Cruising on Broadway (ZX Spectrum)

by PaulEMoz in , , ,

Cruising on Broadway, graphically, is probably the most basic game you will ever see, that isn't called Pong. Or, depending on how you want to look at it, the most minimalist. It consists of a line and two squares. The line twists around the screen, granted, but it is still a line.

Look out boys, it's da cops! Erm... really?

As such, you are patently not Cruising on Broadway. Why they litter the front cover with popular entertainment icons is beyond me. Well, it isn't... those big names (which I'm pretty sure they didn't license back then, the naughty chaps) are there to lure in the punter. You're not going to see them once you load the game. In fact, they don't even make any attempt to sell you a storyline to go with the title. Read the cassette inlay, and all it tells you is how to run the game, and that their are "Cash prizes" on offer for high scores. Cash prizes? Now you're talking! Oh, hang on... expires at the start of 1984. Bugger.

Not that it matters. There's no danger of me getting a score to trouble Solarsoft's accountants. Cruising on Broadway is incredibly simple, and pretty difficult. The objective is simply to paint the entire line on each screen. The problem lies with the other square, or "chaser". As you'd expect, it's out to spoil your fun. It patrols the line at random, and if you happen to crash into it, you die. It's a bit like playing Amidar on a Tron lightcycle... without being that good.

Look, Stu... it's not all about graphics and sound. They are shit, though. (Letter to PCG, July 1984).

As was often the way with old Speccy games, you only get one life. I was a bit shocked at the end of my first game... I just wasn't prepared for the Game Over message at that point. But it makes sense, even if it is twisted and evil.

This game ran on the 16K Spectrum, and the limitations are obvious - there are only four "courses" to navigate. To spice things up, should you complete the fourth and wrap back to the first, there will be two chasers rather than the one. Apparently. I'll confirm that if I ever manage it...

I almost expect this to buzz when I touch the line.

I can't imagine that Cruising on Broadway was ever more than a mild diversion, although we were pretty obsessive about our games back then, squeezing as much out of them as we could. Who knew when we'd be able to buy another one? And yet, this one does have a weird addictive quality, thanks in part to the fact that you get time bonuses for completing levels. That's the kind of feature that makes iPhone games popular today... I'm not recommending someone remake it for that - the controls would be horrible - but there's a basic appeal to it despite its flaws.