|The YS Official Top 100 Part 5|
|Published in the Feb 1992 YS74 issue|
1 - Deathchase (Micromega)|
No apologies, no regrets. Y'see, spec-chums, I've been playing computer games for as long as computer games have existed. I've played thousands of them, from coin-op games to ZX81 games to Apple Macintosh games and all points in between. And the simple fact of the matter is that there isn't one in existence that's as exciting, as gripping, as tense, or as downright thrilling as this is. Written in 1982 in just 9K of memory, Deathchase puts you on a motorbike in a forest, with no purpose in life other than to chase other characters on motorbikes and kill them for bounty money. Your enemies don't shoot back at you (not even the the bonus-point tanks and helicopters), there are no power-ups, no end-of-level bosses, and the only things which can kill you are the trees of the forest itself. They don't TRY to kill you, of course, they just stand there, growing leaves and photosynthesising and doing whatever it is that trees do over the countless millennia, and wait for you to crash headlong into them at full tilt. And you will. The inanimate nature of your only enemy gives Deathchase addictive qualities which are almost unimaginable to anyone who hasn't played it. Y'see, when you get killed in Deathchase, it's nobody's fault but your own. The trees don't move, nothing shoots at you to distract you and you can even slow down or stop to catch your breath. Basically, there's absolutely no excuse for getting yourself splattered all over the forest except your own carelessness and impatience. Which means, of course, that the next time you play, you won't make any of those silly mistakes. Will you? Well, of course you will. The thing is, the game is so utterly simple (I mean, 'avoid the trees', it's almost insulting) that you don't see any reason to slow down, you can't accept that your skills as a games player aren't equal to the task. So off you go at top speed again, whizzing through the forest in fine dramatic style until you remember that you've got enemies to chase. So you swerve after them with your bullets zipping past just centimeters away, edge just that bit further over to get them into your sights, and BLAM! Another faceful of bark.
There's more to Deathchase than this, but not much more (as a wise man once said, more or less). For one thing there's the sound. Not that there's a lot of it, all you get is a scary siren effect at the start of each level and a jarring screech when you collide with one of these ubiquitous giant redwoods. The result, though, is so effective you wonder why no-one does it more often. The silence as you whip soundlessly between the trees just makes the sudden explosion of noise all the more terriying - this is a game that'll make you jump off your seat in fright if you play it at night with the lights off. And that reminds me - there's night time too. Every second level of Deathchase is a night level, with the same number of trees as the previous one but with the light blue sky turned pitch black. Theoretically it shouldn't make things any harder, but the atmosphere is so gloomy and oppressive that you find yourself crashing out of purpose out of sheer subconscious despair. The coming of dawn (when you finally manage to nail the two bikers) heralds an increased level of danger, but the relief of being back in daylight is so great that you almost welcome it.
Finally there are the 'bonuses'. Every now and again a tank or helicopter cruises slowly across the horizon from left to right. They don't shoot at you, they don't get in your way, they don't drop reinforcements for the bad guys, they don't do you harm in any way. Except that sometimes they're just too much of a sitting target to pass up, and you deviate from your path for a single second to bag the juicy points bonus you get for shooting them, and... BLAM! Time to leave your teethmarks for posterity once more. They never hurt you, but you'll grow to hate them.
Doesn't sound like much, does it? Bikes, trees, bonus targets and crashing. (Lots of crashing.) Only two real controls, hardly any sound, totally basic character square graphics and gameplay your dog could probably learn. I'm probably taking rubbish, all those years in front of flickering screens have probably destroyed my mind. It can't be that good really. So why not prove me wrong? Why don't you give it a try? What have you got to lose? Except the rest of your life, that is...
|Stuart Campbell has kindly authorised this site|
|LOOKING FOR EX-YS WRITERS! Do you know where any are?|
|READERS NOTE: The original YS articles on this site were written many many years ago, and should provide no indication WHATSOEVER of the author's present writing style. Judge these people on their current work, not articles they wrote decades ago.|
|All original YS text is still copyright to their original owners, including BOTH publishers and authors. Permission has been granted to reproduce these articles by a few of these owners - if you see your work on here and would like it to be taken down, e-mail me and I'll do it straightaway. All other pages have similar restrictions - email me for more details.|
None of the pages on this website may be reproduced in any way, nor sold to the general public (i.e. put onto a CD-ROM) without the consent of Nick Humphries and the author of each article. If you want to include any of these articles on a site or a CD, contact me for more instructions.