Nightmare Rally
by Giga Games: Ian Morrison, Alan Laird, F. David Thorpe
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 34, November 1986   (1986-10-23)   page(s) 22

The engines roar and the crowd cheers. The rally is on. But it isn't until you've maneuvered around the first obstacles that you realise that this is no ordinary rally, but rather the stuff of dreams bad dreams.

The idea is to drive through each stage of the rally as rapidly as possible while scoring points. Driving over some objects on the course, such as bushes and shrubs, reduces speed and eventually leads to a blowout making the car harder to handle. Other objects conceal bonus points. Hills are high-scorers too, especially if you manage to fly over them!

Each stage consists of a slalom course of marker flags and 100 points are awarded for each flag correctly negotiated. Fuel dumps may look as though they pose an awkward problem, but driving at them full tilt sends you soaring over the top to safety and adds points to the score.

This Escort is far removed from the XR3s beloved of Yuppies - it handles in a rather surreal manner... Driving very fast at a standing stone does not result in the disaster you'd expect. Instead of bits of broken rally car all over the place you take to the air and can glide over anything in your path. Very handy. If you hit a tree or other largish object the car suffers no damage but time is wasted in backing away from the obstacle and driving round it.

Driving through a pi symbol causes one of three things to happen. Turbo powers might be added to the engine, increasing top speed and acceleration, or Superturbo could cut in, improving Performance with the bonus of immunity to collisions. Alternatively, the car might pass through a hyperspace gate and arrive at a random destination in another stage or at the start of the current course. Another magical object to look out for is a pulsating iris which has a very peculiar effect...

At the beginning of each stage, the target time and target score are flashed on screen, along with the braking and skid factors that apply. Failing to meet time and score targets costs one of the four lives available. Hitting objects or failing to negotiate the flags successfully makes the little life icon on the dashboard change colour. When the icon is red, the next collision costs a life.

The weather itself is a nightmare fog, ice, snow, rain and sun all have to be coped with in this gruelling test of rallying skills. Not one for Sunday drivers!

Control keys: redefinable: up, down, left, right, fire, halt
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: good
Use of colour: monochromatic motor on coloured landscape
Graphics: fast, effective 3D
Sound: engine sounds, and spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling courses

'At first play, Nightmare Rally seemed to be a very bad game. After a while, though. I found it surprisingly playable. The graphics aren't really stunning, but the trees look pretty when they get close, and the car animation is excellent when you fly off the top of a big mound of earth. It's not the best game I've ever played on the Spectrum, and I doubt very much whether it would rank in my Top 30, but it is a fair game. The main criticism is really the price, as is so often the case with OCEAN games. Although many games nowadays are priced around that mark, I feel that games of this quality would be far better value at a budget price. But then again, all games under the sun would be better at a budget price. Ho hum'

'I must admit to being a fan of Rally sport and so when Nightmare Rally appeared I couldn't wait to see if OCEAN had captured all the thrills and spills of the motor sport without the queueing and waiting at special stages. They seem to have got all the right ingredients in Nightmare Rally - superb graphics, excellent animation and addictive playability. The Escort is finely detailed, even down to the alloy wheels. Presentation is smart and there is lots of colour and smooth scrolling to add to the appealing layout. Everything is geared towards enjoyment - there's none of this co-driver stuff on boring motorways. The program actually encourages you to mow down cones, fly over trees and somersault over hills - all of these get you extra points and are great fun. Anyone who has fancied him or herself as Jimmy McRea or Louise Walker will love Nightmare Rally - although I must admit I didn't get scared once!'

'Nightmare Rally is one of those games which doesn't appear to offer very much until you really begin to play, and then you'll find it has a lot going for it - superb animation, jolly graphics and an abundance of playability. The controls are simple enough to get to grips with in automatic mode, and when you think you can handle a real car, with real gears, you can then embark on manual control, which responds quite well. One feature which really caught my attention was the neat little pause mode, which freezes the screen and then rotates it very smoothly. This game has a lot to offer both fans of racing car games and arcade players. It is one of the better products to emerge from the OCEAN stable recently.'

Use of Computer78%
Getting Started81%
Addictive Qualities83%
Value for Money76%
Summary: General Rating: An unusual and compelling 3D car racing game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 11, November 1986   page(s) 74

Vvvvvvrrrrrooooommmmm! Scrrrreeeeeeeecchh!

Wow. Worra burn-up, rubber fans. You thought you'd played some good driving games in your time? Well, think again, wheelspinner! Nightmare Rally is fast, fresh and furious. Speeding across country in your highly tuned rally car (looks like a Golf GTi to me, but what do I know?) you're setting off on a race against the clock. There are trees, there are huge mounds of earth, there are great stonehengy things ...

There are a lot of permutations of these obstacles, and a lot of different road surfaces to contend with, all at tremendous speed. When you hit the mounds of earth, oooo-eeeee! It's the Dukes Of Hazzard all over again. How is this much excitement possible on the humble Speccy? How does it compare with such tricky old standards as Pole Position, The Great American Road Race, and Full Throttle? Not bad. The car is really well animated and drawn, as are the hordes of trees and stuff hurtling past you.

As a driving game, it's brilliant. It requires snappy reflexes and not a small amount of planning; as in real rally driving, foreknowledge of your route is invaluable.

It's easy to play, tres quick and v. good fun. It does make a change to play a fun game after all the megaserious concentration games or brainless shoot'em ups. Highly recommended.

