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Kikstart

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Released: 1986

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4

Publisher: Mastertronic

Developer: Shaun Southern / Mr Chip Software

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Mastertronic again, and a simple enough premise for a game; time your dirt bikes’ jumps over a series of obstacles as you race against the clock to complete the course. Sixteen courses in all, lets get cracking then…

Twenty-three years later, and I think I’ve made it onto level thirteen once or twice! It’s an incredibly difficult game to play; a bit like Manic Miner on roller-skates. There’s no time to stop and go back to attempt a jump, the screen constantly scrolls from the right, although the player can increase or decrease his speed to allow for better timed jumps – but that wont stop you slapping yourself in frustration when you mess up.

Kikstart is loosely based on the ‘hit’ TV series of the same name, and there’s a great interpretation of the theme tune at the attract screen by Shaun Southern (for it is he that has coded another C16 treasure here). Stab the fire button and we’re thrown into a stark black world of deathly obstacles that seem to consist of logs, omnibuses, farm-gates and trees, that as the levels go by seem to be stacked in even more outrageous configurations. To help though, there are strategically placed trampolines that will give your bike a huge jump, but that jump will very often leave you crashing towards another obstacle. And just for an added bit of spice, there are floaty balloons that can be popped for extra points, and spiky flying obstacles that will cause untold pain (well, loss of a life anyway) if touched. Add in some passing clouds that strike you down with a bolt of lighning as they turn from a whiter shade to a marauding grey, and we have a game that will frustrate and delight in equal measures.

If you’ve only played this on the C64, then try the C16 version, it’s completely different in style, and all the better for it. There’s even a C16 remake available for the C64, it’s that good. An enduring game –  even though the frustration levels endured here are mighty high, it has that magical quality of demanding the player to have another go.