Tour de Force? Hardly. If anything, Gremlin's pedal-to-the-metal bike racing game is a disappointment compared to Activision's oldie Tour de France (which presumably is to blame for the newer game's odd title). Tour de Force (it means "masterpiece") is a horizontally-scrolling comedy bicycle racing game, so it's unique in that respect.
Unfortunately I found it much too slow, jerky and cluttered to recapture much of the atmosphere of the mad dash over the Alps (or wherever it is) with the yellow-jerseyed leader pumping the old pedals like mad to stay ahead of the one who drinks lots of milk.
The top half of the screen shows the race track. Each level is set in a different country; the first is in Japan, so the course is cluttered with obstacles such as Sumo wrestlers, hay bales and barriers, objects such as bowls of rice and coke bottles, and, of course, lots of other bikes.
You control your bike simply by selecting the appropriate direction with the joystick; the fire button makes you jump a small distance into the air. This doesn't seem to do you much good, on its own except if you hit a ramp, so that you fly over the heads of your opponents.
To the right of the screen is your heat gauge. If you stay out in front for too long (which is obviously the best way to avoid collisions) you will overheat and lose a life. Picking up coke bottles brings down your temperature.
In the middle of the screen is a map of the course, and a sixty-second timer which you must beat to complete each stage. Also shown are your position, score, and a leering face which presumably indicates your state of health. After falling off three times, hitting a crash barrier and piling into a Sumo, you don't look too happy.
If you win a level, which is pretty difficult considering how easy it is to lose track of which cycle you're controlling, your little cyclist throws up his arms with joy as he passes the line, and you get to load the next level from the tape. Oddly enough, France looks very much like Japan.
What lets the game down is the jerky scrolling; the fact that all the cyclists are identical, so you get confused easily; and the annoying way in which your opponents ride happily through barriers, but if you try it, you end up splattered over the concrete. Even this isn't particularly well done; a shot pause, a cloud of dust and the caption CRASH. No hum. Pull the other one. Gremlin - it's got bells on.
Label: Gremlin Graphics
Author: Tim Miller
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Neither Mean Streak nor Tour de France, this awkward race game fails to take the chequered flag.