Way back in the early 80s, I had a favorite movie. This film featured a future Oscar-winning actor as a young computer hacker that was literally sucked into a computer world where the video games were real. One of its best scenes presented audiences with an intense competition where futuristic-looking motorcycles left deadly trails of light behind them. This realistic depiction of the classic Blockade/Snake game has inspired numerous videogame versions over the years, from Atari's Surround to 3D offerings like GLTron and Armagetron. This time around, the developers at Ayogo Games take a stab at the light cycle game genre with their new Unity title, LightSpeeder.
LightSpeeder is fairly standard 3D light cycle fare. The object is to survive a race against three brightly-colored opponents, avoiding any walls and causing your opponents to crash before you do. You can play in a single-player Tournament mode with three lives, or Quick Play with one or two players (in split screen) simultaneously. To control your single-wheeled LightSpeeder, use the [left and right] arrow keys to turn at 90 degrees angles. If you travel near a wall, you gain speed. In a departure from most light cycle games, you can press [up] to jump over walls, and can customize your LightSpeeder to jump more quickly or slowly.
What separates LightSpeeder from its predecessors is its slick presentation. The developers really take advantage of the Unity platform, as evidenced by the game's impressive models, backgrounds, special glow and particle effects, and sheer sense of speed. The game's dynamic camera is helpful, automatically tilting to a higher vantage point when you approach walls. Your ears should also enjoy LightSpeeder, which has a great techno soundtrack and nifty sound effects (including amusing screams as your enemies wipe out). All the while, a 2D mini-map in the corner shows you and your opponents' top-down positions in the arena, helping you plan ahead for that next tight turn.
It's worth mentioning that the gameplay in LightSpeeder, while relatively simple, is tough and somewhat limited. The AI puts up quite a challenge in the Tournament mode, sometimes prefering to ram into your LightSpeeder even if it means suicide. Assuming you can survive wave after wave, there only appears to be one environment, and a lack of powerups or bonuses remove some needed variety to each race. In addition, the controls also take some getting used to, with very quick reaction time being key to your success. Still, light cycle purists and classic gaming fans should enjoy LightSpeeder, with its visuals, sense of speed, and sheer competition. Think you're ready to hit the grid for some high-speed competition? Get going, program! [END OF LINE]