CRL Group PLC
1985
Simulation
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

14,15
Chris Bourne

Endurance allows you to participate in Formula One motorbike racing without risk to life, limb or wallet. Avoiding any kind of arcade action, Endurance puts you in the position of team manager rather like Football Manager of the racetracks really.

The racing team in your charge consists of two bikes and four riders, and you have to juggle with a variety of variables while your try to make your team successful. Pitstop skills are well worth practising, as keeping the bikes in good order is as important as your riders' racing skills. In the pits you can swap riders or service a bike ... Several things can go wrong with a bike: brake pads can wear, tyres can burst, fuel can run out and engines go out of tune.

You can choose to compete in individual races, or take them together as a world competition. When a rider wins, points are given to both the team and the rider as an individual. Four of the six races are fairly short, while two tracks are twenty four hour races, and take around an hour to complete in real time.

Up to six players are allowed to take part in one game, and five skill levels are available. Selections are made with the joystick controlling a pointer, using fire to select options. There's a choice of riders and bikes, and once chosen they can be renamed to make things a bit more personal. Then chassis and bike specification of each vehicle needs to be set in the pits by a mechanic. The first thing to do is tune the engine. Below the bike are three bar graphs, one for safety, one for power and another for miles per gallon. Using the arrow selector each rating can be boosted to fit your requirements. Strategy comes into play here, as an increase in one factor causes a decrease in the other two.

The handling of the bike then has to be set in a similar manner, but this time the different factors are speed, safety and wear. Tyre selection allows soft, medium or hard compound tyres to be fitted to the back and front wheels. Lastly, the team member to ride first is chosen.

Before a race the riders line up on the opposite side of the track to their bikes, then the starter drops the flag and the riders leap onto their machines. Each lap is computer controlled and you see a view from the grandstand, watching the bikes whizz past. After every lap the positions of the bikes in the race is updated. The main scoreboard displays the first six places, showing the leader and the distance each of the next five riders is behind him. Along a smaller board above the main track the numbers of the first sixteen racers are shown. If any of the bikes on the course are having problems, then their numbers are highlighted in red.

Instructions can be issued to your riders on the completion of every lap by pressing the I key. In all, there are three options: Go Go Go, Ride normally, and Take it easy. If the fuel on one of your bikes runs out or a fault gets too bad to cope with, then an automatic pit stop is called by the computer.

When in the pits, you control a mechanic. By moving him along the body of the bike various options appear for the maintenance of the bike. The engine can be tuned, the wheels can be changed and the brakes can be repaired. These sections are operated in the same way as the start up screens, using histograms and pointers. Fuel can also be replenished and the riders can be changed a rider's energy rating goes down, the longer he races.

When the bike has been returned to spick and span condition it returns to the track. The time for your pitcall is displayed and if you spent too long in the pits, then you can opt to quit the race.

CRITICISM

'Though initially seeming very tedious, badly programmed and on the whole, totally inept, I found that this game has a spark of addictivity once I gave it a go. It really brings out an urge to win in me. I don't know why, but even with the peeping and parping sounds and absolutely prehistoric graphics, I actually enjoyed Endurance. Real bike fans will probably enjoy the game even more. I wouldn't recommend anyone to run out and buy a copy now, now, now - but it's definitely worth taking a look at.'

'A game that allows me to strip a bike down without getting oil all over me mum's kitchen floor - great! The sound would be awful, if there was enough to be noticed and the graphics are poor and annoyingly slow, especially when in the pits. All the same, I found it difficult to stop playing this strategy game. As an arcade game it's a non starter but treated as a strategy game with the graphics and sound added to use up the spare memory, it's very addictive. I like it, and I'm going to play it until I win! So there.'

'Very much one for the sports management simulation fans-one of the best since Football Manager, and in many ways it's really quite similar. The tension it creates is quite fabulous. During one game, a championship, I was just 6 minutes from the end of the Le Mans 24 hour race when guess what? The power went off! I went nutty. The only thing against this game is the graphics - they're terrible. I really enjoyed this one, all the same. The five skill levels, the wide range of tracks and the choice of championship or single races mean this game will last a long time. If you liked Football Manager for the strategic elements, you'll love Endurance.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: no problems
Use of colour: poor
Graphics: simplistic to the point of crudity
Sound: quite a lot, but all very similar
Skill levels: 5
Screens: menus, the pits and grandstand view
General Rating: Though not stunning in any way at all, it has a certain something.

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