Value For Money8/10
Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash - Run It Again Issue 47, December 1987   (1987-11-26)   page(s) 102

80% Issue 34

MIKE: Despite the cover depicting a Lamborghini and the game offering an Escort, Nightmare Rally is pretty good fun for the genre. It's basically a case of belting to the end of the course as quickly as possible. You can't get much more simple than that, can you? There are pretty graphics and loads of playability, so it's worth checking out.

DOMINIC: I'm still impressed with this rallysprint colne - there's nothing like it. The graphics are very good, and the car is a sharp representation of a Ford Escort. Animation is also clear, adding to a very enjoyable and playable game.

Overall (Mike Dunn)71%
Overall (Dominic Handy)85%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 56, November 1986   page(s) 46

Two red lights. Yellow, green...

Thrust down the firebutton and plunge the handle forward. And your car lunges forward at a speed more in keeping with a Formula One machine than a rally-prepared Escort embarking on a gritty sideways-drifting ride through one of the most nightmarish landscapes Ocean has yet created.

Don't hit the trees. They cause the most damage and you've got to reverse before going forward again. Mounds are bad too - they send you spinning wheel-over-roof.

It's a wild obstacle course weaving between the red and blue flags.

Your Demon-1 trubo has five gears which can be controlled in either manual or automatic. Manual gives better handling but you have to press the joystick button every time you decide you want to change gear.

The turbo's dashboard includes a speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature and fuel level dials. A timer, next to the speed indicator, tells you how much time you have left on the current stage and two arrows between the speedo and tacho show which direction you should take to run round the courses' blue and red flags.

A full screen display shows the length of the stage in miles, your maximum brake-effectiveness speed, and your skid hazard speed.

Keep to the right of the blue pennants and left of the red ones and you notch up bonuses. Stray outside their fluttering boundaries - even for a few seconds - and you'll lose your car and have to start the stage again. That's blatently unfair! In a real rally you might have time to get back on course.

On the second stage, for instance, you have to race through a tunnel of flags which bend out of perspective so you can't tell which flag is in front of another. It's probably not a problem the programmers deliberately introduced into the game but it hampers most attempts to get through that second stage. Rivers slow you down even more and if you hit a river at anything over 20mph you'll have to start again. Makes good sense, I s'pose, but even my red Ford Fiesta Popular Plus can take a shallow river at 40mph - the only danger is if it's too deep and the water comes in over the windows.

Fogbanks pose navigational problems which make the colour clashing flags look like a luxury. The banks in Nightmare Rally black out the road in front and you have to rely on the direction indicators on the dashboard to get you out of trouble. The arrow indicators point left and right. When one of them lights up red you turn the wheel in that direction.

After Stage Two you'll start running into water-logged fields, roads and tracks where your turbo skids if it's in anything but first or second gears. Ocean obviously hasn't consulted the Highway code. You deal with skids by gently applying the brakes and straightening the wheel. Sound's like a recipe for instant oblivion if tried in real life. Still, who said simulations were supposed to be accurate.

Or plausible. Try this - to score bonuses you drive over traffic cones, fly over trees or obelisks, and jump or somersault over a hill. The hill flip is the easiest stunt to perform but you'd better do it while you can as there aren't many mountains in this game.

Pi gates - like formula one finish gates - recharge your fuel but nothing's that simple in Nightmare Rally. Some of the gates will turbocharge your car while others will supercharge it. Your Demon-1 is a gas guzzler so the effect doesn't last long but it gives enough boost to jump over rivers and to get beyond the normal 120mph speed limit.

It's a tough game to complete and there's no way you can store intermediate stages and continue them later. You have to finish every stage and that'll take you hours. It's also impossible to play with anything other than a joystick. Stick control is best for swift changes in direction and you won't need to look from the road to the controls - a fatal mistake when driving any car.

Nightmare Rally is part arcade, part simulation.

Great fun for rally fans who won't be put off by the fantasy elements. Anyone who tries braking into a skid in a real Escort won't need to buy any more games after this one! End-over-ending a real car isn't a cool thing to do!

Label: Ocean
Author: Ian Morrison and Alan Laird
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert


Summary: Four-wheel fun with an accent on fantasy. Easy to score but difficult to progress past Stage 2.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 61, November 1986   page(s) 32

MACHINE: Spectrum
PRICE: £8.95

This is a racing game with a difference. It has some odd mystical overtones which add a bit of originality to what otherwise could simply be an average driving challenge.

You are in control of a super rally car and your aim is to complete all the stages of the strange Nightmare Rally by reaching the target score for each stage without destroying your car.

You get three to start with. Damage is indicated by the "lives" icon changing colour. Red spells imminent danger, of course!

You can drive a manual or automatic car - auto is better to start with as it's one less thing to worry about when you're learning how to play.

Each stage is packed with obstacles - some dangerous some useful. Picking up Psi symbols dotted around the course adds gadgets like turbos and even a hyperspace gizmo to your car. Yes, hyperspace - told you this was a different driving game, didn't I!

Other mystical objects which have strange effects are Standing Stones and the Pulsating Eye. You'll have to find out what! Nightmare Rally is a one for race game buffs. It has enough quirky bits to keep your interest and it's pretty playable.

Joystick and keyboard reactions leave a bit to be desired and the choice of colours on some of the stages aren't the best for the style of graphics being used. But overall this is an interesting twist on the driving game theme.

The only real gripe is the poor old Spectrum's sound, The car sounds a bit like a distressed wasp. Still, Nightmare Rally is well worth checking out if you're a driving game freak.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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