Review: Badlands (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18)

Equipment Used/Recommended

  • MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator.
  • Any of Automation 392, Flame Of Finland 48, Medway Boys 102, Pompey Pirates 69, Vectronix 417/667
  • Speedlink USB Joystick

My Review

Continuing our run of racing games with only this and Chase HQ 2 to go in issue 18 of ST Format we come to Badlands. I’m writing this just after reviewing the frankly awful Nitro, and this is another top-down-ish racer. Badlands takes a slightly different approach to that taken by Nitro and Supercars 1/2 in that there’s no scrolling. Each race takes place on a track occupying a single screen, a la Super Sprint.

The courses themselves are far better than those found in Nitro, being quite inventive with an arrow guiding you to take specific routes where there is divergence, allowing the game to create far more in a limited area by having you go round a roundabout for instance. Further, there are tunnels and hills, and gates that open and close to change your potential route as you’re driving, making this a surprisingly intricate game.

The game has an upgrade system which seems to let you choose one thing to upgrade between races rather than operating on a cash system like Supercars 2 – personally I’d rather have that but presumably they felt this approach best for game balance. As it is, while options include boosting your speed, I’m not sure I actually want the cars going any faster as they zip around the screen a little too rapidly for my liking. Handling is generally pretty good, though it can be a little too easy to get stuck on scenery sometimes, and this becomes a particular problem in tunnels where you can’t see your car.

These games shine brightest in multiplayer but sadly I was unable to test this – no doubt it would be fun though as really these games always are, though I can imagine the arrow system causing some confusion if two players are in the same area following different arrows. I suspect that to get my wife to play it we’d need the cars to be quite a bit slower and the course quite a bit more readable.

Now obviously a game like this is never going to be enormously impressive on a technical level but it is smooth, and what’s there works well. My gut feeling is that this would actually be better with some more 8-bit style of presentation as at times readability is not the best. Possibly the cars could stand to be a little smaller too to give a bit more room for movement. The art is ok if a little muddy and one doesn’t find the same kind of charm found in Supercars 2. Sound is ok, nothing to write home about but it does its job.

The Verdict

Badlands is a decent game of this type, which could have been more fun with a couple of fairly simple adjustments. As it is there’s enough here that you’ll likely be able to have a good time with it, though personally I’d rather play one of the Supercars games, but that’s just me being finnicky probably.

Resources

Manual: https://www.gamesdatabase.org/Media/SYSTEM/Commodore_64//Manual/formated/Badlands_-1990-_Domark_Software.pdf

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