- Developer - Stainless Games
- Publisher - Stainless Games
- Format - iOS
- Device tested - iPhone 4
- Price - £1.49
You know those links that appear in some news articles, the ones with the Not Safe For Work disclaimer next to them in big, red "for God's sake don't open this if somebody is watching" letters? Carmageddon, Stainless Games' race 'em up from 1997, now available on iOS, is like that.
Deftly rebooted for mobile gamers, Carmageddon is still not something you'd want people to see you playing. As a kid, you might have been worried that your mum would catch you playing Carmageddon and take it off you. Now, thanks to this slick iPhone port, you're more likely to just get concerned looks from people on the tube.
Originally banned by the BBFC in 1997 (one of only two games to ever be denied certification in the UK, the other being Manhunt 2) Carmageddon drops you behind the wheel of a modified, weaponised racing car, generally complete with spikes on the rims, a spear on the front bumper and armour on the chassis.
"Races" can be won in a variety of ways, either by ramming all your opponents cars until they catch fire, completing laps of the track or, if you're mental, running over pedestrians. Every pedestrian, in fact: Carmageddon is unapologetically dumb and violent, so if you go the hit-and-run route, it won't let you pass until you've splattered every ped on the level, hence the BBFC ban.
As per iPhone ports the touch controls are awkward, with on-screen buttons for accelerate, brake and steer never quite replicating the tactility of a keyboard, or a joypad. Those issues aside, Carmageddon is still bags of gory, stupid, drooling fun, an unassuming and simple game that's so deliciously nineties it can't help but bring out your inner child.
Remember those days? When you couldn't so much as turn on the TV without some blithering ITN report telling you that DOOM made chimps strangle each other in labs, or whatever? Carmageddon harks back to those days, the days when it felt like computer games should have been sold in paper bags, and you could fire up your PS1 and run over a hundred-thousand pedestrians without some nagging ruddy morality bar telling you off for it. It's not technically flawless by any stretch (even with the iOS re-polish, Carmageddon looks painfully dated) but with its Death Race premise and bloody, violent flourishes, Carmageddon is a pleasing slice of mid-nineties nostalgia.
New adopters may struggle, however. The clunky controls are part of the issue, but Carmageddon's fifth-gen brand of mindless violence and aging mechanics isn't likely to curry favour among first timers either. The people who buy Carmageddon on iOS will be the ones who have played it already, rose retina'ed man-children who remember staying at their friend's house to play the N64 all night. For everybody else, Carmageddon is impenetrably aged, a schlocky and distasteful blast from the past that's difficult to play on the train.
But it's still good, very good even, and not just for sentimental value. In a sea of play-for-one-day, 69 pence mobile games, Carmageddon feels much more substantial. There are hundreds of races to take part in, different cars to unlock and literally days of fun to be had just mucking about on it. In the old days, Carmageddon was the kind of brainless froth that gave computer games a bad name; today, in the mobile market, it feels like the equivalent of Skyrim.
Perhaps that's an indictment of mobile games, or perhaps it's just a way of saying that Carmageddon's splat and ram gameplay is endlessly fun. First time buyers might not be convinced, but for nostalgia fiends, or anybody looking for more from mobile games than just Anrgy Piggies and Temple Something, Carmageddon is a joy ride.
Overall Score: 8/10