We've had racing car games. We've had motorcycle racing games. We've had games about sandy buggy racing. Come to think of it, since the dawn of the computer game we've had racing games starring just about every animate object and some not so animate objects too. The staggering thing is that most of the games I've seen in the last couple of years have basically been the same game with one or two extra bits swopped around between them for a bit of light relief.
Anyway just when you thought it was safe to go back onto the race track, in roars Elite Systems with Supertrux, which, I'm sad to say, is yet another combination of the fab bits from past racing games with two original features, trucks and silent-o-vision (a new and exciting way to enjoy Computer Entertainment Software!)
The scenario fills you in about the coveted Supertrux Trophy - the award for winning a trucks only, city to city, long distance race around Europe. The race takes the adventurous Truckers through nine European cities - some feat considering the reputation of drivers from across the channel.
The race starts off, as many other racing games do, at a set of lights with your truck at pole position. Once the race gets underway warnings of sharp bends, roadworks, hills and the like are displayed in a status area located at the top left of the screen. Be warned, though, taking your eyes off the road to have a quick look at the status bar isn't advised. Hazards, mainly in the form of other trucks, roadworks or both, are quick to appear and difficult to avoid - you ask any driving instructor!
Your 30 tonnes of turbocharged racing truck is controlled in a fairly standard way. Four keys/joystick positions represent left, right, accelerate and decelerate to stop. Driving it, however, is slightly less clear cut - throughout play I had a strange feeling that I was sitting in the backseat desperately prodding keys and having very little control of what was actually happening on screen - rather like driving on ice. Despite this I managed to get quite far into the game but I'll put this down to luck rather than skill.
The race is, as usual, against the clock. You get about a minute and a half to complete each section, cover enough road in time and the highly unexpected and original message "Extended Play" flashes up - crash once too often and you've had it.
A little strategy is involved every few thousand miles or so because the road forks, OutRun style. You can choose either fork but some roads are longer or have more hazards to deal with than others, so it'll take quite a while to find the best route to take.
Supertrux isn't graphically bad, most things are undetailed though, giving the impression that everything was worked out in crayon before actually going into the computer. The way the road moves is very nice though, for instance when you take a hard right corner, the left hand side of the road slides off screen a little giving a very real impression of movement.
The road also moves up and down when you are going over a hill, this backfires badly though, because when you reach the top, most of the road in front of you is covered up by the large sprite of your own truck. The only things clear are the other trucks, usually driving around twenty feet up in the air because the computer can't handle many of them at once! Some scenes, especially the ones with overhead signs suffer from the Spectrum's slowness too - a better idea would have been to leave them out so saving the game from tedious stretches of small racing.
I think the whole game suffered badly from the lack of sound effects, aggravating as it may be, the endless drone of a meaty engine and a few tyre screeches would have done miracles to Supertrux's playability and addictive qualities.
Overall I'd stay away from this unless you're of the freak brigade who really get off on naff racing games. Its no improvement on Activision's two year old Enduro Racer and this hasn't even got ramps to jump over.
Ten out of ten in the realism stakes - trucks are unwieldy and boring to drive, so's the game!
Frenetic action as the hardened truck drivers stop for a quick pee behind a well known petrol station!!!
Approaching a fork in Elite's Supertrux - do you go right, towards Paris or left to Brussels (look more like cauliflowers to me narworimean!!)
Yet another checkpoint under our hero's belt, is there no stopping the man?