Version tested: Retro
Highway Encounter is quite special. Although constructed from familiar pieces, the result is a unique, um ... how to put this ... road clearance simulator. Which is not to say the player is cast as a diligent council worker. Far from it. In fact, this is perhaps the closest anyone will get to taking on the role of a Dalek. Or at least a laser-fitted dustbin.
Nasty aliens have followed their usual instincts and invaded the planet. For reasons of massive strategic importance, their mother ship is parked at the end of a lengthy strip of motorway. As leader of a detachment of dustbin ... oh ok, of "Vortons," it's up to YOU to push a curious box across thirty zones of isometric asphalt and introduce the vessel to some explosives. At least, that's the obvious assumption. Perhaps the aliens are allergic to jam and the box contains a set of delicious preserves.
Unfortunately, the drone Vortons aren't too smart and will just amble along in a straight line until they bump into something - be it a relatively safe barrel, or decidedly unsafe extraterrestrial. In order to clear a safe passage, Head Vorton (that's you) has to nip around the place, zapping baddies, using blocks to force invincible enemies into a safe corner and generally keeping the central course nice and tidy. All within a time limit, of course.
Sounds relatively simple. And, like the best ideas, it is. Tension and excitement build during cautious exploration, while sporadic alien attacks raise the adrenaline levels and tricky obstacles encourage a bit of brain power. Accidentally guide your pals to their doom and you're forced to push the box alone and in shame.
The odd moment of fiddly control excepted, Highway Encounter is a genuinely original concept executed with sheer class.
9 / 10