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Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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Andy Wilton
Chris Bourne

Get a grip on Electric Dreams.

Tired of always hitting top speed and still not going fast enough? So were Sega apparently, because they fitted the Hang-On bike with a turbocharger for just such moments. The result was the rip-roaring coin-op that ED'S new transworld road-racer is based on.

Starting in Africa you aim to race around the globe, taking in Asia, America and finally Europe in a desperate bid to beat the clock. Bonus time at the end of each section - there are 48 of these in all - helps keep you going, but the odds are stacked against you.

As with C64 Out Run, this is not one game but several. Each of the four continents loads separately, and even on Amstrad disk you'll have to switch the machine off to move on to the next one. In theory the continents are graded in order with Africa the easiest and Europe the hardest, but in practice this is only hallway the case.

You start each continent with 50 seconds on the clock and get another 30 seconds bonus at the end of each section. You'll rarely make a 'profit' on a section by completing it in 'under 30 seconds, so your time will tend to get worn down as you progress across a continent. Thus, in a sense, the 18-section European route is much harder to complete than Africa (6 sections) or Asia (10). The opening sections of the African run are at least as hard as anything in Europe or America however, and the first leg on the Asian route is nothing short of diabolical. The moral is unclear, but don't feel obliged to follow the 'obvious' order.

As well as the usual steering, throttle and brake you have a key (fire button for joystick diehards) which engages that all important turbo - provided you're going fast enough, that is. You can press for all you're worth, but the turbo won't kick in until you're up to 280kph. When it finally does fire up however, things really start getting interesting. The extra 40-50kph the turbo gives you is essential if you're to stay on schedule, but it makes it substantially harder staying on the road and dodging other riders.

Keeping your tyres on the tarmac is pretty important - hitting roadside obstacles costs you precious seconds - but dodging other riders is absolutely vital. Collisions can cut your speed in half, and that'll lose you a good deal more than that turbo assist. Unlike Out Run, you see, the opposition come from behind as well as appearing in the distance. Once you fall below the average speed of the pack you're liable to be rammed by bikers trying to overtake you.

It's a vicious circle: lose speed and you may never get back again, being rammed faster than you can steer or accelerate. Ramming can just keep cutting you back to a crawl, but it can also block you from getting the line you need round a curve or run you off the road entirely. If you suffer from blood pressure problems, the colossal frustration involved here will do you no good at all. It's not just the crass unfairness of it all - no matter who rams who, you're the only one who loses speed - but the extreme difficulty of avoiding collision as well. Without a rear view mirror, you've just got to guess where riders will appear from. Get it wrong once and it could put you out of the race. Addictive stuff to be sure, but you'll be using the abort facility - and a few well-chosen expletives - more than a game ought to require.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spec, £9.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Atari ST, To be announced, Spring 88

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 85/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 80/100
1 week: 65/100
1 month: 30/100
1 year: 10/100

Better graphics on the Spectrum give it the edge on day one, but both versions suffer from excess difficulty in the long term.


Banner Text


Great impression of speed, well-animated riders and good colour with remarkably little clash. Sound effects are on the weak side, but overall it's solid stuff on the presentation front.


Astonishingly the game actually lost colour on its way over from the Spectrum, leaving the screen drab and largely monochrome. The sound too has travelled badly. A poor conversion indeed that does nobody any credit.

Graphics: 5/10

Audio: 1/10

IQ Factor: 2/10

Fun Factor: 8/10

Ace Rating: 672/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100

1 hour: 70/100

1 day: 70/100

1 week: 60/100

1 month: 30/100

1 year: 10/100

Screenshot Text

Amstrad: A drab-looking Asia, with some nasty curves to handle early on.

Spectrum: Blazing across America, you'll have to weave through the pack. The course indicator (top left) shows your progress along the course, with the line-breaks marking check-points.