REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix
by DJL Software Ltd: David J. Looker, John Looker
Martech Games Ltd
1988
Crash Issue 50, March 1988   (1988-02-25)   page(s) 11

You may get the girls and pots of money, but danger and death stand grinning by your shoulder in the fast world of Formula One racing. And to keep them at arm's length practice must follow practice till the Williams car you drive is under perfect control.

A careful, dangerous balance must be struck between racing the car as fast as possible and yet not overstraining it - mechanical problems can lose you a race or your life.

For instance, steering the correct racing line through corners helps reduce your lap time - but if a mistake is made and you leave the black tarmac, vital time is lost and your car could even spin.

Combine late braking into bends and speedy acceleration away from them with the accurate steering that you need to overtake, block and corner, and you have all the makings of a champion driver (real-life formula One champion Nigel Mansell and the manufacturers of his Williams car worked on Martech's game).

But of course you're not the only one on the track. Other cars can be awkward obstacles if they too are taking the correct line, and you must protect your position by not letting them pass you. To help you, wing mirrors at both sides of the screen show the traffic to the rear.

One of the most important instruments on a racing car is the rev counter, which helps you keep the engine at optimum power - ideally you should stay between 9000 and 12000 revs. Try less than that, and insufficient speed is generated; go beyond the upper level, and the engine can be damaged, and much valuable fuel consumed.

To keep the engine revs within the power band you must change gear at just the right moment - and the Williams can go through six finely-graded gears.

Below the main screen is a console, giving you vital facts about your car and its state of health. A turbo-boost indicator shows the additional boost applied to the engine - by engaging boost tremendous extra power can be called up for daring overtaking manoeuvres and to gain vital time on your opponents.

Fuel levels, oil temperature and pressure, and water and turbo temperature are also monitored and must remain within safe parameters.

Another onboard display keeps track of your racing performance, giving your current speed, your lap time, your average speed for the lap and your best lap time, the fuel level, the current rate of fuel consumption and the mileage left at that rate.

If the worst happens and your car breaks down, or crashes, a message window displays the reason for the failure - or simply informs you that your car is too badly damaged to continue.

Each Grand Prix race is preceded by a practice session: one warm-up lap and three qualifying laps. The faster your qualifying-laptime, the better the position you have on the starting grid. But if you fail to complete the qualifying laps in time, more practice is necessary before you can join Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna on the grid.

After qualifying you go through a stomach-churning wait while the last few seconds tick away, surrounded by noise and the smell of burning rubber - and then the green light shines and you're away with tons of hurtling machinery.

Use the instruments well and make pit stops for fresh tyres; the new rubber can stop you slipping or even going off the track. Tyres are changed automatically when you enter the pit stop, and you can make as many stops as you like - but think carefully, balancing the benefits against the lost time.

Each Grand Prix season has 16 races on different tracks (a half-finished season can be saved to tape or disk), And you can drive each race for five, ten or 20 laps or a full-length Grand Prix distance - the choice is made at the beginning of the game and then fixed.

Points are awarded for finishing in one of the first six positions, and accumulate over the season to determine the champion of this hard, fast sport.

COMMENTS
Joysticks: none
Graphics: all the cars and the scenery are the same colour, so it's soon a race against eyestrain - and the stripy grass doesn't help
Sound: not tunes, excellent 128K revving and running noises, simple 48K effects
Options: practice or race for real; 16 different tracks; choose number of laps on each


'Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix has the decency to use the whole width of the screen for the track, the loss of simulated hills is no real loss, wing mirrors are a useful innovation, and the scrolling is kind of smooth. But it's the sound that really draws your attentions to this game - and to the 128K version especially.'
BYM ... 79%

'This is undoubtedly the best race simulator (as opposed to Enduro Race-style game) on the market today, so it's highly recommended to those who want a simulation. But though it's satisfactorily playable, nonspecialists might find the demands of accuracy and concentration wear thin and that there's little long-term addictiveness in Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix.'
MIKE ... 73%

'I was heartily disappointed by Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix. Supposedly it was ten months in development - but I can't say it shows! Graphics aside - the best place for them - the game shows some promise, but basically it's a very cheap clone of Firebird's Commodore 64 hit Revs. Cornering, the most important part of any race game, feels very realistic but the graphical representation of it is very poor and ruins the atmosphere. And though the race starts very competitively with cars swarming around, once they've disappeared into the distance (which often happens) the addictiveness goes right out of the exhaust pipe. Oh well, back to Full Throttle, I suppose.'
PAUL ... 63%

Presentation76%
Graphics72%
Playability70%
Addictiveness76%
Overall72%
Summary: General Rating: Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix isn't fast and furious enough to be a great race game, but with perseverance it becomes a mildly addictive simulation.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 28, April 1988   page(s) 49

Neee-yoowwww, "Yes, and you're joining us here at, er Monza in Italy."

