Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Elliot Gay
Alligata offer you the opportunity to experience the thrills of showjumping without having to go to the expense of buying and keeping a horse - indeed you don't even need to be able to ride to play Show Jumping on your Spectrum.
Once the game has loaded you are treated to a rendition of the TV Show Jumping theme before moving on to the menu screen. Up to eight players can compete against one another, in which case each rider has to choose a computerised horse from a list of steeds which, coincidentally, have been named after Alligata games. The horses are all of the same standard, so there's no advantage to be had in consulting CRASH back issues before you select a mount! in single player mode you have no choice but to accept the anonymous horse provided by the program.
The game contains six courses, of varying difficulty. In the one player mode, which is primarily intended to allow horse control skills to be practised and improved, you can choose between two skill levels before entering the arena. You have a one hundred second time limit in which to complete the course, and are allowed a total of three refusals before being disqualified. Four faults are collected for each fence you knock down and the first two refusals collect three faults each.
In the multi-player mode the scoring and time limit are the same, but the course is selected by the computer and the players take it in turns to ride into the arena. The winner is the rider who completes the designated course with the least faults - a tie results in a jump-off on a harder course, and a further tie in the jump-off is settled by awarding the top rosette to the competitor who completes the round in the fastest time.
Once the course has been selected the computer displays a schematic view of the arena showing the start and finish gates and the order in which the gimps must be attempted. Pressing SPACE moves the viewpoint to a flip-screen 3D representation of the course and the competition begins.
Your horse can stand, walk, trot or canter and can be speeded up or slowed down as appropriate. Fine directional control can be achieved - the horse turns a full circle in twelve increments, turning to the left or right 30 degrees with each appropriate key press or joystick movement.
In order to jump a fence successfully you have to line your steed up so that you approach the bars at right angles, select an appropriate pace and press fire at the critical moment to take to the air. To help you remember the order in which to take the jumps a window at the top centre of the screen indicates the direction of the next fence by moving a graphic of a horse so that its head points in the right direction. A digital readout displays the time you have taken, accurate to a tenth of a second, while a scoreboard counts the number of faults you make.
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: tidily done
Graphics: detailed animation
Sound: good tune at beginning, otherwise minimal effects
Skill levels: two
Screens: six different courses
I can't really see myself playing Show Jumping for long, but it certainly would brighten up an afternoon. Generally I stay well clear of games like this as they are often very boring or of a very low quality. This is not the case with Show Jumping. The graphics are well defined: the horse and rider are very well animated and even the crowd is fairly well detailed. Apart from a time at the start, the sound effects are limited to some hoofish noises and a cheer from the crowd every now and then. Once I'd got into the spirit of this game (which wasn't too hard to do) I found it had started to grow on me. After half an hour or so I was beginning to get quite good at it and have a lot of fun.
Few people have attempted to portray this sport on the Spectrum, but Alligata have come up with the goods and made a pretty acceptable job of it. The graphics work quite neatly and look reasonably good. The people walking down the stand is a good touch, and the clippety-clop noise of the horse is quite atmospheric, too. The game is enjoyable, though its addictiveness can't last indefinitely. The price might be a bit too high, but it's a good game, and quite fun too.
What a neat game, Given the Spectrum's limitations, Alligata have produced a very reasonable show jumping game with quite distinct animation for the horse, although I found it a bit tricky to cope with the accuracy needed when turning the horse. The beast keeps on going in your selected direction at a constant speed until you slow it down or it bumps into something - which may be the way showjumpers behave, but not having ridden a horse... Obviously this game will appeal to horse fans everywhere but most people should have a fair bit of fun with it - especially if there's a group of you competing against each other.
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