She's going to kill you… there you are, on the other side of town, your motorbike 's been stolen, you have only till 7.30 to get your girlfriend to a concert for which you don't even have the tickets yet. It never rains but it pours.
So find the parts of your bike, pick up your girlfriend, get the tickets and everything is sure to be hunky-dory - but fate throws plenty of pavement problems at you in Sidewalk, a rare Spectrum release from French software house Infogrames.
Progress through the town is shown on a horizontally-split screen. (The upper half shows the mean streets through which you walk and the shops you can go in; the lower halt is given over to icons.)
These streets are full of dropouts and thugs. You can ask the dropouts if they know where your bike is, or how to get tickets to the concert, but meeting a thug will almost certainty result in a fight.
In a fight you can punch, kick and head-butt. The pint of beer to the right side of the upper screen, which represents your energy, is matched by another pint pot displaying your opponent's strength. Both are drained by fighting, and refilling can only be done at a bar.
If you win a fight with a thug, any bike part that he's carrying is transferred to you - along with any money you can grab from him.
A clock ticks away, increasing the tension. Fail to complete your tasks, and your bike's gone for good, you won't get to the concert and your girl probably won't accept your excuses.
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: fantastically detailed monochromatic play area and stunning 3-D effect
Sound: excellent on 48K as well as 128K - jolly little title tunes with simple in-game spot effects
'Sidewalk is an excellent cartoon adventure-type game. The characters, backgrounds and objects are all excellently defined, and the detail is amazing! On the 128K machine you get the added luxury of almost nonstop groovy music. The idea Is relatively simple, but presented this way and with these brill graphics, Sidewalk will go far.'
NICK ... 85%
'Sidewalk makes a pleasant change from shoot-'em-ups and complex adventures. The monochromatic graphics are very well drawn, almost cartoon-like, and the sound is some of the best on the 48K Spectrum for a long time. It doesn't take long to learn how to deal with the thugs; the real enjoyment of Sidewalk derived from actually trying to recover the bits of the motorbike by visiting buildings and interacting with other characters. There's enough depth and puzzles to keep you coming back more, and with the clock clicking away you have to be quick your toes.'
ROBIN ... 85%
'Sidewalk has some of the best graphics of the year, and the atmosphere created by them is so strong it's difficult to leave. And all the characters come over very realistically. The aim of the game is simple but extremely effective - much time is spent running around in a panic to avoid that final blow which will finish you off. And when you do die you've just got to have that one more go! Sidewalk is an exciting change from the usual game.'
PAUL ... 91%
It's one of those days! You've left it to the last possible minute to buy tickets to the Band Aid concert, a gang of thugs has stolen your motorbike and smashed it up and to top it all, they're now hanging about waiting to pounce on you.
Can you get hold of two tickets to the concert for you and your gorgeous gal before eight o'clock? 'Cos if you don't she's gonna run off with that Rick Astley lookalike (Croon. Ed), John the jerk! You can always try beating the hell out of some gang members so they give you your bike back or, if you you're low on energy, ask them a few questions and then run for it.
As usual there are the normal host of characters to give you helpful clues and advice. A girl will give you a spanner but don't try and wrench any answers out of her. The geezer in the record shop will do almost anything but sell you the tickets and the obligatory hippy can be persuaded to help you locate your mean machine. What's more there's a bar where you can down a quick pint to refresh those soft parts other beers won't reach - your energy!
The presentation is excellent - the flight scenes and town are portrayed in beautifully detailed monochromatic graphics and some of the stills, especially the one after a fight, are hilarious. My main criticism of Sidewalk is its size - a mere fourteen screens. The problems are pretty lemon squeasy too which makes it unaddictive after a while! Having said that it's still a highly playable and amusing game. Grab a copy and I can assure you, you won't be disappointed.
Talk about stylish - some of the graphics in Sidewalk are astounding, not necessarily in terms of animation or even detail but just as pure art.
Sidewalk is a French game from Infogames and it shows its heritage. Didier Chamfray, the graphic designer is seriously into French comic-book art.
It looks fab then. But what about the game? - That's more complicated.
Imagine Renegade with a little bit of strategy presented as though it were a Magic Knight style graphic adventure.
Sidewalk is a bit like that. The plot is very simple and very right-on - you want to get your girlfriend to come with you to the Band Aid concert - you need not only to get the tickets but also to find the various parts of your Motorcycle which are scattered around the town. Not only scattered but actually stolen by some of the most unpleasant people French graphic artists are capable of drawing.
You can win back the stolen bike bits by duffing up the appropriate baddie - this is where the Renegade bit comes in - using the kind of kicks headbutts and punches beloved of combat games since time immemorial (well Way of the Exploding Fist anyway).
It's an odd mixture. You troll around the town - depicted in the centre panel at the top of the screen - looking for tickets and bike and replenishing your energy via the pub (energy level is measured by how full a beer glass is.)
When you come across somebody, you have the option of running away, asking a question or fighting. Most people respond badly to questions - some will be uncooperative - others will get annoyed and hit you. On rare occasions you may find someone who actually helps - the Hippy for example, knows where you can get the concert tickets - but then he would wouldn't he?
Running away is good if your energy level is low, fighting needs to be done with a full quota of energy. Actually the biffing is the weakest point in a way, I adopted a sort of headbutting-punching-kicking-just-waggle-the-joystick-continuously-and-be-optimistic-approach which required no skill whatsoever and found that it always worked if I had enough energy. It means that different moves and tactics don't seem to count for much.
I managed to get the tickets and about half my bike back on around the sixth time of playing - that seems to be too easy to me and this is also a game which can be solved and finished - so I have some doubts about its longevity.
That said, I thought, the graphics were superb. I liked the multi-window pictures very much and its an inventive mixture of ideas.
It doesn't quite work perhaps but I expect great things of the programmers in the future...
Author: Kamel Bala, Gerard Courouble, Didier Chamfray
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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