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Kickstart 1.4?

Combo racer logo

R Combo racer IDING around the perilous streets of the City of London on a Honda H100s is one thing but roaring around a race track with a colour co-ordinated sidecar is another. That is not to say that I would not like to try, but I would like a little practive on say a Kawasaki GPz 550 first. However, failing to raise three grand for such a machine, I would rather spash out 25 quid for Combo Racer and play that.
After all, Combo Racer does have the advantage of being some £2975 cheaper, you do not get all hot and sweaty from wearing all the protective gear, your hair does not feel lousy as the sweat circulates over your scalp, and the only real damage you can do to yourself is to contract joystick finger or fall off your chair when you realise that this is a very good game (Bah! You big pansy).

Combo Racer is the product of one of the best programming teams in the country, Imagitec Design. Its playability largely depends on whether you like fast action racing games. Personally, I have had enough to last a lifetime, although I must admit I would rather play this than many others.
My first impression of the game was one of disbelief. The title page makes use of a truly awful digitised black and white picture of a motorcycle-sidecar combination.

There are eight tracks to race around and you will need to qualify for a starting position on each of these. Once you have completed all eight, you progress to the next level where the going gets tougher.
There are three levels and each must be completed beore being promoted to the more difficult stages. Your vehicle, equipped with a side car, carries both you, the rider, and a pillion whose job it is to keep the baike balanced around those tight corners.

What makes Combo Racer so playable is the inclusion of team spirit. Two people can play at once. However, they do not compete against each other but instead have ultimate control of the combination.
Joystick one has control of the machine while joystick 2 controls the pillion. Once both players have got the hang of the controls and know how to balance the machine, some pretty hair raising speeds can be maintained around those corners. In single player mode the human controls only the machine, the pillion crawls about under automatic supervision.

Although eight tracks are more than you find in many games, Combo Racer has the added advantage of a track editor. Accessible from the main menu screen, the track editor allows you to modify any of the existing tracks or begin from scratch and design your own.
Edited tracks can be saved to memory or permanently to disk. Those saved to memory can be practised and then edited again if required.

There is nothing more boring than racing around falt lanes, so the track editor allows you to create hills and valleys with fantastic effect. You can even dig out a tunnel or two along the course. One thing however you cannot do is to make crossroads – a shame but not too disappointing.

On technical merit, Combo Racer scores highly. Its graphics are fast and colourful with a rescaling routine that is second to none. The undulating motion of the screen when ascending or descending hills is very good, however hills do not seem to affect the performance of your engine.
The sound too is not harsh as in some racing games and the noise of other vehicles indicates that thre is someone up your rear end.

My only complaint is of other racers passing – the bikes simply fly, especially when you have crashed. Whoosh – a noise then a dot on the distance. Still this does not spoil what is really an enjoyable game.
Andrew Banner

Amiga Computing, Volume 3, number 4, September 1990, p.58

Combo Racer
Gremlin Graphics
Sound 11 out of 15
Graphics 11 out of 15
Gameplay 12 out of 15
Value 11 out of 15
Overall - 81%

Combo racer logo

GREMLIN £19.99 * Joystick/Keyboard

T Combo racer here has been a garage full of racing sims over the past year. So one has to be either very special or different enough to merit a second look. Combo Racer’s claim to fame is simultaneous two player action, with rider and passenger working together for speed.
Combo Racer has all the elements that a strong racing title requires. It offers a variety of courses for seasons of high speed action, and gives you the chance to try something outrageously daft at no personal risk. It even comes with a course designer to help out in the lasting interest stakes.

Controlled by joystick in the traditional manner (up to accelerate, back to brake etc) Combo Racer is easy to get to grips with. Precise changes of direction, speed and gears are required to even qualify, let alone race. The opposition is good enough to leave crash victims for dead and even the very best must struggle to win, while the undulating tracks, complete with tunnels, are varied enough to test a rider’s ability.

What makes Combo Racer different is the two-player mode, which allows racing in pairs. In a one man game the computer takes care of the passenger’s fiddly bits – shifting their weight to give the biker greater traction. In two player mode one person takes the handle bars, the other dons a helmet and controls the passenger. He plays a vital role because if he is not perfectly positioned a terminal flip is all too probable. Crashing costs time and loss of face. In Combo Racer it also affects the bike’s performance. Each collision costs 3% engine damage, and after a few shunts you soon lose the title of Racer and start looking at a funky Combo Moped.
Trenton Webb

Amiga Format, Issue 14, September 1990, p.51

Speed is the sould of any racing game and Combo Racer moves with eye-numbing rapidity. Corners loom with frightening suddenness, a factor complicated by the dips and rises on each course. The bike responds well, hanging on line if controlled properly, but dishing out big penalties in the form of crashes to the careless. Soundwise the game lacks convincing effects, with a simple engine sound and a tolerable intro tune.

The big plus points should be the track designer and the two player mode. The course creator breathes life into it, but only for people who find racing itself inexhaustibly entertaining. The two player option is disappointing, with the passenger’s involvement limited to corners. Even there it is simply a matter of pushing the stick to one side – not scintillating gameplay.

A first-class sim, but Combo Racer lacks the magical spark of a classic. The course designer will only interest die-hard bikers, while two-player games are too limited to be of consequence. Combo Racer is a commendable entry in a packed field, but lacks the poke to take pole position.


Combo racer logo

PRICE: £24.99

Combo racer There have always been simulations of most kinds of on-road vehicle – cars, motorcycles, quadbikes, trucks, pedal-bikes; you name it, there'll probably a game about it. Apart from sidecars, that is. Gremlin, in their ultimate wisdom, have sat up and taken notice of the gradual rise in the popularity of the sport of combo-racing and have produced a game based on this fast and furious pastime.

Combo Racer opens with a menu allowing the player to choose the amount of players, whether to go for a practice run or a proper race, and even to create new courses using the in-built track editor. Being a racing sim, the object is to win as many races as possible during the season. While one-player mode entails simply tearing around the track, in a two-player tournament player one controls the motorcyclist while player two takes the role of the chap in the sidecar, leaning left and right as each particular turn demands. At the end of each race, the first nine finishers receive a score which is added to their season tally – the team with the most points at the end of the racing calendar wins the championship. Can you be the one who lifts the trophy and sprays champagne over the crowd at the end of a grueling tournament?

There are strangely few road-race simulations based around motorcycles, and it's even more refreshing to see one which actually has a twist. Although when in one-player mode the addition of the sidecar makes no real contribution to the proceedings other than cosmetically, in two-player mode the human-controlled sidecar opera.

Graphically, Combo Racer is of a very high standard; bike sprites are impressive (although it's a shame that the opposition are the same colour as yourself), as are the multitude of backdrops which are meant to portray various parts of the world. The game also runs at a very nippy frame rate – vital to a game of this type. And then there are the effective sound effects, such as the engine noises which actually echo when going through a tunnel, the screech of metal against concrete when rubbing against a tunnel wall and the agonizing crash when you flip your bike.

All in all, Combo Racer is an extremely playable, good looking and addictive simulation of a dangerous motorsport, and the inclusion of the easy-to-operate course editor gives the game a lasting quality which similar products lack.

Paul Rand

CU Amiga, July 1990, p.43