"Er we're at Hockenheim, and that's your actual Germany, Murray".

"Oh yes, Hockenheim in Germany for the launch of Nigel Mansell's Grand Pricks"

"Er, Prix, Murray"

"Yes, well anyway, here we are, and here it is - Nigel's very own racing game which is closer to the real thing than, er, the real thing, which is more than can be said for Alain Prost's driving. What would you say James?"

"Well, of course everything's here Murray. There a rather nice selection of 16 Grand Prix tracks to crash on and the controls have been designed to simulate the actual feel of really being there."

"So, er, James, what the idea of the game then?"

"To win the Grand Prix."

"So that it, eh, er..."

"Well, it is a little more involved than just that, Murray. For beginners there's a practice section to try before taking position on the starting grid. Your fastest practice circuit determines where you will be placed and if you get a slower speed than the allocated qualifying time, then you won't get on the grid at all. When you load up the game, you'll have already been asked how many laps you wish to race in each event. This is the only feature which is, as you know Murray, unlike the real event"

"Is that true, James?"

"Er, yes Murray. But it a necessary feature since a typical Grand Prix event involves 60 or more laps, each lap taking at least a minute to complete. Well the poor player would be there for days."

Neee-yoooww. "And, who was that, James?"

"A car going up the Autobahn behind us, Murray. Anyway, getting back to this game. If you've managed to qualify you'll take your place on the starting grid, and, just like the real thing, the 30 second hooter will go and the starting lights will appear on the screen. RED... wait for it, wait for it... GREEN - and you're off! Things will get a bit mundane for the next 60 laps or so, with only the pit stops to break the monotony. But this, of course, is what racing's all about."

"So what are your personal feelings on this one then, er, James?"

"Well, Murray, it's a bit involved for people who know nothing about Grand Prix racing, so you'd get nowhere. Out Run fans shouldn't believe that this is the same kind of game - a progression maybe, but only if they want to get into how the car operates as well as steers:."

"Er, terrific. And now over to Ian McGasgill for the whether or not report..."


Graphics7/10
Playability5/10
Value For Money7/10
Addictiveness5/10
Overall6/10
Summary: A very clever simulation, but it ain't a game. Let down only by the fact it takes ages to get anywhere...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 50, February 1990   page(s) 48

Apart from its vaguely snigger-worthy name, this one has nothing to make it
stand out from the crowd in my opinion.

The game attempts to go a bit further than is usual for this kind of thing - more than two gears for a start. There are different tracks to choose from and lots of dials and knobs to keep an eye on, and the car does behave pretty realistically.

Unfortunately all this detail seems to be at the expense of things like the graphics. The action takes place in the top half of the screen, with slightly suspect-looking vehicles hammering round the track, yours being visible at the bottom of the window. The overall effect looks a bit unpolished. Nigel did too little for me. Okay for a cheapie. but will you remember it in the morning?


Overall63%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 72, March 1988   page(s) 83

Rather than "capturing the speed, excitement and andrenalin-pumping danger of the world's greatest sports spectacle" as the box blurb would have you believe, Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix tries too hard to be authentic, and ends up being a bit pedestrian - more a case of "Nigel Mansell Drives Down to the Newagents for a Packet of Fags (on Sunday)".

Like many other racing simulations, your car appears centre screen and the track swerves left and right. The backgrounds of hills and clouds are fairly naff, but more annoying is the yellow-and-black striped sidestrip which is guaranteed to give you a headache as it flashes by. The graphic of the car itself though, is excellent, nicely detailed and smoothly animated.

Joystick or keyboard controls allow you to accelerate, brake, steer and change gear. In the centre of the instrument display is your rev counter, which tells you when to change gear. Ignore it, and you'll burn out your gearbox and spin off the track.

Before racing you have to complete a qualifying lap to determine your position on the grid. As you zoom along an empty track, slowing into the curves and accelerating out, your performance statistics appear in the display at the bottom of the screen. This shows your speed, lap time, average speed, best lap time, distance to finish, fuel consumption and so on; all factors you'll have to bear in mind in the real race.

