Tearing down an ice tunnel at speeds approaching 80mph, where the slightest mistake can write you off, is not a game for those of a nervous disposition.
But that’s what Digital Integration’s bobsleighing simulation is all about — and perhaps that’s bobsleighing for real, too. Digital Integration is a simulations specialist (‘advancing the art of simulation’) and consulted British bobsleighing champion Nick Phipps for this game.
Phipps is competing for the gold medal in the Winter Olympics in February — and so can you on the Spectrum’s Calgary track!
You have a choice of bobs, from amateur to Olympic, and each can be a two-man or four-man vehicle. The better the bob, the faster it goes — but it’s also more expensive, and your sponsors have set limits on how much you can spend. The only way to get more cash is to compete and do well.
Before each run, you make decisions about the fitness of your crew and weather conditions. The weather affects a bob run: cold icy conditions require one type of metal runner, warm wet conditions another. Again, however, a new set of runners eats up your funds...
You and your crew have just 50 metres to get the heavy bob started. And humping a huge piece of metal isn’t the lightest of tasks, so you need to develop stamina and strength through gruelling fitness training.
At the start line you all get on board, and the timed run begins.
A good push start will help, but after that the player must exercise great skill in driving smoothly. Contact with the ice walls as you bullet down the straights is bound to slow a bob, and travelling too high on a snow bank can make you crash.
Once the finish line has been crossed the bob’s brakes can be used to slow the vehicle to a standstill. But if brakes are used on the track proper, you’ll be disqualified (and probably damage your bob).
Times are shown every quarter distance and a final time is posted as the finish flag is reached, with a record-time display putting your own achievement into perspective.
There are six real-life venues in each bob class (apart from Olympic) — maps and record times are shown for each venue — and if you choose to compete in a racing season the order of venues can’t be changed.
Still, if you find one course impossible, you can play all the others by choosing a single track at a time — you won’t be world champion that way, though.
In each venue you have a practice run and then two competitive runs; win with the lowest accumulated time, and Bob’s your uncle. But if you crash on the first run you’re not allowed a second — so don’t let your attention wander for a moment.
Yet again Digital Integration is after ‘the real thing’. Motorbikes are one thing, aeroplanes another — but I bet the producer has got us on this one. There aren’t many people who’ve been bobsleigh-racing and lived to tell the tale, so who knows if Bobsleigh’s accurate? But it does give the player a realistic 3-D effect as he zooms (well, it’s not really frighteningly fast) down the run. This interesting simulation didn’t really move me in my seat, but it did make me realise how hard it is to run a bobsleigh team without going bankrupt!
PAUL ... 81%
In televised bobsleigh runs there’s never a steady view of the track, which makes the shaky graphics of Bobsleigh even more realistic. And though line graphics may seem a bit primitive they work well in a 3-D bobsleigh run! It may take some time to complete your first run, but stick with it, because once you’re involved in the moneymaking aspects of winning and the fight for an Olympic gold medal the game really hots up. Bobsleigh mixes skills and strategies well in a realistic situation.
BYM ... 94%
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: simple line drawings create a realistic tunnel effect
Sound: basic beeps (and some machine-code ones too!)
Options: choice of six world-championship tracks; one or two players; two-man or four-man bobs; sleigh, runners, even tracksuit colour... you name it, it’s a menu
General rating: an addictive simulation with plenty to do