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Domark Ltd
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Eugene Lacey
Chris Bourne

Domark put the hammer down.

Tengen's Hard Drivin' managed to go up a gear on its numerous racing rivals in the arcades earlier this year with its realistic handling controls.

Tengen have concentrated their efforts on making the car handle like a true racing simulation - rather than lavishing stacks of code on pretty scenery and background graphics.

The visual effect of this approach is to create a game that looks very simple - basic geometric line drawings and blocky angular shaped vehicles on the road. But what Hard Drivin' may be considered to lack in graphics it more than makes up for in game play.

You are placed at the controls of a super fast sports car competing in a race against several other cars on a choice of two tracks.

The Stunt track features three exciting challenges; the Bridge Jump, Loop-the-Loop, and the Bank. It is also the part of the game where the main thrills and spills are to be had.

Getting the speed and approach right as you go into these stunts is the key to success - and mastering this control will take a good deal of practice.

Steering the car in Hard Drivin' also appears quite difficult on the first few attempts - but this is very much by comparison with other racing games that actually operate quite unrealistically under joystick control. Hard Drivin' is much more realistic. If you swing wildly out of control in one direction then in your attempt to right your position you are likely to swing pretty strongly in the opposite direction. Skidding also needs to be mastered if you are to become a skilled Hard Drivin' ace. The skidding is excellent fun and can be used to particular advantage on the Bank.

The computer helps you master the steering and acceleration with a variety of on-screen prompts. Steer wildly out of control and you may find yourself driving down the road in the wrong direction - but the computer points this out to you. Because of the delicacy of the steering a directional arrow moves slightly to the left and right. Keep this centred and you will not go too far wrong.

Another feature there to help you is the action replay sequence. This gives an out of car view of the action (As opposed to your view of the road from the drivers seat, i.e. you are viewing the whole car). Particularly exciting viewing it makes too, especially if you come off the Loop the Loop track at high speed. But it is there for more than mere entertainment - it enables you to try things out and see how the car performs.

A choice of automatic and manual controlled gears are available. The automatic gears enable you to concentrate on the stunts and the race - but once you have become familiarised with the controls you may decide that real men use gears.

As you squeeze the accelerator the white lines in the middle of the road soon start to disappear quickly underneath your car as it roars forward. The feeling of speed is very convincing due to the very low perspective you have of the road.

The tracks are dotted with checkpoints which measure your progress against the game clock. If your speed is good enough you may get a crack at the Phantom Photon (computer controlled car) in a race around the Stunt Track.

The Phantom makes a tough adversary and accelerates away from the start at great speed. Taking him on is for the advanced Hard Driver - but is a challenge well worth building up to.

The appeal of Hard Drivin' is in the pure joy of racing along - overtaking other cars, and the sensation of speed that is created in the process. The stunts are the icing on the cake, but in the end it's the racing that remains as the main attraction.

Hard Drivin' appears to have an addictive hook that many of the current crop of racing coin-ops lack. Domark have captured the addictive spirit of the game for home consumption. Unputdownable and certain to be the Dom Dom's biggest hit to date - possibly even pipping all the other Christmas racers to the number one slot.

Reviewer: Eugene Lacey

Atari ST, £19.99dk, Out Now
Amiga, £19.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs, £12.99dk, Imminent
IBM PC, £24.99dk, Imminent
Archimedes, Approx. £30.00dk, Jan 1990

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 85/100
1 month: 80/100
1 year: 75/100

Potentially timeless entertainment as Hard Drivin' is likely to become the favourite racer for many gamers - and thereby get many regular spins.


Banner Text


The main race window features a monochrome display. Despite this the graphics are very detailed and the track moves fast enough to be convincing. It is slightly jerky but this is only to be expected. Greatly to the programmers credit, every single important game play element has been included - right down to the action replay. Once again a Spectrum conversion of an advanced coin-op is pulled off against the odds. First class Spectrum racing.


Near perfect conversion of the Tengen original. The speed is there, the music, and skidding, complete with sound effects to match. One of the very best racers now available for the ST.

Graphics: 9/10

Audio: 8/10

IQ Factor: 9/10

Fun Factor: 9/10

Ace Rating: 937/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 65/100

1 hour: 90/100

1 day: 100/100

1 week: 90/100

1 month: 80/100

1 year: 75/100

Screenshot Text

Spectrum version.

ST Version: Action replay view of the Loop the Loop stunt. The driver lacked sufficient speed to pull it off.

ST version: Driver's eye view of Loop the Loop. Foot down, deep breath, and close your eyes.