The main instrument display shows your oil temperature, pressure and turbo temperature. The turbo-boost is a pressure pump which increases your revs and acceleration; the problem is that it also increases your fuel consumption. While all these instruments might sound deadly dull, the fact is that you have to pay just as much attention to them as you do to the track. If you overheat, or otherwise push your car too far, it will lead to failures which put you out of the race. The skill of the game, then, is in getting the best from your racer without bashing it to bits.

While the practice lap sections are pretty uninteresting, once you get going the excitement mounts. Swerving around curves, bouncing off other cars and keeping an eye on several instruments at once proves pretty challenging. If your performance deteriorates for mechanical reasons, you can pull into the pits, where an automatic sequence changes your tyres and oil, wipes your windshield and probably gives you a free tumbler with every six gallons.

To help you out, scrolling messages from the pits inform you of your position, and the driver of the next car in front of you. There are sixteen courses to complete, each detailed on the accompanying leaflet. On the 48K version, the courses are loaded separately, on the 128K, all at once. The 128K version also features nice engine-revving and collision sound effects which make it much more enjoyable.

There's nothing wildly original about Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix, except little touches like the wing mirrors giving you a view of the opposition sneaking up behind you. A five-lap race (you have options for five, ten, twenty or even sixty lap races, each of around a minute per lap) just about holds your attention, but I don't think I'd have the patience to play through all sixteen tracks. The trouble with the game is that it's pretty cool technically, but for me doesn't capture that elusive feel of power and excitement which really makes a racing game stand out from the pack. Not exactly "back to the pits", then, but no real reason to crack open the champagne.

Label: Martech
Author: Looker Brothers
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins


Overall7/10
Summary: Technically superb but not especially exciting racing simulation.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 7, April 1988   page(s) 50

Turbo boost the Martech way.

Following poor ol' Nigels very near miss last year in the World Championship, everybody will be rooting doubly for him again this year. Martech especially so, because a successful season for Nigel could filter back to Martech's bank balance.

So does the game get into top gear? And does it have the fuel to keep in the running? Quite simply, yes. With 16 circuits modelled on the real tracks and with anything between 43 and 82 laps per race, a season's going to take a long while to complete. Thank heavens for save game options. If the screen display looks unrealistic to you, then that's because all the information that is nowadays available to the driver (through computer and radio links) is displayed on this panel. So now when messages flash informing you that every car except yours has pulled into the pits for a tyre change, you can reconsider your strategy.

Gameplay is satisfyingly tough, and incorrect use of gears can have you wasting valuable power and fuel, so it's as well to practise with the car for a while before you start on some serious competing.

Despite some rather dubious collision detection (usually to your advantage for a change) during the races, the game will certainly provide you with a challenge, but not one that is impossible to meet. A game for racing fans who look for a long-term overall challenge.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

RELEASE BOX
Spec, £9.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs, £12.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 75/100
1 hour: 65/100
1 day: 75/100
1 week: 80/100
1 month: 50/100
1 year: 30/100


Graphics7/10
Audio8/10
IQ Factor6/10
Fun Factor7/10
Ace Rating795/1000
Summary: There's as big a racing job in here as you'll find anywhere.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 77, March 1988   page(s) 51

MACHINES: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Martech
PRICE: £9.99
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum

Well poor old Nigel Mansell didn't make it as the Formula One World champion last season. But Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix is certainly a winner.

It's a game you've certainly got to work at to get the most from it. The programmers have done their utmost to make this game as accurate as possible. Try and remember that you're in the cockpit of a Canon Williams Honda Formula One mean machine and these babies need careful handling. Get them too hot and bothered and then they breakdown on you. Treat them right and you're in a dream machine.

I made this mistake at first, ignoring the controls and just driving. You soon learn to pay a little more attention to the cockpit controls.

The cockpit display is rather overwhelming. There's a lot to monitor. I found it a little confusing at first. While studying the controls, I sometimes forgot to steer. Bang! Keep your eyes on the track.

So here's a rundown of the cockpit controls:

Rev Counter - This shows the speed of the engine but not how fast the car is moving on the track. If the revs are too low the engine labours and power could be lost, too high and there is a danger of the engine overheating.

Fuel - This is a pretty obvious gauge.

