Test Drive

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Buy on Amiga
Buy on Apple II
Buy on Commodore 64
$16.16 used at eBay
Buy on DOS
(prices updated 10/2 12:31 PM )

Description official descriptions

This mix of racing simulation and arcade game consists of driving a choice of 5 sports cars on a mountain strip at the fastest speed possible without getting caught by the cops. To avoid them, use your radar detector -- or just try to outrun them if they spot you. Manual stickshift only, so make sure you don't redline or you'll blow your engine.


  • 试验驾驶 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

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Credits (DOS version)

11 People



Average score: 69% (based on 18 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 88 ratings with 8 reviews)

Poor controls and monotonous scenery didn't stop this one from becoming a classic.

The Good
Test Drive what what the PC gaming community needed in 1987--a racing game that was both "serious" enough to be passed off as a simulation (barely), and "fun" enough to breathe some life into computer racing games. Racing games up to that point had been arcade toys, and not seriously considered.

A smattering of things I liked about the game: You can choose from a selection of 5 cars, all equally capable of blowing the police away. The "cutscene" graphics have very nicely-drawn side profiles of each car. The music over the PC speaker is pretty good. The transitional "dissolve" effect from one screen to the next is really neat, considering it's CGA.

The Bad
The scenery is extremely monotonous and boring--you're climbing up the side of a cliff for the entire game. It looks great initially, but a change in scenery would've been nice; roadsigns are sparse, and there's no underpass or tunnels to go through.

Another small gripe is that Test Drive is single-player only. You can't race a friend, even if sitting at the same PC.

(For the record, they did improve the scenery and 2-player options in Test Drive 2.)

The only real gripe I have with Test Drive (and all Distinctive Software, Inc. racing titles) is the controls. They all use an eight-way directional control, much like an arcade game. It's not quite as bad as a gamepad--your hard-left and hard-right motions aren't directly interpreted, but rather are applied to the wheel's overall position. Even so, it's very hard to drive a simulated car when you have pseudo-arcade controls to work with. I found myself constantly under- or over-steering. As a keyboard control mechanism, this is expected; for an analog joystick, it's completely unacceptable.

The Bottom Line
Test Drive spawned a sequel that adds scenery changes and 2-player options. First play Test Drive for a couple of minutes, then find the sequel and play that instead.

DOS · by Trixter (8947) · 1999

Old, bad sound and graphics.....but I liked it.

The Good
Sure its old. Over 10 years old. And even if it doesnt live up to todays games, it was actually fun to play. GFX im not going to talk about because it was a long time ago. Not gonna talk about sound either, but playing the game was very fun. Swerving at the cliffs, avoiding the police, trying to get out of the of cars, and some times, just for fun, driving at normal speed was a very refreshing experience.

The Bad
GFX, Sound (come on, it was 15 years ago, give it a break)

The Bottom Line
It is a game that proves that crappy graphics and bad sound cant make it a good game.

My Rating (Solid 5 / 5 )

DOS · by ThE oNe (180) · 2002

A new style of racing game

The Good
Test Drive was one of the first games to move the scope away from common sports/competition-themed arcade racing, introducing a street-driving simulation with a realistic background. The game features five sports cars, complete with accurate in-game dashboards and real-world specifications, presented in a nicely animated selection menu. While driving along the winding mountain road, the cars behave according to their specs, but realism doesn't end here: There is plenty of traffic on the road, requiring risky overtake maneuvers if you want to maintain decent speed. Police have set up radar traps and will chase after you if you don't care about speed limits. Evading police pursuit is one of the funniest aspects of the game.

The Bad
Unfortunately there is not much scenery to write home about. Each stage looks exactly the same, a rocky cliff on the right side of the road, and a deep chasm on the left. No houses, no trees, just a few traffic signs now and then. After a while you begin to wonder where all the traffic is supposed to come from, since this seems to be the most desolate road in the world! While the graphics and presentation are pretty and sound is adequate, the steering is somewhat difficult to control. The keyboard input routine doesn't seem to detect multiple keypresses at once and will crash the game if a keyboard language driver is loaded. Control via joystick is a bit better, but makes you drive like a drunk because the steering wheel is not self-centering.

The Bottom Line
Test Drive introduced a new style of racing game. Attention to detail and the possibility to drive five most famous cars of the era on a simulated public road promise a very interesting game, but the monotonous scenery makes you fall asleep at the wheel.

DOS · by 5u3 (196) · 2006

[ View all 8 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
the father of the 90's racing games¿? juan gabriel zelada vargas Apr 5th, 2023
Version 1.1 broken on DOSBox? Daniel Saner (3467) Oct 28th, 2012
Weird screenshots on the cover art 1xWertzui (1135) Dec 1st, 2011


Commercial success

The game was awarded with an American Software Publishers Association's Gold Award for selling more than 100,000 units.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Olivier Masse.

Amiga added by EboMike. Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Apple II added by Servo. PC-98 added by Unicorn Lynx. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Victor Vance, Jo ST.

Game added May 5th, 1999. Last modified August 17th, 2023.