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Elite Systems Ltd
1988
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

62
Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

If bouncing up and down at a cool 150 mph with boulders, trees and hedges whistling towards you at neck-breaking speed sounds like your idea of a good day out, then go away! We don't want your sort around here!

Picture if you will, a sort of Enduro Racer clone, but instead of sitting on a bike you're squatting precariously in a four-wheeled buggy, with very little in the way of mod-cons, (Judging by the size of its tyres, your Ronco battery-powered pump could do with a bit of adjusting). Ahead of you is a terrifying off-road course strewn thoughtlessly with unthinkable hazards. To make things worse the clock is ticking down and you've got to make it to the end of the course before the time runs out.

Okay, so there's nothing new there. Buggy Boy does little to further the cause of original thinking , but it takes some beating in the playability department. And there are a few surprises lurking among the obstacles too.

Rocks, trees and lamp-posts, a few tunnels and bridges all appear to test your skill. The road is also lined with millions of flags which, if collected in a certain order, will give you billions of points. There are also trillions of bonus gates, and a few time gates too which will add to the time you're allotted for the next stage of the course.

Huh? Stage? Course? Yup. The game is split into five courses, (which multi-load on the 48K of course - borrrinnggg!), the first of which is a sort of practice one, which gives you a taste of things to come. as for the rest of 'em, well the nomenclature (look it up - it's a good 'un!), leaves a lot to be desired as they're called north, south, east and west. They're all split into a number of stages too, each with its own time limit.

The tracks more or less get harder moving down the list, although none of them are going to overwhelm you. (Even I managed to finish a couple of them!) The driving technique tends to be a case of shutting your peepers and hoping for the best most of the time. Everything rushes towards you at a nerve-wracking speed, and you'd be advised to try and aim for the logs, which cause you to Jump into the air and, hopefully. over a few boulders and fences at the same time.

Probably the main let-down point is the graphics. Rather than store loads of frames for each object as they come hurtling towards you. Elite has chosen to magnify the sprites to make them get bigger, leading to a definite chunky look. Sneaky, but messy. Colour is also a bit, well, sparse. Fortunately these things tend to go unnoticed in the heat of the moment.

This leaves you only to query the total lack of any detectable sound whatsoever on the version for weedy standard Speccies. For 128K owners though, you get some good tunes and a fairly reasonable flatulating engine noise, but I can't help but shed a tear for the rest of you.

But who cares, eh? Buggy Boy is fun, and that's the main thing after all. Although a large amount of luck is involved in negotiating the courses, the collision detection is pretty gullible, so you don't wrap yourself around as many rocks as you might imagine. It's a case of trying to manipulate it in your favour, really.

Although it could easily be scoffed at as just another racing game, Buggy Boy more or less manages to hold its own (Oo-er), against the rest of them. There's not much variation between tracks, and it's a bit scruffy in appearance, but what it lacks in refinement it makes up for with speed and action-packed-ness. Potential "Super Champs" contestants may well be impressed.

Fast, rough but nothing startlingly new. Don't play it after a heavy meal!

6/10
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7/10

Screenshot Text

Yuroops! Diced carrots all over the road again! Actually, hitting a small stone and tipping onto your side can be quite useful for squeezing through tight gaps. Note the mini-map showing how far I've got (ie not very).

Worugh! Up into the air it goes, and that's just the rest of my lunch! At least I miss out on a few obstacles this way, and with any luck I'll return to earth just in time to grab the bonus that's rapidly approaching.