Monday, March 28, 2016

Highway Encounter

Here we have one of my all-time favourite 8-bit games from the brilliant mind of Costa Panayi, Vortex Software. It's an understatement to say I was flabbergasted when I recently read an old post on Atari-Forum concerning the unreleased ST game, developed in 1990 by the late Mark Haigh-Hutchinson. However, Vortex was unable to find a willing publisher so that was that and it was left to gather dust for many years...

I always had a soft spot for Vortex and fondly remember playing Android, Cyclone and Revolution but Highway Encounter was definitely my favourite. Back then, isometric games were pretty much the in-thing and this was one of the most beautiful examples of the genre. Set on a stretch of highway populated by crazy baddies, tricky puzzles and many other obstacles to get in your way. Aliens have invaded and our robot convoy has the task of merrily pushing a bomb down the highway in order to destroy their mothership, which is at the other end of the road.

Hang on a minute, is there a level editor we can use?? Oh, YES!!

Guide our little friends the best you can, they have very dangerous cargo!

Our droid colleagues are daft and can get stuck on objects lying in the road. Actually, this can be a good thing because you can leave them behind - in safety - so you are free to clear the highway ahead of the dreaded aliens. I find joystick control the best and if you love isometric games then you'll be right at home - left and right rotates, forward to accelerate and pulling back slows you down [or stops you dead.] Your weapon is a type of ultra-cool energy bolt which can also be improved upon thanks to power-ups lying along your road trip journey.

Visually, this is a joy for me. I've been transported back to the 80s only to discover that one of my favourite isometric games is now colour! It still feels authentic to the original with a style that's been preserved using a gorgeous palette. The sprites are as crazy as they ever were but it's now you appreciate the finer details the ST is able to offer over the 8-bit games. Sound effects are samples and are perfectly futuristic for all the zapping that's needed!

Some wobbly things are approaching! Let's kill 'em!!

Those guys are almost too cute to kill. But let's kill 'em anyhow. You see a theme here?

Listen up, we have the Atari ST version of Costa Panayi's excellent shoot 'em up and what's more - it's marvellous with faithful gameplay which is accompanied by fantastic retro aesthetics. Highway Encounter will always be a Crash Smash and the Atari ST has received an exquisite conversion! One of the best games you will play.

Download Highway Encounter - floppy / hard drive (ultrasatan)

AtariMania has an awesome map to view large!

Here is a great read: History of Vortex Software

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