These Supersprint-style overhead-view racing things seem to be jumping back in vogue at the moment - which is okay by me as they're usually quite fun (if undemanding) little things. And, I'm happy to say for Gremlin, Supercars is more fun (and possibly even a tad more demanding) than most. It's good to see their run of good, solid products continue - they've not had a bad game (with the possible exception of Impossamole) for ages now.
So anyway, Supercars. Unlike your standard model Supersprint clone, where each course is the size of the screen and the cars that tootle round them are really quite tiddly, Supercars scrolls. And very smoothly it scrolls too, as the camera follow your really rather decently-sized and detailed Taraco Neoroder (or Retron Parsec or Vaug interceptor - who comes up with these names?) around the track.
Each circuit (and there are nine to choose from, of various degrees of difficulty) is made up of a combination of straights, corners, bridges and tunnels - the tunnels are particularly disorientating, as you can't see your car until it comes out the other side. The circuits are pretty too - they seem to be made out of grey concrete and sort of semi-sunk below ground level, so you get shadows cast onto the track by the side walls, bridges, bollards and anything else you could reasonably expect to cast a shadow. Really, apart from the lack of detailing and the flat colours, this is every bit as attractive as the 16-bit versions.
The aim of Supercars is to earn as much money as possible by winning (or at least getting a decent placing) in a series of nine races. Complete a season (which means you have to come in the top three of every race) and you get a level code for the next series of races, where you'll be able to spend the money you've earned on upgrades for your car (or even on a new model altogether). Be careful though - as the levels get more difficult you'll find you've got more opponents to cope with, and there are more hazards (like oil, water or mud) on the track.
Keep an eye on the four gauges at the bottom of the screen too - if you ruin your tyres (by skidding), your body (by hitting things) or your engine (by staying at maximum speed) - or indeed if you merely run out of fuel - the game will end. (it'd be best to take a trip to the garage before any of them get too low, wouldn't you say?)
Ah, yes. The garage. Not only can you repair your car here, you can buy loads of rather spiffing optional extras too - how about power steering (for tighter and faster cornering), a turbo charger (for acceleration) or a high-speed kit (especially useful on the long straights)? You can also get better brakes, spin assist (which will point your car in the right direction if you spin out on oil), side armour (so you can ram other cars) and front and rear missiles (!) for blowing other cars away (though you can only use these once per race).
And that's it really - all these extras are really just the icing on the cake of what is really a very simple (but very well put-together) little game. The super-smooth scrolling really does deserve a lot of praise (well done, you good piece of scrolling you) as do the graphics and (particularly) just the feel of the thing. The cars might not behave exactly as real cars would (you can bounce them of walls like dodgem cars, for instance, though it's not really advisable) but they respond well to your commands, are nicely animated, and the computer keeps a good track of where they all are and what they're doing at any one time. It's nice that you can watch the tail enders drive under a bridge even as you're zooming over the top of it.
All in all, great fun - a simple idea for a game and executed more or less flawlessly. Ens, what else can I say? Well done.
Fairly simple but perfectly executed Super Sprint clone - which scrolls! Excellent fun!
The entrance to the shop scene, where you get to pick your track, make mods to your car and check out the new motors on display.
Part one of the more complicated tracks - here we've got two tunnels, a bridge over the top, and a tight bunch of cars.
Engine and gas look okay, but keep an eye on the body (we're hitting a lot of walls!).
The lights above show the race is about to begin (odd starting grid - you're the one at the back) but just check out those shadows - neat, eh?