Moonshine Racers logo

Millennium * £24.99 joystick

Moonshine Racers - an everyday tale of hooch-running folk and their never-ending battle against the evil customs men. You've played the demo, hummed the tune; but what is it like as a fully fledged, foot-to-floor, game?

Moonshine Racers is a road-race epic where, for a change, you play the villain - in a heroic Robin Hood sort of way. You have to haul a load of 'shine to the next country, but, in your way stand West Virginia's finest (or at least fattest) lawmen.

Driving a beaten, but souped-up jalopy you have to negotiate the maze of tracks and country roads to avoid the police. They however, like a demented Chase HQ crew, will try to ram you off the road, eventually damaging the truck so badly it has to stop.

The point of the exercise is deliverance, of the 'shine kind not Burt Reynolds! Firstly, your aim is to avoid being caught. Secondly, you must make the trip without spilling too much hooch so as to maximise your profit before the truck becomes so undriveably damaged, and time runs out.

Finally, the aim is to reach the end of each stage first. You're racing against fellow 'shiners here who are, practised in the art of cutting corners, so the competition is tough.

Jalopys R Us
Moonshine Racers uses this different plot well, creating an original theme and structure for the game. Car based romps have gone to some ridiculous extremes to involve the most powerful scarlet motors around. Moonshine however, takes the opposite tack, by making the main star a beaten old jalopy. The music supports this with 'duelin' banjo style music.

The appeal of race games comes as much from the speed as from the theme. Moonshine lets you hack through the back roads at a fair, but not stunning, speed. The two lane blacktop's habit of ducking, diving, bobbing and weaving, somewhat makes up for this, but it is the highway obstacles that make the real difference.

Each has a specific effect, which must be either used or dodged. Barrels of 'shine can be collected to top up your bounty, but the road blocks must be avoided or the law will immediately attach themselves to your back fender. Others start to erode the cars performance, while roadworks provide handy ramps that can be used to get airborne in Duke of Hazzard style.

The Beer Hunters
The split motives help to add tension, as you are trying to constantly balance four very different sets of conditions. Only if you finish first, with an undamaged motor and a truck load of booze will you gather enough cash to boost the car at the local shop.

And if you don't uprate the car you ain't going to finish first on the next stage. To this end you're given an almost unlimited turbo boost. If you're behind just pour some moonshine into the tank and you crank up the revs. The problem is that the more you pour into the engine, the less there is to sell at the other end of the course!

Moonshine combines all the various elements of a standard race game, plus a whole bag more, but it never makes the classic grade. For all the extras the car never gets stunningly fast.

The theme is amusing, and has been used well by the designer, but it doesn't exactly scream "play me". However, this can't stop Moonshine (the game not the drink) being fun. It's full of character and is reasonably frantic, employing new motives to get you hacking through the backroads of backwoods America. Drawing on the cultural myth of moonshine runners gives the race game formula new life and a fresh face.


Moonshine Racers
Fat Sam the Sheriff. One mean hombre.

Moonshine Racers
Engine temperature gauge. When it tops out you stop.

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A handy map, shows how far until the finish.

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Gear select/display.

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Your trusty shine mobile.

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Speedo, use it to judge the gears.

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The Larch.

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Your faithful co-driver, Bob.

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'Shine left on board. Turbo it, sell it or drink it?

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Wer beim Stichwort "Autorennspiel" stets an röhrende Boliden und Champagner für den Sieger denkt, hat hier mal falsch gedacht: Wie wär's mit einem abgetakelten Lieferwagen und Whisky statt Schampus?

Während der Prohibitionszeit ergab sich im Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten ein völlig neuer Berufsstand: der des Schwarzbrenners. Aber mit dem Brennen allein war's nicht getan, der Rachenputzer muß;te ja auch zur nächsten Abfüllstation geschafft werden.

