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Virgin Games Ltd
1990
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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54,55
David Upchurch
Chris Bourne

Virgin Mastertronics's 'Ironman' or Domark's Badlands - Which is King of the Road?

Who is Ivan Stewart? I've never heard of him! (Then read the box, you ignorant devil!) But if this game is an accurate representation of the sort of antics he gets up to, he certainly deserves the epithet "Ironman". These are not your usual high-speed gentlemen-of-the-road events - each is a gladiatorial struggle for survival on a rugged earth track. The trucks jostle and wrestle for first place whilst plunging into gravel pits, climbing steep slopes and ploughing through water-filled craters.

Your aim (and your friends') is to finish ahead of all the computer-controlled cars in a set of courses - fail and you lose one of your two credits. After each race you're awarded prize money, the amount depending on where you finished. This can be used to buy various upgrades which, for once, have a noticeable effect on your car's performance.

Control is simple: rotate left/right and accelerate. Each car is equipped with a limited number of Nitros, which can be kicked in at any time to give you that extra spurt of speed to take you into the lead or if things are going badly, just back into the running. It's hugely satisfying using one at the last minute to blast you past your mate's car and over the finishing line!

Reviewer: David Upchurch

RELEASE BOX
Amiga, £24.99, Out Now
Atari ST, £24.99, Out Now
IBM PC, £24.99, Out Now
C64, £10.99cs/£14.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, CPC £10.99cs/£14.99dk, Out Now
Spectrum, £10.99cs/£14.99dk, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5
1 hour: 5/5
1 day: 5/5
1 week: 5/5
1 month: 3/5
1 year: 2.8/5

All are excellently presented (the instruction booklet is excellent and very informative), with the 16-bit versions having all the attract and between-game screens of Leland's original coin-op. It couldn't be easier to pick up and play, but the tough opponents and courses pose a long lasting challenge. The game sensibly introduces new tracks gradually so the urge to see what new ones are on offer isn't extinguished too soon. Add the excellent multiplayer option and you've got a smashing game you'll still be loading in a year's time.

8/10
7/10
3/10
9/10
830/1000

Banner Text

SPECTRUM VERSION

Track graphics are colourful, but the cars are monochrome. Like the CPC, only two humans can play simultaneously. The player cars are distinguished by black and white flags waving from their aerials, which can lead to slight confusion when in a road ruck.

AMSTRAD VERSION

Graphics are excellent, using the 4-colour mode to good effect with each car being easily distinguishable. The tunes are very good for a CPC, although they slow noticeably during the game. Despite the fact that only two humans can play simultaneously and the game runs a little slowly, the Fun Factor remains very high.

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 7/10

IQ Factor: 3/10

Fun Factor: 9/10

Ace Rating: 826/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 5/5

1 week: 5/5

1 month: 3/5

1 year: 2.8/5

C64 VERSION

The most attractive of the 8-bit versions, although the pseudo-3D effect is marred by the car sprites occasionally overlapping the roadside fences. However the all-important fun gameplay is here - in buckets!

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 8/10

IQ Factor: 3/10

Fun Factor: 9/10

Ace Rating: 831/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 5/5

1 week: 5/5

1 month: 3/5

1 year: 2.8/5

AMIGA VERSION

Graphics look identical to the coin-op's, although they're slightly slower (but not seriously so). The tunes get a little grating, but mercifully you're able to turn them off and just have the okay-ish sound effects. Technically stunning it isn't, but great fun it is, especially with two friends in tow.

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 3/10

IQ Factor: 7/10

Fun Factor: 9/10

Ace Rating: 835/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 5/5

1 week: 5/5

1 month: 3/5

1 year: 2.8/5

ATARI ST VERSION

Identical in every respect to the Amiga conversion, except (funny old world that it is) the tunes are actually less irritating!

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 7/10

IQ Factor: 3/10

Fun Factor: 9/10

Ace Rating: 835/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 5/5

1 week: 5/5

1 month: 3/5

1 year: 2.8/5

IBM PC VERSION

In VGA the graphics are, again, arcade perfect, and don't suffer too much in the E/CGA either. Even a 8MHz PC is noticeably faster than ST and Amiga, which improves the (already excellent) playability no end. A marvellous game that helps fill the huge gap in the PC market for straight-forward FUN titles.

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 3/10

Fun Factor: 10/10

Ace Rating: 870/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 4/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 5/5

1 week: 5/5

1 month: 3/5

1 year: 2.8/5

WHO IS THE IRONMAN?

You may not know who Ivan Stewart is, but the Americans certainly do. Since 1971 he's built up an impressive record as one of the top drivers in the tough sport of Off-Road Racing. In 1983 Stewart joined the Toyota Factory Team and has competed for them ever since, driving off-road trucks in stadium races (as depicted in the game), as well as stamina-sapping 250-mile non-stop treks through the deserts of Southwest USA and Mexico. It was his repeated success in these marathon tests of endurance that earned him his nickname "Ironman". Can you live up to his reputation?

GAME SPECS

Number Of Vehicles On Track: 4 - Up to 3 (2 on Spectrum and CPC) can be human controlled.

Number Of Tracks: 8 - The bumps, pits, jumps and ditches make for lots of rough 'n' tumble action. The different tracks are not played directly one after another. you may play two tracks then play the first again, but driving in the opposite direction - so it'll be some time before you're good enough to see them all.

Upgrades: Nitros - Vital for boosting you to the front when lagging.

Tires - Reduce skidding and improve cornering.

Shocks - Reduce bounce and improve ground contact.

Acceleration - Reduces time to get to top speed.

Top Speed - increases maximum speed possible.

You can have up to 99 Nitros. The rest of the upgrades have five possible "levels" of effectiveness. One of your two credits can be traded in for $200,000 to buy upgrades with.

Screenshot Text

IBM PC - The CGA graphics do the business well enough, but the bonuses can be a little hard to see.

AMIGA - With a blast like Johnny Fartpants from the exhaust, your red racer zooms forward.

C64 - Be the first to the money bag in the top left corner for more purchasing power later!

SPECTRUM - The monochrome cars can be hard to tell apart at times.