quite smoothly and even offer up a bit of parallax scrolling. The sound is okay too. The BMX makes a beepy noise as you ride it, which doesn't really sound anything like a BMX (although how you simulate a BMX sound on a Speccy is probably quite difficult). However, the motorbike has quite a satisfying engine noise, although the crash noise, which you'll hear quite often, sounds a bit weak. Again this is simply due to the system's limitations so is excusable. At least you know what the noise means.

I'd imagine that once you master the landing technique, the game could be quite fun, although I'm not too sure how long it would be fun for. There's only so many times you can leap over scrap vehicles before it becomes dull and repetitive. So, in a strange way, the fun might actually be in learning how to perform a successful jump. However, um, what the hell was my however? This is what happens when you start writing a review and decide to come back to it a few days later. I guess it was something to do with the fact that perfecting the landing on the first bike attempt is what will lead you to ultimate glory later on. Or something. I don't know. Doesn't help that I'm pissed up at the moment either. So, yes, Eddie Kidd. It's pants. It'll frustrate the crap out of you and it isn't much fun either. So keep away.

Eddie Kidd is also available on the BBC Micro and C64 and Acorn Electron. They're all shit so I'm not going to bother featuring them here.

When I've sobered up, I'll update this with some screenshots from the game. Until then, it's just words. And words are all you have to take the, er, something, something.,,,