by Jonathan Medhurst, Roger Taylor, Nigel Kenward, JAM
Ubi Soft Ltd
Crash Issue 61, February 1989   (1989-01-26)   page(s) 14


Imagine Torville and Dean crossed with the movie Rollerball and you've got a good picture of the next century's most popular sport. The game has two players per side, a goalie and an attacker, plus two substitutes each. Goals are scored by bouncing the puck past the goalie, and each round lasts until one player has scored five points. Tackling is in the time honoured Wimbledon fashion - anything goes, including flying kicks- and you should also look out for collisions with the wall, which send you flying. As the game progresses obstacles are added: initially just blocks to run around, but later on there's pits, spiked balls and disintegrators- fall foul of these and your man is dead. Lose all your men and the game's over. To avoid these obstacles when your man off screen you can use the effective radar scanner.

There's more to the game than simple violence, however, since each of your players (apart from the goalie) has different characteristics. These include strength, balance, reactions and shooting skills. Choosing the right players at the start of the game is vital for success.

They say that life in the future will be tough, Skateball goes some way to showing us just how tough. To start off with the game seems uncomplicated, but the more you play against a friend, the more demanding it becomes. Background graphics are nicely detailed, although moving sprites and sound effects both leave a little to be desired. Nevertheless Skateball is a fast, violent and addictive sports game which is well worth considering.

MARK ... 80%

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: adequate, good detailing on background
Sound: no tunes, but decent in game bumping and barging effects
Options: One- or two-player games, change the monochromatic background colour, practise one of the nine levels and change team names.

'This is essentially a futuristic version of ice hockey, but with even more violence. Great satisfaction can be gained from tripping your opponent, especially when he then falls into a pit. It's surprising that there's only one player to control (apart from the goalie), but this avoids control confusion and their different characteristics bring in a strategy element. It also enables a stronger player to be handicapped via weak players. The action in a two-player game is always fast, end-to-end stuff. It's a pity that on higher rounds you can simply kill off all your players, and, if more than three points in the lead, win. A bigger penalty for losing a player would add to the fun, but another flaw -the cumulative goal score is only displayed at the end - compensates since you're never certain of your score unless you carefully note down end of round points. Even so, this is one of the most enjoyable two-player games I've seen for a fair while, although it's not so hot playing against the computer.'
PHIL ... 85%

'At first I thought this an overly simple, run-for-the-goal-and-fire game, but after a closer look, my opinion soon changed. Picking a player for shooting skills matters little if a stronger player, or one with faster reactions, keeps bouncing you off the ball. With a stronger player the game becomes fairer - I started winning - and more enjoyable. The first levels are great fun on their own, and when the pits and spikes turn up it becomes both harder and side-splittingly funny!'
STUART … 90%

Addictive Qualities86%
Summary: General Rating: One of the best two-player games around at the moment.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 38, February 1989   page(s) 74

Don't you just love playing with your balls? I Ball, Madballs, Impossaball... well now here's another one to add to your collection - Skateball - the first British release from the French software house, Ubisoft. And boy will you need round spherical objects to play this!

It's a desperate game - a fight to the death, set in, of all places, a futuristic ice skating rink! But there's no sign of camel spins, triple loops or even double deckers here (cos Phil's eaten them all). Instead it's side slams, body tackles and headbutts as your team competes to become the roughest, toughest skateball team on the ice. So shove over Torville and Dean!

You begin by selecting your team of three from a pool of eight of the meanest, fastest dudes on ice. (The command is 'Change Team' on the menu). Scroll through the list of players available, keeping you eyeballs peeled for their strength, balance, shootskill and reaction ratings. These are important, 'cos once you've picked a member of your team, the computer will then let you pick the mean critter he'll meet on the other team. So with a bit of careful planning you can way the odds quite heavily in your favour. There's no point being fair in this game! Besides, you'll need to use the dirtiest tricks in the book if you want to stand a chance of winning.

Next it's onto the rink and the first of nine levels. But first, take a look at the hazard strewn ice ahead of you. Eeek! Cos apart from your opponent, you also have to contend with loads of nasty hazards. You get a look at these at the beginning of each level when the computer scrolls the length of the rink. On the lower levels, you'll find bouncy mushrooms (which you should try and avoid if you don't want a wet bum) and rising and falling stone pillars (which you must skate around or jump over). But get to level five, and things begin to look a bit dicey. There's bottomless pits to contend with (fall down these and you'll never be seen again), spikey balls (bump into these and you'll be promptly splattered - luvverly), and electric hatstands - which'll burn you to a frazzle if you so much as touch 'em. So avoid, avoid, avoid - or push your opponent into them!

And so to the game. Your first team member takes to the ice against his opponent (apart from the automatic goalies, there's only ever one player from each team on the ice at a time), and bullies off - by charging straight into him. Youch! Then it's a case of pushing and shoving, tripping and head stomping as you skate sleekly around the rink, trying to waste your opponent and get the ball in the back of his net.

The gameplay is fast and furious. The slightly jerky scrolling is unnoticeable, 'cos you're too busy trying to trip your opponent up, or splatter him against the spike ball!! Bleeuuk! And the skating action is fabbily done - even to the point of sending you skidding across the ice on your bum when you've taken a bit of a bruising. The only gripe is the control system - it's a little tricky to get to grips with at first. But it's easy once you've mastered it.

