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Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

Other Links

Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Electric Dreams' new race-'em-up.

Coin-op racing games are all the rage at the moment, but this one could even put Out Run in the shade. With its distinctive overhead view, car tuning options and multiple drones, Super Sprint has been a huge arcade hit; so how does the micro version shape up?

The most striking feature of the coin-op is the way up to four people can play at once - and sadly there's no way that can carry across to a Spectrum. Electric Dreams have only been able to fit single and two-player modes in, with 'drones' - computer-controlled cars - making up the numbers.

Each time you play you can select any one of the game's eight tracks to start on. The default track is the easiest by some way. Viewed from above it looks very simple indeed, a few bends, good long straights and a starting grid cum finishing line.

Actually getting round this is anything but simple, and it'll be a few races before you've got the hang of driving your car at all.

It's not that there's a whole load of controls to wrestle with. In fact you've only got left, right and accelerate, but using them correctly means lots of practice. Take a corner too late, early or fast and you'll crash into the barrier around the track.

Hit the barrier a glancing blow and you'll bounce off again, but the more normal failed cornering attempt will leave you well and truly stuck, wheels spinning. To get back in the race you must release the accelerator, turn your car to face directly out onto the track and then pull away. Even if you manage this your car's liable to swerve as you come 'unstuck', sending you straight into the barrier opposite if you aren't very careful.

The drones don't drive any too fast on the easier tracks, but they never crash. They also don't seem to be affected by oil patches (which send you skidding) or the game's roving whirlwinds (which will leave you in a spin). Their reliable - if humdrum - driving is quite enough to beat you hollow if you keep crashing, so good cornering and crash recovery techniques are essential. If you beat them all over four laps, they'll get meaner on the next race - and since that's on a new track you've got some learning to do.

You do have one trick up your sleeve though, and that's tuning. As well as oil slicks, whirlwinds and 100 point bonuses, you'll often come across little yellow spanners on the track. Collect three of these and you'll get a chance to tune your car before the next race. In any one session you can boost your traction (roadholding), acceleration or top speed.

Chicanes, underpasses and gaps all add to Super Sprint's considerable visual appeal, and spice up the gameplay too. The rescue helicopter is also nicely done - though it only shows up after very bad crashes on the Spectrum version - and the trackside scenery looks good.

But there's a big visual problem on the Spectrum - attribute clash. When the cars are bunched up together their colours inevitably merge, and it can be very tough to spot your own vehicle. To make matters worse, Super Sprint cars never collide with each other so its quite possible for two of them to occupy the same space!

Confusing stuff then, and very frustrating at times too. What pulls the game through so well is its remarkably addictive gameplay, the challenge of new tracks and the excitement of tuning your car to perfection.

Andy Wilton

Spectrum, £9.99cs, Reviewed
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Atari ST, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 67/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 88/100
1 week: 70/100
1 month: 62/100
1 year: 40/100

Frustration soon gives way to addiction.

Nice track, shame about the clashes.
Weak engine noises.
Not very cerebral stuff.
Very playable - but not instantly.

Screenshot Text

The helicopter flies in - someone's had a nasty accident.