I've just got a car from my brother. She's a beautiful twenty-one-year old orange Beetle called Gigi, so I can sing songs from the film to her. The only thing is, I can't actually drive yet so I thought that Nigel Mansell's World Championship would give me a push in the right direction before the driving lessons proper start. I sat down ready to take the wheel and find out how its really done, oblivious to Andy O's observation that "real driving's a bit more difficult than sitting down in front of a computer." Pah! if I want to learn how to drive, who better to teach me the basics than Nigel Mansell? The problem was that Nigel Mansell doesn't really deal with basics. Ho hummmity hum!
Although Nigel Mansell (the man) has taken part in one hundred and seventy-six Grand Prix, you only have to deal with the one. There are sixteen different tracks in sixteen countries so you've got the weather element to cope with too, as well as the other eleven drivers. As with most other driving games you've got options such as souping-up your car a bit and choosing your driver and nationality. Then, of course, there are all the different gaming options. Do you want to play the whole Grand Prix, or just a lap? Or maybe you fancy a spot of training with our Nige? What a choice!
ONE OF OUR NIGELS IS MISSING
I was remarkably sensible and opted for the training session. At no point did Nigel Mansell appear and give me instructions. He didn't even pop up on screen when I drove my new car off the road. Call that instructive? Pah! I was quite disappointed, I can tell you. All I did was drive around the circuit on my own for hours getting better and better. (So it was help then? Jonathan) Well, yes but it wasn't quite what I expected.
However, I did enjoy racing round the track. It's a cockpit-view racer and you can get a good look at your hands on the wheel. So, as you turn left you can see the wheel turning which helps when you start worrying about what direction you're going in. (Linda are you sure you want to learn how to drive? Andy O) The graphics are nice and simple, a bit like the game itself. There's nothing amazingly special here, the main races are naturally more entertaining than the training sessions due to the presence of (da-da-da-daaa!) other cars. Hurrah!
BABY YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR. YES I'M GONNA BE A STAR!
Before you can really start racing, you have to qualify. The first couple of times I tried to do this, I found myself a full two laps behind some of the other drivers 'cos I couldn't work out how to start. (That's because you've got no idea about driving, in fact, you're a bit stupid when it comes to cars. Honestly, the way you were racing round - you spent most of your time on the grassy verges. Andy O) And it wasn't 'cos I'm stupid, as Stuart Campbell had the same problem, so there. Actually, he didn't get started at all whereas I managed to qualify, despite my initial, erm, 'disadvantage'. (The trick is to press forward and fire together before accelerating.)
If you're really keen on winning then you might want to take a peek at the control section. Here's where you can soup up your car by fiddling with the tyres and the aerofoils. Such fiddlings can prove very useful if you've got to deal with inclement weather.
Each circuit comes complete with a weather report along the lines of 'overcome the effects of thin air. The reduction of air pressure means less drag... the oxygen means that the engines produce less power.' If you're up on your racing cars no doubt you'll read such a description and immediately think, "Ooh, I'd better take a look at those tyres. Hmmm. And the aerofoil could be tilted slightly more..." Unfortunately. such subtle points are a bit lost on me. But no matter, I can still see that they're a good thing!
SLIPPING AND SLIDING
And now we come to the part of the programme where you get told about the not-so-good things. We were given Nigel Mansell's World Championship on disk and it took a helluva lot of turning over and waiting in between the game bits. Jonathan and I shuddered (Shuddered, we did. Jonathan) when we thought of the tape version. If this is what you have to do with the disk, just imagine the loading times and tape-turnings. Agh! Street Fighter 2 revisited.
Despite being called Nigel Mansell's World Championship. this game has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the moustachioed one. Oh yeah, his name appears now and then but never his face. Or even his moustache. I mean, it's not as if we're asking Gremlin to do the impossible. I would have been satisfied with just Nigel's grinning visage on the loading screen. After all, Bob Monkhouse appeared in digitised form in Bob's Full House, as did Bob Holness in Blockbusters. Hang on, maybe it only works with people called Bob. (No. Huxley Pig did it too, and Max Headroom. Jonathan) They're not exactly people though, are they? No, Nige has definitely fallen foul of the Curse of the Not-Bobs.
