With a name of such length as The Great American Cross Country Road Race you may well
wonder what lurks beneath sucj a mouthful of a title? Well, it is in fact another addition
to the Pole Position genre but this time there are overtones of the Burt Reynolds film,
The Cannonball Run (you know the sort of thing - a group of speed freaks who regularly
take part in a high-speed race across the States).
The game attempts to inject new life into the mould by giving you the chance to take
part in such a race - from the West coast of America to the East. Not only have you gotta
get from West to East as fast as possible but you have ten other racers, all as determined
as yourself, with which to contend. There are eight 'fields', that is, groups of ten
racers' previously established times, for you to attempt to beat and you can choose from
any of the eight.
Four possible cross-country races are offered, three (Los Angeles to New York,
Seattle to Miami and San Francisco to Washington) being of the straight forward coast-to-coast
in the quickest possible route style, and the fourth is a complete US Tour, where you
need to drive through every city on the map. Once you have made your choice it's into the
Racing from coast to coast ain't so simple though. Not only do you need to plan your
route but you need to be aware of your surroundings and limitations. Police speed traps,
changing weather and road conditions and of course the ever present pressure of a time
limit make things that bit more interesting.
Should there be a police vehicle in the vicinity then the handy radar at the bottom
of the screen will bleep madly informing you of the approaching danger. Depending upon
your urgency you can either choose to pass by the police slowly and politely or attempt
to leave them standing by speedy and skilfull driving. Getting stopped will cost you
precious time, so any decisions have to made wisely.
Current road and weather conditions are indicated on the map screen for advanced warning,
and driving skills and speed need to be adjusted accordingly. snow, rain and fog are there
to hinder and road conditions vary frequently (if things weren't tough enough as it is)!
Continual checks need to be made on your feel, for if you should run out you'll end up
pushing! Fuel, or gas as the Americanism goes, can be topped up from pumps at 100 mile intervals
along the route though, and advance warning of any approaching pumps is given, so that you can
slow down and pull up in time.
Th route you wish to take is planned through use of a map screen and any racing is done
in the 3D Pole Position approach that has become such a standard for race games today. A
flashing cursor indicates your current position on the map of America and you can move
this cursor to adjoining locations in order to select a destination.
Other cars and motorbikes also race along the road and you get brought to a rather
abrupt stand-still on hitting someone. The scenery to the sides of the road changes
accordingly, depending on which area you are racing through. On nearing a city you are
told that you are approaching it in the form of flashing message on screen. The city in
question even appears in the background to reassure you of this fact!
On of the original features of American Road Race is the use of gears. The fire
button acts as the accelerator/clutch and gears are increased or decreased by pushing forwards
or back on the joystick, respectively. Gear changes are not quite so easy though, as you
must first build up enough revs to change gear.
If you over-rev the engine you'll blow it and end up pushing your car to the next
gas station. Changing up too early means too high a gear for your speed and will
result in poor acceleration.
It's possible for the race to end in one of two ways - either through disqualification
(failure to finsih within the allotted time limit) or through actually crossing the line
in time. If you complete the race in a quick rnpugh time then you can enter your name
in the 'hall of fame' which can then be saved out for appreciation at a later date.