The new offering from Silverbird this month is a simplistic race game, International Speedway (24%). you have to test your streetwise racing skills in the world of league racing. All it involves is racing around track after track of simplistic graphics, the most exciting part is when you crash into another racer - not my idea of fun. If I had £1.99 knocking about this would be one of the last games I would buy, definitely not recommended.
When I was a wee nipper, ooh, fewer years ago than I care to remember, I used to go to the Eastville Speedway circuit in Bristol every Wednesday night to watch the racing.
i often came away disappointed because the Speedway was only on Friday nights. But just seeing the track was enough - I became a fan for life.
And now the thrill of the dirt, the smell of the crowd and the noise of the hot-dogs has been recreated by the Codies in this budgets. Tremblingly, I loaded it up.
When you start to play, you've got to type in your name. Fair enough, but you must also type in your nationality. Er, okay. You must also type in your continent. Oh, good grief! Once you've done that, though, it's time to a race. This is where things get even more exciting than they were before. That is as long as you thought they were exciting before.
You race three other guys, and you view a 3D display of the track in the top half of the screen. The bottom half is taken up with a picture of your purple helmet and a top-view of the oblong-ish circuit.
On this map there are four large blobs. These are the racers, so it's easy to see where everybody else is if you can't actually view them in the 3D action-packed screen above.
Racing around the circuit is pretty simple in theory. You just twist open the throttle and hope for the best. When a corner comes up, you ease off on the speed a bit and swing the bike's botty out as fast as you can. It's all done using only two keys, or directions on the joystick, if you will.
The idea is to keep on the racing line all the way round. Not only does this keep your speed up, it also stops the other dudes whizzing past (but they'll have a go anyway). One of the other guys is as fast as you, the other two are a bit slower. So if you do everything right, you should be able to beat them all. But this is where the problems start.
I don't know about the copies on the streets, but ours in the Shed had a bit of a dodgy control system. It accelerated, seemed to slow down, went left a bit then decided to go straight for a while, took out a mortgage and set up a cosy cottage near Newmarket with its wife and children. Strange, eh?
This apart, international Speedway is rather quick, smooth and playable. It's repetitive though, with just the one circuit to whizz round. I suppose that this shouldn't be too much of a surprise cos the real thing is exactly the same. If you're a great fan, which I've just decided I'm not, you might want to get hold of this. Before you do, here's a quick warning - it's just a bit boring.
How many variations on the race game are there? Not many, if this rather desperate entry in the stakes is anything to go by. Although, to give programmers Probe credit, they have at least given us two clapped out old genres for the price of one.
International Speedway is, naturally, a race game set on a speedway track, in which you compete against four other riders, all of whom, on the face of it, are much better than you. So, you ask, is this one of those games where you see the track from road level, behind your rider, or is it one seen from above, a la Grand Prix Simulator? In fact, it's both - the screen is conveniently split in two - but as the track is so boring to look at from both angles and there's nothing else new about this game at all, you begin to wonder after about 0.00001 seconds, why you bothered to load it up. Snoresville.
What possible good can Probe do themselves by releasing a game of such shockingly low quality?
International Speedway captures the thrills and spills of a speed-meet as effectively as a Chinese take-away embodies eastern communist philosophy. I.S. Is full of the really rather unacceptable things that people used to get away with (just) four years ago by putting them down to the "limitations of the machine". Pooh. This is downright shoddy.
The track is presented as a 3D perspective affair stretching off into the distance. Now, speedway aficionados will probably know what the special speedway track is shaped like. It's a squashed circle. And it never changes. The result is that while other 3D race games could maybe excuse themselves some graphic ineptitude by having a very interesting course to negotiate, I.S. can't afford itself such luxuries.
The graphics are very, very bad. How can I explain. They're really bad. Still, many a great game has lurked behind very poor graphics, although I can't quite call any to mind right now, so on with the race.
Having selected what you want to be called and what nationality you want to be, you are allocated a race position (the inside lane to begin, moving further out the better you do in the heats) and presented with the stop-go indicators so loved by the speedway fraternity. With a wail of engines revving (well, a whistle) the three lights go green (ready) green (steady) and green (GOOOOO!) and yerroff. Well, all the others seem to be off while you're left standing at the start. Here's a point that annoys me about these games, it seems impossible to keep up with the computer controlled bikes to begin with. They scream away and you can't catch them 'til the first bend.
Even the barging that goes on in the real thing isn't very well implemented. No matter how you attempt to knock off another player (kyak) or how unfairly they surprise you from behind (kyup) you always seem to come a cropper. Damned unfair.
So, what do we think of International Speedway? It's a lot of old tosh and you'd have to be mad to spend even 20p on it.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
I've always thought of myself as a bit of a James Caan Rollerball freak. I mean, I've got the looks, I've got the body and I've certainly got the ability. The problem is... I don't have have a supercharged motorbike with spikey wheels!
International Speedway has changed all that. Now I'm there with the boys, revving up my engine and generally creating trouble on the race track. The basic idea behind International Speedway is to get to the top of your local, national and continental speedway championships, beating all before you. It's actually very easy to progress to the top of the local and national tables, international is something else though.
This is of course the theory. Unfortunately singularly uninspiring graphics and sound and repetitive gameplay means that you'll hardly want to progress to later levels. It's not that the game is too easy or too hard (there are three difficulty levels), but all the circuits are basically the same. The only things which actually change are the colour of the track, the position of your rider and the standard of the opposition.
Control involves leaning left or right and making forward progress using normal throttle or a once off booster. This booster is useful for quick starts, or if you reckon you're a bit of a skill rider, for boosting past the opposition coming out of the first corner.
International Speedway is enjoyable enough for the first hour or so and it actually gets quite competitive after a while, but unless you're a speedway freak you'll tire very quickly of it. Well, to be honest, even if you are one it won't last very long.
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Big Al Dykes
Spec, Amstrad, C64: £1.99
Probe Software returns to the budget scene yet again, with this unusual speedway simulation. Starting off in the local league, the aim is to progress through the national and continental leagues and, ultimately, reach the World Championship in order to make off with the trophy.
Each race is viewed from behind the player's biker, and the oval course moves in perspective according to his position. Acceleration is achieved by pressing the fire button and one turbo-boost is available per race, to get out of trouble or simply try and catch up.
International Speedway makes a good attempt at something different, and succeeds to a large extent. But the main problem is that it's only a one player game; competition against computer opponents tends to become jaded after a few races. The inclusion of a few more options - maybe even an engine tuning/bike design section - would have bolstered the lasting interest.
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