Sunday 16 April 2017

Skiing (Colecovision review)

Developer: Telegames
Publisher: Telegames
Released: 1986

Skiing is a 1-4 player sports game that was released a year after Coleco discontinued the system.

The two events are Slalom (pass between a set number of gates) and Downhill (avoid moguls on the course), and the objective is to finish in the quickest possible time. Seconds tick away when you crash, and penalties are awarded for false starts or missing a gate. The events can either be tackled individually, or sequentially where the winner is the player with the best overall time. The controls are very responsive, but the collision detection is off, leading to some unfortunate crashes where your skis are clearly between the gates. What's incredibly annoying is that after a crash the game will sometimes respawn you directly in front of an obstacle! The fact that there's only two modes is inexcusable; sure, there are three difficulty settings each, but all of them can be beaten in 20-30 seconds. This means that after 3-5 minutes you've literally seen everything the game has to offer! It really could have used at least one extra event (such as Ski Jump) to flesh out the content and keep you invested in the action. While it's nice that the layouts are randomised each time you play, there's nothing interesting about the track design and all you see are the same sprites in a slightly different position. Considering the only challenge is to finish as quickly as possible, it's a shame that your best times aren't saved while the cartridge is on; at the very least, it could have noted your record time as you re-enter events to give you an incentive, especially in one player mode where you're only racing against yourself. Presentation wise, the game has some cool jingles, but the menus and results screens are unappealing.
Skiing is a barebones sports game that gives you little reason to stick around after the first few minutes. Even if you solely focus on what is here, the gameplay still isn't that much fun, and overall it's tough to recommend this over more polished and content-rich titles such as Olympic Skier (1986, Atari 8-bit).
Random trivia: Telegames released eight other titles on the Colecovision, including Boulder Dash (1984) and Tank Wars (1986).

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