I've just got a car from my brother. She's a beautiful twenty-one-year old orange Beetle called Gigi, so I can sing songs from the film to her. The only thing is, I can't actually drive yet so I thought that Nigel Mansell's World Championship would give me a push in the right direction before the driving lessons proper start. I sat down ready to take the wheel and find out how its really done, oblivious to Andy O's observation that "real driving's a bit more difficult than sitting down in front of a computer." Pah! if I want to learn how to drive, who better to teach me the basics than Nigel Mansell? The problem was that Nigel Mansell doesn't really deal with basics. Ho hummmity hum!
Although Nigel Mansell (the man) has taken part in one hundred and seventy-six Grand Prix, you only have to deal with the one. There are sixteen different tracks in sixteen countries so you've got the weather element to cope with too, as well as the other eleven drivers. As with most other driving games you've got options such as souping-up your car a bit and choosing your driver and nationality. Then, of course, there are all the different gaming options. Do you want to play the whole Grand Prix, or just a lap? Or maybe you fancy a spot of training with our Nige? What a choice!
ONE OF OUR NIGELS IS MISSING
I was remarkably sensible and opted for the training session. At no point did Nigel Mansell appear and give me instructions. He didn't even pop up on screen when I drove my new car off the road. Call that instructive? Pah! I was quite disappointed, I can tell you. All I did was drive around the circuit on my own for hours getting better and better. (So it was help then? Jonathan) Well, yes but it wasn't quite what I expected.
However, I did enjoy racing round the track. It's a cockpit-view racer and you can get a good look at your hands on the wheel. So, as you turn left you can see the wheel turning which helps when you start worrying about what direction you're going in. (Linda are you sure you want to learn how to drive? Andy O) The graphics are nice and simple, a bit like the game itself. There's nothing amazingly special here, the main races are naturally more entertaining than the training sessions due to the presence of (da-da-da-daaa!) other cars. Hurrah!
BABY YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR. YES I'M GONNA BE A STAR!
Before you can really start racing, you have to qualify. The first couple of times I tried to do this, I found myself a full two laps behind some of the other drivers 'cos I couldn't work out how to start. (That's because you've got no idea about driving, in fact, you're a bit stupid when it comes to cars. Honestly, the way you were racing round - you spent most of your time on the grassy verges. Andy O) And it wasn't 'cos I'm stupid, as Stuart Campbell had the same problem, so there. Actually, he didn't get started at all whereas I managed to qualify, despite my initial, erm, 'disadvantage'. (The trick is to press forward and fire together before accelerating.)
If you're really keen on winning then you might want to take a peek at the control section. Here's where you can soup up your car by fiddling with the tyres and the aerofoils. Such fiddlings can prove very useful if you've got to deal with inclement weather.
Each circuit comes complete with a weather report along the lines of 'overcome the effects of thin air. The reduction of air pressure means less drag... the oxygen means that the engines produce less power.' If you're up on your racing cars no doubt you'll read such a description and immediately think, "Ooh, I'd better take a look at those tyres. Hmmm. And the aerofoil could be tilted slightly more..." Unfortunately. such subtle points are a bit lost on me. But no matter, I can still see that they're a good thing!
SLIPPING AND SLIDING
And now we come to the part of the programme where you get told about the not-so-good things. We were given Nigel Mansell's World Championship on disk and it took a helluva lot of turning over and waiting in between the game bits. Jonathan and I shuddered (Shuddered, we did. Jonathan) when we thought of the tape version. If this is what you have to do with the disk, just imagine the loading times and tape-turnings. Agh! Street Fighter 2 revisited.
Despite being called Nigel Mansell's World Championship. this game has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the moustachioed one. Oh yeah, his name appears now and then but never his face. Or even his moustache. I mean, it's not as if we're asking Gremlin to do the impossible. I would have been satisfied with just Nigel's grinning visage on the loading screen. After all, Bob Monkhouse appeared in digitised form in Bob's Full House, as did Bob Holness in Blockbusters. Hang on, maybe it only works with people called Bob. (No. Huxley Pig did it too, and Max Headroom. Jonathan) They're not exactly people though, are they? No, Nige has definitely fallen foul of the Curse of the Not-Bobs.
Sorry about that little tirade, but I was kinda banking on Nigel making an appearance so it was all very disappointing indeed. But I shouldn't be too harsh 'cos overall the game is actually very good. Well, it is if sitting glued to a screen for hours following a track is your a idea of fun. Me? I could do it for ages - even if I don't get to meet Nige at the end! Y'know, I could really wow the driving instructor when I go for my first lesson. What I really need to do is a bit of real driving... Ahh, I know! Oi, Andy! You know your bike? Well, how about letting me have a little go on it, just to get used to the roads, like? (Not blummin' likely, I've watched you on that computer. You're dangerous and I'm not letting you anywhere near my beloved crap bike. Andy O.
Uppers: There's loads to do before you start racing, oodles of drivers to race against and plenty of tracks to race along. What's more - it' fun. Yeah!
Downers: There's no Nigel and I strongly suspect that it would be very frustrating and time-consuming to load in tape form.
Little wrong with it, but nothing that makes you think this is something to be treasured for ever. Good clean competent fun.
The toppermost of the poppermost
According to Gremlin's press release, Nigel Mansell is, and I quote "one of the most well-known and popular personalities Britain has produced in years." He possesses "a level of courage and skill hard to comprehend." But surely Nige isn't the most popular person iBritish exports. A quick Shed poll, which involved askign all visitors what they thought, revealed the following Top Ten people.Stan LaurelCharlie ChaplinCary Grant (born Archibald Leach)Cliff RichardAlfred HitchcockLeo SayerThe BeatlesMichael CaineDavid BowieElizabeth Taylor(* Nobody so much as mentioned that Nigel Mansell chap!)
Meet Nigel Mansell!
Well, pretend to your friends that you've met Nigel Mansell. Cast your mind back a whole month to the Nigel Mansell preview. Remember that picture of Nigel? Well hold our breath cos it wasn't really Nigel Mansell. Spook! Y'see, we got the Total! bods to bosh up that pic (No! Thousands of flabbergasted YS readers) and you can do the very same. Simply take a photograph of you and any older male. Draw a moustache and eyebrows on to the older male. It's even more authentic if you can stick a crash helmet on too. The finished picture will be sure to fool all your friends.
Now this is a very smart screen that deserves a sensible caption.: Nigel Lawson used to
Lightning Linda was a lonestar girl. With just her Jane Austen books for company she travelled the highway singing Lee Hazlewood songs when the mood took her.
Question: Driving school, eh? I wonder if Nigel teaches that.? Answer: No he blimmin' doesn't.
Look! That's me in fourth place. I told you I was near the top in my ballet class. I think I deserve something for being so good at ballet. Mum, will you buy me a crash helmet? Oh, go on!
Lightning Linda shoved up behind the others, whistling nonchalantly.
Little did the two smarmy twits in front know that Lightning Linda was creeping up behind them with all the stealth and speed of a very stealthy and very speedy panther.