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Lamborghini: American Challenge (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Roedie (5226)
Written on  :  Jun 11, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars1.75 Stars

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Summary

Another opinion and this one is a lot less positive.

The Good

Please note: This is a review for the 1994 Lamborghini American Challenge version

Lamborghini American Challenge is an arcade racer somewhat similair in style to Sega's Classic Outrun. Races take place on interstates scattered all across the U.S. instead of on circuit tracks. While trying to get from point A to B faster than the competition you'll have to watch out for the cops who patrol the highways and avoid slamming into the regular traffic. By winning races you earn the cash you need to: 1) Pay the entrance fee for your next race 2) repair the damage to your car 3) buy upgrades to improve your car. Of course the pattern of winning -> upgrading -> racing against better opponents has been done many times before but the formula has proven itself over time. Unless of course if the player's budget is as tight as it is in this game (for more about this; see the bad section).
  • Lamborghini American Challenge (released in 1994) is probably one of the last sprite-based racing games. It's also one of the best looking ones. All the different venues (I think there are about 60 tracks divided over 4 divisions plus 4 division challenges; I'm not sure about this, since I never managed to complete the game) have different sceneries and the backgrounds look especially nice using many, often bright, colors. Weather conditions and the time of the day vary. The map and the portraits of your rivals look cartoon-like. Among your rivals are several spoofs of celebrities like: Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Chuck Norris and Fester from the Adams Family.
  • Two players can play in the same tournament and race against each other when they choose to participate in the same race. But you don't have to, you can choose to avoid each other.
  • Before the race you can bet against your rivals. If you finish in front of them, they owe you an amount of cash equal to your own wager (or less if their wager was lower then yours). It's a somewhat fun way to make some extra cash and increases the stakes. Unfortunately... since you have to win every race (see bad section), raising your wager becomes a no-brainer. If you have to win anyway, why no bet as much as you can?

The Bad

  • The driving part of the game, which is of course the most important part of the game, is downright awful. The handling of the cars is lousy, the controls are not responsive, the action is jerky and even with the best tires & brakes it's often very hard to keep your car on the road. You have very little grip and keep skidding in every corner. Once you're pushed to the outside of a corner, you'll likely crash into some car you can't avoid or hit something on the side of the road. To make matters worse; the computer cars are uneffected by this problem. They're glued to the track and breeze through abrupt turns while you lose speed.
  • Another fault of the game is that you drive at full speed all the time. A good (or let's say normal) racing game requires the player to approach corners with some thought, to push the brakes every now & then and to accelerate again when you come out of a corner. Well, Lamborghini American Challenge is different and ignores the basic principles of driving a car. The moment you hit the brakes two or three opponents will overtake you immediately (I thought that entering a corner with a somewhat lower speed would improve my grip... I was wrong). And since you always have to start at position 10 (which quickly becomes position 11 as a computer car always blazes past you at full speed 2 seconds after the start) you're constantly playing catch-up. It's pedal to the metal all the time until you happen to hit a civilian car. Afterwards it's a matter of regaining top-speed as fast as possible. Overall, car-handling is really disappointing. This has nothing to do with driving.
  • 60 tracks sounds like a lot, but after a while you do get the feeling that all the tracks are more or less the same despite the different backgrounds.
  • Annoying save structure. You can only save after 4 races or after you've qualified for the next division. There's only one save-slot available and the game automatically overwrites the last saved game after race 4. Guess what happens when two members of a family share one computer.
  • The game's main tune gets on my nerves after a few seconds and the engine sounds like the developers put a mosquito in a jar and held a microphone to it. Not impressive at all.
  • The limited size of your starting budget coupled with the fact that you need to pay an entrance fee for every race, have to keep upgrading your car to stay competitive and have to buy (expensive) tickets for the division challenge means your margin of error is very small. As a rule of thumb: if you finish in second place you'll manage to break-even and you need to win a race to earn some cash. If you decided to invest a large sum of money in for example a better gearbox and then perform poorly on the next race you probably don't have enough money to pay the starting fee for another race. This results in a lot of tedious reloading. Great if you can only save your game after 4 races....

The Bottom Line

Can't believe I once enjoyed this. If you want to play an interesting sprite-based racer, check out Road Rash. Lamborghini American Challenge is repetitive, unforgiving and uncontrollable. In onther words: it's not much fun!