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

Please have some holiday mercy.

I didn't want to do this. I never wanted to do this. I never wanted to play SkyRoads again. But here I am, donning a festive hat, drowning myself again with SkyRoads Xmas, the pseudo-sequel with a slightly stronger focus on the holiday season. I say "pseudo-sequel" because aside from the all-new tracks, it's just the same game with no improvements, changes, upgrades... just Skyroads all over again.

Just like its holiday-neutral counterpart, Skyroads Xmas is a third-person sorta-kinda-driving simulator set in unknown parts of space where there are no other forms of sentient life, and your reason for existence remains a lost morsel of knowledge. Your goal is to drive through blocky paths coated with tunnels, hovering platforms, and multiple levels of elevation, all with the goal of getting to the end of the path... at which point, you simply fall off into space, even though the level is declared completed. I'm not sure where you fall to, but I sure hope it isn't a Space Arby's. Those sandwiches would make me want to puncture my spacesuit.

As well, you really have to watch your three gauges on screen. The oxygen and fuel gauges both slowly decrease, so there really isn't much time to stop and enjoy the scenery (not that you would need to, since the backgrounds never move). And if you think the game gives you enough fuel to survive the trip, you'd be partially right. Some tracks require you to find a fuel refill, but hey, why not hide them out of sight in places you'd never think to look? Isn't that DARLING? Isn't that GRAND? Isn't that SADISTIC?! But keep an eye on the gravity meter as we—sorry, the "Grav-O-Meter". If the gravity is different than normal, you can expect to be held down with the weight of a thousand yokozunas. Just what I need in a game that's already harder than a plank of delicious wood.

Your only enemy out in this cold, sterile terrain is gravity. And falling into oblivion. And surfaces that are so hot, your space racer explodes upon contact. Oh, and controls that would make your grandmother throw her shortbread out the window. And that was good shortbread. Seriously, I wish my ship would jump when I hit the spacebar and go left and right when I say so. Is it because I'm trying to survive in DOSBox? No, it cannot be, because this game was just as rough on me back when I had this fired up on the ol' 486. I think it's just tough to control. Yeah.

Slap a few presents on there and BAM! New product. Cheeky little monkey people!

The perfect player could complete this game in maybe under an hour or so. The human player, however, will not be able to finish, as it is rather difficult to complete a game with a rage-induced pickaxe jutting from the screen. Skyroads Xmas seems focused on infuriating the player, and with this version, there isn't even a difficulty curve like the original. You're just thrown in like an oyster being tossed into a lion cage: nobody knows what the heck to do!

The game's a hearty blend of 3D rendered platforms, a 2D sprite for a ship, and some wonderful pixely background to share the warmth (or chills) of the holiday season. For 1993, I'm sure some minds were blown out the window and into the path of an oncoming hot dog cart. Skyroads Xmas uses the same great music as vanilla Skyroads, getting some deliciously warm harmonies out of that old Sound Blaster jalopy of a card everyone had hiding in their old PC boxes. I love the soundtrack for Skyroads; there isn't a bad song among the bunch that I would want to mute or muffle by covering my speakers with a discarded sock. So what's the problem, aside from complete laziness in not composing a single new track? How about... it's NOT Christmas music!! You can't just slap a low-res static image of a few snow clumps in the background and say, "Yep, Xmas time!" Frankly, if it weren't for the final stretch of courses with the large stacks of presents looming ahead, I'd say this was just Skyroads: Colder Climate Edition.

I'm not playing any more Skyroads. The first one locked me in a straitjacket for weeks; torturing myself with Skyroads Xmas would simply place me back within its confines for at least another fortnight. Would rather eat a canned ham past its prime.

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