Crazy Cars

by Gil Espeche, Olivier Corviole
Crash Issue 52, May 1988   page(s) 21

Producer: Titus
Retail Price: £8.95
Author: Titus

The American Cross Country Prestige Cars Race, the craziest contest of them all, is about to take place. It covers three of the continent's toughest tracks and crosses the rugged and punishing terrain of Florida, Arizona and the NASA (sic).

The race comprises five levels, each divided into several stages which run over a time limit. The player can choose from a selection of five high performance cars, and successful completion of a race within the time limit rewards the driver with a more powerful vehicle. Beginning with something like the relatively humble Porsche 911 Turbo the player can progress via the Lamborghini Countach to the ultimate in racing cars, the Ferrari GTO.

Contestants line up on the starting grid, and a flick of the fire button sees the player's mean machine hurtle along a black tarmac track which twists and turns through rugged, sandy terrain.

Dips and bumps in the road make control of each turbo charged monster more precarious. High speed contact with either hurls the car momentarily into the air and out of control. More experienced drivers can exploit these uneven conditions and take the opportunity of soaring gracefully over obstructing opponents before landing with calculated panache on the other side.

Cornering requires extra care; racing off the track or plunging headlong into road markers severely slows down progress. Explosions never occur however; each car bears a charmed life and collision with other racers results in nothing worse than crippling deceleration and crucial loss of time.

Tracks become progressively more difficult with more twists, more bumps and more determined opponents. A status display at the head of the screen shows current speed and units of time remaining.


Joysticks: Sinclair
Graphics: the three main cars are recognisable, with a simple road perspective
Sound: only a realistic revving sound
Options: five levels of difficulty and a choice of three makes of car

The fastest, craziest, meanest cross country race turns out to be one of the greyest, severest and most sober, run-of-the-mill grand prix simulations. The graphics are disappointingly basic; the scruffy grey background never changes and the tarmac is so black that the outline of the bumps merges into the raggedy edge of the road. It's not a crucial drawback, though, since for most of the time, despite all talk of opponents, the only crazy car on the track is your own. Having said that, a lonesome race is better than no race at all and this one is more than just competently portrayed. Controls and scrolling are smooth; graded difficulty and increasingly tight time limits ensure compulsive gameplay, although the scoring system is ridiculously generous. One final quibble regards the congratulatory high score message which declares the player 'One of the fastest men in the world'. As girls play computer games as well would have been more appropriate and just as easy to substitute 'drivers' for 'men'.

While some lucky people can afford to buy the cars featured here, the rest of us have to either carry on dreaming, or alternatively play Crazy Cars. Graphically the game is good, with the nicely drawn cars zipping around the often tortuous racetracks, jostling and barging each other out of the way in an attempt to be the first across the finishing line. My only niggle is that the road would have benefitted from either road markings or road signs, since on many occasions I was caught unawares by a sudden hairpin bend. Initial interest is high as your car careers around bends, and flies into the air on hitting the many bumps that adorn the track. Although early stages are fairly easy to complete, later tracks almost need the player to possess the skills of a rally driver to survive. I enjoyed playing Crazy Cars; if you're a budding boy - or girl - racer, take a good look.

If Out Run and Crazy Cars had a head on collision the result would be one of the best games on the Spectrum. Crazy Cars has all the playability and addictive qualities that Out Run lacked. Sadly, this first game from Titus lacks any graphical flamboyance; the game is attractive without being impressive - unlike Out Run whose speed suffered due to the amount of detailed graphics crammed onscreen. Crazy Cars certainly has some aesthetic appeal - the distant city is very smart - but its main attraction is the speed at which you fly around the track. All Crazy Cars needs to make it an Out Run-beater is a white line down the middle of the road and a few signs and bushes on the side of the track. As it is, though, things are going to be very close between the two. A great game for a new company trying to break into the market.

Presentation: 58%
Graphics: 55%
Playability: 70%
Addictive Qualities: 68%
Overall: 65%

Summary: General Rating: A faster Out Run, without the graphical appeal.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 30, Jun 1988   page(s) 67

Reviewer: Sean Kelly

'Listen carefully, I will say ziz only once. I 'ave 'ere a petit game from ze French software maison Titus, and I want a quick review, or else', said T'zer, chucking Crazy Cars in my general direction. So, putting on my reviewing head, I set to.

The object of this game is to zoom across America at top speed in the Prestige Car Race, not even stopping to get a Little Chef or collect your Tiger tokens. There are five levels of difficulty and on each there's a track made up of ten sections. Each track also has three locations - Arizona, NASA and Florida. Yes, I know this sounds confusing, but all it means is that the buildings on the horizon change every time you complete three sections of a track.

Although it isn't made clear in the inlay, you can choose your level of difficulty, and your car, before you race. The choice of car is between a Porsche, a Lamborghini (wooh!) and a Ferrari (even bigger WOOH!). And as you progress across America, you must avoid bumping into other cars, or driving off the road, as these will slow you down loads, as well as ruining your chance of a no claims bonus.

