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CONSOLE: PC DEVELOPER: Bluemoon PUBLISHER: Creative Dimensions
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1993 GENRE: Racing Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

More like Sky-Always-Off-The-Roads.

SkyRoads is the quintessential demotivation simulator. It is NOT designed to bring any joy whatsoever into the lives of those with enough cojones to play it. Instead, it grabs you by the facial cheeks, jostles you like a Shake Weight, and tosses you aside as if you were an expired meatloaf. SkyRoads is not for the faint of heart or the weak of fingers. In other words, it's going to drive you nuts.

Playing as a hardly famous "ship" (nope, no story behind this), SkyRoads puts you on a series of funkily-coloured paths that you must traverse solely for survival. Seen directly from behind, your ship will blast forward, forcing you to dodge obstacles, hop onto higher or lower ground, or touch/avoid coloured surfaces that boast either positive or negative properties. Light green surfaces, for example, immediately jack you to the maximum speed, whereas dark green planes will slow you to zero faster than you can say, "Why aren't I playing Commander Keen?" Pale red ones simply cause you to disintegrate on the spot, so... yeah, avoid those. In any case, making it all the way to the end and sliding through the final tunnel will let you complete the road.

To make matters just a little more treacherous, your ship has both an oxygen and a fuel gauge, both of which decrease as you go along. Some roads are actually longer than your fuel tank can carry you, so you'll need to locate a blue refueling pads before you reach the finish line. So... where did they hide many of these? In places you can't see. Inside tunnels you may not know to take. Behind walls or in other crevices. They basically are telling me to have a scavenger hunt while driving. I'll send THEM on a scavenger hunt... to find better level design!

There are a few other obstacles that really get in the way. The roads of each course exist on multiple altitudes; they're also not complete, as holes leading to the absolute nothingness of known space run rampant. Luckily, your ship is somehow capable of toad-like leaping capabilities, courtesy of the vomit-inducingly named "Jump-O-Master" ability. Pressing the Space bar flicks your ship in the air; holding the Left or Right key will let you leap in that direction. If you jump at the wrong time, you're likely to either fall into oblivion or unintentionally crash into a wall. SkyRoads is very precise, so even the slightest miscalculation or slow movement of the thumb on that Space bar can lead to death. Angry, bitter death. In the words of the great Stuart Ashen...

And let me tell you: I don't have the reflexes for the more difficult stages. In fact, I can't think of many individuals that could handle some of these levels, aside from energy drink addicts and extremely twitchy people that haven't slept for several weeks. There is a particular level, the third of the area known as "The Earth" (a clever name if I ever heard of one). It has you hopping back and forth across the screen over multiple altitudes, ensuring you do not miss a single refueling pad, or else you fail and run out of oxygen. I just can't do it as quickly as they demand or for as long as they desire. After the 150th try, I just gave up. Walked away. Didn't need that boiling frustration building inside of me, ready to burst on an unsuspecting passerby like the combustion of a bubble gum factory.

All surfaces are rendered in dynamic 3D rectangular prisms. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? I'm sure it wowed a few couples here and there back in 1993, not to mention the entire country of Estonia (where the developer actually originates). That part is acceptable. It's the fact that the backgrounds remain stationary that is a bit unfortunate. There's less sense of progression forward if that planet in the background just sits there idly without any change of shape or even location in the sky. Then again, we must remember this: a kiss is just a kiss, and this is just this: a DOS game. No blast processing or background rendering.

If it's any consolation, the music is absolutely mindblowing, a feat not easily performed on the lowly SoundBlaster. There's not a single boring track among the set, and it's because of these that I had the motivation to keep going at a time when giving up seemed like my only solution. I will admit, though, that after the 150th try (literally), even these rockin' jams couldn't save me from frustration beyond the physical limits of the human body.

I played SkyRoads as a young lad, and I really enjoyed it. I could only get past the first few roads, but I just blamed it on my youth and my questionable gaming skills at the time. Fast forward over two decades, and I am now making the discovery that it wasn't Youthful Me that was doing the tripping. It was SkyRoads who was holding out that proverbial invisible wire; as I tried to conquer it, I'd trip every time. And I continue to trip to this very day. SkyRoads is tough, and having to try something over a hundred times, only to fail because of sheer masochism, is not the definition of a "game" so much as it is the definition of "wasting my time".


Look at the magnificent tapestries of space in the background. Don't worry: they're not going anywhere.

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Wait, what's this? "SkyRoads Xmas"? A harder edition of SkyRoads? I don't hate myself THAT much to play SkyRoads Xmas. Don't think I'll be touching this one...

Yet...


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