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Review: Snail Race 2
I'll start by pointing out something not to do with the game itself, more the program. The default Windows keys have been removed - F2 doesn't start a new game, F1 doesn't give help (not that there's a Help file anyway if you select it in the menu). What reason does the author have to remove these? I know it's a very small point, but it seems that it's just been an attempt to be different. Still, it could be worse - I had to review a game once that had decided to just swap them all round for no reason at all. Can't remember what it was offhand.
The intro screen is a large gun pointed at the user (well, more off to the left), with a bit of storyline outlining exactly why you're betting on snail racing. This has about as much use as writing a plot for a breakout game (er, just hypothetically you understand), but, well, maybe the author wanted a picture of a gun in the game. I don't know.
The screen also told me to "Click to start winning (or losing) money". I clicked. Nothing happened. I clicked again, then I realised I was being an idiot and clicked on the actual text to start the game.
The look of the game isn't really too good - mostly they're flat-shaded shapes that look like MS Paintbrush efforts, and the dreaded System font and default counters both make star appearances.
Don't judge the game on its looks, though, because there's a reasonably in-depth system underneath the battered exterior. Not only can you place bets on snail races, you can also busk to earn more money (sit back and listen to a MIDI playing while your hat fills up) or buy a lotto ticket if you feel lucky. Saving is done via the medium of a newspaper.
Your eventual aim is to raise $20,000 within 30 days, but the actual racing itself lets the game down. You can only place a bet on one snail, and you only win if the snail you chose wins the race outright - no prizes for "place"s. Effectively, if my mental arithmetic is correct, this means that you have the best chance of winning by just saving, betting all your money on a snail, then reloading until that one happens to win. (Of course, saving costs $5). Unless I'm missing something vital, the task you're set is next to impossible without using that method, even if the idea of the betting is interesting.
Quick last note: Anyone remember the Amstrad racing game RACE.COM? It came on a PC Plus Superdisk, I seem to remember, back when they were on the large, literally floppy disks. I'd rather like to see that remade.
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David Newton (DavidN)