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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