Written by  :  Martin Smith (66824)
Written on  :  Nov 13, 2004
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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A thrilling little racer, nothing unique but the best of its kind on the SNES

The Good

The graphics create a real sensation of speed, with the corners whooshing past impressively and the cars handling really well. The circuits are well-designed, with a nice variety both in appearance and design, and the difficulty curve is reasonably balanced. The turbo feature can be used in different ways, adding an element of tactics to the challenge. Because the CPU cars overtake each other and drive at a consistent speed (rather than spookily managing to stay right behind you after being overtaken, even if you had been 2 seconds a lap faster, as happened in all too many racers of the era), you really get the feeling of being in a proper race.

Sound is especially strong, really conveying the car's power, with a great turbo sound and superb impact effects, which go really well with the car's lurid power-sliding and high-impact flips.

The structure to the upgrade system is astute, with a variety of improvements available, and the option of buying a few small items first, or saving for one big item.

The Bad

The links to the Lotus series are hard to miss. The screen display and general graphical style is similar, the racing system much the same, and the track hazards are almost identical to the original Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. It's no wonder the conversions were worse-received than the SNES original.

Because the ability of the CPU cars appears to be random in each race, so no one puts together a consistent run of points finishes, it becomes possible to top each mini-championship with just four third places, which makes things less challenging than they could be.

The Bottom Line

Although the SNES had F-Zero, the Micro Machines games and Mario Kart, it lacked a more realistic-setting racing game of any calibre. Titles such as Jaguar XJ220, Crazy Cars 3 and the Lotus games were never released for the system, perhaps as its slower processor was a disadvantage for this type of game. That made this title a big release at the time. Viewed alongside Genesis or Amiga contemporaries it stands up very nicely indeed, with plenty of reason to check it out today if you like this style of game. it'll take a while to get through and is impeccably designed.