Are you a fan of rollercoasters? Do you like the thrill of acceleration, the feeling of plunging down uncontrolled? What if it weren't just a feeling, but the rails were taken away? Well, it's still just a computer game, don't worry. Though one which does indeed manage to induce some vertigo in spite of – by today's standards – crude graphics.
Tracks raised above the ground and not just snaking left and right, but also shooting up and down and requiring jumps, the one concession towards making the players' lives a bit more secure is the automatic alignment on straights.shows no qualms about letting cars fall off, plummet from greatest heights. That moment of total silence when leaving the tracks, floating through the air, in the knowledge that this will not end well.
Nail-biting thrills wait when accelerating for a long jump, hoping to just make it across. Starting in the second highest division (of four, plus the “super league”), acceleration stops being everything, but pacing yourself in strategic places and saving those boosts for those few straights is key.
All that meaning that the game is all about learning to drive. To optimize, optimize, optimize. First, to make it through without wrecking the car. Then to limit damage (considering that the game does distinguish between temporary and permanent damage, the latter of which will be carried until the end of the season). Then to beat your own lap and race records.
The one other driver feels rather like an afterthought. They are hardly ever seen anyway, as they will have either pulled far ahead or be trailing behind. Consequently, the two-player mode via nullmodem may have its extra merits in enabling more direct competition, but finally, it stays mostly at imaginary level. After all, the same observation of the cars rarely being close applies.
That said, it is amazing how much fun it can be to just drive by yourself! The tracks are well designed to highlight exactly those core features which sets this kind of driving apart from other racing games. Each has its own little gimmick; some spot where you have have to come in with just the right speed, at just the right angle, moving and accelerating just the right way. Though for every such instance, there is a way.
Deciphering those little puzzles and then executing the solutions to perfection is whatis all about. The basics are easy to pick up, but the game will last nevertheless. The possibly only complaint lies in the low frame rate of the graphics which unfortunately doesn't improve on faster machines. That aside, this was pretty much perfection even when it came out.
This being an enduring classic, it received continuous care by the community. Thanks to WHDLoad patching, it can today be enjoyed in a much more fluent “turbo mode”. Careful, though, as this will disable any speed checking. I.e. when you set your emulator to maximum speed possible these days, the race will be over before you've pressed a single button. It works best at around regular 68020/68030 clock speed.
In 2004, another fan even created a reverse engineered modification called(The New Tracks). This version is identical at its core, just sporting those eight new tracks. Those are carefully and well designed as the original ones. Great work, just the change of the colour palette (the tracks received a weird green-ish tint) is a little irritating.