Matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs

Rally Cross Challenge logo

SPRINT has been through almost as many variations in the arcades as on the home micro scene. The bird's eye view of a Grand Prix started out in single player, black and white, then added up to four players simultaneously, and lastly, in Super Sprint, was resurrected as a full colour mass Drive-in.

Rally Cross Challenge is another Super Sprint clone, and looks like a beautifully animated L.S. Lowry portrait.

Up to four players can race at once, using that rare beast the Special Joystick Adaptor. Otherwise it's a case of fighting for space on the keyboard.

If you can't find three other people, the computer will provide some. The anti-sexism group, Oasis, will be pleased to note that several women drivers are taking part. Then again, perhaps they won't be - the first one is called Sexy Legs. The mal racing drivers have equally silly names, like Rev Emup and I. Killem. No comment.

Although there are adjustments you can make to fine tune the cars. I miss the little presents Super Sprint left on the track to race for. Collisions between cars are also a let down - they merely hoot their horns at one another. In fact, at the start of a race they all sneak round the track in a tight pack, looking like a group of Killer Cars from a Monty Python sketch.

In an attempt to maximise the potential of the 68000 processor, "humorous" little sprites pop on to the screen, on holiday from IK+ no doubt. Heaven knows what will happen when we have the 68040 to play with. Night racing is worth seeing though - the headlights effect is very clever indeed.

Sounds are so-so, conspicuously lacking in the Tedious Little Jingle department. Tedious is better than none at all. The graphics on the other hand, are lovely.

Yet something is missing. That something which makes a game a success and one you will want to play for more than five minutes. With Rally Cross Challenge it's not hard to put your finger on that something - it's the way the cars are controlled.

Until a better standard comes along, we are stuck with the eight position switched joystick. No amount of different acceleration and deceleration options will make up for the fact that it's too darn awkward to play.

Rally Cross Challenge logo

ANCO £19.95 * Joystick

Another of this month's racing games comes from Anco, who are more famous for their brilliant Kick Off and a considerably less exciting range of strip poker games.

Up to four players can compete simultaneously in the game, which contains six different tracks to race around. Each race lasts for seve (or, later on, eight) laps of the track and the first three finishers qualify for the next race.

Points are awarded to the finisher and these points can be traded in at the start of each race for car enhancements such as better traction for improved road holding and a turbo boost to reduce the amount of time needed to reach top speed.

Spending points is a dangerous thing - especially early on in the game when you have few - because should you finish last in a race 10 points are deducted from your score: and if you have less than 10, it's game over and you have to start all over again.

Make it through a race and you'll find the quality of the competition improving, making it much harder to qualify for the next race. This is particularly true if you have to drive at night: darkness seriously increases your chances of clipping a hay bale or a railing causing your car to burst into flames and putting you out of the race for a few valuable seconds. So a pit stop has to be made to get your car fitted with headlamps. Even then, extra caution is needed.

On the plus side though, colliding with the other cars does nothing but slow you down a little and the computer-controlled opponents also go spinning off the road and into a barrier if they misjudge a corner or lose control. One particular hazard is the possibility of hitting one of the mysterious appearing and disappearing oil patches in the road.


All the action is viewed from above and all the tracks are jolly well drawn. There are several nice touches in the graphics department, including the occasional bird flying across the screen or a car revving up. All ver nice, but of course your attention is on the driving, so it's hard to appreciate these touches. The revving and honking noises made by the cars are fine and add atmosphere.


Comparisons between this and games like BMX Simulator and Super Sprint have to be made, simply because it looks and plays just like them. Your car does tend to handle just as you'd expect a rally car to, what with all that inertia, but even so it's much more of a simple racing game than a driving simulator and as such it has limited lasting appeal: though playing with four people at once can be great fun.

Rally Cross Challenge logo

Bei dem neuen Spiel von Ultra Graphix dreht sich alles um die "Hot Wheels"- Auto-Cross ist angesagt! Auf verschiedenen Rundkursstrecken, die an amerikanische Stock-Car Pisten erinnern, kann man seine Fähigkeiten im Kampf gegen Zeit, Staub und Gegner erproben.

Dazu bedient man sich am besten der (nicht gerade genauen) Joystick-Steuerung. Theoretisch lassen sich die Gefährte auch mit der Tastatur kutschieren, aber wirklich nur theoretisch! Darüberhinaus stehen noch drei Kontrollmodi zur Verfügung, um die Steuerung und damit die Fahrzeugbeherrschung zu verbessern.

Teilnehmen können ein bis vier Spieler, fehlende menschliche Konkurrenten ersetzt der Computer.

Während des Rennens erscheint am oberen Screenrand eine Art "Zustandsbericht" des Fahrers, dessen Äußeres nach einigen Crashs deutlich Wirkung zeigt. Sieger ist, wer nach ca. zwei Minuten die meisten Runden zurückgelegt hat.

Die Spielidee von Rally Cross ist nicht schlecht, und die Programmierer haben sich auch viel Mühe bei den Sounds wie Mötorenheulen oder Reifenquietschen gegeben. Leider fällt die Grafik dagegen deutlich ab: Außer dem (digitalisierten) Loadingscreen und ein paar liebenswerten Details (während der Nachtfahrt erhellt der Lichtkegel der Scheinwerfer einen Teil der Strecke) ist hier wenig Positives zu vermelden - die Spieloberfläche ist von enttäuschender Schlichtheit und erinnert stark an eine Spielzeug-Rennbahn!

Läßt Euch dennoch nicht abschrecken: Unsere Bewertungsmasßstäbe sind nunmal hart, aber als Low-Price-Programm macht Rally Cross eine recht gute Figur! (ur)