Days of Thunder logo

Publisher: Mindscape Price: £24.95

If I had the licence to produce a film tie-in game starring Tom Cruise and some attractive girl, I would make sure that there were plenty of digitised pics showing both leading lights, I would also incorporate some of the plot and ingredients that made the film so memorable.

Faced with the problem of finding anything memorable in Days of Thunder, Mindscape has instead side-stepped the entire problem by simply producing a stock car racing game with solid 3D graphics. No picture of Tom Cruise with his manly jaw anywhere. Methinks this is a big lost opportunity here. Someone ought to tell the folks at Mindscape that if you proudly flag a game as being "the only official game of the film to give you all the excitement of the big screen", then you should deliver something more than a rather tepid and largely anonymous racing game.

There are five race tracks including Daytona - fast banked curves around a central lake, Atlanta - deep south, blistering temperatures and slave plantations, Phoenix - a one mile oval where speeds of over 200 mph are reached, Talladega - cost $4 million to build and there are apparently 20 million people living nearby, and Charlotte - seats 118.000 people and is a 31 year old racing track. Those are what you have to race around to bring home the stock car Championship.

On your first appearance at a track, you need to set a fast enough time to qualify, which is easier if there are more cars racing (but that makes the actual races themselves harder). Unfortunately, you are not told the time you need to achieve in order to qualify, but at the end of a lap that is too slow, you're told that you haven't qualified.

Still, after five laps, gradually getting faster and learning how to navigate the very strangle angled bends, you should be ready for the parade lap. Don't bother driving around yourself because if you get out of race order position, you're instantly disqualified. This lets you see reasonable pictures of a stock car, but it means you have to qualify all over again in the next race. Leave the controls alone and the computer will drive you around. And after that, you're off. You have five gears, accelerator and brake to worry about. Just getting round some of the corners takes some skill, never mind over-taking the opposition.

The graphics are solid 3D for the most part, and look like a pre-production version of EA's Indianapolis 500. What I didn't like was the representation of the crowd in the stands. This consisted of pixels of rapidly flashing different colours. Marvelous.

Scrapes in the car are inevitable, so pulling into the pit-stop is often required during a race. As well as being repaired, you can also alter tyres to affect handling, change the steering response, and refuel.

So it all continues around the course until the required and number of laps have been completed. You are then either on your way to the Championship, or the dole office.

An amusing aside is that you can race against a friend on another machine via a null modem cable. Mindscape describes this as an unique feature!

Days of Thunder logo

Der gleichnamige Rennfahrer-Film war ja nicht gerade ein berauschender Erfolg, hatte aber immerhin Tom Cruise als Zugpferdchen. Die Versoftung hat nicht einmal das...

Das Game ist etwa so aufregend wie ein Schneckenrennen am Nürburgring - selten habe ich am Amiga eine derart langsame Vektorgrafik gesehen! Dabei könnte alles so schön sein: Fünf verschiedene Strecken, Zwei-Spieler-Option per Null-Modem, Qualifikationsrunden, Boxenstops mit Reifenwechsel, Nachtanken oder Schnellreparaturen, und nicht zuletzt die unzählichen Perspektiven (von der Seite, von Oben, aus dem Rückfenster, etc.) hätten Days of Thunder zu einem echten Simulations-Leckerbissen machen können. So aber hat man den Eindruck, in einem Kinderwagen zu sitzen, und nicht in einem 200 Meilen schnellen Stock Car.

Um die Katastrophe komplett zu machen, ist auch die Joystick-Steuerung ziemlich in die Hose gegangen. Die Karre läßt sich kaum auf der Strecke halten, wenn man jetzt noch anfängt, mit den Funktionstasten rumzuspielen, um die Perspektive zu wechseln, wird die Steuerung noch träger. Außerdem ist die Grafik nicht nur langsam, sie ruckelt auch ganz erbärmlich. Natürlich, wer im Hauptmenü den Detail-Level herabsetzt, kommt etwas zügiger voran.

Nur: Am Amiga darf man wohl erwarten, daß die Grafik detailreich und schnell ist! Einziger Lichtblick ist David Whittakers Umsetzung des Film-Soundtracks. Kauft also lieber die CD - das erspart euch knapp 60 Märker und eine große Enttäuschung. (C. Borgmeier)

Days of Thunder logo

Days Of Thunder stars Tom Cruise, is produced in association with Tom Cruise and comes from an idea by Tom Cruise. It's based on Tom Cruise's favourite hobby and in it Tom even mananages to get off with his real-life girlfriend. In fact, the film's working title was A Day In The Life Of Tom Boy. David McCandless is proprietor of the Tom Cruise fan club.

The game - like the film - centres on NASCAR racing, an American version of stock car racing. In England, the aim is to race the brightest car in the world around the dirtiest track in the world, making sure you try and kill the whole world (and yourself) on the way round.
In the USA, it's less 'stockier'and more 'racier'. The cars are souped up saloon models, tuned to reach 200 mph (ono) and equipped with enormously big tyres so the drivers can take corners without splattering on the crash barriers and exploding all over the track.

