Yet another desert circuit forged by manic deathwish drivers is the scenario for Gremlin's
latest release. But our reviewer burns some rubber on the twisting dirt track, walks through
the warehouse and finds himself examining a winning formula. (It's just come to the editor's
attention that these two icons look lonely and the rest of us agree).
Get a load of this for a plot. Homicidal drivers of cars customised in the direction of army
personnel carriers engage in a kind of championship challenge. This consists of a deviously
cut circuit in the locale of some un-named desert.
You're one of these drivers. Maybe all the drivers drive from remote control because you see
all the action not through a wind-screen but from straight overhead.
When you start the game you have a basic model car with no frills, no add ons, nowt. However
you start with a limited amount of cash with which you ought to get yourself some equipment without
dealy. There are eight items of equipment in all.
Power steering prevents you from skeetering around the track and crashing. A turbo charger
gives you plenty of go-fast and something called High Speed Kit gives you even more go-fast.
Reassuringly, retro allows faster braking, while front and rear missiles do unto others in
Another good idea, Spin Resist, ensures you always come out of a skid the right way round.
Finally, side armour minimises the damage caused by a collision with either an opponent or the
crash barriers. You can buy equipment before each race but your funds will rarely be high
enough to afford one of each item.
Once you get down to the task of racing you get to choose which track to race on. You have
a choice of nine, each of which must be completed in order to progress to the next level.
Track one is easy - only three opponents and a few sharp bends test your skill.
As the track number gets higher, so do the number of opponents and the difficulty of the track.
It's simple to control your car: left and right rotates the vehicle in those directions and
fire accelerates. Pushing the joystick forwards or backwards fires missiles in that direction.
Hitting an opponent with a missile cripples it for the whole race. Take care - the wreckage remains
to haunt you. You don't need to take ludicrous manoeuvres while your opponents sail by.
You have to complete five laps of the track and finish in first second or third place. Any lower
than that and you're out. You also get disqualified for wrecking your car or running empty.
The current status of your fuel, engine, tyres and body during the race are displayed in gauges.
Any of these reach zero, you're history. At the end of a race, money permitting, you can repair
and refuel at the garage. Failure to maintain your vehicle means certain death.
You get £20.000 for winning. Second place gets £10.000 and third place gets £5.000. When you've
accumulated enough cash you can buy a new car. Replacement vehicles range from the two litre
Tarace Neoroder, a mere snip at just below £60.000, to the eight litre Retorn Parsec Turbo
at a ludicrous £220.000 (superb names, though). In a view of these extortionate prices, it
takes a lot of successful racing before you can even dream about trading in your Skoda Bendix
Automatic Injection Dishwasher.
Once you've completed all nine tracks on level one, you are given a code for access to level two.
This means that next time you play, you don't have to go through the whole lot again.
Super Cars has neat and tidy graphics. Menus, garage, shop are clear and functional. The emphasis
has been fully placed upon playability. It's fun fun fun. The game is incredibly addictive
and packed with features.
Each decision you make has a discernible effect on the next race, making it as much a
strategic challenge as a straightforward arcade romp. The sound is also commendably done with
meaty engine roars and tyre screeches that'll make your toes curl. It's nothing like
Gremlin's other racers. The whole package just hangs together so well the only option open
to me is to say, 'Unreservedly recommended.'