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Accolade Inc
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

Have you ever tried playing a driving game while eating an ice lolly? It's not at all easy, I can tell you. Half the time you get so involved with the lolly's hidden subtleties that you completely forget to keep your eyes on the road, and the other half of the time you get so carried away with steering the car that you end up with molten Cornish Strawberry Mivvi streaming down your arm. Both situations are equally dangerous and undesirable, and I've yet to find a way round the problem.

You're probably wondering why the screenshots of Grand Prix Circuit look so familiar. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it's a driving game, and hence looks pretty much like every other driving game which has ever come out, and, secondly, its a sort of sequel to The Cycles which Jackie reviewed back in the August issue. Both games are based around the same framework, with the simple substitution of cars for bikes in this one.

What this means is that you've got to wade through screens of the same options before you can start the game, choosing whether you want a practice race, a real race or the whole racing season, what sort of car you'd like to drive and where you'd like to drive it. Having done that you'll find yourself in a straightforward 3D road-comin'-at-ya driving game with lots of other cars to race against. What you actually have to do from then on depends on which difficulty level you choose, with steering, accelerator and brakes as the bare minimum, and manual gears as a luxury option on higher levels.

So which should you choose (out of Cycles and Prix)? Well, it's not actually a simple case of whether you prefer bikes or cars. And here's why... When Jackie reviewed The Cycles she grumbled about it rather a lot, giving it a savagely low mark. What got up her nose most was the wobbly steering system which sent her swerving all over the road every time she tried to go round a corner. At first we thought this was due to the old problem of her legs not reaching the ground properly, but even after lowering the seat as much as possible, and sellotaping broom-handles to her legs to extend them a bit, she still had trouble keeping in a straight line. This problem has been almost entirely cleared up in Prix. As well as a much tamer response to your joystick waggling there's also a little blob on the steering wheel to let you know what position it's in - all you've got to do is centre it to get the car going in a straight line. The graphics have been jazzed up a bit too, although a few glitches occasionally appear on the road.

So why doesn't it get the massive mega-mark Accolade were probably hoping for? Well, for a start there's your car. It's not really as 'hot' as it might have been. It'll only do about 110mph flat out, and it takes years to get up to even that. Then there's the general 'easiness' of it all. Even I, undisputed holder of the Crap Games Player of the Year title, managed to win practically every race I entered, even on the higher levels.

Apart from that, though, Grand Prix Circuit is a huge improvement over The Cycles and one of the best straight racing games around (but not such good news compared with more arcadey driving games). It's got a pleasantly scrolling road, responsive controls and plenty of raceability. Worth a look. Probably.

A perfectly respectable game. One to get if you like that sort of thing.


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Here's a pic of the track with everyone hammering round it. (They're the little white blobs.)

Boring info about laps, times and things. Let's just drive, eh?

Presumably a wing mirror, although I've never seen anything appear in it. (Probably because they tend to be in front of me.)

Well, it looks like a black dotted line down the middle of the road to me. But why, hmm?

this is the steering wheel. Keep a firm grip on it at all times, or you'll go all over the place.

And this is one of your rivals. And he looks a bi cross. Best to let him go first, eh?

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Er, lads... hang on a minute! Look, it's not funny any more. Lads?

Good choice of sponsor, that. Now they just need to get those wheels sorted out.