Earth has once again aroused the interest of a load of nasty, horrible aliens who have decided that the human race should be exterminated and the planet colonised by their own breed. Just to show that they mean business they've already begun the attack by landing their giant mothership in an attempt to create a 'beach head' for the impending invasion. Bad news, eh?
Well, not quite. An eminent scientist has examined all available data concerning the alien's mothership and has discovered that if it was destroyed the alien's nasty plan would be thwarted and the Earth saved. The only problem is that the only thing capable of destroying the mothership is the newly developed Lasertron, a device which has to be installed within the enemy camp before detonation. You've been assigned the task of transporting the Lasertron to the mothership and have been given five droids to help you complete this world-saving task.
The mothership lies at the end of a long, long road which is split into 30 different zones. Each zone is made up of one screen, and as you go from one to another the screen flicks to show the relevant zone. When the game begins your five droids assemble behind one another at zone 30 and proceed to move down the middle of the road, the Lasertron at the group's forefront. The rearmost droid is put under your direct control and can be rotated in Asteroids fashion. Once you've pointed it in the right direction, pressing the accelerate button sends it whizzing forward.
By constantly accelerating and decelerating, your droid can be moved anywhere on the screen, as long as there are no obstructions in the way. The rest of the droids remain docile and follow the Lasertron blindly.
To get your entourage through the 30 zones you must clear a path through the obstructions and enemy defences. The obstructions come in the form of barrels and blocks which hinder the Lasertron as it trundles forward. They can be moved out of the way and used to good purpose later on in the game.
Basically there are three types of alien hazard - stationary mines which can be avoided, mobile mines which move backwards and forwards across the road, and soldiers which whizz about the place giving grief whenever and wherever they can. The mines can be dealt with by blocking their path - if you shunt a barrel or block into their path they become trapped and are unable to move. On later levels blocking manoeuvres are made more difficult due to the preset patterns of the mines becoming more complicated, criss-crossing the road and bumping into one another.
There are several types of enemy soldiers, varying from stupid to downright horrible. Most of them rush about the place and only pose a problem if they happen to be heading towards you, others actually home in and try and touch you. If any droid (including a docile one) touches a soldier, it explodes and you have to take a new one from your reserve.
Fortunately, the aliens can be blown away with one shot of your laser, although you can only fire bursts of three shots so don't aimlessly blast around - you might find yourself in a situation where you're surrounded by aliens but can't do anything because your laser is recharging.
There's a time limit to the game which ticks down as you play. If you fail to get the Lasertron to zone zero before the time limit expires, the game ends and the aliens conquer Earth. And you're not going to let that happen... are you?
I enjoyed Highway Encounter quite a bit on the other machines and the C64 version has come well up to scratch in comparison. It does take some time to get into, learning the venous tactics and slowly progressing through the levels, but it does prove worthwhile in the end - completing a level leaves you with that smug satisfaction that you've actually done something. A great game that's not an essential buy but certainly worth experiencing.
There are good and bad points in this game. The sound effects aren't superb but the music is reasonably impressive. The graphics are well drawn but their implementation leads to rare but mildly annoying flicker. Still, these are only minor gripes. Highway Encounter is an interesting and original idea that works fairly well when played. Nothing dramatic - but nothing catastrophic either.
Although this appeared well over a year ago on other computer formats, it's still a pretty good game. The 3D works quite well and the game is fast enough to appeal to most shoot-'em-up addicts.
As well as shooting things, you also need to use your brain as you try and work out how you're going to block the path of the mines. The graphics and music are of a commendable standard and the game is fun to play. If you like the sound of it, give it a try - it's a not awesomely brilliant, but there are loads of worse games available.
Presentation 82% Useful in-game instructions and demo mode.
Effective 3D which unfortunately lacks colour.
A great title screen tune, but weak spot effects.
Straightforward gameplay with a very clear objective.
The 30 zones will keep you occupied for quite some time.
Value For Money 79%
Sensibly priced for what's on offer.
Like a lollipop - far from memorable but enjoyable while it lasts.