This game has some really neat touches - the car sprites are excellent and the way you whiz down dale and up hill, flying into the air if you hit a bump, is excellently done. However, the good points are far out-numbered by the bad. When I first saw a screenshot from this game I expected to be playing an Out Run type racing game, but on playing I discovered it has more in common with Pole Position, and even lacks some of the features found in that golden oldie.

There is no sense of achievement on completing one track, as you just go on to the next level of difficulty, beginning the same track again. It is also difficult to learn a track, as they just swing from left to right, and go on, and on, and on... There are no trackside landmarks such as signs, trees or advertisements scrolling by either, just the standard poles to give an indication of speed. On the earlier levels of difficulty it is also a rarity to see any other cars at all. You just go on whizzing left to right, left to right ad infinitum (it felt like it anyway).

There are also many annoying little things which mar this game, the major one of these being the 'Game Over' message. If you do not finish a section in the allotted time limit, then the 'Game Over' message flashes up on the screen - ten seconds before your time runs out! if you then complete the section within the ten seconds, the message disappears, and you carry on racing. This is annoying at best, and downright sloppy at worst. Also the way that cars hit you from behind, having suddenly appeared from nowhere and leaving you no time to avoid them, is very annoying and frustrating.

The only thing crazy about this game is the price, as it offers nothing new, and that which it does offer is available elsewhere, better and cheaper. Definitely one to try before you buy.

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 5/10
Value For Money: 4/10
Addictiveness: 4/10
Overall: 5/10

Summary: Run of the mill racing game adding nothing new to the genre.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 74, May 1988   page(s) 42,43

Label: Entertainment International
Author: Titus
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Wish fulfilment a go-go! 0-60 in three seconds, 200 mph top speed and the ability to crash straight into the back of any other car (however expensive) at any speed without detrimental effect to your own car, or the loss of your no claims bonus. If you're still a couple of quid short of the minimum deposit on a Porsche, and you're desperate to get out on the highway (yo! with your Springsteen tapes, you could do a lot worse than lash the cash on Crazy Cars from Titus.

Crazy Cars, as is thoroughly apparent from the screenshots, is (yet) another pedal-to-the-metal, punctured exhaust, no red lights, round the 3-D circuit with no care or attention excursion. The obvious comparisons with Outrun just have to be drawn. So I'll draw some.

For a start, the conversion of Outrun was an incredible task to undertake, and so lots of people were very disappointed that it wasn't exactly the same as the coin-op. Indeed, it was in the attempt to copy every single aspect across to the Spectrum that made O.R. a trifle shakey on the playability front; too many graphical 'frills' slowing things down.

Crazy Cars suffers no such problems. All but the barest trimmings have been chopped away; the buildings, signs and shacks in Outrun have been replace by tiny bollards every 100 metres or so. The road is the same width all the way - no chicanes. As a result, the whole thing has very much the feel of a mechanical, efficient program. There are hills and ramps which bounce your car into the air with varying severity, depending on your speed.

The other cars waver around in the middle of the track, getting in your way, and refusing point blank to pull into make room for you to overtake. Reminds me of the guy in the Porsche who nearly ran into me last night...

The graphics, as I've outlined, are reasonably simple. Each car is just about recognisable as its intended type. The Porsche looks a bit like a 50's space-ship it's true, but the Ferrari and BMW are fine.

The pace is, as far as I can recall, speedier than Outrun. You can get up to some fairly exhilarating speeds, and there's definitely some skill involved in keeping your car on the road.

It's a shame that there's no way you can change gears manually. Everything is done by the computer, and so your control only extends as far as steering and speed.

Should you crash into another car, you'll find that (quite uncharacteristically in my experience) you car will fly up into the air, return to the ground - like a Golf advert - and start driving again.

Although you can supposedly select which car you want to drive, I could find no discernible difference in handling whether I was driving the BMW or the Ferrari. Each car can achieve a ridiculous rate of acceleration (0-60 in three seconds) and has a top speed of 200 mph. Even better than a 3 litre Capri.

Crazy Cars is certainly more entertaining to play than Outrun. The courses seem more interesting, what with the severe hills and oil, and you get the dangerously exciting feeling that you're not really 100% in control of your car at high speeds. The game loses some points for its lack of 'polish', but it's definitely the most successful attempt at automobile-bound 3-D racing game to date on the Speccy.

Overall: 8/10

Summary: Few frills, but it's closer to a fully working Golf GTi than USG's Ferrari with a puncture.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 9, Jun 1988   page(s) 68

Titus £9.95cs

This car driving game was quite a looker on the Amiga, but unfortunately the game was far too easy to hold your interest for any great length of time. The Spectrum version has some good graphics too and the scrolling is fine, but again this game's just too easy to beat, which means the game just doesn't hold your interest for anything like long enough.

Ace Rating: 690/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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