Wednesday 20 April 2016

3D Crazy Coaster (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

3D Crazy Coaster is a rollercoaster game that requires use of the 3D Imager or the Madtronix reproduction.

Despite the box art (which depicts a third-person viewpoint) the game takes place in first-person mode and the objective is to rack up a high score by staying on the track for as long as possible. During a turn, the analog stick steers left and right and you can control your speed with the up and down directions. Placing your hands in the air doubles your point total but you must duck under objects (such as birds and ice cream cones!), otherwise you'll fall off the track and lose one of your four lives. Gameplay-wise, it feels like a QTE game where you're a bystander for most of the action and only enter commands when prompted. The core mechanics are simple, yet well thought-out though, and the real challenge lies in multitasking to gain a high score by turning, ducking and holding your hands in the air when possible. The sense of speed is incredible (with the first-person viewpoint enhancing the immersion) and it's thrilling riding down the track at such a blistering pace. It's just a shame that there's only one track in the entire game which is very short and consists of only eight turns; these turns are easily memorised so racking up a cheap high score is trivial if you're patient and avoid the danger of throwing your hands up. Once you reach the end of the track the game loops so there's little in the way of variety to keep you around. Another bugbear is that it takes approximately 14 seconds to get back into the action when you lose a life! The animation when you fall out of the carriage is hilarious though and the screaming SFX when you catch air is very well done. While the 3D effect is good (especially when you turn a corner) there is quite a bit of double vision, and the background graphics are minimal with only a faint line in the distance to signify the skyline.
3D Crazy Coaster is a great idea but it feels rushed and the lack of additional tracks makes the experience somewhat shallow. There's some fun to be had from a novelty standpoint but it quickly wears out its welcome and likely won't hold your interest as long as the more substantial 3D Narrow Escape (1983, Vectrex).
Random trivia: The game's programmer was Bill Hawkins who also worked on 3D Mine Storm for the Vectrex (1983).

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