Cross Country

Title           Cross Country
Game Type       Platform
Publisher       none (distributed through Aminet)
Players         1
Copatibility    AGA only
HD Installable  Yes (HD install required)
Submission      Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer

Cross Country is a vertically scrolling platform game. The elegant twist
to this one is that the screen always scrolls, and quickly too. Our hero,
your character, is on the run.  And its down to your concentration and
reflexes to keep him out of trouble on the way.

A joystick, an Amiga, a telly, and a comfy seat. (A bag of crisps
recommended for nourishment. Preferably salt'n'vinegar.)

None. The game is freely distributable and available from Aminet, in
the game/jump directory.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 112Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Apollo
4040 daughter board (68040 at 40MHz, with SCSI and 96Meg of local RAM),
PicassoIV Graphics Card, VLab video-digitiser, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, 2
internal floppy-drives, Supra 14.4k Modem, Viewsonic E70 17" SVGA monitor.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Toshiba
16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 Multisync
monitor. (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU without FPU)

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD, GVP
Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI),
additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor.

Haven't tried this on an unexpanded Amiga. But with how well it handles
graphics cards and high-end CPU's, I expect it will work well on a stock
AGA Amiga too.

This game has a cool colourful drawing style, from the lively menu's to
the adorably drawn and intentionally ridiculous background story. Your
character, a tail-less fox, makes for a great cartoon hero. I think he
would be right at home in a Road Runner or Tom and Jerry TV show.

But holy crap! I wasn't prepared for this. It's fast. When you press
the button to start you have to keep up. Basically your character is at
the botton of the screen and he starts to run up the endless landscape,
comprised of hills, water, and other worthy obstacles, which all scroll
down to meet you. You have full control of the fox, so despite the
constant scrolling of the landscape to keep you occupied (and it does),
you can still move up and down within the screen area to adjust how much
of a buffer you have, should you run into a tight spot. And, of course,
you can steer him left and right to dodge the hazards, or aim for bonuses.
And probably most importantly, you are able to jump over things in true
legs wide in the air cartoon style.

It's kind of one of those pattern-remembering games. The landscapes are
predetermined, not some random affair, and with their continually increasing
complexity it is invaluable to have some idea of whether ziging or zagging
is the 'right' way to go.

Often it is still possible to make it through bad decisions unscathed, but
at the expense of some bonus item. Often too, a wrong path will leave you
badly set up for the next obstacle. A life might be expended in the
learning process, but the next time around your gut feeling might be more
attuned to where your need to be. Thus you get just that wee bit further
than you did before.

This makes for a most addictive game. Once you get the hang of some of
the scenery not being as obviously 3D as it could possibly be, (splatting
into something in true cartoon style,you realise "hey, maybe I should
jump here")  Then you'll be leaping and sprinting in all the right places.

There is also a bonus stage of sorts, to break the tension. Once you
are familiar with it, it is more one of those moments to hunch over the
joystick and stare at the screen with maximum concentration. On this level
you have to make it through without dieing. You die, you go back to the
beginning to start over. Not such a big hassle, as the obstacles aren't so
many this time around. But bonuses are liberally scattered throughout the
level, and anything less than maximum concentration will leave you without
that perfect bonus.

The pace is kept quick with each life lost simply marked by one of the
various cute injured-fox animation sequences, and his next incarnation
continuing from that very spot. It's an invaluable skill to not be phased
by these moments, or the next life lost can follow in quick succession.
Though at this stage I must comment that a shadow, or some other visual
indicator of the foxes exact position on the ground would be infinitely
useful. The wonderful exaggerated legs-in-the-air running animation does
leave a little doubt as to your exact position. The timing of your jumps,
therefore, are tricky to judge until you get a good feeling for where the
ground-point is. But there has been many a life lost because I wasn't
quite certain, and I think a shadow would help.

One of those pleasant suprises of an Aminet download. That place has a
lot of software, but not necessarily a lot of good software. For me, this
is certainly one of the good ones. That first night I downloaded it ended
up being a late one. And there's nothing else quite like it, so I keep
coming back for more.

I'd recommend it to anyonne who likes platform games and a bit of fast
action. Certainly, anyone who was looking for a bit of a twist on the
"Spatial Hyperdrive" game concept should check it out. It's not quite as
manic, but it does get the pulse racing.

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