A new game from Micromega has become something to look forward to since Deathchase and Code Name Mat. Each one seems to be carefully crafted for a specific purpose from this software house that releases relatively few games. Full Throttle is the latest program from Mervyn Estcourt (Luna Crabs, Deathchase) and continues his theme of bikes, this time on the race track. Interestingly enough, Mervyn had never ridden a bike before work on this game. Towards the end, he felt he ought to get some experience, borrowed a friend's and rode off into the sunset, or something, leaving Micromega worried for his safety. As you can now see, he was okay!
Full Throttle is to bikes what Psion's Chequered Flag was to racing cars BUT with the addition of competition in the form of 39 other riders on the track. Unlike Deathchase where you only saw the handlebars of your machine, in Full Throttle your biker and machine are in full view ahead of you on the track. Maximum speed is 175mph and you can race on any of ten of the world's top circuits with your 500cc motorcycle. The circuits provided are Donnington (UK), Mugello (San Marino), Jarama (Spain), Paul Ricard (France), Nurburgring (W. Germany), Misano (Italy), Silverstone (UK), Spa-Francochamps (Belgium), Rijeka (Yugoslavia) and Anderstorp (Sweden). Information is provided on recent circuit records, average speeds and the winning riders name.
The display screen is elegantly simply in layout with circuit name, speed, position and lap number superimposed over the landscape. This consists of the grass, moving background and the track itself, black with white centre lines and cross-hatched shaded edges. Circuits are selected via a full display map of eacti using SPACE to select and ENTER to return to the main menu. The number of laps to be raced may be selected between one and five. It is possible to practice without other riders on any circuit.
Full Throttle is also unique in that it is a serious racing game because there are no spectacular explosions should you crash. Leaving the track results in your slowing down - running into other riders will result in almost total loss of speed as a penalty.
Control keys: good - 1/0 left/right, 9 to accelerate and bottom row to brake; R returns to menu and quits game or practice
Joystick: ZX 2, Kempston, Protek, AGF
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: not much but it is used very well and avoids worst of attribute problems
Graphics: neat, well drawn bikes, good fast scrolling landscape and some of the best looking 3D yet
Sound: continuous, with starter signal, revving bikes and engine note change, skid sounds
Skill levels: 1, although each track has its own difficulties
Originality: not perhaps an original idea, but the development of the 3D certainly is [...?] on the Spectrum and this is the first serious bike, road racer
'Have you ever seen Atari's Pole Position racing car game - yes? Well here is Full Throttle and It's a very similar form of game but on bikes. What's more - it's superb! The 3D is some of the best (if not the very best) I have seen. The game itself is fun to play and is exhilarating (I bet you can remember swaying on your seats playing Deathchase! This one will prove just as exciting). I found it extremely addictive partly due to the fact that the other riders are obviously of world class standard, and it will certainly be a while before I can pop any champagne corks! But I bet Micromega will be! With ten circuits to choose from, if (and when) you become champ at one, the rest will still prove very hard to conquer due to the fact that they each have their own characteristics, fast, lots of bends, even hairpins. Gotta be a Crash Smash!'
'Atari will have to pull up their socks if they want to out throttle Full Throttle! Perhaps Pole Position will have more colour though. The 3D graphics in Full Throttle are marvellous, the most realistic looking yet. The effect of the road going into the distance works brilliantly - you can see double bends before it vanishes. The other riders are all green, same colour as the grass, and a first slight disappointment turns to admiration as you realise why this simplicity - it adds to the realism. Also it avoids those ugly Spectrum colour attribute problems that tend to so bedevil 3D road games. The physical behaviour of your machine is also quite realistic, skidding with speeding too much on bends, very controllable with use of brake and accelerator, just like the real McCoy. A neat control key touch is That the brake will always override the accelerator, so you never have to take your finger off the accelerator key. I'm convinced This is going to be a big hit both for people playing alone and for group get togethers, especially as best times and positions can be calculated. Great!'
