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Go!
1988
Arcade: Vehicle Combat
£8.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes

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47
Matt Bielby
Chris Bourne

Whizzing along in your special supersonic (I'll bet) supercar at hair-raising speeds through a city centre isn't the wisest thing to do at the best of times, I'm sure you'll agree. You are liable to get pulled over or even sent down for frightening old ladies, creating unacceptable noise levels and generally being a ruddy nuisance (Mr. Spencer).

The driver in US Gold's LED Storm is even more reckless though. He obviously thinks that if you use a road you must be totally hatstand cos he likes nothing better than to race across the tops of city buildings, using his handy jump button to bound from one to another.

What's so wrong with that, you might say? Boys will be boys and all, and it's not as if he's harming anyone - except for flaking a bit of ceiling piaster and spilling a few nice cups of tea each time he lands. All very well, I answer self-righteously, until you topple off the edge and plummet to the ground, causing untold inconvenience to those below, and proving yourself to be a rather inconsiderate and antisocial individual after all.

LED Storm is all about this sort of wacky lark, though, to be fair, our hero does eventually take his high jinks out into the desert where he's less likely to be a bother. And - cue fanfare - quite fun it all is too, though there doesn't seem to be a great deal of variation between the nine levels once you've got over the shock of a new background colourway (as they say in Habitat and all good furniture shops).

The first thing to be said is that it's all very fast - even more so when you keep the pedal to the metal, your foot to the floor and your knees in the weeds (?). The screen scrolls upwards at such a rate that obstacles such as twists and splits in the road, boxes, other cars and chasms are often upon you before you've time to do anything about it. Worst of all are the small gangs of thugs who grab hold of the back of your car, dragging behind you until you stow right down. Most frustrating, and best dislodged, I found, by making a tactical minor crash into some other object.

Unless you collect extra fuel/energy/whatever, you are going to run out of steam long before the end of a level. So do this by collecting letters that litter the track to build up the word ENERGY, and by jumping into the air to collect the floating fuel drums, which look like hot air balloons or light bulbs (take your pick). Be careful when you jump though - failure to look ahead could place you tottering on the edge of the roadway, then falling majestically to your doom like the Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon.

Later levels take place along sandy valleys, through caves, across a coral reef and so on, ending up m cloud city which is just like the first level except, erm, cloudier. Some of the objects and nasties change, but the game, like the song, remains the same - a quick, fun blast through a twisty, turny environment.

Soundwise it's on the minimalist side - a high pitched squeal whenever you spin the car, and a wibbly sort of noise as you jump being the most noticeable. Sprites are small and not particularly striking, but it is the speed of the thrills that makes the game, not the graphics It's also the only way that I personally know to fully enjoy the thrill of driving along building tops that doesn't require the co-operation of a few ropes, a winch (to get the car on the roof), a ramp (to get the car into the air and heading in the direction of another roof), another building (one that doesn't mind being landed on by a heavy and out of control car) and the local constabulary (to prevent yourself being locked away and later heavily featured on the News At Ten as a dangerous loony).

Circumstances and practicalities thus conspiring so neatly against my partaking of my favourite sport, I am reduced to playing the simulation instead, which is one of the reasons why I still work on a computer magazine (and not the mail room at an institution for the criminally insane), and why happy shoppers are still safe to walk the streets around Castle Rathbone, free from the fear of tumbling metal.

A futuristic, vertically scrolling racing game that is only average in most areas except (EXCEPT!!) for speed - where it positively stomps on most rivals.

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