Top Fuel Eliminator
Copyright/Publisher: Activision/Gamestar, Release Year: 1987,
Genre: Racing Sports, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

General Description:
Six seconds of pure power...

Can you hold 2,500 horses on the strip?

It's down to the final run of the season. You're up against last year's champ, and you two are rated #1 and #2 in the season's point totals. This one will decide it.

The track is fast, and your opponent tough, so you've prepared accordingly. Added just enough nitro, cranked up the blower, and advanced the spark as much as you dare. Will you blow the other guy off the track, or just go up in smoke?

At the split second the Xmas Tree lights change from yellow to green, you put the pedal to the metal. You keep it straight, throw the power shift at just the right moment, and six seconds later, the title's yours!

There are new challenges to face every time you climb behind the wheel of Top Fuel Eliminator. You're in control in the pits and on the track. Working your way through the 9-event season, you face eight of the top drivers in the world as you try to win the season championship. Each stop means a new round of qualifying and races, with track and weather conditions changing for every run.

You decide how to set up your dragster - engine, clutch, tires, and wing - then run your best race. The lifelike graphics give you a cockpit perspective along with an overhead view. And after each race a performance analysis shows what you did right...or wrong.

Consistency is as important as occasional flashes of brilliance. To win the 9-event season competition, you'll need to be in the running in every event - flash-in-the-pan racing doesn't cut it on this circuit.

All the sights, sounds, and gut-wrenching exhilaration of big time drag racing are yours with Top Fuel Eliminator. If you're up to it.

How to Play:
Press fire to enter game.
Use the left and right controls to select your game.
Press fire to start.

Quarter-Mile Madness
You're at the wheel of a 2500-horsepower vehicle specially built to propel you from a dead stop down a quarter-mile track in the shortest possible time. Your reflexes have to be lightning fast because it's like trying to control a rocket skidding along the ground.

Top Fuel Eliminator is a simulation of a complete season of drag racing. The season is composed of nine events scored on a points system.

You'll be competing against eight of the world's best drivers. To win a race, or even make it down the track in one piece, you'll also have to pay close attention to track and weather conditions and adjust your dragster accordingly. Top Fuel Eliminator gives you lots of options that will affect your chances of winning.

Time Trials
You may choose either Play Game or Time Trials. The Time Trials give you a chance to practice on eight raceways on the Top Fuel circuit. To choose the Time Trials, highlight Time Trials in white and press the joystick button. The Pit Area screen will appear.

All your options and procedures for fine-tuning your dragster are just as described in The Racing Season below. In addition, you may also choose on which track and event you want to practice. To do so, first push your joystick left or right to highlight the question mark at the bottom right of the Pit Area screen. Press the joystick button, and track information appears for one of the raceways. Push the joystick left and right to cycle through the raceways. When the track you want to practice on is shown, press the joystick button and proceed to set up your dragster as described in The Pit Area, below.

During each practice run, you'll have the track to yourself, but you must still take care not to foul or crash. (See Race Rules, below.)

When you've finished with your Time Trials practice session, you must restart the game and select Play Game to begin the racing session.

Registering to Race
After you choose Play Game, you'll see the Registration screen. Here you enter your name. Enter up to eight characters, then press Return.

The Pit Area screen appears, and you're ready to begin the racing season.

The Racing Season
Nine events make up the racing season. They're scheduled in the following order:
1. Winter Nationals
2. North Nationals
3. Spring Nationals
4. East Nationals
5. Summer Nationals
6. South Nationals
7. Fall Nationals
8. West Nationals
9. World Event

Each event is composed of several races: a qualifying round, the first round of eliminations, the semi-final round of eliminations, and the final round elimination which determines the Top Fuel champion for that event. If you don't qualify for a race, or if you lose a race, you're eliminated from that event and Top Fuel Eliminator goes on to the next event.

You're given two attempts to qualify for an event during the qualifying round. To qualify, you need not beat your opponent, but you must not commit any fouls (see Race Rules, below), and you must beat the posted "bubble time".

The bubble time is the maximum time allowed for the qualifying attempt and is determined by the slowest qualifying speed. There are nine drivers trying to race in each event but only eight are allowed. Therefore, the qualifying time of the eighth fastest driver will be the bubble. If you beat that time, then he is eliminated from the field.

First Round
If you qualify, you'll automatically be placed in the first round. Your opponent will be the one with the closest qualifying time to yours. If you win the race, you advance to the semi-final round. Losers will be eliminated.

Semi-Final Round
Two races involving four drivers are held in this round. The winner of each race will advance to the final round. Losers will be eliminated.

Final Round
Two drivers will race for the event title. The winner is the champion for that event. The loser is the runner-up.

Race Rules
A vehicle may be disqualified from a race for the following reasons:
- triggering a red light by leaving the starting line too early
- experiencing engine failure
- crossing the center line
- crashing

If one car "red-lights" and the other crosses the center line, the car that red-lights will be declared the winner since center line crossing is a more serious offense. By the same reasoning, a crash is more serious than line crossing and will disqualify you first. If two cars commit the same foul, the one who gets to the finish line first wins. If both cars crash, the one that travels the greatest distance wins.

