You may mock Andrea, but I can be just as animal hungry to win as the next man (and I must have a word with you about these intro straps…). And I've proved it too because I've won the Flyin' High cup. Oh yes.
This racing game puts the player at the wheel of a kind of souped up VW Beetle (viewed from behind) and takes him through twenty races (five races on four different terrains: city, jungle, forest and snow). The idea's obviously to win the race by being the quickest and crossing the line ahead of the others after each race's five laps. Do that and you pick up some bonus money to spend on extras in the shop before the next race.
And here's my first problem with the game. After a few races you'll have earned enough money to buy yourself some goodies. The trouble is, there isn't much worth buying. The turbos are alright – press enter and then the fire button on your joystick to fire the turbo off and away you go – until you hit something and it stops. Annoyingly, this happens often, because each course is littered with obstacles that you're bound to hit.
There are road cones and oil barrels on the actual track while plants and snow drifts hug the roadside and, because each course invariably twists first one way and then the next, the chances of you getting round a series of corners without hitting something at the side of the road are minute.
...there's no way you're going to avoid that second road cone because your car just doesn't seem to want to steer.
Then there are the rockets. There are big rockets and small rockets and I assume the idea's to fire them at the cars in front of you. I say assume because even though I've fired dozens of the things I've yet to hit anything. They're a complete waste of money because none of the seven computer controlled players use ‘em.
When you're playing against humans (up to four of you can play if you've got a couple of joystick adaptors) things are slightly different, but they're still not that effective because they only go in straight lines and your chances of a strike are slight.
Then there are the spikey tyres. These are supposed to give you more grip but the difference they actually make is unnoticeable. The fast tyres are the only useful thing to keep buying. You need to buy a new set for each race but when you've got ‘em on your top speed is dramatically increased. Finally there's the one off purchase of a better engine. That's your lot. Once you've bought a good engine and you've got some fast tyres there's nothing left to spend your money on.
Have I mentioned how twisty and turny the later tracks on each level are? And how uppy and downy there are too? No? Well they are! Have I told you that you spend a lot of the race just at the side of the track because it's the easiest way to get round? Even when there are loads of bushes or whatever at the sides of the road it's still easier to just keep going in a straight line and let the car move from one side of the road to the other as you go through corners.
Once you've bought a god engine and you've got some fast tyres there's nothing left to spend your money on.
And controlling your car is the worst part of Flyin' High. For a start it's joystick only and secondly it's one of those push forward to accelerate and at the same time try and turn left and right. Your car's steering is a nightmare. It takes an absolute age to actually turn and once you've got past more than ten degrees of centre you're into a powerslide.
And the car's poor controls really become noticeable when you've hit something. Suddenly you spin round, lose all your speed and usually end up at the side of the road. Fine, press forward and try to steer right because there's a road cone just in front of you. Five minutes of playing this and you'll know that there's no way you're going to avoid that second road cone because your car just doesn't seem to want to steer – especially at low speeds. It's maddening. Hitting another car is equally frustrating. You just stop. Instantly.
Flyin' High could have been a much better game. The speed is most certainly there and the graphics are all well and good (if your machine can handle it, go for the 320x256 resolution) and even the sound's passable. What's really needed though is some simple playtesting. Surely someone could have come up with some decent tracks? The ones in the game are poor because they take away any element of skill. It's all very well going up and down and twisting all over the place but not when you can't actually use some skill to drive through them.
Frankly, I'm disappointed with Flyin' High. It's got a lot of potential but most of it's been wasted by some silly gameplaying errors.