Aug 17 2009
Top down racers have almost entirely vanished from our screens in favour of 3D extravaganzas that strive to emulate the world as closely as possible. But for a while this genre was king. Racing Destruction Set, Super Sprint, Supercars, Micro Machines and Skidmarks are shining examples of a particular slice of racing action.
I came across Skidmarks quite late in the life of the Amiga, in fact pretty much as the A500 was coughing up its last lung and well on the way to the retro heaven where all good computers go. It didn’t look like much after the impact that games like Indianapolis 500 had had on the PC and the Amiga, but it turned out to be very special indeed.
First of all this game has nearly perfect power-slides; correctable in mid-slide and perfect for landing those difficult jumping corners.
Secondly, the track was not flat but banked and full of lumps and bumps, hills and jumps all determined to knock you off course.
Thirdly, the game had skid marks. This was no eye-candy either. The skids actually wore down the terrain you were driving on. So the more you race on a particular track the easier it tends to get!
And all this was created by a New Zealand crew called Acid Software in Blitz Basic – a home-brew coding language (Similar to AMOS) which created compiled executables for really zippy, nifty code.
In gameplay comparison terms, Skidmarks plays like Supercars 2 but with the terrain of Ironman’s Super Off-Road Racing. Much of the time is spent timing the corners and jumps so as not to fly off the banked curves. The other trick to the game is to land straight, facing down the banked corners giving you a huge speed surge as you accelerate downhill.
Acid Software certainly understood the value of replayability and pressing F10 at the end of a race allowed you to instantly start again, rather than going through the menu selection process again. When you raced again, all previous skid marks remained on the track, building with repeated racing.
Skidmarks was released AGA enhanced and was later released for the CD32 as well, and much later Super Skidmarks came out on the Megadrive (Genesis) but unfortunately lacked the quintessential element – skid marks
It’s testament to the game’s quality that I am still playing it today on WinUAE – the Amiga emulator – and enjoying it thoroughly.