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Leisure Genius
Andy Green
1986
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
SpeedLock 2

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32
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

For many people, the mere mention of the word 'Scalextric' conjures up visions of many happy hours spent piecing together plastic track sections. Now with this computer version of the old sitting-room floor racing game those moments can be relived. There is a choice of 17 ready-made tracks included, or a completely new track may be designed and built using a series of short sections.

When building a circuit, there are 15 different track elements to choose from. To begin with, there are four 'straight ' components, each of a different length. Next come the 'chicanes, ' where the track narrows to a single car width. These come in several forms: curved chicanes, straight chicanes and chicane entrance and exits. There are also skid chicanes where the track quickly narrows then broadens again.

There are three different corner radii: 'inner' curves are tightest, followed by 'standard ' and 'outer'. There is also a banked curve which has the standard radius.

Having positioned the first section, you place your cursor on the next piece of track required -pressing 'fire' then lays this in place, and so on until a circuit is completed. If you are unhappy with the result, you can choose to replace sections of the track, or alternatively scrap the whole design. To finish a circuit design, the two ends of the track must be quite close. Then the 'finish' icon is selected, and the computer informs you whether or not the two ends of the track can be joined. If not, another combination may be tried.

There's more to Scalextric than building tracks, however - after the circuit has been chosen the real racing can get underway. Two people can compete, or you can take on the computer which drives the car that appears on the lower window - the screen is split horizontally, with each portion showing the rear view of one of the competing cars (when the two cars are close to one another they appear on both screens). The screen also shows the twists and turns in the track ahead. The car's controls are accelerate, brake, steer left and right - 9ear-changes are dispensed with.

If the car exceeds a safe speed in a corner it starts to skid outwards. The maximum safe speed depends on the tightness of the curve, but exceeding the car's handling limits causes a collision with the verge. Hitting the grass causes the car to slow right down to 50 mph before it can be steered back onto the track. If two cars collide, the one at the back explodes - however, barging from the side is harmless to both vehicles.

A small map at the bottom of the screen shows the track layout and the position of each car, and the lap time achieved by the two drivers is given after every circuit of the track.

CRITICISM

'I was expecting great things from this - after all, what could be better than a Scalextric set without a dodgy transformer? Unfortunately Scalextric has turned out to be a below-average racing game, with an uninteresting little bit at the beginning. The graphics are initially good, but they get boring when you've seen all the tracks. The sound is nothing more than you would expect from a game of this quality - that Is, a bog-standard engine noise. I'm very disappointed: surely LEISURE GENIUS could have come up with something a little more inspired.' BEN

'I saw an advert for this years ago, and I'm not sure that it's been worth the wait. Scalextric isn't one of the best racing simulations around, but it does contain some very nice features that set it apart from other games of its type. The icon system is very easy to use, although getting a good track together can take some time. The cars are very well drawn with some good perspective graphics, but they're not responsive enough for a competitive game. If you really want to buy Scalextric, don't be fooled by the pretty graphics - insist on playing it first.' PAUL

'Scalextric is alright, as far as racing games go but it's all been done before. The track editor is very slick and useful, but I just can't see that there's that much of a market left for a race game. The graphics are fine, with few problems apart from the usual colour clashes. If you're not yet the owner of one of the many thousands of race games, then Scalextric is worth considering. Neatly done, and professionally packaged, it has everything going for it - apart from an original idea.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: workmanlike
Graphics: good detail on cars
Sound: monotonous engine effect
Skill levels: one
Screens: two
General Rating: A great idea, but lacking in gameplay.

81%
70%
52%
52%
52%
57%

Screenshot Text

"Portugal looks nice Shane!" "Okay Cameron let's race there this time".

Waiting for the green light, Cameron and Shane share the pole position on the starting grid.