Electron User1st January 1988
Published in Electron User 5.04
Dick Decker is one of life's failures. Veteran of a dozen previous jobs, his fiancée has given him an ultimatum - get a steady job or the wedding is off.
The Derek Dorkin Despatch Agency provides Dick with a 750cc Yamasaki speed machine and a further warning - bend my bike and I'll bend your head! With two such supportive people behind him how can Dick possibly fail?
His job involves delivering mail to the Royal Snail offices in separate streets. The road is divided grid style, giving five lanes along which Dick can ride. Pressing the up or down keys causes the bike to change lanes.
esponse is instantaneous, but it is very easy to forget that the keys do not auto-repeat, which often results in the loss of a life, and you have to start all over again from the beginning.
As Dick rides along the street, the screen scrolls from right to left. The faster he rides, the faster it scrolls. This can be rather jerky at times, but considering that it's all done by software (It's a hardware scroll on the BBC Micro version) it is quite good and perfectly acceptable.
Audiogenic provides a generous seven bikes which are lost through collisions and lack of fuel. Across the top of the screen is a fuel gauge and the bike is kept topped up by riding through barrels labelled gas.
he bell rings as you touch a barrel, indicating refuelling. Often you encounter four barrels in a row, but unfortunately the bell only rings once. To make the most of this abundance of fuel you must perform some rapid lane changing.
The Yamasaki has a rather unusual fuel economy characteristic - it uses petrol at a constant rate no matter how fast you are going. Therefore, the faster you do the less likely you are to run out of fuel.
I don't know where this town is, but the roads are an absolute nightmare. Each street is strewn with cones, burst water mains, concrete blocks, tacks and greasy patches. All appear to be positioned in such a way as to cause the most inconvenience.
n many instances the obstacles completely block the road ahead. In such cases there is fortunately a ramp just in front of the roadblock which will send you sailing over the hazard.
Due to a combination of no shadow on the ground below the bike and the length of time spent airborne, you can never be quite sure whether you have landed and moved up the road one lane or are still in flight. This minor niggle aside, I found Despatch Rider a very testing and enjoyable game.