sexta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2014

Deathchase [1983, ZX Spectrum] Review - It's a Pixel THING



Many players still insist on calling it 3D Deathchase. It’s just Deathchase, people! The 3D logo stamped on the cover was just to make it more appealing to buyers!

Back in 1983, three dimensional environments were something that was out of this world and Deathchase was a true pioneer to bring 3D action into the Zed X Spectrum.

It was developed by Mervyn Estcourt and published by MicroMega in the UK, and Ventamatic in Spain, and was an exclusive title for the Sinclair Zed X 81 and the Zed X Spectrum 48k.

As you might know, videogames in the eighties were greatly inspired by the movie industry. I’m not talking about direct film conversions to home consoles and computers. Back in those days, even original games were based in what we saw in the big screen. In this particular case, Deathchase was certainly influenced by the futuristic bike chases from Return of The Jedi and Tron, two blockbuster movies that were really hot in 1983.

In Deathchase you’re a mercenary patrolling, night and day, the vast landscape with your motorcycle avoiding collisions with trees and eliminating other hostile bikers that survived the Great War. For bonus points, you must take down helicopters and tanks that appear on the horizon and, gladly, they’re not armed! You’re the only survivor that had access to infinite ammunition! YEAHHH BABY!!! Just like a friend of mine would say: COME GET SOME!!

To advance to the next level, you only need to take down the other two riders, one blue and the other yellow. When you fire your guns, you can control the bullets just by steering the bike. It’s kind of handy, most of the time! When you take both riders down, you advance to a night version of the same level and, when you capture the other two - as I call them - riders of the night, you get a new daytime level with more trees to avoid! And so forth.

The game is amazingly fast and it only needs 16k of RAM to run! As incredible as it may sound, Deathchase is more addictive than most similar games made for today’s hardware. You’re only required to apply full throttle, turn left and right and use the auto-fire button option on the joystick to play this game. There’s no complicated and stressful combination of keys to master. You only need to concentrate and, in an instant, you’re transported to this huge forest being almost hypnotized by this amazing landscape. We can practically smell the burned fuel and the morning dew.

The only thing that is somewhat annoying is the sound of your motorbike. After a while it becomes a bit unbearable! But, there’s always a solution for that! Turn the volume a notch down, grab your smartphone and tune in to one retrogaming internet radio and you’re good to go blasting your way through the thick forests!

Deathchase was well received by the press and got a 92% rating from Crash magazine. Nine years later, in 1992, was even considered by Your Sinclair magazine as The Best Spectrum Game Ever!

As you can see, I was introduced to this wonderful world of video gaming by a title that, in the last days of the Zed X Spectrum, was considered to be the number one game for that particular gaming platform. It was such an honor, believe me!

I don’t understand why the author of this awesome game, Mr. Mervyn Estcourt, refuses to grant interviews to the retrogaming community. It kind of reminds me of the infamous and most famous Portuguese Zed X Spectrum exclusive title called “Paradise Café” that, even to this day, no one knows who made it. Perhaps, because of its sexual and controversial contents, we’ll never discover who was “behind” this gem. Probably someone that is, nowadays, well known from the public and doesn’t want to be linked to Reinaldo…


31 years have passed and Deathchase is still capable of giving a sense of accomplishment for every concluded level. You’ll be wanting to play it one more time, again, and again, and again. Thanks to its extremely accurate controls and collision system, it is a truly addictive game, even for today’s standards.

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