Amidst all the sophistication of games, the half screen tall sprites, the icon driven adventures, it's worth remembering where it all began... in the Arcades. It's worth breathing a nostalgic sigh for the times when all games were simple - some were simply dreadful but others were simply wonderful.
And let us not forget Miner Willy, Matthew Smith's classic coal cutter. His platform jumping exploits created so many clones that many people still run screaming when they see a game with only left, right and jump controls. (Right. nurse, I think we've lulled this reader into a sense of security. Now just slip the strait jacket on. Nice and secure? Good.)
Roller Coaster has only one key in addition to right, left and jump - but that's only a go faster button. (Good thing we used the manacles... cant escape when I drop the big one.) And Roller Coaster is great. Its plot is minimal - collect the money bags left inconveniently around a fairground, jump over obstacles and go for rides. That's all. Your little man doesn't even have a name.
So what is it that makes Roller Coaster almost as much fun as the real thing? I'm not sure. It's a high scorer - but that's not enough. And it looks good and has some classy opening music and spot effects - but that's not enough either. Then I think it must be the sheer addictiveness. Nothing's so difficult that you won't achieve something first time - but to get every bag you'll need to practise on every ride. And curiosity about what comes next will spur you on.
Elite has made something of a speciality converting arcade games of late. Here they have an original that's worthy of a full sized machine of its own.
Sometimes I wonder if this page isn't turning into a crap old arcade adventure column. First Techy Ted (which to be fair ain't crap at all), then Kokotoni Wilf (which to be fair is megacrap) and now Roller Coaster, yet another vintage Elite game that's seeing the light of day again after years in the catacombs. The question is, should it be allowed to? Although much harder and faster than Wilf - and a good deal better to look at - it's still a surprisingly uninteresting game. You move from screen to screen and platform to platform, picking up coins that have been left around the fairground, and hopping onto the rides which are all whirring away at top speed This of course makes it easy to get killed, which is what frequently happens. Unfortunately each screen is so difficult, with the control so precise, that you soon get bored trying to jump from one pixel to another and end up loading something else. This is what I did (twice I'm afraid). Although it's unquestionably an original treatment, I think we prefer our games a mite easier these days - or at least easier to get into. Still, it's better than Wilf (all right, I know that's not saying very much). For platformies who like a challenge (and then some) only.
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