Kompart return to grace the Amiga screens once again. After many months of pure speculation, Turbo Trax has finally arrived - in Ferrari-like fashion too.
Kompart, responsible for the abundance of Amiga releases during these last few months, are adding to their already well-developed collection a challenger for the likes of Overdrive and Roadkill. These weren't particularly successful compared to the likes of the late '80s Nitro. This was one of the few top-down racing games that packed pure challenge and action. The idea was to race against a series of opponents in various cars. A whole host of tracks were included making this one of the most pleasing and satisfying games of all time.
During the early '90s, Supercars was introduced on the Amiga format, later making its way across to the Amiga. This was viewed top-down just like Nitro, but where Nitro failed in terms of variety, Supercars filled the spot almost too perfectly.
Featuring an option to buy more cars and progress onto later tracks, Supercars' success was inevitable. What made Supercars incredibly popular was the fact it offered a different perspective. The idea of layered tracks was welcomed with open arms by games players everywhere.
After the recent releases of Roadkill and Overdrive, Turbo Trax is the latest top-down racing game. After being in the pre-production phase for months, will it finally pass its driving test?
There are three modes of play - Arcade, Time Trials, and Practice. The arcade mode is basically to beat five other computer opponents to cross the line first, picking up some cash to spend on your car to increase its handling and power. After you complete a race, you are given a number of items to buy to increase your car's capabilities. You can buy five types of engine, steering wheel, fuel and tyres. The better the component the more expensive it'll be.
In the arcade mode, the computer opponents are especially hard and the car in pole position always seems to be half way round the course before you've turned the first corner. It'll take an enormous amount of practice to enable you to come first, or even second.
To slow you down, various obstacles are placed on the tracks - the oil is undoubtedly the worst. Having said that, it's not as frustrating as you can imagine. On most racing games, sliding on oil will send you careering into the cash barriers, almost certainly putting you out of contention for first place. However on Turbo Trax, the frustration factor is set just about right.
If you do happen to be in an unavoidable position resulting in skidding over an oil leak, the worst thing that can happen is a simple 360 degree spin followed by a loss in speed. This enables the opponents to gain a little, but not so much that it ruins the entire race.
The other mode of play is Practice, whereby you can select any course, any car and can get to know each course, so when you come to take on the arcade mode you'll have an idea of the corners and where and when to brake etc. The last mode is Time Trials whereby you have to complete the lap in the fastest time which can then be saved to disk for future reference.
The car in pole position always seems to be half way round the course before you've even turned the first corner. It'll take an enormous amount of practice to enable you to come first, or even second
To help you in your quest for loads of cash and a decent reputation, there are all sorts of helping hands. You can pick up spanners which reduce your damage, money to give you something to enhance your car and turbos which will give you that extra speed - maybe enough to carry you across the line in first place.
There are three types of car which race on their own respective circuit. For instance, you won't find a Formula One tuned car on a dirt track. There are quite a few different styles of tracks, with around seven or eight mapped out differently. There are street, snow, dirt and racing tracks which require various types of handling because of the conditions.
Before you take on a track, you can tune your car to suit the circuit. Obviously, if the next track to race is a slippery ice track, the idea is to spend money on handling and grip by purchasing the steering wheel and tyres. There is little point in purchasing a high-powered engine because you'll spend most of the time going far too fast and spinning out of control. You have to master the car set-up screen before attempting a race of you will undoubtedly come nowhere.
The car sprites for top-down racing games are basically of a standard appearance. They are kept very simple because they have to be manipulated at every angle to make them smooth and fluent. Turbo Trax's sprites are simple, yet they work very effectively. There's no animation on the cars themselves because that would simply complicate the speed and definition.
The tracks and backgrounds are good, making it pleasurable to play as well as being easy on the eye. There are different kinds of scenery to add enough variety to keep you playing for a while. There is a street track which is mapped out with cones - these must be negotiated along with the other five vars to complete the track.
As Turbo Trax runs quite fast, it is difficult to see which bends and corners will be coming up. Memorising them won't work either because there are simply far too many of them to attempt. When you begin the arcade mode a random one will be picked as well.
The computer opponents don't really give you much chance of catching them, never mind beating them. It will take many weeks of practice until you are good enough to challenge for first place.
Finally, the sound effects are very realistic with engine noises and the screeching of brakes. These all add to the excitement and action - although not that much.