Tour de Force
by Tim Miller, Jon Harrison, Kevin Bulmer, Ben Daglish
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Crash Issue 49, February 1988   (1988-01-28)   page(s) 18,19

Across the continents of the world you flash your bicycle made for one. Bum in the air, head down, you pedal over a variety of courses, competing against the clock and ten other competitors in your race.

But this cycling extravaganza is not just a simple matter of athletic prowess and saddle soreness - the course is full of obstructions and unsportsmanlike people who want you and your bike upended and temporarily out of the race.

From the road s surface pop barriers and obtrusive posts; coiled snakes strike; squat sumo wrestlers block the highway and groups of thugs shuffle from roadside to roadside.

Ramps also obstruct the way ahead, but these can be used to leap over obstacles and ahead of the competition.

If you have three crashes (each is indicated by a nifty piece of advertising for a well-known national computer magazine) you're out of the race for good.

Your position is shown on a map below the main, horizontally-scrolling course screen. And your placing is vital, for only by winning a stage of the race can you move onto the next, held in a far distant country.

So you must concentrate on speed, avoid the obstacles - and abandon the few moral scruples that you have by taking other riders off with some choice jostling.

But bike racing is hot and thirsty work. To finish the race on a bike rather than a stretcher you'll have to take on drinks by the bike through the bottles, glasses and casks that stand on the tarmac.

A countdown at the bottom of the screen shows how you're doing for time.

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: humorous and detailed monochrome graphics (avoiding clash) on a fast-scrolling road
Sound: national tunes for each country, with crash'n'bang in-game effects

'This makes a pleasant change from the usual arcade adventures and beat/shoot-'em-ups that have appeared on the Spectrum lately - and it's a good game. Though it's not a direct tie-in with the Tour De France, Tour De Force has all the features of the real-life race (apart from the dulcet tones of Channel 4 commentator Phil Ligget): people all over the road, Coke bottles and even maniac cyclists who try and kick you off your bike. The realism gets confusing when your rider is lost among the crowd of other bikes, though. Sound is used well - the different countries where you race are identified by national tunes - and it's good to see Gremlin Graphics diversifying from the usual genres with this delightfully playable game.'
PAUL ... 78%

'Tour De Force is like a jazzed-up full-price version of Mastertronic's Milk Race, but the jazzing up hasn't added to the playability. The first level of Tour De Force is difficult, and the start is confusing; it takes quite a few seconds to work out which of the 11 riders is you. There's not much gameplay to keep you going beyond the start line, either.'
MIKE ... 53%

'Tour De Force uses portrait graphics where plan-view splodges could have been expected - but there still isn't enough displayed on each screen for you to avoid certain objects. You have to memorise the course, or go too slowly to get a reasonable finishing position. Still, there's something about collision with stationary obstacles that just boosts the addictiveness.'
BYM ... 68%

Summary: General Rating: Original and addictive gameplay.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 27, March 1988   page(s) 70

Tour De Force is a micro version of that world famous Grand Prix Cycling event from the land of garlic, frogs legs and striped T-shirts. Well it would be, except for the violence and the fact that each race takes place in far off countries such as Japan and Israel.

What was that about violence? Well we can't have a computer game without its fair share of blood and guts can we? In this cycling epic your biker can kick the living daylights out of the opposition and get points for it! You can even nudge fellow bikers into ramps or other deadly obstacles along the way.

That's not the aim of the game though. The idea is to beat 10 other players along a strip of booby trapped road and be the first to cross the winning line. This earns you a place in the next race. Anything less than first and you have to try again.

The playing area is jam packed with hazards. Bombs explode in your path, and people try to cross in front of you when you least expect it! There is even a young lady sprite that hitches up her skirt to divert your gaze for a second or two. It's tough out there.

All that pedalling can make you hot under the collar, so pick up the ice cream, wine or cans of Coke to stop your fella over-heating. Not too much wine though or the controls can get kinda tricky! Tour de Force is a multi-load game, but in the nicest possible way. There is none of that 'rewind tape to start' nonsense here. If a level is not completed the game allows you to try again and again (and again). It saves a lot of time and trouble.

The jerky scrolling distracts from the play quite a bit and I found my biker often became lost in a tangle of similar sprites, but that aside, Tour de Force is a polished and addictive little game. I liked it, but then again I like lots of things I shouldn't.

It will not keep ardent arcade fans occupied for long. I completed it in under two hours - and I'm lousy at this type of game. Try before ye buy.

Value For Money6/10
Summary: Pedal powered arcade game that's a cross between Milk Race and Mean Streak - and better than both.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 72, March 1988   page(s) 62,63

Tour de Force? Hardly. If anything, Gremlin's pedal-to-the-metal bike racing game is a disappointment compared to Activision's oldie Tour de France (which presumably is to blame for the newer game's odd title). Tour de Force (it means "masterpiece") is a horizontally-scrolling comedy bicycle racing game, so it's unique in that respect.

Unfortunately I found it much too slow, jerky and cluttered to recapture much of the atmosphere of the mad dash over the Alps (or wherever it is) with the yellow-jerseyed leader pumping the old pedals like mad to stay ahead of the one who drinks lots of milk.

The top half of the screen shows the race track. Each level is set in a different country; the first is in Japan, so the course is cluttered with obstacles such as Sumo wrestlers, hay bales and barriers, objects such as bowls of rice and coke bottles, and, of course, lots of other bikes.

You control your bike simply by selecting the appropriate direction with the joystick; the fire button makes you jump a small distance into the air. This doesn't seem to do you much good, on its own except if you hit a ramp, so that you fly over the heads of your opponents.

To the right of the screen is your heat gauge. If you stay out in front for too long (which is obviously the best way to avoid collisions) you will overheat and lose a life. Picking up coke bottles brings down your temperature.

In the middle of the screen is a map of the course, and a sixty-second timer which you must beat to complete each stage. Also shown are your position, score, and a leering face which presumably indicates your state of health. After falling off three times, hitting a crash barrier and piling into a Sumo, you don't look too happy.

If you win a level, which is pretty difficult considering how easy it is to lose track of which cycle you're controlling, your little cyclist throws up his arms with joy as he passes the line, and you get to load the next level from the tape. Oddly enough, France looks very much like Japan.

What lets the game down is the jerky scrolling; the fact that all the cyclists are identical, so you get confused easily; and the annoying way in which your opponents ride happily through barriers, but if you try it, you end up splattered over the concrete. Even this isn't particularly well done; a shot pause, a cloud of dust and the caption CRASH. No hum. Pull the other one. Gremlin - it's got bells on.

Label: Gremlin Graphics
Author: Tim Miller
Price: £7.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Summary: Neither Mean Streak nor Tour de France, this awkward race game fails to take the chequered flag.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 6, March 1988   page(s) 59

Gremlin get on their bikes.

JAPAN hosts the first of five legs in a bicycle obstacle race that takes the player to exotic countries. You simply have to win each race to proceed to the next, and if you don't succeed first time, well you can play that leg until you do.

This is a very poor game on the Spectrum - the scrolling is awful, as is the collision detection. The races are easy to win and you won't get more than a few hours play out of the game.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Spec, £7.99cs, Out Now
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100
1 hour: 40/100
1 day: 20/100
1 week: 5/100
1 month: 0/100
1 year: 0/100

Ace Rating234/1000
Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB