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Activision Inc
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes

Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

Hot Rod - it's a flipping driving game. And if you thought scrolling driving games were bad enough, flipping ones are miles worse, I can tell you. Especially when they flip just when you're not expecting it. (Actually, I just exaggerated a bit. Hot Rod isn't really flip-screen in the same way that Cybernoid is flip-screen, but then again it doesn't scroll as such either. Well, it does, but in sort of short jerky bursts. I'll explain in a minute.)

The whole impression of the game is a lot like Supersprint really, just not so much fun, Using the usual Left, Right and Accelerate controls you've got to send your little car hammering round the track, trying to beat Player Two (if there is such a person) and the computer's car(s). You get an overhead view of the track as usual (it's not a 'loop' though, more of a long, bendy thing with a beginning and an end). The difference is that you only get to see a bit of the track at a time. As soon as whoever's in the lead gets to the edge of the screen, zzziiiip! The next bit's whizzed on. A bit unsightly really.

But you may well be asking (I doubt it though), what happens if you're getting a bit left behind, and you get whizzed off the screen? Well, something slightly alarming happens. Your car starts flashing, and then gets picked up and dumped into the middle of the new screen that's just scrolled on. Hmmm. And then, just as you're getting sorted out and facing in the right direction to continue, the rest of the pack will inevitably have reached the next screen and it all happens again. Double "hmmm". That said, when you do get to grips with the controls you find that the computer's cars are hopeless. They keep getting stuck behind things and losing drastically.

While we're having a good old go at Hot Rod, it's probably worth pointing out that the graphics are useless too. They look like something out of a horrible piece of Christmas wrapping paper, or even a Codies game, and all the cars are the same colour (black, actually) so you keep forgetting which is yours. Even at the beginning (although quite when the beginning is tends to be a matter of guesswork - there's no indication) you're in the dark as to which wheels are yours.

But there must be more to it than that, eh? And indeed there is. There's fuel to think about for a start. If you keep holding down Accelerate you'll run out of it fairly rapidly. And then there are the add-ons. Dotted all round the course are little icons, which give you various things if you pick them up. Money ones are the most handy, as you can cash them in after the race for new engines, tyres, that sort of thing.

There are lots of different tracks which, would you believe, multiload in. It's not that bad though, as they don't take long. The first couple are fairly straightforward - maybe a few bends or patches of exclamation marks to worry about. (These last things look like they might be oil or something - they make your car go a bit wibbly when you drive over them, but since your car is pretty wibbly anyway I couldn't quite suss them out.) Later, though, things get a bit more varied, with alternative routes and what look like bridges. I say 'look like' primarily to increase my word-count, but also because they're a bit spooky. They look like you can drive under them, but when you try you end up driving over them instead (if you see what I mean).

Hot Rod's one of those games where if you're doing really well you think to yourself, "Blimey, maybe I've got it all wrong - this is quite good after all," and then as soon as you crash, run out of fuel or whatever you swear vividly, hurl the tape across the room and reach for the Reset button. That's what I did anyway.

It's sort of okay(ish). If the graphics were a bit better, and if it wasn't quite so irritating, Hot Rod might be perfectly acceptable. As it is though there are loads of other overhead-view driving games around, including many on budget, so why don't you check out a few of those instead? Try the Codies' Grand Prix Simulator for starters.

A pretty average driving game with a horrible flipping way of doing things.


Screenshot Text

Yikes! There are lots of exclamation marks in the middle of the road! Looks a bit 'significant'!!!

Pulling away from the starting grid, there's already a massive shock horror death carnage (I'm strategically hanging back). I'm sure they'll be okay though as you can drive over/under/through whoever you like.

Here we are at Kwik Fit. What shall we have? A bucket? Or maybe a pocket calculator with handles on the side?