ZX Spectrum Trailblazer
Trailblazer was released for the ZX Spectrum in November of 1986 by Gremlin Graphics and was yet another addition to the ranks of bouncing ball arcade games that were being released at the time.
Gremlin Graphics were famous for the Monty Mole series of games, and would go on to develop many more fine arcade games for the ZX Spectrum before moving into the 16-Bit arena in the 1990's.
There was not much in the way of a back story for Trailblazer, and for a game of this type there did not really need to be.
You play the part of 'bouncing ball' and must blaze a trail through fourteen different courses (which are somewhere in space), for others to follow. Deep eh?
Trailblazer was basically a fast moving 3D speed and reactions arcade game played against the clock. The 'trail' would smoothly scroll towards you (a la Space Harrier), and you could move your ball to the left and right, and also make it accelerate (and slow down) and jump. But simply zipping along a chequered trail would be far too easy, and there were a lot of obstacles to slow you down.
As you sped along, you would come across missing squares (best to jump the gap), different coloured squares (which would slow you down if you rolled over them), squares which would boost you forward and even squares which would reverse the controls (really nasty). The only way to set the controls back to normal would be to roll over another of these 'reverse control' squares - which could be tricky to accomplish when your controls were back to front.
You did not lose any lives in this arcade game as you had to beat the clock. Falling off the trail would cost you valuable seconds before you were allowed back into action, and sometimes regaining the rythm you had was difficult if you had fallen off.
The later levels were particularly fiendish with thin 'catwalks' to negotiate and huge gaps to jump over which required pixel perfect timing. You had to complete each course in roughly 40 seconds to make it to the next. Make no mistake, Trailblazer was pretty tough.
The game was over if the clock ran down before you reached the finish line.
Trailblazer was met with enthusiasm when it was released for the ZX Spectrum. There were other ball based games to play such as Bounder and Marble Madness, and Trailblazer proved to be playable in it's own right. Gamers enjoyed the fast and furious classic gameplay and the 'one more go' factor. Trailblazer was challenging and addictive and was another quality release from Gremlin Graphics.
The test of time:
Here in the land of Spectrum Games we reckon that Trailblazer has still got it. The 3D effect (nice perspective too) is convincing, and the trail moves towards you incredibly quickly and smoothly. Getting into a good rythm on a course is great fun, and bouncing around the missing squares and other obstacles is rewarding. A simple and addictive classic game.
Catch the end sequence of 2001 then give Trailblazer a go. You'll need cat like reflexes.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Trailblazer for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: 3D Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1986
RELEASED BY: Gremlin Graphics
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Even the first level is tricky when you haven't played it for years in this classic arcade ball game:
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