Written by  :  Jack Lightbeard (2707)
Written on  :  Jan 10, 2014
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Screamer is a decent arcade racer that, for the most part, delivers on it's promises.

The Good

Screamer is an arcade style racer offering a few road cars and tracks from the outset with extra cars and tracks available after completing the Championship leagues, including playing all tracks in reverse (the track names are also spelt backwards).

The cars are rated by top speed, grip and acceleration, there's no tuning or upgrading options available. It pays to pick the right car for the right track though, a car with a high top speed but lower acceleration and grip probably won't be as suitable as a car with a lower top speed but good acceleration and grip, on a course with a lot of bends and few long straights, for example. There is a choice of manual and automatic gears for each car, the versions with manual gears having a slightly higher top speed.

The courses are colourful, detailed and play very well, with plenty of hills, dips, S-bends, long straights, tunnels etc. Extra touches such as passing trams, hovering helicopters and overhead aeroplanes add to the atmosphere. There are options for a Normal Game (Single Race), Championship and three Special Modes which consist of Time Attack (one lap time trial with ghost car for best time), Cone Carnage (run over cones for extra time) and Slalom (pass through pairs of markers for extra time).

After learning the courses it's great to power-slide by the other cars at speed maybe with a well placed clip to send them off into the side of the track, although they are just as likely to swerve into you sending you into the barrier. In the later stages of the Championship mode there is less time between checkpoints and the opponents are faster, more careful driving is recommended as there is much less margin for error. The biggest challenge is perhaps getting safely past the pack as one or two crashes can be enough to put you in last position.

While the sound effects do the job fine special mention should go the commentator who offers various quips including the odd handy warning of an upcoming corner. The music is perhaps standard fare but suits a game of this type well.

The Bad

The handling of the cars can take a bit of getting used to, sometimes it's not easy to know quite how the car will respond. Although after a while it'll become easier to judge the right speed and time to turn into a corner and to throw the car around a bit.

The game supports 320x200 VGA or 640x480 SVGA graphics modes. Although looking quite a bit better I found the SVGA mode to be unstable. The game frequently crashed, sometimes the game would always crash at exactly the same point and lap in a certain race. This would happen when running the game in DOS on an older computer as well as in DOSBox on a Windows 7 system. Following some advice and increasing the memsize setting to 64 in the configuration file for DOSBox helped but did not eliminate the problem. The standard 320x200 mode ran fine in both cases.

The Bottom Line

Screamer is a fun game. Power-sliding and barging the opponents out of the way is the order of the day and a good challenge is provided in the Pro Championship mode. The game spawned a few sequels.