Badlands logo

Publisher: Domark Price: £24.99

I DON'T wear these sunglasses just to look cool, ya' know. I don't war them just to make me look like Tom Cruz - no way man. Although I have to admit there is a likeness. Especially when I have my crash helmet on and no one can see my face. I mean, if I was a bit shorter and a bit more handsome and spoke with an American accent no one could tell us apart. If I had my sunglasses on and my helmet.

Anyway, the real reason I war my glasses is to protect my eyes, man. You gotta be careful these days, ever since the Distaster. The Nuclear Disaster that is. The Big One. The Numero Uno. Le Grand Fromage. The El Supremo Disaster. The Disaster which made all the other disasters begin with small letters. Man, it was wicked.

But, hey, life goes on, doesn't it? OK, so thing are a bit harder these days. Back before it happened, you could sprint round a track with nothing but the occasional oilslick to worry about. Pick up a few spanners and you were away: Turbo boosters, extra-sticky tyres, power assist steering - you know the drill. Good clean healthy fun.

Man, that was history. These days no one goes nowhere without a full set of armour plating. You better believe it - just watching a race is now an official health hazard. Each set of wheels comes with a machine gun as standard, 'cos if someone is in your way you don't spend time thinking about tactics. You just convert his car into a Nigel Mansell special. Scrub it out.

Course, you still got all those Turbos and whatnots, but this time you also got rockets to buy. No one argues with those babies Hamma! And it's out with the replacement car. Now that's my idea of overtaking.

The circuits have changed too so don't expect no more pansy custom built race tracks. We race in the real world. Knackered cities, scrap yards, chemical factories, interactive car parks - in other words the worst man, the worst.

What makes it better is that you can also blow these dumps away. Sure, take a dislike to a certain chemical storage drum and Kerstlunch! It's gone. Oops, did I leave a huge acidic slick for you buddy? That's too bad. Hur, hur.

And when you raced all eight, you just turn around and race 'em again. Freaky stuff man, re-negotiating all them corners. That is, if there are any corners left. Sometimes the ground get's a bit weak, ya know? Tends to fall away in places, isn't the state of the roads shocking?

Yep, things have changed around here. Now you got yourself a real race. No more mister nice guy, if you had yourself a fine time with the old-style racing, you're just gonna love this one. Take my word on it. Or face the consequences. And my rocket launcher. OK?

Badlands logo

Once again, nuclear war has broken out. The planet Earth is trashed. Staying alive has become the ultimate struggle. But the Badlands survivors can't be bothered with finding sufficient food and shelter to enable them to continue the human race race. Instead they build very powerful and dangerous cars, take them to hazardous racing circuits and use them to try to kill each other.

There are eight of these perilous circuits bulldozed thorough the Badlands, the derelict remains of the previous civilisation. Each circuit can have eight hideously blasted backgrounds. Not the sort of place you'd let your kids romp around after dark.

The first circuit is right in the wasted heart of the city. The three competing cars line up, waiting for the off. Suddenly the race is under way. Full power sends you skidding into the first bend. You avoid the oil spills on the course, onl to slide into live electrical cables which have fallen into your path. You grind to a halt as your enemies stream past. Open fire with the roof-mounted cannon (fitted as standard) and you might still be in with a change!

Either one or two players may participate, with the other cars(s) being controlled by the computer. You can select the joystick configuration that you prefer: the fire button can either be used to loose off weaponry, or to accelerate. You can, of course, opt for keyboard control instead.

Each race is over four laps and you must collect the spanner symbols which appear around the track. These are also the prizes awarded to the winner and runner-up. Collect enough, and you can afford the optional extras to enhance your vehicle. Guide missiles come in packs of four; they destroy any car within range, forcing a new one to be airlifted in to where the old one died. This takes valuable seconds, giving everyone else an advantage. Shields can, however, be purchased. These can, however, be purchased. These are temporarily impervious to missiles.

Other equipment enhances the performance of your set of wheels. Speed boost, new tyres and turbos all enable you to burn past those which you haven't already destroyed.

The next circuit is an oil refinery. Using your weapons here might causes fires of Red Adair proportions, so be careful. If you survive, you'll get to race around a volcano, a military compound and even a prison. All have unique and rather nasty hazards.


Each course fits onto one screen, so many of the graphics are small. The cars look (and act) like little cartoons as they bounce around. Everything is smooth, however, and there are nice spot-effects for explosions, obstacles and so on. There is little in the way of post-holocaust atmosphere, though: it all seems rather jolly.

Sound is fine. A tense little tune attempts to remind you of the recent fate of mankind. The sounds of weaponry unleashed are OK, and enhance the game. The sonics don't detract from the gameplay, but don't add a great deal either.


Each new circuit poses its own hazards, and your opponents often take some beating, so there is instant addictiveness. However, once you have seen the courses and survived, there is nothing else to do except go round again. On later levels the computer cars speed up to Senna-like velocities, making it virtually impossible to win, eve with missiles.

Racing is a flesh-and-blood opponent is more satisfying, as it can develop (or degenerate) into static warfare. But ultimately this too is of limited enjoyment.


This form of highly dangerous sprint-racing in an (irrelevantly) radiation-blasted world is addictive and fun once you start to win. But, further on, when you start to lose, and when all the circuits start to look the same, you find the thrill palling somewhat. There isn't that much gear you can buy for the car, so you don't really progress: you just try to keep surviving through to the next race.

Badlands is quite a fun little arcade game, but, unfortunately, has a rather short half-life. There just isn't enough variety.

Badlands logo

Domark/Tengen, Amiga £19.99

The world's been devastated by a nuclear holocaust - which turns out to be really good news for motor sports fans: there's no rules, no race commentators, plus no shortage of petrol or hazardous race tracks. There are eight circuits, all viewed from above with room for three contestants. The only rule is you have to cross the finish line before a computer-controlled car (in two-player mode coming second to a friend is only embarrassing, not fatal).

Colour-coded arrows show drivers which route to take around the track, explosives go off and useful items appear such as missiles and wrenches. Pressing fire accelerates, pulling back fires bullets or missiles. If you survive a race you can visit a shop to spend your wrenches on improved tires, speed, acceleration and shields. Progressively upgrading these is essential to stay competitive with the computer car(s). If your car is destroyed, the only penalty is the short loss of time while waiting for a helicopter to bring your replacement.

Phil King Badlands is a fun two-player game, but it's really no advance over the ancient Super Sprint. The only new aspects are the ability to shoot and the additional hazards like rising spikes and huge pools of liquid spilt by toppled trackside barrels. You can't really blame the programmers (Teque London) - they've done a good job converting a rather crusty coin-op.
Phil King This is another excellent Tengen Amiga conversion, unfortunately the coin-op is a weak one. The game's appeal lies purely in fast reactions vital for winning, and earning wrenches for essential car upgrades. There are some good touches, such as being able to knock over water tanks, split open oil tanks and so on, but as you progress it's the same eight tracks over and over with ever more ludicrously fast computer cars. Nevertheless Super Sprint fans will love it, and it's certainly fun for a while with two players.