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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 3, 1999
I may sound like a naive bumpkin, but in recent months I have become somewhat of a gaming optimist. It seems to me that there has been a slow but steady improvement in the quality of games I am reviewing. Although games continue to emerge that have major flaws, bugs, or limitations, most appear to have some redeeming features that save them from utter unplayability. Particularly when dealing with offerings from major publishers, many of us have developed a comfortable feeling that we can trust that their games will not be dismal duds.
My belief that things are looking brighter is particularly intense with regard to racing games. Never has there been the dog-eat-dog competition in any gaming genre that was experienced this holiday season among arcade and simulation racers of all varieties. The bar has kept rising, and what was outstanding a few months ago is only mediocre by today’s standards. Virtually every major game company has contributed not just one game to this competitive frenzy, but more often two or three.
Well, upon trying Snowmobile Racing from GT Interactive, I have experienced a reality check of the most severe kind. Developed by Second South Studios, this product has poor design and execution decisions in virtually every dimension. I am frankly stunned that it has ever made it to retail shelves. Try as I might to find aspects of this game that are praiseworthy, I keep coming up empty. Having had the context of playing two other quite decent snow racing games, Intense Entertainment’s Snow Wave Avalanche and Electronic Arts’ X Games Pro Boarder, I was simply not prepared for this kind of depressing experience.
Let me begin with perhaps the most fundamental defect of the game — it contains support only for keyboard controls. It is inconceivable to me that in a driving game like this it does not provide either the gamepad/joystick or steering wheel support that has become so common and expected in racing games (I cannot even remember the last time I encountered a racing game without being able to use these other input devices). Needless to say, it is impossible to reconfigure the keyboard controls if you do not like the default settings. Anyone who has tried to do a few hours straight of computer racing while only using the keyboard knows what how awful their fingers feel as a result.
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