Days Of Thunder offers five tracks in all. They are the kind of shape you could build from a cheap Scalextric set.
Basically, two 'bends' and two 'straights' and maybe a couple of 'wiggly bits'. Each track is based on a real-life circuit like Daytona, Phoenix and Atlanta. Daytona is a particularly lethal one, due to a very deep lake in its centre - any unsavoury undertaking on the inside lane and you'll be up to your speedo in drink.

Except you don't have a speedo. Everything's in revs. So, if a policeman stops you and says "Do you know what speed you were doing, sir?" you'll be able to reply "No - but it was about 8000 revolutions per minute". Revs control the speed, gears control the revs. The five gears plus reverse are changed up and down by pressing the fire button and the appropriate direction.

Before you can 'burn rubber', you have to qualify. This entails whizzling around the track at light speed (well, ina time under about 50 seconds anyway). Before you can 'incinerate the elastic solid made form latex of tropical plants', you have to take part in a 'warm up' lap. This entails you doing a lap, keeping to starting grid formation and not exceeding 100 mph. Then the green flag appears and they're off!

Amiga reviewMacca: Okay, so what's the most important thing a race game needs? Good filled-in vector graphics? Massive roaring sound effects? Clever multiple 'camera' angles? Well, Days Of Thunder has all these.

Colourful and realistic yellow cars that zoom and slice and career into you. Screeching brakes, howling engines and rumbling rev noises. Above, airship, behind, track-side and audience views, all at the press of a key. But does this game have the race game 'feel'?

Yes it doe! The handling is very smooth and responsive. The car bundles about the track at a fair old pace and the impression of speed is excellent. You can really feel exhilarated as you streak neck and neck, bumper to bumper, with the evil orange car, trying desperately to overtake it before the bend comes up.

Handling tends to become a bit iffy, however, when you unexpectedly leave the road. In seconds you lose all speed and are left floundering in fifth, howling with frustration as you try to get going again. If that's annoying, then getting cut up by the car behind is double extra bloody annoying. Two jostling cars can become stuck together and often you get shredded to bits before you can wrestle free.

But the graphics are pleasant, even though the audience in the grandstand look like those multi-coloured sprinkly bits you put on cup cakes. The action's pretty frenzied (until you select over twenty competitors, then it gets a bit sloooow). And there's a modem link, allowing player-to-player races. And... good grief, there's the bottom of the page! Stop

Days of Thunder logo

Mindscape, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

TThe Cruise Missile, Tom himself has done his stint in Top Gun and comes down to Earth for car racing action at 200 mph around the Daytona racetrack in the game of the film.

As Cole Trickle you're in the race for the Stock Car Championship Trophy against 20 other Stock Car drivers. Before each race a qualification round determines your position on the grid for the race. A car status display (C64 version only) shows your tyre wear. And you'll need a pitstop to change them, repair the engine (C64 only), tweak steering (Amiga-only) and refuel.

Finish a race with a fast enough lap speed and it's onto the next circuit. Cole's sponsor, Harry Hogge, sends through telegrams judging your performance throughout the Championship. The Amiga version has external viewpoints including Sky Cam and trackside views along with options to define the number cars (from 5 to 20) and laps (a minimum of 10), parade lap length and level of detail. A Player vs Player modem facility is also offered. For the race itself, the Amiga version has a first-person perspective while the C64 version has a third person, behind-the-car viewpoint.

Phil King You'll have days of boredom playing the Amiga version. As with Indy 500, driving round an oval track soon gets tedious. Unlike that game, though, there's very little challenge to keep you playing. Robin got through to the last race in a few hours, 0nly to be disqualified by a parade lap glitch.
The C64 game is a bit more interesting. I especially like the start-up and crash scenes, which flick to a speedy side-on view to show a different perspective. As with the Amiga game six looped tracks offer little variety, but the game is fast and plays all right. Presentation is good generally, with telegrams between races to tell you what your sponsor thinks. If you're a fan of the movie and don't mind the dated look of the racing, this should keep you happy for a while.
Robin Hogg Nope, I don't know what went wrong but all the thrills and spills of 200 mph Stock Car racing have been reduced to 20 mph or so in the Amiga Days. With a totally unconvincing illusion of speed and barely adequate 3-D car shapes, it just fails miserably to capture anything like the pace of the real thing - the graphical detail level option adding nothing to speed it up. Hard Drivin's got the realism, the convincing 3-D effect and speed to beat this. With a very weak Dave Whittaker soundtrack, as well, Days just doesn't get off the starting grid.
With the C64 version being a conversion of the Nintendo game at least playability is assured. Unfortunately it's all far too simple and limited in execution with pit stops being the only thing to offer scope for tactics. The cars lack much in the way of intelligence (or maybe their go-for-you tactics are meant to very quickly frustrate the player), there's little in the way of backdrop variety and the speed effect doesn't match the car speed at all. Pleasing gameplay and nice start-up presentation plus attractive crash scenes isn't enough to keep you hooked.