Would you buy a used car from this man? This was a question asked about Richard M Nixon and the answer may well have been no. But what if the salesperson is a three fingered green beast with no patience? Well, it's a matter of having to, if you want to win Jupiter's Masterdrive, an all shooting, all turbo spectacular set on the big J and its nine moons.
Plot is unimportant, as racing is the heart of the game. Watching from high above the track you have to guide a racer around a twisting, power-up strewn, course. The aim is to finish first, the reason being money. Then, you're able to soup-up the car so it's the meanest maternal motor
JM looks like the old coin-op Hot Rod, with the car staying central to the screen and the track rolling around it.
Three cars are in the competition, two can be controlled by humans while one always stays under the Amiga's guidance to make sure you don't get cocky. Initially, the cars aren't that quick and victory depends on possession of the racing line and using the forward-
The winner after three laps gets oodles of cash, second: a fair wad and the third place driver: his busfare home. Accumulated credits are spent at the friendly Jupiter Used-
The alternative way to smarten up your speed machine is by grabbing the icons that lie on the road. Cash, repairs, speed boosts, mysterious letters and countless other stuff is there, begging to be run over. Ad that's about it. The game progresses from three-way race, to bonus section, to race.
The vehicles change from dune buggies, to hot rods, to hovercraft, all with their own little foibles. When you trash the car - by repeated collision - or lose too many races then it's game over. Carry on winning and you ca go on collecting cash, and beefing-up the motor...
Jupiter's Masterdrive is deceptive. The concept is hardly new. The controls are simple and the power-ups predictable. The graphics are far from inspiring. It should not be anything but average.
Once you've entered into the game however, it starts to bite. The races are bumping, blasting, bashing, battles to the finish. The strange courses are complex, making survival hard, as does the introduction of the curious race craft. You've no time practice with these vehicles, the first time you see them is on the starting grid. All these add tension and the tension lifts the game.
Competitiveness is the secret behind Masterdrive. Computer cars screaming past goads you into trying time after time for the title. The cars travel just too fast, when boosted, to be controlled easily and the tracks are unpredictable enough to keep drivers on the edge of their seats.
Effectively the sum total of the various parts of the game: design, graphics, sound etc - belie the fun it is to play, making JM a pleasant discovery.