Playing Kikstart (C16)

Shaun Southern’s Kikstart on the C64 was one of the first high quality budget games I remember seeing at the time and that made quite an impression. It was based on the BBC television show Kick Start where motocross riders took on an assault course against the clock and the game shamelessly borrows many of the show’s more memorable features including the theme tune Be My Boogie Woogie Baby by Mr Walkie-Talkie. And anybody who knows the series or the game probably has that tune stuck in their head even if they didn’t click through to the video.

But that isn’t the game I want to waffle about today because, whilst there’s a straight port to the Atari 8-bit and an “enhanced” version for the C128 which added more levels, the C16 game which bears the Kikstart name is very different from the others. Yes, there’s a dirt bike and a scrolling course with hazards to manoeuvre over, but Kikstart on the C16 is more of an arcade style game than the slower, more methodical action of the C64 release it shares a name with. And that’s not a bad thing at all because it’s loads of fun to play with each stage being quite short but packed with obstacles including huge potholes, buses and trees to leap over.

Unlike the other versions, there are airborne nasties such as Shuriken-like spinning blades and clouds that occasionally darken and disgorge lightning. Timing is key to avoiding death, keeping an eye on the colour of passing clouds is a must to know when they’re about to strike and the blades need to be allowed for when using the trampolines to get airtime. There are also brightly coloured bonus balloons which, if grabbed as they float past, are worth a few extra points; there’s a rather sneaky stage where everything in the sky is red and even the pointy death stars can be collected.

I’ve already shown some C16 Kikstart love in the past by, amongst other things, disassembling the code and porting it to the C64 in 2007 and going back to it for this write up has reminded me why I put that effort into the conversion; the gameplay is enjoyable and offers a solid challenge by the later levels even if the collisions can be unfriendly at times – just have a look at the rather frustrating final death in the video whilst trying to jump onto what should have been a perfectly safe trampoline – but for a two quid game which is so entertaining to play I’m more than happy to overlook that.

Retro Gamer 79

I have in my hand a piece of paper… in fact several, a complete magazine in fact. The remakes are a remake of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which converts it into a point-and-click affair), a remake of Donkey Kong, the excellent XBLIG blaster Retrofit: Overload and a Flash game with loads of plumbers in it called Enough Plumbers. The interview on the page after that is with Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games, the bloke who made Shoot 1Up and Grapple Buggy.

The 8-bit stuff is a collection of resurrected BBC games by Retro Remakes regular (try saying that ten times fast) Minion which includes a fun but bugged Burger Time clone. There is also a mini game-based adventure for the C16 called Olticrun, simple action from Diagonal Ball 2 on the C64 and for the Atari 2600 there’s Evil Magician’s Return, an unofficial sequel to Atari’s classic Adventure.

Oh, and I get a name check in Craig Grannell’s piece about the Kikstart series for my port of the C16 version to the C64 – fame at last!