Continental Circus
Copyright/Publisher: The Sales Curve/Virgin Mastertronic/Taito Corporation,
Programmed By: Pete Hickinson & Bill Caunt, Graphics By: Mark Edwards,
Release Year: 1988, Genre: Formula One, Number Of Players: 1

If you've visited the arcades within the last year you'll probably have seen and played one of the hottest driving games around: Taito's Continental Circus. The main innovation for the arcade machine was the stereoscopic 3-D used - the screen is viewed through a pair of special LCD glasses.

No such gimmicks for the home version but otherwise the game's the same. In your superfast Formula One-type car you must race around the track, reaching the checkpoints within the time limit.

Of course, you're not the only car on the track - contact with computer cars or signs at the side of the track causes your engine to smoke - if you don't get to the pits in time, the car will catcg fire and blow up.

If you're smoking (very bad for your health) and suffer a second collision, the car spins out of control, exploding into a welter of fireballs. Miraculously, this does not cause your death but slows you down as you have to start accelerating again from a standstill.

Starting in Brazil, you race around eight tracks all over the world, finishing up in Japan. On later tracks an added hazards are the occasional rainstorms which makes the track slippy. To qualify for these later circuits you must complete the lap within the time limit and overtake enough computer cars to achieve the required rank.

Fail to do this and you lose one of four credits. So put your foot on the accelerator and your hand on the gearstick to be first to reach the gorgeous redhead waving the chequered flag!

This was great fun in the arcades especially with the stereoscopic 3-D which heightened the excitement. Even though this is obviously missing from the home versions they retain the coin-op's fast, addictive action.

Technically, both versions are fast enough but lack any graphical frills - I was especially disappointed by the feeble smoke and explosion effects. The driving itself isn't that realistic, especially cornering where there's no need to slow down unless it's a really tight bend - on tortuous circuits like Monaco you can even take short cuts across the grass!

But it's the pace and simplicity of the action that draws you in and keeps you playing Unfortunately I found it just that bit too easy to complete the first few tracks and it doesn't get that much harder on the later levels.

Converting yet another racing game whose only unique feature, the 3D, would be lost might seem a silly idea. But while the finished game is completely unoriginal, it's been programmed well enough to be both attractive and fun to play.

The 'extend' part of the game works well, providing a welcome diversion on fairly long tracks which don't change that much. Amiga owners benefit from a slightly faster game, but the C64 version is still very fast and much better value for money. All in all, two extremely competent and enjoyable conversions.


No multiload. Good circuit diagram showing progress after race.
Okay car spritesm nice side graphics and hills.
Fine engine drone, good 'Extend' and level-end tunelets.
Instantly playable...
...but not much variety.
An extremely playable coin-op conversion.