On each level, the first person to score five goals - or wipe out the opposition - is the winner. The good thing though, is even if you lose a level, you continue on to the next one. 'Cos the aim of the game is to be top scorer over the whole nine levels - so there's no having to go back to the start or complete a level before you move on.

A great game, very addictive, fast and furious and full of firm thigh muscles! An impressive start for the French company.

Value For Money7/10
Summary: Balls of fun for everyone! A good addictive mix of skill, skating and bash 'em about.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 83, February 1989   page(s) 47

J.D. came over to me today, and spake thus: 'Ubi Soft'. So, thinking that he was talking in some weird Devonshire accent, I hurled a desk at him to prove that, really, I'm that 'ard. This was when it struck me that what he probably meant was Ubi Soft. So I untangled the package from the remaining mess of limbs, and found Skateball.

Skateball is a Rollerball-esque sport sim and is Ubi Soft's debut in the Spectrum software world. The rules are simple: Score goals, slash, skate, maim, skate, kill, score more goals ...

You have three team members, only one of which can play at any time, and the idea is simply to score goals. You also have a goal keeper (computer controlled) which seems to have been programmed to let the players get the ball into the net with the minimum of hassle and obstruction. The bad goalkeepers are one of only two real faults with the game. The other point worthy of making a note of is that your player seems to spend most of the time "On 'is bum" as you have only to touch the other player and your feet lose control.

Apart from these two bad points, Skateball is fair. The graphics are big and can be quickly manipulated on some fairly hairy pitches. There are eight pitches, the first being just a normal footer pitch shape, the next has a mushroomy obstacle thingy in the middle. From then on, all manner of evil appears, such as pillars which rise up out of the ice, not to mention the pits which all but the most skilful players fall into.

When playing Skateball against the computer, you have to score five goals to go on to the next pitch (anyone asking what next pitch?' will be shot for not paying attention earlier when I explained that bit). After one of the two teams have been totally obliterated, the computer shows an aggregate score for all the pitches that you managed to survive.

The sound in Skateball is basically basic in a very basic sort of way. I think they could've improved the game by having that music from Rollerball incorporated in the program, to add atmosphere. I'm sure you'd agree if you knew what the hell the music I'm talking about is. (Bach's Toccata and Fugue, Mr Philistine - CJ).

There are a few good features of the pre-game preparation, including choosing both your own, and the computer's team members (or if it's two humes, you take turns in picking a player) which means that you can take the best and leave the computer with the worst ones, right? Wrong. Each of the players has four different properties (strength, shoot-skill, balance, reactions); you have to experiment to determine which players to constantly pick and which not to.

There have not been that many skate/mutilate games on any computer, so this looks fairly good. I'm sure that soon, someone will produce an excellent one (a desperate plea for a Spectrum version of Speedball!)

Skateball, while being quite good in a psychotic way, is not what could be called a brilliant game, because of the two aforementioned faults, which caused to kill three members of the SU staff by shocking to death with the use of profane language (and believe me it was PROFANE language). To put it in short Skateball is a good game but caused aggro and confusion, especially if playing against the computer.

Ubi Soft have made a fair entry into the Speccy world and providing they keep up the speedy, pretty games, maybe adding more gameplay (and, of course, some music wouldn't go amiss!) they could do well.

Label: Ubisoft
Author: In-house
Price: £9.99/£14.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: ?

Summary: Almost excellent, spoilt by a couple of faults. Nice try.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 18, March 1989   page(s) 48

Ubisoft play rough.

Violence on ice is what it's all about according to Ubi Soft, and this one or two player game certainly provides a generous smattering of both. The scenario is simple enough, play commencing on a rectangular ice rink with a goal mouth at each end, a ball and two teams of two people. One person minds goal while the other, the one you control, tries to kick the ball into the opponent's goal five times to win.

After the match, which has no time-limit, the whole process starts again on another rink. With each successive level, there is an increasing quantity of hazards such as pillars to crash into and holes in the ground that swallow up your player if he doesn't jump over them. Then there's the added danger of falling over and sliding uncontrollably into a pit or one of the huge spiked balls that are scattered carelessly about the rink on the later levels. Of course you can always try to smash into the opponent and send him skidding to the same fate!

Play consists of the two players sliding around everywhere, each trying to bash into the other, knock him off balance, pinch the ball (which is automatically dribbled in the direction the player facing) and then kick it into the opponent's goal. Lose a player and the next team member comes on and plays until either he gets killed, he kills off the other team, or you complete the series of matches. Lose all three players and the game's over.

Controlling the player on "ice" is not easy anyway, but just when you think you're getting the hang of it, the game starts producing rinks that can kill! This makes it a whole lot of fun, especially in two player mode.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Atari ST, £19.99dk, March
Amiga, £19.99dk, March
Spec 128 £8.99cs. £14.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs. £14 99dk, March
C64/128, £9.99cs. £14.99dk, March
IBM PC, £19.99dk, March

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 90/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 80/100
1 month: 50/100
1 year: 25/100

IQ Factor3/10
Fun Factor8/10
Ace Rating743/1000
Summary: The two player mode adds lasting interest.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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