'First impressions of this game were that it was outstanding - a Pole Position like game where the road disappeared into the horizon and scrolled exceptionally well. On playing for a bit, I noticed it was even better, because the road does more than it does in Pole Position - it actually moves left and right across the screen instead of staying fixed (nearest the viewer) in the centre of the screen. Waiting on the starting grid I was startled when the flag went up and I couldn't see the other 39 bikers for dust. Are my reactions so slow? The handling of the bike is very realistic. When you take a left hand corner, because of the G-force, the bike automatically moves over to the right, and the faster you take a corner, the more the rider leans over. Hardly any details have been left out, for instance, if you move over onto the grass, not only does the bike slow down but it actually bumps up and down as well. If you come to a stop, the rider puts his foot down to support the bike, and if you wait for a while, or are too slow, the other riders will lap you, roaring by either side, and swerving to pass you. One small niggle; perhaps the colour could have been better used on the background hills, just to break them up a bit, and perhaps my bike could have been a bit more definite a colour than yellow - but these are really minor and trivial points. This is an entirely new breakthrough in 3D road racing type games for the Spectrum, and one which will make games for other computers blush - the Spectrum's done it again! Whatever has been said about 3D games before - this is a game that sets new standards. It's the ultimate programming feat (to date!) - you'll just have to buy it to see it.'
Good grief! This takes me back. I remember when this game came out! At the time everybody went coo, phweep, wow, cor, flip, zowie about it. It was with some trepidation that I loaded one of my old faves, hoping that two years of accelerated sophistication in games didn't kill it for me....
Phew! The loading screen was a bit dicey there. All puke green and migraine magenta. But the game looks fair enough I guess. Let's take it for a spin. Vrrrrroooom? Hey, not bad. Shame there's no gears, but I s'pose it's a bit easier as an automatic transmission jobby.
In its time this was a first class simulation. Fortunately time hasn't diminished its playability (or indeed credibility) in the simulator arena. Basically, if you don't own a copy of this genuine classic, then at just under three quid you can't afford not to have Full Throttle on your shelf.
No FT, no comment.
Roger: As a long-standing motorcycle fetishist, Full Throttle's simulator promises were fatally attractive to me and it absorbed far more of my time than I originally planned - however, I couldn't help having one or two misgivings.
Program content initially excludes Grand Prix bike racing authenticity; the player is offered a menu of 10 of the greatest Grand Prix circuits in Europe. Throttle, brakes and steering all function in an apparently realistic way - the 'racing line' you take through the corners is critical to speed - but complete control is difficult on the keyboard. The 3D graphics are fairly good but, compromised by a lumpy horizon, each track has a habit of looking the same. Worse still an absence of visual reference make 'learning' each circuit almost impossible, so anticipation is seriously limited; just naming the corners of each circuit would have helped.
Unfortunately, the whole thing crumbles into arcadia when the player gets fast enough in the saddle to ride with the pack. The other 40 riders hop about like a bunch of idiots... and bang goes the realism. Aspirant Barry Sheenes will bit Sinclair's finest with abject frustration as the opposition crank through the turns without ever crashing. 4/5 HIT
Ron: I found this game quite impossible to play - the only way I got to race with the rest of the pack was to let them lap me. 2/5 HIT
David: It's not the most colourful game I've seen, but it's certainly the best bike-racing game by far. Impressive 3D bikes and a selection of race tracks made this a winner! 4/5 HIT
Use of Computer: 94%
Getting Started: 92%
Addictive Qualities: 85%
Value for Money: 90%
The best way to describe Full Throttle would be a 'Pole Position on motor bikes'. For those of you who have never heard of Pole Position (?) the basic idea of the game is to race around the track avoiding the other vehicles and be first across the finishing line. There are 10 tracks to choose from and each have to be tackled in a different way. The best track to start off on is Silverstone. After you have selected a track you must select the number of laps you wish to race. You can now decide whether to have a practice run to get familiar with the track (there are no other bikes to race against if you select this option) or start the race. You start the race at the back of 39 other bikes which roar off into the distance if you are not quick off the mark.
Full Throttle is still the best racing game around - even the game from which it originally stems wasn't a match for it. The 3D graphics are breathtaking and the scrolling of the track is brilliant. There isn't much sound used but a game as good as this doesn't need it. Words just simply fail to describe Full Throttle it's great!
Full Throttle by Micromega was, to say the least, a pleasant surprise to us at CRASH. It still looks very good today and is undoubtedly the best racing game for the Spectrum. The much praised graphics are still excellent compared to today's software even though they are a little jerky at slow speeds. After a while I'm sure Full Throttle loses its playability but I'm still hooked.