The Pit Area
Each race is preceded by the appearance of the Pit Area screen. It's here, in the pit, that you're presented with playing options for entering the race and for fine-tuning your dragster. The options are designated by icons across the bottom of the screen. Moving the joystick left or right cycles you through the icons, highlighting them as you go. When an icon is highlighted you may select it by pressing the button.

Entering the Race - The Xmas Tree Icon
This is the race icon. Selecting this option puts you at the starting line of the race, so be prepared to put the pedal to the metal before you select it. Once you're at the starting line, there's no backing out. "Xmas Tree" is drag racing parlance for a set of vertically aligned colored lights used to start the race. It appears to the left of your dragster and should be observed carefully. A tachometer appears to the right of your vehicle and should be given equal attention.

The tachometer will first show a rev to an idle of 2000 rpms as the Xmas Tree begins with a staging light. Your dragster will then rev to 5000 rpms, and the Xmas Tree will begin counting down the seconds to the race. Your response time is crucial now, so stay alert. The Xmas Tree will quickly run through a succession of yellow lights and then hit green. This is your signal to go by pressing the joystick button. A race is often won by launching at the precise moment the green light is given. After that, you tear for the finish line with as much speed and driving skill as you can muster.

You must shift gears only once during the quarter-mile race, and you'll need real skill to pick the precise moment to do so. Shifting is accomplished by pressing the button. Your dragster's engine "red- lines" at 9500 rpms, and your engine will blow up, costing you the race, if you don't shift before the tachometer reaches this mark. However, you must also be careful not to shift too early or you'll never generate enough horsepower to win.

Steering a 2500-horsepower monster in a straight line for just a quarter of a mile is going to be more difficult than you might think. It will probably take some practice before you gain enough skill to compete against some of the better drivers in this game.

Fine-Tuning Your Dragster
You can increase your chances of winning by fine-tuning various components of your dragster. These adjustments are made by selecting other options available on the Pit Area screen. Each of these options has several settings along with a corresponding calibration. Push the joystick left and right to cycle through the available settings. Press the joystick button to select a setting.

Question Mark Icon
This option provides you with track information that's essential in determining what adjustments to make on your vehicle. The track information is of such importance that this option is highlighted automatically whenever the Pit Area screen is accessed. The information changes continually, so it's best to check it before each race and adjust your vehicle accordingly. Logic and experience will dictate what adjustments to make in response to the information.

Clock Icon
Selecting this option allows you to adjust your ignition timing, which is a critical factor in producing horsepower. The higher the number of degrees of advance, the more horsepower will be produced. This introduces a greater possibility of engine failure, though, so set your timing cautiously.

Fuel Can Icon
Selecting this option allows you to adjust the nitro-methane mixture used for fuel in your dragster. This very explosive fuel can be made even more volatile by increasing the percentage of nitro in the mix. This will produce more power but also increase your chances of engine failure. If your racing opponent is slow, a low nitro mix may be the safer way to go.

Clutch Icon
Selecting this option allows you to adjust the clutch on your dragster. Clutch adjustment allows you to transmit engine power to the rear wheels in a manner most suitable for the track conditions. If the track conditions are good, setting the clutch for high grab will cause the car to accelerate faster. Under slippery track conditions, low grab may be preferable; power will be transmitted to the rear wheels more smoothly, decreasing your chance of spinning your wheels.

Tire Icon
Selecting this option allows you to adjust your tire pressure to suit track conditions. Under slippery conditions, a low tire pressure may provide more traction. Traction is a product of friction and resistance, however, so a low tire pressure may also slow you down a bit, especially on dry pavement. Carefully consider the track conditions before choosing your tire pressure.

Airplane (Wing) Icon
Selecting this option allows you to make a wing adjustment. The "wing" is a wing-shaped device located over the rear wheels of the vehicle. It controls the air's angle of deflection as it passes over the rear wheels. As the angle of the wing increases, the downward force of air on the rear wheels increases, resulting in better traction. However, the amount of drag also increases, which slows the vehicle down a bit. There is no free lunch in physics. You must decide where the advantage lies, based on the conditions described in the track information. For instance, under slippery conditions, you would probably benefit from a high wing angle as it would keep the wheels from spinning excessively.

Engine Icon
This option allows you to adjust the supercharger speed. A supercharger is basically a big air pump that forces the air and fuel mixture into the engine under pressure, greatly increasing engine performance. Increasing the supercharger speed, and thus the pressure, increases the amount of horsepower the engine is capable of producing. However, there is a greater danger of engine failure when too much pressure is forced into the engine. As with the other vehicle adjustments, use this one with discretion.

The major factors for determining horsepower are fuel mixture, ignition timing, and supercharger speed. You'll learn from experience how to deal with these variables for optimum performance. Besides losing a race, there are other indications of a badly set-up vehicle. For example, if you see smoke coming from your wheels in the overhead view of the race, you may want to set up your dragster differently to get better traction.

And the Winner Is...
After each race is completed the following information is displayed:
- A Performance Analysis of your driving in that race.
- A Ladder Chart showing the standing of each driver in the event up to that point.

