Up until yesterday, I thought ATV stood for Anglia Television. Apparently, I was completely wrong. It stands for All Terrain Vehicle instead. Or at least it does when you're playing Dirt Track Racer, because that's what you find yourself driving.
Zeppelin's new buggy racing game is an overhead-view multiscroller, with five courses and ten mud-pluggin' computer opponents to whizz against. Your little car (small but quite nicely drawn) stays in the middle of the screen as everything moves around it - which is pretty handy because all the other competitors look exactly the same, and it's the only way you can tell who you are! Ho hum. (Actually, another way is to leave the course completely and charge through the shrubbery, which is a bit of a laff - you won't get many points, but at least you'll get to see all five levels!)
The action zooms about really quickly, and pressing forwards on the joystick accelerates no matter which way you're facing. This takes some getting used to, but it works okay, despite the fact that your mini-mean machine wants to spin round in random, drunken circles.
There's a speedo and a damage meter, which you need to keep your eyes on - spend too much time off the road and the suspension'll get knackered, which is the only way you get to lose the game. Alternatively, you can collect tokens to upgrade your car or get it fixed. These don't just lie on the track you're racing down, but also on other roads away from the beaten track. Stuff like turbochargers, extra suspension and roll-over bars are available at a cost, so it's always worth rattling off through a hedge and doing a bit of damage to your ATV, in order to collect a juicy fifty pointer.
And all in all, DT Racer ain't too bad. The only bummer for me was that it made me feel really pukey if I watched it too close-up. It's a bit like an ancient game called Androids, which had a similar kind of scrolling - it sort of vibrated a bit (oo-er) as if you were up in a helicopter. But perhaps I've just got a weak tum.
So if you're into Super Sprint type games, you can't really go far wrong with Dirt Track Racer. It's an amusing little aperitif of a game. Well presented, set at just the right pace and with some nice twisty tracks to race around, it's one for all the family (if they happen to share a passion for All Terrain Vehicles and Spectrum games).
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB