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Zeppelin * £7.99 * 091-385 7755

Moving swiftly and sure-footedly from trucks to cars, without even putting a foot on the ground, we come to Carnage. Another vertically viewed racing game. This time, you are in a car of microscopic proportions - it looks as if it's been ported from Sim Ant.

Three other cars, which can be controlled by other players, are lined up on the diminutive grid, and the idea is to race round, which Badlands-like, is all fitted on to one screen.

Controlling the vehicles is standard for this sort of game. You will nevertheless spend a fair amount of time bouncing off the walls, the other cars and finally off the screen (well, your skull will, as you get closer and closer to it, trying to see what the hell is going on down there).

The game is well programmed - the cars move in the bouncy sort of Tonka way you'll have seen may a time with this sort of thing. You stand a good chance of winning as long as you don't collide with anything.

Despite all this, the game isn't bad, but it isn't very good either. You'll find yourself getting bored with it after a couple of circuits. And this boredom will increase until it engulfs your family, your road and finally the whole world. Can you afford to take this risk? Actually, the game is unlikely to do this, but it is uninteresting enough to warrant having this absurd joke made about it.

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Das Wörterbuch übersetzt den Titel des neuen Budgetgames von Zeppelin mit "Gemetzel" - wenn damit sinnloses Bytevergießen gemeint ist, schließen wir uns dieser Interpretation gerne an!

Konkret wird der Rennsport Fan hier mit einem "Super Cars"-Klon der schlichtesten Sorte beleidigt - am A1200er allerdings nur, wenn er zuvor "Disable CPU Caches" angeklickt hat.

Die ein bis vier Teilnehmer dürfen bei dieser traurigen Veranstaltung jeweils ein winziges Wägelchen über insgesamt 16 Strecken steuern: sollten tatsächlich mehr als zwei mitmachen wollen, braucht man entweder ein Joystick-Adapter oder die Bereitschaft, auf die Tastatur auszuweichen. Überzählige "Boliden" schnappt sich der Computer.

Sobald die gräßliche Titelmelodie verklungen ist, die gewünschte Tastenübelegung feststeht und auch die Soundeffekte abgewählt wurden (empfehlenswert!), geht es unter Zeitdruck zur Sache: Unliebsame Konkurrenten läßt man mit dem eingebauten Turbo an Auspuff riechen, ganz Hartnäckige schüttelt man mittels begrenzt vorrätiger Minen kurzfristig ab. Preisgelder, die sich in die Ausrüstung des Autos investieren lassen, winken natürlich nur auf den vorderen Plätzen.

Die Grafik bekommt somit schonmal kein Preisgeld, denn hier zuckeln die bunten Mini-üSprites über aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigte Kurse, die in ihrer gesamten Tristesse auf einem Screen Platz finden. Ja, und wer entgegen unserem Rat die Begleit-FX angewählt hat, darf sie im Spiel mit dem Richtmikrofon suchen - Strafe muß sein!

Alles in allem retten also lediglich die passable Handhabung und der windüschnittige Preis das Teil von der Total-Katastrophe. Kurz und umweltfreundlich: Ein Autorennen für überzeugte Fußgänger... (rl)

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Funny that. I've been playing this game on and off for a week now, and i've only just noticed that there's a blatant, hideous, and for all I know, entirely unintentional pun in the title. I would have rated higher it both bits of the pun had worked, for instance, if it had cartoon graphics of cars and was called 'Cartoon' I'd have been impressed, but I haven't the foggiest what a 'nage' is.

There are only a few things to say about this one. I like it, and it's one of those Super Sprint games where you race round in cars and view the tracks from above. Not that it's got the hallmarks of being a good game.

On first inspection, your reaction is to go "Bluurg". I mean, look at the screenshot, the cars are all single-colour and about two pixels square, and there's no excuse to use any gratuitous parallax scrolling. Even when you first play it, you get the feeling that this is a real dog with fleas.

Then you start playing with a friend, or even three other friends, find out you can drop land mines, and even get to grips with the seemingly overresponsive control system that initially lets you do nothing but crash into walls and drive round in circles.

Congratulations, you've passed the game-event horizon, where you can actually play the game, and what jolly, unpretentious fun it is too. Obviously, there's nothing ground-breaking here as race games of this type go back to the days when colour meant sticking coloured plastic strips over your telly.

There are however, 16 circuits, and some of them are real toughies. The tracks cross over each other repeatedly, and there are even a few where you loop back and face the tail-enders head on, which is just a startling stroke of genius.

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Zeppelin £7.99

Travel all the way back to the mid-eighties and you'll find a very popular arcade game by the name of Super Sprint. This map-view, multi-player racing game was a massive hit both in the arcades and on home machines, thanks to its Activision license.

Since then we've had Supercars, Grand Prix Simulator, Jupiter Run and now we have Carnage. The latest in a long line of very small cars with fiddly rotational controls.

Carnage features 16 tracks, and up to four players can race each in sequence as part of a league-based championship. Any less than four human players and the computer takes the remaining wheels. Three laps of each of these tortuous circuits have to be completed within the time limit, and if applicable, before any of the computer drone cars finish the race.

It's fast by any reckoning, but the controls are a little unpredictable. The acceleration, for example, is irrational. Sometimes you can shoot from a standing start without using turbo charge or nitro or whatever it's called in this incarnation, where as other times you can't get going without a push.

This isn't a bad version, but with Gremlin's Supercars 2 already out on budget, why would you want to look at this?