In September, The Race Against Time, a 10km fun run, will take place simultaneously all over the globe. As he did for Sport Aid '86, the Sudanese athlete, Omar Khalifa, will be carrying a symbolic torch from an African Relief camp fire to the United Nations in New York. Code Masters' The Race Against Time, profits from the sale of which go to Sport Aid '88, simulates his proposed journey around the world.
To gain as much support as possible, Omar's aim is to raise a flag and light a flame in a bowl on each of six continents within a time limit of five hours. Beginning in Sudan, he moves around the world using an intercontinental network of airports. Guiding an aeroplane cursor over a world map automatically takes Omar to the appropriate country.
Each of the six continents is divided into a series of horizontally scrolling national scenes. Trees and scrub melt into well-known national landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, the Kremlin, the Sydney Opera House and Buckingham Palace. A series of transporter arrows allows freedom of movement between more distant areas.
Each continent has its own particular hazards, such as collapsing bridges, falling bricks and moving rafts. Water and rain must be avoided at all costs; if the torch is extinguished or the allotted time runs out, the mission prematurely aborts.
Certain obstacles can only be countered using objects found along the way. Ranging from spanner to sandbag, these prove very useful when dropped in the appropriate place. Collecting hourglass icons also boosts the amount of time available.
Status displays show score, objects currently being carried and the countdown timer. As a flag is raised or a flame ignited, an icon at the top of the screen lights up - one further step towards the United Nations building and the culmination of Sport Aid '88.
Joysticks: Kempston. Sinclair
Graphics: a wide range of colour, but strongly 2-D backgrounds. Colour is liberal, but doesn't create too many clashes.
Sound: usual raspy effects, with a good translation of Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers as the (rarely heard) title tune
'Omar Khalifa runs his epic race against an extremely attractive background of colourful, detailed landmarks. Apart from a ubiquitous type of leafy tree, which has the ability to survive in every type of global climate, each nation has its own distinctive characteristics. Negotiating the world successfully depends on a combination of adept footwork and systematic thought. The puzzles themselves aren't overwhelmingly difficult - just hard enough to keep you going back for more. Exploration and analysis must be carried out with care; dither too long in one place, get lost in one of the more labyrinthine systems of arrows and before you know it, time has run out. Presentation is polished and scrolling smooth. Even the computerised version of Games Without Frontiers sounds something like the original. On the whole, an original, playable and compelling game. Considering where the money goes, a very worthy purchase.'
KATI ... 82%
'I have never seen such self promotion in all my life. It's no wonder Code Masters were the first software house to jump on to the Sport Aid bandwagon - there's so much self gratification and it's almost impossible to find out how to play the game. But it's all for a good cause, as they say. Most of the claims made on the inlay are a bit over the top (are all of the 100 screens really 'amazing'?), but the game does claim to be appealing to non-computer experts, and I would have to agree. The Race Against Time is a very simple memory game - just remember where all the objects are and where to use them and you've reached the objective. Getting from one location to the other present no difficulty whatsoever, so once the game is completed your £5 is all used up. After playing it for a few hours I reckon that situation could occur pretty quickly. Simple fun for a good cause though.'
PAUL ... 70%
'This game makes a welcome change from the usual Code Masters products. The word simulator is nowhere to be seen, just the many wonderful sights of the world all packed into one cassette box. Each screen is full of detail, with places such as Buckingham Palace and the Sydney Opera House around every corner. Colour has been used well with the minimum amount of clash, but the sound is just the usual raspy Code Masters sound effects and a Peter Gabriel tune. I really enjoyed running around the world discovering what to do with the various objects. The Race Against Time is just good clean fun with the added bonus of your money going towards a good charity'
NICK ... 80%
Probably the single biggest problem facing a reviewer is how to handle charity games. Inwardly you may be groaning at their gottiness - but you're loath to voice your criticisms because you won't just be stopping some fat cat lining his pockets - you'll be stopping cash filling the coffers of some worthy cause!
That in mind, it's nice to report that there are no such reservations about this year's charity biggie at a budget price. While you'll have to wait till September to pound the pavements in the Sport Aid fun run, you can indulge in some micro athletics - with all profits going to the needy.
Surprisingly enough, Race Against Time isn't a joystick jiggler in fact it's really a test of mapping and mental skills - an arcade adventure set in five continents (not five incontinents, dummy), featuring Omar Khalifa, the leg-endary Sudanese runner (and what legs, indeed), who has to run from his tiny village, lighting Olympic beacons and raising Change The World flags (I'd like to change it for a larger size, please).
