Producer: Code Masters
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: The Oliver Twins
When a professional skier's in Austria he can't keep off the Alpine slopes. So you don your ski pants and padding, pick up your freshly-waxed skis and set off for the slopes. Your first piste is Saalbach, a relatively easy course.
But ice, snow banks, sheds, trees and flags are all placed to give minimum moving space and if you accidentally slip you can plummet for ages, missing the flags, and get disqualified.
You're off down the course at a terrifying speed and you just miss an old shed. While your swearing wafts into the chilled air a set of flags loom on the horizon. You remember what the instructor said: 'You must pass through every set of flags to qualify for the next piste and get your money's worth.' So you pass the flags, but what's this hurtling toward you?
It's a very awkward-looking Christmas tree that doesn't want to move. Before you know it, you're stopped suddenly in your tracks by the tree without so much as a 'sorry'; the instructor shouts down 'you're disqualified!' and you're carried off on a stretcher.
In Professional Ski Simulator you can choose one-player or twoplayer mode. The skiing is easy but getting every single flag is a mite more difficult, and you're timed on each piste. The time limits get tougher the further you progress.
It's presented in bird's-eye view. The left and right controls refer to the skier's view rather than the player's - he is skiing 'toward' the player - so when you press LEFT or move the joystick left he goes toward the right of the screen and vice versa.
If you ski too slow you can go off the screen, and then have to play using the radar - a touch of unreality, though the game is supposedly 'based on the authors' experiences in Austria'!
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: monochromatic and well-detailed
Sound: good in-game tune
Options: definable keys, one or two players
This simulation is so good it's just like being on the slopes. The graphics are very similar to those in BMX Simulator, also by The Oliver Twins and from Code Masters. The slopes are highly detailed, which makes it nice to look at, but tricky to ski down! The only problem is that when you fall behind, or get too far ahead, for that matter, you go off the screen it scrolls down without caring where the player is. And the radar's confusing. So you have to be patient to get anywhere in this excellent game, but don't forget - practice makes perfect!
Skiing isn't the easiest of sports to simulate; Pete Cooke tried two-and-a-half years ago with Ski Star 2000 (Issue 14) and came up with a pleasing 3-D game. Here the different types of snow and a sense of three dimensions are created quite effectively by the clever use of shading. It takes a while to get the hang of the game, and the way the screen scrolls downward regardless of what's happening on screen is also frustrating. But once the controls have been mastered Professional Ski Simulator is an enjoyable and difficult maze game, though it offers little long-term interest.
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