There are games that hark back to history, there are games that have a retro flavour to them, and then there's Autoslalom. If 'you young ones' want to know what mobile gaming was all about back in the day, then check out this apparent labour of love from Wojciech Poniatowski.
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
Right then, a quick history lesson. This wave of portable gaming was the Game and Watch style LCD games, with fixed elements on an LCD screen that could be turned on or off. This allowed for some crude animation and basic game play, normally built around a 'left' and a 'right' button. Nintendo was one of the first companies to bring this style to market, but countless other companies followed.
One of them was Electronika. Based in Belarus, they provided the Soviet Union with numerous electronic goods, including calculators, computers, and games. Autoslalom is one of the best remembered titles, and now it's available for Windows Phone.
The original Autoslalom, image via digigames.7u.cz.
What I love about this version of the game is that it is as authentic as possible. Not just the game, but the whole console experience has been replicated on the touch screen. The hardware's physical aspect ratio is a close match to the Windows Phone screen, so everything, from control buttons and mode selectors, to the skill and speed level selection, is exactly as the original hardware.
And on Windows Phone!
The game itself, for 2012, is nothing to write home about. You drive your race car along an infinitely straight road, and along the way there are barriers you need to avoid hitting. The animation is jerky, perhaps one frame a second on the easier levels, and the sound effects are little more than a simulated piezo-electric 'beep'.
Yet it's fantastic for an old hand like me. These games were the Halo of my youth (stop laughing at the back) and Autoslalom feels natural, it feels right, and the suspension of disbelief required to think this is an actual LCD game and not a smartphone is very easily achieved.
It's not perfect - the game will keep track of your high scores and you can post these to Facebook if you wish, but as these were not features of the original game, the regular Windows Phone interface and alert boxes have been used. As they flip in from the sides when you are asked to input your name, it feels very jarring and out of place. I'd love to see something that fits in with the rest of the style of the game, in the same way that the opening menu replicated the buttons and the plain burnished metal of the Autoslalom original.
For me, these issues are there, but not a huge concern. This is a time-machine of a game, and even if nobody else in the world likes it or appreciates it, I'm really glad Poniatowski has coded this, and released it into the world of Windows Phone apps.
Is this a recommendation? I'm not sure. I suspect that you already know if you'll like this game before you even download it. So this is more a "look, it's cool!" and you take it from there. For me, it's back to the beeps.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at