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Horace Goes Skiing

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Horace Goes Skiing

Sinclair Research / Melbourne House (1982)

Synopsis

Your cuddly neighbourhood freakazoid, Horace, jauntily jaywalks across a jam-packed carriageway to buy some skis to then slalom his way to success.

It's all downhill from here!


Graphics

Pros:

Smooth animations in general.


Cons:

Vehicles lack variety. Sparse detail throughout.





Sound

Pros:

Sounds are minimal. In this case, that's a good thing!


Cons:

Traffic noises are similar to the ringing of an old British Bakelite.





Gameplay

Pros:

Whilst the skiing element never seems to change, the game still has a certain degree of grab factor to keep you entertained.


Cons:

The constant barrage of traffic might put some off.




Graphics

Pros:

Marginally smoother graphics tipped with some small animations.


Cons:

Economically subpar visuals for the C64, plus not enough of a mixture of vehicles.





Sound

Pros:

Better sound quality, and the sound of skis against the snow.


Cons:

Not enough sonics to cause a stir!





Gameplay

Pros:

Those determined enough will come back for more until they've finessed it.


Cons:

The difficulty level seems slightly higher, so may not have the same return value.



Hairing Down The Piste




Certain games have helped to define a particular brand of home computer, such as Elite on the BBC, and Sorcery on the Amstrad, but perhaps none more so than Horace Goes Skiing on the Spectrum. The premise is quite simple - make your way across an incredibly busy carriageway where vehicles drive to the tune of a Highway Code written in Klingon, arrive at a ski cabin, purchase your skis, run back across the road and then hop on to the slopes to negotiate your way to the finish line without slamming hirsute Horace into a tree.


Where's the Green Cross Code man?

From the outset you'll see that the game appears incredibly sparse, so much so that you can almost taste the code that went into it. The entire production looks and feels like it came from the imagination of a brick and, if you've never played it before, you'll wonder what the fuss is all about. There are later Spectrum games that are visually far more striking and formidable in their detail, such as Way of the Exploding Fist and Elite, however, Horace Goes Skiing's iconic status is undoubtedly testament to its grab factor rather than its aesthetics (or lack thereof).


If you've never seen Horace before, you'll notice that he looks a little... off-piste! We could spend an eternity arguing who or what he is, or where he came from but, as this is like asking about the meaning of life, it's probably best to leave it up to your imagination.

Alpine trees threaten in a stationary fashion as you weave your way towards them

Attempting to cash in on the then recent success of Frogger, no doubt, Horace Goes Skiing's first level involves you trying to dodge the traffic as you bravely risk life and limb to purchase some skis at the hut across the road. You start out with forty dollars to do this, but once you become a casualty of the rush-hour chaos then you're taken away by an ambulance and charged ten dollars for the privilege. And there I was thinking Horace might have been on the NHS. Once you have your skis then you can return to where you came from to enable yourself a day of blissful skiing with absolutely nothing left to worry about. Yeah, right!


Speed Freak!

Once on the slopes, it's time to navigate downhill through a set of slalom-style poles, where you'll earn or lose points depending on whether you pass through them or miss them altogether, respectively. However, Horace's only real cause for concern are the sporadically planted alpine trees that threaten menacingly in a stationary fashion as you weave your way carelessly towards them.


The Commodore version has slightly upgraded sonics and visuals, and in this version the slalom poles, which have flapping flags, fall down if you career into them. I can almost feel your excitement! The Sinclair version is also the only game I can recall playing on my mum's Spectrum during a time just before I entered secondary school. At least it took me away from my sky/tank attack version of Tomytronic for a while!


Not Horace's finest hour!

The game elements are, not to put a finer word on it, lacking, and feature just two levels that are replayed until Horace runs out of cash. You'll be forgiven for wondering how a game rated so low could still be loved by many. Maybe it was because it was one of the very first games released for the Spectrum, and players enjoyed the perilous concept of either death by skis or wheels. However, it's a game that heralds a sense of pure nostalgia that takes you back to when people coded whole games in their living rooms so that people like me would one day be celebrating them over 35 years later.




Graphics

I've seen worse, but the game detail is inferior to most contempories of its time.


Sound

Beeps. Lots of them. All at once. Annoying!


Gameplay

It's surprisingly addictive, and the skiing elements were well conceived for the time.


Overall

It's a game that achieved more for its grab factor than its cosmetics. It cheekily re-spun Frogger's idea, something that Crossy Road would also successfully be inspired to do decades later.



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Comments

Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

27

20th Place

Our only game review of 1982

Our lowest rated action game

Screenshots

...click here to enlarge

ROMs

Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

Video Review

Pixel8Games'pick of 1982

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