(Rob) If I was forced to change any of the ratings I would put Addictive qualities UP by about 5% otherwise they all still apply today.
(Ben) I wouldn't really quarrel with any of the ratings, perhaps even a few % onto the graphics mark.
TT TRAIL BLAZER
GRAND PRIX motorcycling has increased in popularity tremendously over the past few years, so it was probably inevitable that someone would attempt to simulate the sport on a computer. Following the path blazed by Psion with the Formula One simulation, Chequered Flag, Micromega have produced Full Throttle, a hair-raising version of the Grand Prix 500cc TT races.
The game involves a race against forty bikers around any one of ten carefully simulated tracks. The controls are simple - accelerate, declerate, left and right. There is also a practice mode to give you a chance to familiarise yourself with the track.
The simulation is not as accurate as Chequered Flag, with 0-175mph in under three seconds, but the controls are extremely sensitive, and the bobbing and weaving of the riders lends considerable atmosphere. You should aim to take the lefthanders fast and the righthanders slow - if you hit the edge of the track you lose speed, and if you collide with another rider your speed drops to zero.
Graphics are not of the best quality, but on the whole match Chequered Flag, with a similar mountainous horizon and smoothly shifting track. The bikes themselves flicker, but with at least three or four in view at a time that is not surprising.
Beware; Full Throttle is maddeningly difficult. It took us many hours to achieve 39th out of 40 on the easiest circuit; the best attempt was 25th in Yugoslavia. Despite that the game is as addictive as any race game on the market.
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, Interface 2
One of M J Estcourt's games for Micromega. It is a motorcycle racing game - the two-wheeled equivalent of Pole Position.
Looking at it now the single-colour graphics for the motorcycles look pretty simple but certain things remain constant. It is very fast and very addictive. In its simple way the 3D effect of the other motorcycles on the track is most effective - the way they zoom into the distance, mere specks in the horizon, is depressingly realistic, and it happens time and time again.
Well worth a fresh look.
If you've ever felt the surge of power and the wind in your face as a big bike rushes past the one hundred mile a hour mark, then you could only feel disappointment when you compare the experience with riding a bike in a computer simulation.
In truth, the same has to be true of all simulations. Who, for example, would rather score the winner at Wembley in a computer game than to do it in real life? No contest.
But this does not mean that simulations are not fun and it also means that comparing sim-games to the real thing is no way of judging them.
This is true of Micromega's latest game - Full Throttle. The graphics are not the most amazing thing since sliced bread and it's ridiculous to say you really feel like you're racing against Barry Sheene at Silverstone. What you can quite honestly say about this game, though, is that it is fun.
This has been achieved by making the game a real race. The aim is simply to win. You are one rider in a field of 40. When the bikes roar off at the start, you may manage accelerate into 38th or 37th position, but from then until you see the chequered flag, it's a case of dodging, acclerating, cutting in at the bends and staying on the road if you want to work your way up the field.
Full Throttle borrows a nice touch from Psion's Chequered Flag in that you are allowed to choose any one of ten tracks.
If you are getting a race game for your Spectrum. I would recommend this one. Although th graphics are inferior to Psion's Chequered Flag and Atarisoft's Pole Position, it's a much better game to play.
SUPPLIER: Elite/£2.99 Classics
Full throttle is the first of the 100 or so back titles bought up by Elite and released at a budget price. We first reviewed it way back in '85.
This time you're placed on a 500cc Grand Prix motorcycle on the starting grid with 40 other bikes. There's a choice of ten top circuits, ranging from Paul Ricard in France to Silverstone. The race can last anything up to five laps.
Apparently, you're given the best bike in the race but that doesn't really help when you're skidding and crashing all the time.
Full Throttle is good fun at a nice price.
Considered a classic in its time, this aging Digital Integration game looks decidedly ropey by today's standard.
There are ten tracks to race around and plenty of opponents to overtake and bump into, but the controls are slightly sluggish, and there's attribute clash a-plenty.
If you're really after a motorbike game, save up your dosh and try Super Hang-On or Endure Race. If you're short of cash, you could always try Super Cycle, but that's only marginally better.
