Take eight guys down to the ice rink, grab an old football, a few bits of rubbish and a couple
of ice hockey goals and you've got everything you'll ever need to play a game of Skate Wars.
You pick your fourman team from a selection of mug shots and a few choice player statistics. The
higher your side's strength, balance and reaction the better your chance of hammering the ball
in the old onion-bag.
Teamwork, on the other hand, is one thing you don't have to worry about. As two of the foursome
are substitutes and one's a computer-controlled goalie, all you've got to worry about is a
one-on-one grappling contest with the meatloaf from the other side - and in this sport anything
There are no fouls; you can trip, push and maim the other player as much as you like, though
with only basic directional, jumping and kicking controls at your disposal there's a limit to
just how bloodthirsty you can be.
Ball control is of the good old 'spheroid sticks to the foot' variety - no matter how acrobatic
your skating skill there'll always be that little ball hanging off the end of your toe. A contest is
played over 50 levels or games. The first side to get 5 goals wins a game but the only way out
of the tournament altogether is in a body-bag.
Oddly enough, after a hundred knuckle sandwiches from your opponent, you'll still be A-OK.
What it all hangs on are the obstacles on the pitch. This magnificent example of future engineering
comes fitted with fireball generators, bottomless pits, lethal spikes and ramps. One collision
is enough to mess up your I LOVE MY MUM tattoo for ever: next thing you know you're heading
for the big bad ice rink in the sky.
Each time a player dies a substitute steps in (you get an extra sub every five levels played) but
once they're all used up, it's curtains. Not only have you lost the game, you've also lost the war.
In theory the pitches get tougher the further you progress. In practice the matches are all
pretty much the same: about as varied as a wet weekend in Clacton when your telly's on the blink.
The small number of available moves and the limitations of a one-on-one confrontation mean that
the only action you'll find around here is strictly routine.