Version tested Retro
Another Gremlin-published gem from unsung hero Shaun Southern of the hugely prolific Mr Chips, 'Sout' came up with an almost uncategorisable racing game which, to this day, still feels fresh and original.
Just like Kikstart, Trailblazer's central concept was to complete an assault course against an opponent in the quickest possible time, but that (and perhaps its steep learning curve) is where the similarities ended. This time around you were in control of a perpetually moving ball, guiding it left and right down a fast-moving 3D 'lane' of different coloured tiles until you reached the grey 'goal' and moved on to the next course.
Along the way, you'd try and avoid getting snagged on obstacles, such as holes and reverse tiles. With repeat play, the game began to make more sense, and you'd begin to learn a safe passage by landing on pads which bounced or boosted you beyond the many chasms and hazards.
Designed primarily as a two-player split-screen affair where you raced each other to the finishing line, it was still a mighty fine game in single player mode. Once again, Mr Chips succeeded in providing a game which placed multiplayer right at the heart of the experience, while still managing to make it fun as a solo effort.
In terms of its technical merit, Trailblazer really stood out back in 1986, at a time when developers were really only starting to experiment with 3D techniques and beginning to tap into the hidden depths of the C64’s capabilities.
With the system's smooth scrolling, and inherent ability to handle multicoloured backgrounds with ease, this simple approach still charms even now. Also be sure to check out the full-screen sequel, Cosmic Causeway - though don't expect to be any better at it...
7 / 10