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Hard drivin' 1 logo  CU Screen Star

Price: £19.99

I Hard drivin' 1 t has been a year when racing games truly found favour again both in the arcades and, subsequently at home. The Amiga has seen a steady stream of conversions and original games, with the latter, in the shape of RVF and Stunt Car taking the chequered flag for quality. Now we have a conversion to rank with them.
Hard Drivin’ must be one of the most hotly fancied games to top the charts this Christmas. It has been number 1 in the arcades for months due to its realistic blend of simulation and arcade thrills.

When machines like Turbo Out Run and Monaco GP concentrated solely on the racing aspect of their appeal, Atari’s coin-op attempted quite successfully to emulate the feel of controlling a motor vehicle at high speed. Its colourful 3D graphics enhanced the sensation more than usually.

The idea is to control your vehicle around two routes, the speed track and the stunt track, against the clock. The ultimate goal is to qualify for a championship lap against the mysterious Phantom Photon, a ghostly blue turbocharger that is not prepared to concede the title of top Hard Driver without a fight.

Domark’s conversion will come as a relief to fans of the coin-op – it is extremely impressive. Graphically it is nearly a replica, partly due to the fact that the backgrounds from the original have been downloaded, but also due to the attention to detail which has gone into the rest which have all been redrawn from sketches, right down to the cow standing by the shed at the beginning of the stunt track. Programmer Jurgen Friedrich who was responsible for the 16 bit versions of Star Wars has got his maths right again with silk smooth scrolling and fast updates. The sound too is particularly strong with many of the original effects sampled and a particularly punchy original introduction tune.

As a game I have my reservations about Hard Drivin’. Despite its undeniable quality, its realism is such that it has always reminded me slightly of a drive down to the supermarket – well on the speed track anyway, there are not any loops on the Finchley Road. Nevertheless, on the home computer it translates even better. The raw thrills of Stunt Car are not there, but these are replaced by an extremely absorbing challenge.

There can be little doubt given the quality of this conversion, and that it won’t be up there challenging for the top spot from the moment of its release.

Hard drivin' 1 compo
These 1/18 scale, radio-controlled roadsters won’t be winning the next 24-hour championships, but they will career quite nicely across the park.
Based upon the new Ferrari F-40, there is one to be won for the first five who correctly answer the following:
Who has started more Grand Prix’s in pole position than any other racer?
Answers on a postcard to Hard Drivin’ Compo, CU, Priory Court, 30-32 Farringdon Lane, London EC1r 3AU, by 8th January 1990.

Mike Pattenden

CU Amiga, December 1989, p.p.40-41


Hard drivin' 1 logo

Domark, Amiga £19.99

Hard drivin' 1 One of the most successful arcades games ever started life as a safety device, a simulator intended to save driving instructors from terminal nervous tension. But needless to say the allure of loads of dosh in the arcades soon distracted the programmers from this noble task. In short order the 1100cc mini-micro car was replaced by an extremely flash, high performance Italian car that can turn your average young driver into a stretcher case faster than you can say 140 mph. And just to help the process along, a peaceful urban route has been replaced by a Speed Track and a Stunt Track.

The latter has three main stunts: the Bridge Jump, the diabolically steep Bank, and the vertigo-inducing Loop-the-Loop. Keeping the car on the track is tough enough, but there are also plenty of other cars to run into and a time limit to make each of the three checkpoints per lap. The Speed Track has a more conventional layout, to better simulate normal driving, but the tough time limits ensure you break all speed limits.

Make a fast enough lap on either track and you get challenged by another law breaker, namely the Phantom Photon, to a race around the Stunt Track. A single crash will disqualify you, so this is one mean challenge. But if you do beat the Photon, your amazing performance is saved so that if you beat the new lap you get to race against yourself!

Obviously good control of your car is critical, so Domark have provided a variety of options. Probably the best is the mouse, with the two buttons controlling acceleration/deceleration. Press both and you get the brakes. Joystick works as you would expect – forward/backward controlling speed with fire activating brakes. Gears can be automatic, or manual with either keys or a second joystick replacing the gearstick.

For the future, Domark are planning data disks with additional cars, scenery tracks, and ultimately even a track designer!

Zzap, Issue 58, February 1990, p.77

Stuart Wynne Jurgen Friedrich has worked miracles cramming the coin-op into the Amiga, this really is a very close conversion which can be heartily recommended to fans of the arcade game. The lack of a steering wheel and pedals is compensated for by a nice combination mouse/joystick set-up and the graphics are great. But this closeness does cause some problems – just two tracks really doesn't offer that much depth Amiga game. The roads are also surprisingly empty, with just a few cars to avoid. Still, the data disks could solve these problems and there's no doubting what a great conversion this is.

Phil King The real thrill of the coin-op was its realism; with the lack of a steering wheel, gearstick, and pedals, the home computer versions always sounded a bit dubious! Although the mouse/joystick control is adequate it doesn't really give you the illusion of driving. Still, despite the odd bug the 3-D graphics are very good indeed and driving against the Phantom Photon adds an element of competition to this enjoyable driving sim.

The C64 game will probably copy the very fast Spectrum game, so let's hope for another Stunt Car Racer miracle!
u p d a t e

Arcade perfect presentation, choice of manual and automatic gears, control options.
Visually an extremely accurate and fast version of the arcade game.
Good intro tune and samples, but the in-game FX are a bit dull.
Control system takes a bit of mastering, but simulator effect is immediately compelling.
Ability to race against Photon and yourself provides good challenge. While two tracks do not provide much variety, promised data disks will improved this rating.
An excellent conversion of a good coin-op.