There's nothing quite like beating your friends to a pulp, is there? Not in the real sense, of course. Not in the real sense, of course. Not in the "getting a big stick and hitting your friends repeatedly about the head with it" sense. That isn't clever at all. In fact, it's illegal.
What is fun is beating your friends to a pulp in "being really, really good at computer games and embarrassing everyone by winning every time" sense. Now that is fun.
And, lo, the Software Houses did recognise this need to triumph over one's peers in the course of digitised entertainment. And, yea, they did create the Multi Player Option and it was good, and it did allow all and sundry to goat and jeer at their friends who could not get the hang of the controls.
And, verily, everyone had a really good laugh with the exception of the kid that nobody really liked who had been lumbered with the dodgy joystick with the Fire button that didn't work.
And so we find yet another multi-player extravaganza plopping into our collective laps. It's Indy Heat, in case you make a point of never reading the title at the top of the pace, and it's quite good indeed.
But, and this is the big question that hangs over eery multi- player game, is it any fun on your own? What if you've got no friends, or you live in the Australian outback? Is it worth shelling out for a game that's really only worth playing with other people?
Thankfully, in the case of Indy Heat, this problem doesn't occur. Even on your own, it's a rollicking little fella.
The basic idea is fairly simple. You take part in a series of races against three other cars of which of races against three other cars, of which two can be controlled by other players. So, you've got four little cars hurtling round various tracks, each with its own torturous bends and niggly bits. And the idea is to complete a set number of laps before the others. Obvious really.
Mind you, you'll have to take into account the technical specifications of your car. If you don't keep improving it by spending your prize money, then you'll find yourself running out of fuel or breaking down every two laps while everyone else keeps zooming past you.
And those aren't the only tactics you'll have to employ. If you really want to win, you'll have to play dirty. Smashing your opponents off the track isn't just fun, it's downright essential.
Another clear trick is to ram them up the bum while they're in the pits and send them flying back into the race with hardly any fuel. Arf arf arf. There's also the added bonus that you might kill a few members of the pit crew. And while we're on the subject of silly little features, you can make it that bit more challenging by reversing all your controls. For masochists only...
The graphics are tiny, but this gives them a bit of extra zip, and means that the tracks can be more fiendishly designed due to the smaller sprites.
There are some nice "touches", as we say in the trade. For one thing, you can choose what your driver looks like, and you also get to see the little men in the pits running about and getting run over. Not graphically brilliant but they do their job and look "groovy", as advertising person Simon Lees put it.
The sound is actually quite "groovy" too. As well as the little vroom noises you also get some some speech telling you when to pit for more fuel. Just when you're in the lead, you're guaranteed to ear a voice say "Red Pit". Typical. There's also a fairly rockin' tune with guitars and stuff. Very pleasant on the shell-
All in all, Indy Heat is a "nice" little game. Not outstanding by any means, but the sort of game that you'll come back to.
"Oh, I'm a bit bored. I know, I'll have a quick game of Indy Heat". That sort of thing. With only 11 tracks to get used to it might not have much of a long term challenge, but it's a laugh all the same. Worth having, methinks.