BIKERS WILL LIKE IT
Totally amazing sequel to Micromega's good-a-the-time bike race, Deathchase. Here author Mervyn Estcourt takes us out of the woods and onto the road, pole Position-style, for a selection of bike-meets from San Marino to Silverstone. With a field of 40 other competitors on hand the competition has never been fiercer. Initially the graphics might seem a little bland, but the animation of the bikes and perspective FX are quite brilliant. Just lean that sucker over and see for yourself! Being no stranger to the world of two wheels I can vouch for the authenticity of the movement.
There's a couple of nice extras for hesitant rebels, like a learners' practice mode (vital if you wanna make an impression on the rest of the field) and a variety of tough 'n' easy tarmacs to test. We were also due to have gear changes but Micromega thought that unworkable. A lucky escape methinks. It's also accident free! Collisions merely result in a harmless (but annoying) speed penalty. Safety first, eh? Be advised, though, that a taut 'stick is needed for prolonged rides. The keyboard layout is quite unmanageable.
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
CONTROL: Keys, Crsr, Kemp, Sinc
FROM: Micromega, £6.95
Throw away those leathers and gauntlets and that crash helmet. They're obsolete. Throw away your Honda 1000 as well. Because now that Full Throttle's arrived you can race on the world's top motor-cycle circuits using only a humble little Spectrum.
Graphics, animation, scrolling, and 3D effect are all superb. The combination provides a game which give you a real taste of high-speed bike racing with, of course, none of the nasty physical dangers.
One danger you do run, though, is frustration; it will take a considerable number of laps before you master the elementary techniques of riding, and even longer before you can overtake many of the 40 bikes in the race.
The program give you a choice of ten race-tracks. Each one has its own perils ranging from the hairpin bends of the Nurburgring in Germany to the temptingly long straights of France's Paul Ricard circuit.
Your rider is a vivid yellow while all the others are in green. Control, with either keys or joystick, is simple - left, right, accelerate and brake. As you roar away from the start and lean into the first bend you will admire the excellent feel of your machine. Then you'll go off the track. Eventually, after a few practice laps, you'll learn the character of the circuit and know which bends to take slowly and which at full speed.
Racing is a real challenge - hit the other riders and you drop back many places. Weaving through is nail-biting.
Anybody who played this game's predecessor, 3D Deathchase, will have high hopes of Full Throttle's accuracy as a simulation. They won't be disappointed.
It had passed through my mind of some time that there was a lot of life left in some of the earlier games for the Spectrum and now Elite has seen fit to market what to us old hands are indeed classics.
This program was originally produced by Micromega and received much acclaim in its time so how has time treated it?
Before going into personal opinion I think a description of the game is in order. It is a motor cycle racing simulation in perspective 3D and you have control over left/right turn and lean, accelerate and brakes either via the keyboard or joystick. You can choose to race any one of ten circuits, all of which I am assured are authentic representations, selecting the number of laps and practice or race mode.
Your view is of the track stretching out from the bottom of the screen and providing you are racing, other bikes disappear or loom larger as you are overtaken or overtake other riders.
In the sky, area information is given on the track, lap number, speed and position. You will skid it you take a corner too fast, slow down it you run off the track and slop if you collide with any of the other rides, a frequent event for me as they weave around unpredictably.
There is a bit of flicker, especially on the other rides and some colour clash when your cycle goes off the track, sound is a rather high pitched blipping which, with a bit of imagination passes for an engine noise. None of this spoils the game to any real extent and you soon get absorbed in trying to beat those computer controlled machines, all 39 of them!
It was great to replay this game, one of my old favourites, the original of which lurks in the depth of my program box, and it made me wish I'd kept it closer to hand. No it hasn't lost any of its magic and I'd still recommend it to you even if it was still at the original price. At £2.99 it's a snip if you haven't already got it.
Racing car simulations, following the blaze by Chequered Flag, have tended towards the disappointing. Micromega decided on Grand Prix motorcycles racing instead, and Full Throttle is a fine version of the sport.
Essentially very similar to the earlier game, with its curving track and sparsely detailed background, the game has one major advantage in that it is a real race, with forty other bikers to beat. Were the graphics not so flickery the game could be rated even more highly. A choice of genuine circuits with information on the lap records is a spur to the players achievement.
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