After each event is completed, the following information is also displayed:
- An Event Points Chart showing the points awarded to you in that event.
- An Accumulated Points Chart showing the points each driver has accumulated up to and including that event.

Performance Analysis
Elapsed Time - your time from starting line to finish line.

Top Speed - the speed you were traveling at the finish line.

Reaction - based on the time elapsed from the moment the Xmas Tree light turns green until you cross the starting line. If you're slow crossing the starting line, your opponent may beat you even though his Elapsed Time is greater and his Top Speed is slower. The winner is the driver who crosses the finish line first, not the driver with the fastest time or speed.

Shift - based on how well you shifted gears. Shifting gears too early does not allow the engine to develop its full potential of horsepower, which results in a slow Elapsed Time and a poor rating. Waiting too long to shift will cause the engine to over-rev and result in an engine failure. Remember, your engine "red-lines" at 9500 rpms.

Power - an indication of how well you set up your engine in the Pit Area.

Traction - an indication of how well you set up the vehicle in the Pit Area.

Engine Fail - caused by an improper pit set-up or a bad shift.

Crash - either you hit the wall or the engine exploded during a crash.

Red Light - if you leave the starting line before the light turns green, you may be disqualified from the race.

At the bottom of your statistics chart a message displayed indicates whether you're: Qualified, Not Qualified, Disqualified, Eliminated, or a Winner.

Ladder Chart
At the end of each race a ladder chart appears to illustrate each driver's standing in that race. If you qualified for the race, your name will first appear among the eight names listed to the left of the ladder chart that appears after the qualifying session. Pay close attention to which driver you're going to race in the first round and each subsequent round. As you'll learn through experience, some drivers are faster than others, so you'll want to set up your vehicle in the Pit Area accordingly.

If you win the subsequent elimination rounds of an event your name will advance to the right, toward the final round that determines Top Fuel honors.

Events Points Chart
After each national event is completed an "events points" chart is displayed. Points are awarded in four categories as follows:

Qualifying Category:
Fastest 8 points
2nd 7 points
3rd 6 points
4th 5 points
5th 4 points
6th 3 points
7th 2 points
8th 1 point
Not Qualified no points

Contestant Category: Each contestant gets 100 points for entering the event.

Award Category:
Winner 800 points
Runner-Up 600 points
Semi-Finalist 400 points
First Rounder 200 points
Not In Race no points

Season Points Chart
The Season Points Chart is displayed immediately after the Event Points Chart. It shows the total points each driver has accumulated up to and including that event.

The End of the Season
At the completion of the nine events Top Fuel Eliminator displays your standing for the season among all nine drivers. You may then begin a new season.

To start the race (when the green light is illuminated), press the joystick button. Shift before your tachometer reaches 9500 rpms by pressing the joystick button. Steer your car by moving the joystick in the direction you wish to drive - left or right.

Pay extremely close attention to the track conditions, as well as who you're racing. When setting up your car, it is important to take both into account.

Game History:
At the inception of the Commodore's popularity, a game designer named Scott Orr recognized the lack of quality sports games on the market for the new, powerful home computers. Rather than waiting for someone else to develop them, he started a company called Gamestar in 1982. The company grew quickly, releasing 3 hit products in its first year alone, most notably Star League Baseball. Scott's brother Keith was the company's first employee, in charge of customer service, manufacturing, and other operations aspects of the business.

According to Scott, Top Fuel Eliminator was meant to be a "quickie game, inspired by the Activision Atari 2600 game 'Dragster'. It wasn't a core Gamestar product, it was just a one-shot deal. Still, it ended up getting exceptional reviews, so I imagine that's proof that we captured the realism of drag racing pretty well. Since it's a drag racing simulation, it's inherently limited as a driving game, however it was very new and different in the world of Pole Position and Enduro."

"It was remarkably involved for the games at the time. We basically added a tremendous level of detail before it became the industry standard. If you look around at games that are being released now, the emphasis is on detail and the realistic simulation of an experience."

"The original design was for a two player head-to-head. But because we were, per usual, on a tight schedule, we needed to drop certain features in order to tune gameplay. The emphasis at Gamestar was always to put out games that were fun, and to do so, we needed to tune the games, rather than add more features that took away from that fun. So we just plain ran out of time at the end of the project."

Activision soon saw the potential for a sports game company, and entered into a distribution agreement in 1984, making Gamestar the first affiliated label in the business. Two years later, Scott sold Gamestar to Activision, to expand the company using Activision's resources.

Scott tells us "the emphasis for Gamestar games was always gameplay and the 'fun factor'. Someone could come up with an idea to make it more realistic, but if it wasn't cool and it wasn't fun, it didn't go in. We tried to capture the essence of the sport. The Gamestar emphasis was on having fun. We wanted realism and depth, but the priority was fun." The heart of drag-racing is the precision and care with which the cars are set up and race, and this was stressed in Top Fuel Eliminator.

Gamestar produced many quality sports games, such as Championship Baseball, GBA Championship Basketball, GFL Championship Football, Star League Baseball, Starbowl Football, and Baja Buggies, the first racing game to feature a scrolling background.