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1989
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£9.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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18
Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

An odd name for road-racing game, you might think. Surely they're not having to resort to shock tactics to sell the thing just because it's so much like the other racing games around?

Well, no, actually. My moles tell me (particularly the one on the back of my left thigh, which is most informative) that the game was originally destined to be called Continental Circuit, but while the chap responsible for promoting the game at Taito HQ was on the phone discussing the launch of the game he accidentally got a crinkle-cut potato chip that he was fiddling with stuck in his ear, dulling his hearing somewhat. Not wanting to make a fuss, he continued with the conversation but misheard the name of the game, innocently passing the revised title on to his minions in the publicity department. After undergoing emergency surgery to remove the foreign object, he returned some weeks later to find the office in disarray. Posters sporting the new name were covering the walls, and half the staff were discussing the future of our unfortunate PR man. Whatever the outcome of his tribunal was, the name stuck and the game will probably get a lot more attention because of it. (Okay, so there's a bit of artistic licence in there but you get the gist.)

Your aim, as the driver of a 400 kph racing vehicle, is to make it around the courses in Brazil, Japan and the other six in between, finishing in as good a position as possible. For each course there's a certain number of cars which need t be overtaken to move on to the next one, not to mention the time limit. You have a steering wheel, an accelerator and a couple of gears to waggle between, and all of these will need to be skilfully manipulated if you're going to get anywhere.

The only thing standing in the way of success, apart from your questionable driving technique, is the risk of other drivers swerving in front of you without warning. As you begin to sustain hits your car will begin to emit clouds of smoke. Unless you 'pit in' pretty sharpish you'll find the smoke turning to flames, and then you've got real probs.

It has to be said that from a visual point of view Circus isn't going to change home computing as we know it. The car sprites can only be described as functional, the scrolling isn't particularly smooth and the roadside decoration is so notably un-notable b u that I can't even remember what it looks like off-hand. Fairly drastic I would imagine.

Entertainment-wise things aren't too hot either. There's so little to do, just dodge from side to side and press the gear button, that races become almost a routine, broken only by pitstops and the random cloud bursts which make the roads go all slippery.

It's fun... for a while. There is one aspect that stands out, though - the sound, which simulates revving engines very tidily without resorting to the usual flatulating noises and manages a couple of tunes too. Oh, and also the start sequence and the pitstop are kind of okay. And I like the way that you can send other cars spinning off the road when you hit them.

Continental Circus doesn't really contribute to the cause of the Speccy in any way. If there was a definitive average game this could well be it. Average look, average feel, average smell. Apart from the sound that is, which is above average (for its type). Although... no! I take it all back - that's average too. The whole thing - it's average.

A car-racing game that looks broadly similar to every other car-racing game you've ever seen.

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Disaster strikes again! Your car skids into the pits, flames erupting from its rear, and your crew makes a hasty retreat.

Tragedy! Your car hits a pothole in the road and spins through 2652364 before coming to rest.

A luscious lovely poses precariously in front of you to signify the start of the race.