Oil Temperature - If the oil temperature in the sump gets too much then there could be mechanical problems.

Water Temperature - Water keeps the engine cool. If it overheats there again could be mechanical problems.

Turbo Temperature - The turbo charger boosts the pressure of the air/fuel mixture which is forced into the inlet manifold of the engine. The effect of this, put simply, is to increase the car's engine power.

Turbo Boost - This shows the pressure of the fuel/air mixture entering the engine. Although it's very useful to suddenly be able to boost the power of your engine, there is a drawback which you must consider carefully. Using the turbo boost - of which there are four settings ranging from minimum to maximum - it is very heavy on fuel consumption. It has to be used very carefully and with a great deal of thought. It's no good zooming into the lead only to run out of fuel before the finishing line.

Gears - The car has six forward gears.

The onboard computer displays additional information transmitted to your car from the pits. It consists of speed in MPH, lap time, average speed, your best speed, fuel reserve (your car carries 195 litres which should be enough to complete a race of 190 miles), fuel consumption, range on fuel (the distance you could go on fuel reserve), distance to race finish and a radio link with the pits.

There are 16 race tracks for you to select from or you take them one by one to try and become world champ. Apparently, the circuits are accurate. So you can rev up around the world from Brazil to Japan and Monaco to Detroit.

I'm no Nigel Mansell when it comes to racing but this sim gives you a taste of life in the fast lane.

Experience it.


Graphics8/10
Sound6/10
Value8/10
Playability9/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 4, March 1988   page(s) 42

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99

THE ETERNAL RUNNER UP

Nigel Mansell has not only endorsed Martech's latest release, but he also acted as technical consultant along with engineer Peter Windsor, and Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd, constructors of the subject of the game - the Williams Formula One motor car. The program was written by DJL Software, which consists of Dave and John Looker.

The game's objective is to win the World Grand Prix by successfully competing in races across 16 different tracks, from Brazil to Australia.

Although Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix attempts to simulate 'the real thing', it provides an option allowing the player to choose between 5, 10 or 15 laps in a race, whereas a normal Grand Prix race can last over 60 laps.

Before the race begins there's a practice session consisting of three laps, followed by a warm-up lap. The practice laps are important as they determine the starting position of the player's car in the race.

The screen is split horizontally between the action on the track and the comprehensive instrument panel displayed on the lower half of the screen. This 'dashboard' has all the indicators relevant to racing, one of the most important being the rev counter, which displays the speed of the engine, up to 12,000 revs per minute. The needle on the revs counter should ideally be within the Power Band (between 9,000 and 12,000 rpm). If the needle goes much lower, speed is lost; if it becomes too high, speed is increased but fuel consumption is greater.

Also displayed are the fuel, oil temperature and pressure, and water temperature gauges. The gear shift denotes the current gear and wing mirrors give a near-accurate view of the action behind the car.

THE PITS

The Williams is fitted with a Turbo boost which provides the engine with extra power - in this case up to four times the normal pressure on the air/fuel mixture. Probably the most useful element of the panel is the On-board Computer, represented as a window in the lower half of the panel. This displays speed, lap time, fuel consumption, distance to the finishing line and so on. Messages from the pits are also displayed via the radio link at the bottom of the screen.

A pit-stop can be made at any time during a race by driving off the main track and onto the access road, providing an automatic change of tyres. It's essential to have at least one pit-stop during a race as the tyres wear down quickly, making control of the car increasingly difficult.

Racing itself has been well implemented, and the feeling of control is quite effective: the player has to constantly monitor speed, revs and the running of the engine, as well as compete against the opposing cars, which aren't ridiculously hard to beat as with many racing games. However, the fact that a practice session of three laps must be endured before competing makes the whole process somewhat laborious. Unfortunately the illusion of high speed doesn't really come off adding little excitement to the gameplay.


Overall73%
Summary: Nigel Mansell's Grand Prix includes both 128k and 48k versions on the same tape, allowing all the courses to be loaded in one go with the former, while the latter is a multiload. Apart from this, there's little apparent difference between the two in gameplay. Although the action part of the screen is displayed in monochrome, it causes few problems - the track and cars are all clearly visible. Sound on both versions is little more than the wailing of the engine as the speed shifts. Falling somewhere between a fast driving game and a simulator, Nigel Mansel's Grand Prix is quite competent, although it lacks initial playability and hard-core addiction - it could have been much better.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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