Sunday, January 23, 2011


by Mindscape for PlayStation

I got a PlayStation on my fifteenth birthday. It was the first time I bought a video game system with my own money; it was the first time I had bought anything that expensive. After giving $300 (plus tax) to the Sony Store, we set out to Blockbuster to have something to play on the system. The game I had my heart set on: Namco's Cyber Sled, a game I had played in the arcade and loved.

In 1996, Blockbuster had enough money to have two cases on the shelf: the original game box, and the Blockbuster box behind it containing the actual game. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old-me, Blockbuster had put the wrong game behind the Cyber Sled box. Instead of Cyber Sled, it was Mindscape's CyberSpeed. It was disappointing, but my brother and I made do.

It was fine. CyberSpeed is a futuristic racing game where you drive a pod hanging from a cable; a video game version of a hanging roller coaster. If you don't manoeuvre your pod during a turn, centrifugal force swings it to the outside. (And to those of you who are complaining that centrifugal force doesn't exit: you know what I mean so drop it.) To minimize the distance you have to travel, you want to be on the inside of a turn. You fire weapons at the other pods, which is common for futuristic racers, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins, which is common for races. Its hanging-from-a-cable gimmick remains unique to this day, probably because it only serves to make racing less interesting by restricting control to a single wraparound dimension in an unintuitive way. The graphics were colourful and fast and fantastic, although perhaps only because it was my first PlayStation game.

CyberSpeed's gameplay, which someone hacked onto PSP. Alas, no video grabs of CyberSpeed on PlayStation (or even Windows!) seem to exist.

That weekend CyberSpeed was the only full game we had, so we played the Hell out of it. It went back to Blockbuster at the end of the weekend, and I haven't give it more than a moment's thought about it until I wrote this. I'm probably the only one who has, given that it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia entry.

Last week I bought a PlayStation 3 for $250, plus tax. To the best of my recollection, I never played Cyber Sled on my PlayStation.

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