Womit wir beim Anfang dieses Games wären: An der Startlinie steht man mit seinem Fusel-Transporter neben anderen Gesetzlosen (alle bis zur Dachkante mit Feuerwasser beladen) und wartet auf das erlösende Signal.

Tuuut - schon entbrennt ein Kampf gegen die Konkurrenz, die Zeit, diverse Hindernisse auf der Fahrbahn (manche davon sind auch "Pick Ups") und den Sheriff, der die Schmuggler von der Straße drängen will.

Bildschirmanzeigen informieren über den Vorrat an Zeit und Sprit, die Öl-Temperatur und welchen der zwei Gänge man gerade eingelegt hat; außerdem ist eine kleine Übersichtskarte zu sehen.

Wer seine Ladung heil ans Etappenziel bringt, darf sich im Shop mit Extras wie neuen Reifen oder einem Turbolader (den es damals eigentlich noch gar nicht gab) versorgen.

Beim Sound gibt's zur Einstimmung Hillbilly-Musik, im Spiel selbst dann gute Effekte. Von der etwas ruckeligen Grafik, aber auch vom Spielerischen her wirken die fünf Level von Moonshine Racers wie eine Wild West Ausgabe von "Out Run".

Dank der ordentlichen (Stick-) Steuerung ist das zuerst ganz lustig, aber auf Dauer läßt die Motivation doch spürbar nach - nichts für ungut, Boys! (Hugh Myashirov)

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Ike and Billy-Joe are good ol' boys. There's nothing they like better than a spot of moonshine, except perhaps making money by running the stuff all over the county, despite the best attempts of Sheriff Sam to bring an end to their criminal tomfoolery. This happy tale of simple country folks only needs one more thing to make it complete - a Chase HQ-style computer game where you play the bad guys! And wouldn't you just know it, what should plop through our letterbox but that exact same thing?

It has to be said, this game's got some darn tootin' fine music to it, with top-notch banjo plucking of the very highest order. Other great things it's got going for it include a really nice intro sequence and, er, um...

Yep, it's a clunker. Moonshine Racers is a godawful OutRun clone with slow, jerky, primitive graphics and gameplay more two-dimensional than a piece of tissue paper that's been run down by a steam-roller.

The road lurches around in a completely implausible manner, and the old alternating-stripes-to-create-the-illusion-of-speed effect has rarely been so ineffectual, not to say nauseating. Don't waste your time with it.

Moonshine Racers logo

During the late seventies, 5:15 on a Saturday afternoon was a time when kids all over the country were engrossed with the thrilling adventures of those popular Duke boys, their uncle Jessie and the delectable Daisy - not to mention Boss Hogg and his bumbling sheriff, Enus. Thankfully, the Dukes Of Hazard's TV run only lasted a couple of years or so, when it was superseded by a trendier, more action-packed programme.

However, Millenium have now taken the basic theme of the naff American series and incorporated it into their entry to the race genre. By assuming the role of a couple of southern county Hooch smugglers, Ike and Billy-Joe, Moonshine Racers is a novel twist on the ancient 'race against time' theme.

The Moonshine of the title is a potent, home-grown whiskey which is quaffed illegally by the locals. However, the production of this liver-rotting fluid is illegal, so the Boss Hogg-inspired Sheriff, one 'Fat' Sam, along with his daughter and dog, have dispatched squad cars to ram them off the road and stop the delivery.

However, if the delivery goes get through, then Ike and Billy-Joe can upgrade their rickety old truck's facilities with better engines and tyres - in addition, the hooch itself provides a useful nitro-style boost, but your bonus depends ona set amount of Moonshine reaching its destination.

The idea is basically a twist on the Chase HQ theme. The use of words such as 'Hot Diggerdy' and some neat banjo music create a humorous and enjoyable atmosphere.

That said, the basic problem with Moonshine Racers is the speed of the action. As it stands the slow speed and jerky update - even when faster vehicles are bought - kills off any feeling of speed, and leaves Moonshine Racers with bags of potential but nigh-on zero playability. A great disappointment.