Sorry about that little tirade, but I was kinda banking on Nigel making an appearance so it was all very disappointing indeed. But I shouldn't be too harsh 'cos overall the game is actually very good. Well, it is if sitting glued to a screen for hours following a track is your a idea of fun. Me? I could do it for ages - even if I don't get to meet Nige at the end! Y'know, I could really wow the driving instructor when I go for my first lesson. What I really need to do is a bit of real driving... Ahh, I know! Oi, Andy! You know your bike? Well, how about letting me have a little go on it, just to get used to the roads, like? (Not blummin' likely, I've watched you on that computer. You're dangerous and I'm not letting you anywhere near my beloved crap bike. Andy O.
Well, well Nigel has won the Formula One World Championship. Not only tat, but despite his three eyebrows he's become an international sex symbol. Now it-s your turn to follow in his footsteps and try to do the same (well- I don-t know about the sex symbol bit!). Load up the game and compete in full racing season to try and lift the crown for Great Britain for the second year running, you patriotic devils.
There's more to Formula One than just racing though. To complete the season successfully, you're going to need heaps of cunning and strategy. Finishing a race can be just as important as winning it, but you've got to end up with the points to stay on the leaderboard.
When you first load the game, you're presented with a few choices. It is possible to just start up and go, but you probably won't lift the title unless you're unfeasibly spawny. You'll no doubt have fun trying though. To succeed you'll need to look at the wider picture.
First thing on the agenda is to select what controls you're going to use. I actually found that the keyboard was more accurate than the joystick, but this is up to you and the quality of your joystick.
You can then choose which driver you want to be and, if you're a complete egomaniac, you can change the famous driver's name to your own.
Check out all of the options and settings and then head straight for driving school to sharpen your skills and practice with your chosen chassis. This practice will be crucial to your progress later on.
To sharpen your skill still further, and just for fun racing, the single race option will keep you amused. Choose your track. there are 16 altogether, and the whole world will spin beautifully to show you whereabouts your race is taking place. You also get to see what the track looks like.
When you've chosen, the next screen will give you information about the track itself, including the weather. This will help you to make the right (or wrong!) tire choice.
Tuning the car is important for optimum performance. If it's raining, you'll need wet weather tyres and you may even need to play around with the aerofoil and gear settings. The next screen lets you set all of these, based on whatever the conditions and your mood are like. Leave the aerofoil and gearbox settings at first, until you get used to what difference they could make and concentrate on getting the right tyres for the race. Finally choose whether you want the gears to change automatically or not and then off you go to the qualifying section...
To qualify you need to be quick. You do two laps of the track to determine your position on the grid for the race proper. The target is to beat the current fastest time for pole position. At the end of the qualifying period, you are shown your time and grid position for the race.
The right choice of tyres will be a definite advantage here and maybe a bit more down- force from the aerofoils or a higher ratio gearbox once you know the score.
Ok, so you've qualified for the race, what next? Well, We time to race for real. This time you do three laps of the track and the winner gets the points. All of the other drivers in the race are Nigel's competitors in the real world. ie: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost etc. (though you'll need to get a flight simulation to compete with old favourites like Nikki Lauda). The beauty of this is that you can boast about beating them: ‘One race, honest, Guv!'. When (and if) you win, take your rightful place on the winners rostrum and collect the trophy.
Go out and buy yourself a laurel ring and a bottle of Moet & Chandon and spray your living room. Why not!
Each time you finish a Championship race, you are given a season password, so you can stop at any stage without having to start the whole game over again from scratch. More games should let you do this as otherwise you can easily get fed up with having to work your way through endless levels to get to the point you left off at last time.
Getting through a season takes guts, determination end a lot of hard work, but making the right decisions helps a lot. Take the time to experiment and the game takes on a whole new angle. As you play, imagine you've got Nigel talking to you, and you too could win the Formula One World Championship. Now down to the nitty gritty.
One of the main criticisms of this game is its lack of colour on the main driving screen, but this is more than made up for by being great fun, if a little slow feeling to play. The options and attention to detail makes the program fun too, but you'll soon start bypassing all these frills to concentrate on the racing action.
For 128K, +2, +2A tape users the loading sequence, like last month's Street Fighter 2 is a bit of a nightmare but unlike the latter it is also available on disk.
The Speccy hasn't had a good racing game for a while and at this late stage in its life I certainly didn't expect to see one. But if wearing imaginary helmets and fireproof suits and haring round your lefty track is your cup o' tea, rush out end get Nigel Mansell's World Championship. It is doubtful you'll be disappointed, especially if you have a +3 and get it on disk.
I must say I hadn't expected anything like this. I thought it was going to be just another old racing simulation but there's a lot more frills in Nigel Mansell's World Championship. Monochrome racing and apparent slowness aside this is a fascinating title with good lastability. Well worth checking out.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB