Neighbours
Copyright/Publisher: Impulze/Zeppelin, Coding By: I.Copeland, Graphics By: David Taylor,
Music By: Adam Gilmore, Release Year: 1901, Genre: Skateboard, Number Of Players: 1 to 4

Neighbours? What a silly idea for a game, eh? I mean, in the telly programme there are no monsters (unless you include Mrs Mangle), no supercharged laser guns, precious little opportunity for raucous beat-'em-up action and no heavy weapons. Where's the game? What on earth is the blimmi' point?

Publisher Impulze have obviously realised that there's not much 64 action to be eked out of Ramsay Street unless they stage a special event around the suburban tarmac. And guess what they've come up with - a race... Well come on, it was either that or a game of swimming pool one touch cricket.

You control Jason (the one who went on to star in countless spooky Friday the 13th fimls) who rides a skateboard, and it's your job to race against some of the local lads around various places in Erinsborough.

There's Henry (who for once has had the decency to wear a shirt), Matt (who always has a bad time with his girlfriend) and Mike (who always has a bad time with everybody).

It's simple joystick stuff in much the same fashion as Back to the Future II. Each of the opposing characters drives a cute little machine (go-kart, scooter or bicycle) and it's up to you to skate around the close, avoiding potholes, incidental people (like Mrs Mangle with her brolly) and a bunch of animals who happen to be running loose ( inevitably, they're kangaroos).

To win you must negotiate your way around a series of lanterns which have been laid out by community-type-person Harold Bishop. If you go through them, the ligths go out. If you fail you can't finish the race, and it's you who goes out. This would be a shame because, if you win a race, you get to have another go in another part of the district, like the school, or Ansell's Corner.

There are four courses in all, and each one is tougher than the last. You can tweak each course to your own taste by adding or taking away obstacles and opponents, or by adjusting your board's speed.

If you bump into something or someone, you fall over. This not only costs time, but also energy. You get energy back by picking up bits of litter that are, um, well, littered around the place.

And that's about the sum of it. So is this a good game? Well, it's okay in a naff sort of way. Like in Viz, they've merely taken some of the characters and bunged them into a spurious race. But unlike Viz there's very little evidence of actual character here.

Scott doesn't for instance have any speech-bubbles that say "strewth" or whatever it is they say. Maybe this is no bad thing, but if you're going to have a licence, you might just as well use it.

Technically it's smooth enough, and there's a nice jingle to go with the game. As a skateboard race game it's all good fun, and pretty darned addictive, but you'd find it hard to really justify the asking price . The best thing to do with this is buy it as a birthday pressie for a Neighbours fan in the family, and then hide away and play it yourself...

THE DOWNERS
Not really a Neighbours game.
Could have been more fun with a few more ideas.
Gameplay is limited.
That awful Neighbours jingle has finally spawned a C64 incarnation.
THE UPPERS
The racing is addictive and challenging for all ages.
Plenty of annoying obstacles make this a real toughie on the later levels.
Toughness variables mean youngsters can play along with hardened gamers.
Collision detection is surprisingly excellent.
Well though out courses (although they don't differ from each other enough).
Decent colours all round.

INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 72%


Choose to race against one or three blokes and decide how many roos and other horrors to bung in. You also pick the skate-speed.


The logo at the bottom shows how much energy you have. Pick up litter and keep away from obstacles to avoid disqualification.

To win you've really got to get round without meeting more than three obstacles. The manholes are always a bit of a nightmare.

If you're going to have a game set in Australia, you have to include kangaroos. Unfortunately, in Neighbours, the blighters are everywhere.

Watch out for Mrs Mangle and other busybodies. Strangely, they're not so keen on skateboard races down Ramsay Street.

In order to win, Jason must skate between the lanterns. Harold, being a bit of a joker, has set some of them up in very tricky places.

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