Your stomach' s full of butterflies but now it's too late, you're sitting in a Grand Prix racing car and the green start light is just about to flash. With the strident countdown still rumbling in your ears and the smell of scorched rubber and the tang of hot oil burning in your nostrils, you blast away from the start.
In this simulation, your car must be taken successfully around a series of '1 4 circuits, shown in bird's-eye view. As you carefully accelerate and decelerate around the track, negotiating bends and avoiding obstacles such as bridges, careful steering is essential - misjudge a corner and you could go spinning off the tarmac.
A clock shows each car's lap time, and after the race you're ranked as a 'fair' driver or a master.
When Grand Prix Simulator was released for the Amstrad CPC this spring, Activision alleged a breach of copyright: the Code Masters game was too similar to the coin-op Super Sprint, Activision said, pointing out that it owned the license to that arcade game.
Joysticks: Cursor. Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: colourful but small and poorly-animated
Sound: good tune, but the car engine sounds like it's about to seize up
Options: two simultaneous players, definable keys
'Grand Prix Simulator is terrible. If you can actually find your car - not an easy task, especially on a badly-tuned TV, as it's only about four pixels long - then there's about ten minutes of interest here. There's certainly none of the addictiveness of a good racing game.'
MIKE ... 38%
'Ever wondered what it's like to race in a Grand Prix? If not, this is the game for you because playing Grand Prix Simulator WONT show you what it's like. The graphics are ultratrash, except for a bit of decent drawing on the borders; colour is badly-used because all the racetracks are mostly green and there's colour clash when you go near a barrier. Between games it sounds as if Donald Sinden has been bribed into doing some digitised speech. This won't be worth buying, even to the car-racing enthusiast'
NICK ... 46%
'I'd listened to too much hype about Grand Prix Simulator - now I'm very disappointed. The game is fiddly to control and has little of the addictivity of good arcade racing games. The characters are small - because the 'car window' screen is. But the speech is OK, if not quite up to I, Ball II standard! And I wouldn't be surprised to see this shoot to the top of the budget charts very soon - take your own risks...'
RICKY ... 41%
Cue Murray Walker impression - "And here comes the first contender in the highly controversial Grand Prix Formula One racing game stakes. Grand Prix Simulator, from the professional Code Masters team, takes the first corner and flies out in front narrowly missing the chicane. But the question on everyone's lips is will GPS make the flag, or is it really the pits?" That's enough impressions thank you very much!
This long-awaited race game that's been packing them in on the Amstrad, has now made it to the Speccy and it's not bad either. The idea is to power steer your tiny pixelated Formula One machine to three laps victory over the computer (or second) player. That done, you have the chance to battle it out on a new track with a more experienced and finely tuned opponent. No easy task.
Calling the game a 'simulator' is maybe stretching things a bit far. There is no chance to alter your car, you just have to drive it as fast and straight as you can. It skids and spins all over the place and often gets stuck in the barriers (unlike the 'bouncy' barriers in Super Sprint), bad news if you're behind!
As both cars look very similar picking your own out can be tricky, and the attribute clash doesn't help. But the excellent speech and addictiveness of play add brownie points to the value. Very similar to BMX Simulator in style and play, but then again that's no bad thing' Good value, good FX, good gameplay (good grief).
Broom broom. BMX's are out, racing cars are in. Why drive a silly pushbike round a dirt track when you can drive the real thing.
A Formula 1 racing machine with 200 horses under the bonnet (or something like that!?!)
And why wait for Activision's coin-op licence for Super Sprint when Code Masters gives you this now. Not that Grand Prix Simulator looks anything like the Super Sprint coin-op of course. Grand Prix Simulator is an entirely original game idea. Of course it is, ow! A flying pig just attacked me...
Anyway, let's get this review on the road.
In Grand Prix Simulator you drive your thoroughbred racing machine through... erm... well, quite a few levels. Either against a droid car or, in two-player mode, you and a friend can race each other.
Even in two-player mode, that ol' droid car is still present, just to add a bit more urgency to the race. And to move up to the next level all you have to do is simply get to the finish line in an allotted time? Alas no. To qualify for the next course you have to get a position better than the droid, ie you have to beat it. If you don't then you're out; in two-player mode this means that for you both to qualify for the next race, you both have to beat the computer generated car.
Graphically this game is not what you'd call stunning, but the tracks are laid out well and are hard enough to provide challenge.
Unlike BMX Simulator you are not just given bare dirt to ride on. GPS tracks have bridges to go over and under.
Also, narrow pathways are placed on some corners to be used as short cuts.
Audibly though, the game is quite surprising.
The title music is by that musico supremo Dave Whittaker and is well up to his fine standard. What is very pleasing is the clear speech that counts down the start of the race and tells you the results at the end.
Whatever the shortcomings of the graphic presentation, the one thing the Code Masters do seem to know all about is playability - it's really great fun and pretty flippin' addictive. Enough to drive ya crazy (joke).
Cracking stuff. Straight to number one, no probs, I'd say.
Label: Code Masters
Author: The Oliver Twins, Serge Dosang
Memory: 48K/128K (enhanced sound)
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
Code Masters, £1.99cs
The Oliver twins' Midas touch is bound to misfire occasionally, and here's a case in point. A viewed-from-above racing game, GPS suffers from small blobby car sprites and very unrealistic cornering. Cars crab desperately round bends, giving the game a distinctly Thrust-ish flavour (not to mention an air of silliness). Bright enough and quite enjoyable in its way, but even at five times the price Super Sprint's still worth a look.
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