Retro Gaming: Kikstart II (c64)

Ah, lazy Sunday morning are great, nothing to do for an hour or so with coffee in hand and the morning papers made even better by a monthly dose of Retro Gaming goodness in the form of the latest copy of Retro Gaming Magazine (no.79 to be precise). This month edition features a four page editorial on the classic Kikstart series dripping with nostalgia and I fondly remember this little gem and the happy hours hunched over our C64 with my younger brother.

I still have the same cassette in my C64 collection, so thought I dig it out this morning and see if it still loads. Suffice to say, it didn’t at first, but it is over 20 years old after all! Thankfully, thanks to my ‘Load-It’ C64 datasette unit, a slight tweak on the tape head was all but required and it loaded without a hitch – more on the essential peripheral in a future post!

Kikstart II – Mastertronic 1987.

Through the early days of 8-bit computers the Mastertronic range of budget titles were a godsend for those that wanted to increase their games collection without the funds to buy the latest and greatest ‘big budget’ titles. Within the range of most schoolboys/girls empty pockets,  Masteronic’s £1.99 & £2.99 range of games kept us happy and games collections which were swapped around the schoolyard increasing everyone’s exposure to some truly fantastic – and not so fantastic titles!

Kikstart II was one of better ones, and a title that most kids owned. Based on the wacky world of Motorbike trials and the popular BBC Kickstart/Junior Kickstart TV show that was aired in the 80′s during  school holidays & at christmas. Although I don’t think it was officially endorsed by the TV show, Kikstart II  the game included the shows signature theme tune.

I’d not played the original Kikstart on the C64, but had a copy for my Commodore Plus4 and was a firm favorite of mine. As soon as I we owned our first C64, Kikstart II was on my list of titles to get asap.

The aim of Kikstart II is to race your motorcycle across a 24 courses containing all manner of obstacles and jumps. You can race to the finish line against the CPU player or the immensely fun, two player mode. Winning the race, of course, requires speed but full throttle isn’t the name of the game. You have to balance speed over each obstacles and any increase will see your rider fall and flip over the handlebars loosing  precious seconds whilst your bike is relocated to the next section of the course. With little practise & using the speedometer as reference you could gauge the maximum amount of speed you could ride over each obstacle and with a little luck would win the race.

Throttle to the max and almost leaving the screen to make this long jump!

Pulling a wheelie helps on the steps.

Easy does it, adding more speed and I’ll fall off the brick wall.

Looking all smug at the finishing line the CPU player looks on as I’m about to get wet!

Graphically, Kikstart II is top notch stuff with detailed and colorful courses, silky smooth scrolling and the great animation on both the bike and rider. The theme tune can wear thin after a short time but it’s such an iconic tune, you just can’t help but love it.

As well as the two player mode, Kikstart II also contains a course designer and course randomizer. Both my brother and I used to try and out do each other by designing with the trickiest courses we could design…or just add jumps, jumps & more jumps!

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