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 loved 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. It is set on a stretch of highway, populated by lots of crazy baddies, tricky puzzles and many other obstacles to get in your way. Aliens have invaded and your 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.

However, your droid colleagues are rather daft and will soon become stuck by any object carelessly left lying in the road. Actually, this can be a good thing because you can leave them behind - in safety - so are free to clear the highway ahead from the dreaded aliens. I find joystick control the best and if you've ever played a similar game then you'll be right at home - left and right to rotate your turning, 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.

Sounds and visuals certainly live up to all my expectations and I feel it will appeal to both new and older retro gamers alike. It's worth noting that Highway Encounter is a finished product, ignore the "demo version" text on the title screen because all screens are 100% playable. Only the music is missing but I cannot remember the original Spectrum having any, so this is a feature I didn't miss! Listen up folks, we have an Atari ST version of Highway Encounter and its marvellous with gameplay faithful to the original without being a dull carbon copy. Highway Encounter will always be a Crash Smash and its brilliant to see such an exquisite Atari ST game. It's a perfect 10 from me!


 - Come on, you know you wanna play this game!! So here is a video recording I made to tempt you :^)
 - 8BitChip have adapted this for installation to your hard drive!
 - The original floppy disk version first posted by tom-cat on Atari-Forum.
 - AtariMania has this in their ST database & an awesome map you should take a look at!
 - This is a fascinating read of the History of Vortex Software.