If you shelled out nearly thirty pounds for a game
then you would expect something excellent in return, right? Well I'm
afraid Psygnosis forgot that people think like this when they wrote
one of their latest games, ARENA. It is, basically, a Track 'n'
Field type game with improved graphics which look superb if you see
a colour screen shot of the game, but you might conclude that
graphics are not everything if you actually watch the game in
The graphics are very flashy, and the game
takes up a lot of memory (2 single sided disks), but so what? It is
one of the most unplayable games around! For a start, you have to
pound away at the keyboard to move your athlete!!! If this game used
a joystick it would be a fierce waggler, but in this case, you are
constantly afraid of beating several hundred pounds worth of
keyboard to death!
The events in this game are - 100m Dash, Long
Jump, High Jump, Shot Put, Javelin and Pole Vault. To complete a
full game (which is a painful experience, especially for your
keyboard!) you must complete each event, however, it is possible to
have a go at just one or two events. Incidentally, in the Pole
Vault, the pole appears to have shrunk in the wash somehow, and your
athlete is probably longer than the pole. Stranger still the end of
the pole does not even go into the ground!
The packaging, which by the way is the one of the
best parts of the game, has all sorts of obscure statistics on it.
Claims such as - "screen image scale 1 pixel = l inch" are believable
as your character is very large and is quite impressive graphically.
But "Average screen speed of character = 64 pixels/second" is a
little bit of a weird claim, this means that your character moves
the equivalent of five feet every second! This would be fine if the
animation was smooth, but it isn't! The animation is some of the
jerkiest I have yet seen in an ST game. One reviewer, however, has
said that the game had animation "the most realistic you're likely
to see this side of the Olympic Games." The reviewer in question and
myself seem to have a small difference of opinion here!
Another complaint - when your athlete, or
something you have thrown moves off the right hand side of the
screen, there is no scrolling! I couldn't believe this. What
actually happens is that your character disappears off the edge of
one screen only to reappear on the left hand side of a new screen! I
know the ST has no hardware scrolling capabilities, but it is
possible through software. Just look at either Winter or World Games
from Epyx. Upon completing an event, a fat, strange looking official
comes along and starts making insulting remarks about your athletic
skills! These comments appear in speech bubbles and are quite a
novel idea. At first they are quite amusing, but wear thin after a
while, and unfortunately there is no facility to turn the damn
things off! I also noticed that there were a few spelling mistakes.
Sound is practically non-existent, and what little
there is, is not exactly awe-inspiring. The odd feeble sounding
crack of the starters gun, and the pounding of your athletes
trainers on the ground are the only sounds which I really noticed.
As with a lot of British ST games there are not enough sound
The game can be played by up to four players, each
taking it in turn to batter the keyboard to an even earlier grave. A
four player game could be fun, but the game doesn't have a high
playability rating, so the attraction wears off after the first two
This could have been an excellent game if it used
a joystick, the animation was smoother, there were scrolling
backgrounds, better sound effects, and perhaps even a bit of music.
All I can say is, save your thirty pounds and wait. Maybe Psygnosis
will bring out something better!