Idiots at the wheel...

Big Run logo

STORM £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Driving games are a reviewer's nightmare. They're never any different from the million or so other driving games, and there's never any plot to waffle on about for a couple of hundred words.
So how do you fill a page when you're dealing wit yet another Out Run wannabee? I suppose I could fill in with some relevant driving anecdotes, like the one about how I once drove my Mum's mini into a huge puddle and filled it with water.
Or I could moan about how it took me nearly half an hour to chip ny car out of a block ice this morning. And my hands were bloody freezing.
On the other hand I could just launch into a soapbox-style rant about how sick I am of playing unimaginative driving games every day. Yeh, that sounds like fun.

I don't know about you, but I need another driving game about as much as I need a llama spit in my face first thing in the morning. We've seen hundreds of them and to be honest, Lotus 2 has really pushed this particular genre about as far as it can go. And still they come...

This latest variation attempts to recreate the Paris to Dakkar rally in pixelated form. Not that this actually changes the game in any way, it just means that you race through the Sahara with all its inherent scenery changes. So you set off on six levels of driving action, attempting to beat the other competitors. And that's all there is to it.

As games like Lemmings have proved, simple gameplay needn't mean that a game's boring, but when you've seen the game a million times before you can't help feeling that there's something more needed. The danger with this sort of game is that the player will just go into autopilot while playing.

You don't really pay attention to the game, you just react to the road and dodge the obstacles without a flicker of response. And that really isn't what a game should be like, right?

It's not as if the game is technically incompetent. The sprites shift at a fair old speed, but then so do most driving games these days. The same applies to the graphics - they're OK but who cares? Very few games nowadays have really crap graphics. It's one of those games that slip right past you. No "oomph", no new twists, just another car zooming down another road.

With nothing new to add to the glut of racing games o the market, Big Run is destined to vanish without making too many ripples in the software pond. If this had been released two years ago we'd have loved it to death, but in these modern technicolor times, it just doesn't cut the proverbial mustard. Just another driving game when all's said and done.

Big Run logo

Storm * £25.99

More whizzing about, but this time across country in the Paris-Dakar rally. Big Run gives you six increasingly difficult races (well, they're not going to get easier, are they?) from Paris to Dakar, taking in the luvly vistas of the Saharan desert en route.

As racing games go (and they do), this Jaleco coin-op conversion isn't anything special. You;ve only got two gears to worry about (low and high) - that, and about 20 other homicidal, and better than you, drivers.

The graphics unfortunately become extremely pixelly when you get too close to them and your car suffers from the three-frame syndrome (facing forwards, left and right). The sound effects are mangy to say the least, but there's a nice bit of hefty music before each stage.

With only six stages to work your way through you'd expect a bit of a challenge. Actually each stage is relatively easy and you'll probably complete the entire game within a day, leaving you with a pretty box and very little else.

Sandsturm im Wasserglas

Big Run logo

Jaleco's Arcade-Version der Rally Paris-Dakar war an sich ganz nett, fuhr allerdings schon in der Spielhalle der hauseigenen Konkurrenz "Cisco Heat" hinterher -seither geht's überhaupt nur noch bergab...

Bereits die letztjährige Umsetzung auf's Super Famicom war eine Enttäusschung, der lahmen Rückel-Grafik merkte man es kaum an, daß hier der spezielle 3D-Chip unterstützt wurde. Jetzt ist das Game auf den Amiga gelandet und damit endgültig am spielerischen Tiefpunkt seiner Karriere!

Im Prinzip muß man sich Big Run wie ein in die Wüste verlegtes "Out Run" vorstellen -nur darf man sich halt keinen chicen Ferrari mit hübscher Beifahrerin, viele Gegner oder gar rizvolle Landschaften erhoffen.

Die Konkurrenz läßt sich hochst selten mal blicken, meist pflügt man mutterseelalleine durch den Sand.

Im vergleich zur Version fur Nintendos Renommierte Konsole ist die 3D-grafik etwas schneller geworden, ansonsten ist sie immer noch öde, farblos und stellenweise richtig haßlich. Die Titelmusik ist Fetzig, und mit den Effekten kann man leben, auch wenn quietschende Reifen im Sand nicht gerade wahnsinnig realistisch sind. Die Handhabung geht ebenfalls in Ordnung; -lenken und zwei Gänge, da läßt sich wenig falsch machen...

Beim Rest hingegen schon: Zwar gibt's hier sechs Etappen bzw. Level bis zum Ziel, drei Credits und die üblichen Screenanzeigen (Tempo, Plazierung, Zeit), aber samtliche halbwegs interessanten Features der Super Famicom-Version wurden ersätzlich gestrichen.

Naja, wie braucht schon verschiedene Autos und Extras bzw. eine Reparatur- Option? Wir nicht. Wir brauchen das ganze überflußige Game nicht! (mm)

Big Run logo

Big Run is a faultlessly observed sim. Not, unfortunately, of the Paris to Dakar rally which, according to the blurbs on the packaging, it's based on. For one thing it starts a few thousands miles too late in Tunis and I doubt there are many huge raised ramps resting on top on neat, symmetrical rock towers in the middle of North Africa.

No, what Big Run is a sim of is a motor racing coin-op conversion, and it flawlessly imitates every cliché of the genre. We're not after reality here; who wants to put up with kamikaze camels, blistering heat that bursts your tyres and a windscreen that's constantly gunging up with dust? Nah, what these burn-'em-ups are all about is jamming the joystick forward and weaving at top speed through cars, rocks, barriers and other obstacles.

Big Run really has nothing new to offer. The graphics are serviceable, but over-familiar, with stripey roads endlessly rolling towards you and barriers and rocks appearing from and disappearing to nowhere in the flash of an indicator.

The sense of déjà vu that sets in by the third or fourth level doesn't purely come from having seen it all before in other driving games, however: apart from the addition of a few mud huts and the occasional river, all the six levels are so similar you can't help thinking "Hey, haven't I done this road before?"

The control method is of the thumb-numbing ram-the-joystick-forward-for-the-entire-game variety. You change from high to low gear with the fire button - make sure that you've got a comfortable joystick.

Not that you'll be playing it for long. If you're an experienced computer driver it's not going to take you more than half a day to get through all the levels. OK, you can try and improve on your score with faster times, but I doubt you'll be bothered.

This isn't actually a bad game, but most people will get bored with the red and brown landscapes, the same red opponents and the same sound effects pretty quickly.