Grid Start logo

Amiga
Anco Software
Price: £9.95/cass

Many of Anco's early releases for the Amiga were frankly disappointing, with little, if anything to distinguish the titles from 8-bit renderings. Now, however, its range appears to be settling down, and at a set price of £9.95, the titles represent better value for money than many competing products.

Grid Start, as the name suggests, is a racing game, with you in a six gear Formula 1 car competing against 23 other drivers over six tracks of the world.

The instructions suggest that you practise hard for several laps before attempting to take on a championship race; also that you begin at Novice, rather than Amateur or Professional level. Wise words.

The presentation of the venues themselves on-screen is fairly abstract; while the bends and straights are reproduced where you expect them to be, the track surrounded is a uniform green, and only the scrolling backdrop gives a flavour of the geographical setting scrub and desert for Mexico; pine forest and snow-capped Alps for Austria, for instance.

Your car is easy to control, with most of the joystick movements self-evident: forward to accelerate, back to brake, left and right, press the fire button change up or down a gear depending on the current joystick position.

There is also a 'boost' feature to give extra acceleration for overtaking other cars. It looks as though it's joystick controlled only, despite the instruction card stating that joystick or mouse control is available from the main menu, this option is nowhere to be found.

Such simplicity makes Grid Start very playable and easy to get into; it is just a question of getting used to the controls, screeching down the straights, getting into position and timing your gear changes for the bends, and notching up the times. It also means that it is very much a racing 'game' rather than a true simulation. None of this full set of Formula 1 controls compares with Revs for example (the Silverstone chicane is a lot easier to negotiate on Grid Start than on Revs as well).

In both practice and competition there are other cars on the track to avoid colliding with; this is fine when they're in front of you and you're speeding up to overtake. However, as there's no mirror view, and your own car is drawn right at the bottom of the screen, it's all too easy to crash into someone coming up behind, whom you can barely glimpse before the big pile-up hits you.

Grid Start is nicely presented, with clear graphics, attractive background scenery, a jolly opening tune and lots of growing engine noises. Real Formula One enthusiasts will probably want to be released, but if you want to zoom round Brands Hatch et all, Grid Start is very playable. And at less than half the price of most Amiga software, it makes for an extremely decent little game.