All this running takes you right around the globe. and as even Omar ain't expected to walk on water, there are airports to find. Reach the Departure Lounge and you get to choose your next destination on a map - and don't worry about smoking or non-smoking - your Olympic torch means you're in the former!
There are other problems though, as you hot foot it with your flame. Any sort of water will turn your bright torch into a sizzling squib, so you've got to stay dry at all times, which isn't easy when there are rivers to cross and fountains to avoid, to say nothing of sudden showers.
As always in an arcade adventure, help is at hand in the shape of certain unlikely objects which have been scattered around the cities of the world. For example, you can turn off a fountain with a spanner, but as the former's in Rome and the latter's in Asia, let's hope you've not left home without your travel pass!
You'll also have to move pretty fast, because starvation waits for no one, and you only have five minutes to complete your quest. FIVE MINUTES! Well, not quite, because you can pick up hour glasses to gain an extra couple of life-saving seconds, and you'll need them.
This isn't the most difficult program you'll ever pick up or the most original. But it's good solid entertainment as you race around the world in 80 ways, taking in the backdrops. And if you wait long enough there's a Spectral version of Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers to accompany the demo mode.
I could say that this really is a game to give you the runs, but a lavatorial pun somehow seems out of place here. To the starving children of Africa, diarrhoea ain't no joke. So like Saint Bob would say, "This game saves lives. $*!*ing buy it!"
It's that Sport Aid time of the year again, and this time the boys at Codemasters have taken it upon themselves to produce an original charity game, rather than the compilation effort that the industry usually manages to cough up.
The question that you all want answered is: is it easy to be charitable about The Race Against Time? It certainly has good credentials. Programming is by the Oliver Twins, and production by the Darlings. The packaging is nice, and gives you plenty of details about the worldwide marathon race planned for September 11th, where to buy your T-shirts, and how the money raised will help 218 countries to fight poverty, hunger and disease. The music for the game is based on Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers, and the main character represents champion marathon runner Omar Khalifa.
So far you're probably thinking that I haven't managed to talk about the actual game. That's because there isn't that much of it. Your task is to visit 6 continents, searching for various objects which will allow you to raise a flag and light a torch on each. There are around 100 scenes, some of which feature famous landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Mount Rushmore and the Kremlin. Others, though, feature nothing at all. Not a sausage. Well, a couple of trees or a rock. The only functions these scenes serve is to waste your time as the clock ticks closer to zero.
You can pick up hourglasses which give you extra time, or objects such as stools, sandbags and coats, each of which serves a specific purpose. The stool, for instance, helps you to climb over obstacles, the coat, I think, stops your torch getting wet in waterfalls.
Some of the scenes feature little arrows, and by standing on them and pulling the joystick down you move 'into' the scene. Eventually you find the right objects, light the flame, raise the flag, and dash off to the airport to head for another continent (by moving the plane symbol around the world map).
So there isn't a tremendous amount to the gameplay. Now I could forgive that if the backgrounds and animation were great. But they aren't. The running figure (whose footsteps are strangely out of time with his running) is unconvincing, and some of the backgrounds are dreadful; the figures on Mount Rushmore look more like the members of Queen, and the Leaning Tower looks like a multi-storey car park.
Since it's all for charity, I suppose you really ought to force yourself. But bear in mind that it costs a fiver (not £1.99) and if you're buying solely on the principle that you're going to get a stonking good game, you're going to be a bit disappointed. However, if you're feeling charitable, go for it. What's a fiver between Friends of the Earth?
Author: The Oliver Twins
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad
How are you really expected to criticise a game which it is hoped will raise loadsamoney for Sport Aid 88, the charity fighting hunger, poverty and disease among children worldwide? To say anything against it would be churlish to say the least. Even if this game's bad, it's good. Right?
And, in fact, what we have here is a quite decent arcade adventure for a fair price.
However, most of the praise for this game comes from Codemaster themselves. Just get a load of the blurb.
"Another great game by the Oliver Twins." Well, it's another game by the Oliver Twins. But great? "An excellent example of how compulsive and addictive a game can really be!!!" That depends on what other games you've ever played.
"Absolutely brilliant - this is one of the best computer games ever written," Now steady on! That really is going too far.
In Race Against Time you play the part of Sudanese runner Omar Khalifa. He's the athlete who back in 1986 lit a torch from the campfire in on African village and ran with it through Europe and the United States to launch Sports Aid.
Nicely programmed and playable, Race Against Time has to be a recommended buy. It even has Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers as a soundtrack.
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