Gee Bee Air Rally logo

STEVE Cartwright's Gee Bee Air Rally (GB from now on), is one of the first Amiga releases from Activision to really feature animation heavily.
Previous games have offered pretty pictures, but lacked animation. GB is an arcade flight simulator which combines the flavour of a flight simulator with the joystick-bashing action of a true arcade game.

The plane is easy to control, leaving you to test dexterity rather than intimate knowledge of racing aircraft.
The game's storyline is set in the 1930s, and sees you playing Johnny "Little John" Daring, America's greatest pilot. In this persona you must race a plane (the Gee Bee in the game's title) around a pylon-marked 100 mile course.
The single-winged propellor driven monster has been designed for one thing only - to fly as quickly as possible around a course. It has very short wings, a huge engine, and a massive amount of petrol. To make matters worse, you sit right on top of the engine.

The plane is capable of covering the 100 mile course at a average of more than 250 miles per hour - but only if you are a top quality pilot.
Fly around the course as quickly as possible, avoiding all the other competitors, and leaving pylons to the left and right, rather like skiing.

After you complete a series of these courses you are presented with a couple of time trials. The most common is balloon-popping, flying at a perilously low height popping balloons with your wing tip.
The balloons are laid out in a trail, but they are mixed with signposts which will damage your aircraft should you hit one. If you fail to pop enough balloons in the alloted time, your game is over.

If during any part of the game you fail to complete a section, or crash into one of the many other planes, you parachute to land. This is displayed by a huge parachuting aviator with appropriate sounds.
The final screen shows you either in a pile of manure, or facing an attractive pair of legs in a barn.

The player's view is that from above and behind the plane you control, but although the machine is nicely drawn, it is still a little inaccurate, particularly when you are supposedly flying at 250 mph.

The biggest problem with GB, however, lies not the graphics or sound, but the gameplay, or rather lack of it. Although there are levels of play, the game is quite simply too easy. And not only is it too easy, it is - after only a matter of minutes - rather dull.
In many respects this is little more than Pole Position in mid-air, and Pole Position is a three year old game.

GB falls down because it is a conversion. On the 64, the programmer could probably only get so much into the computer's memory. With 512k of Amiga to play with, however, the game should have been considerably better than this.

The idea is there for a good game, the packaging and instructions are excellent, but at £24.95, GB is overpriced and under-developed.

Gee Bee Air Rally logo

Price: £19.99

Gee Bee Air Rally is set in the mid-twenties when planes were a fairly new invention and air races had just come into the public eye as an enjoyable Sunday out in which the kids thought it was a real treat to them, but in fact it was their fathers who really wanted to see the planes in action. The only way that I can possibly describe this game is Pole Position in a plane (sounds good eh).

The game gives you three levels of play, Beginner, Expert and Ace. The only difference between them is the speed of the game itself. The higher the level, the faster it gets until you either have to slow down or lose control of the plane.

If you can successfully complete three races then you go forward to one of the two special events. In the first, your task is to fly at high speed popping thirty balloons in a time limit of one minute and forty seconds with the nose of your plane, as if that isn't hard enough you've got other planes trying to knock you away.

In the second special event you are required to fly right of the red pylons and left of the blue ones, with a time limit and again with other planes trying to knock you off course. If your vicious opponents succeed in hitting you three times, the plane will go into a swan dive and you will parachute down to safety either landing in a pig sty, in the desert with a buffalo's skull beside you or even in some manure with a lady with sexy legs standing above you.

The graphics are designed to a very high standard but sometimes lack those details which make the game more real. For example, it looks like there's nothing below you on either side of you except red and blue pylons which guide you along the route. The scrolling is the same as most car games; when you turn left the background moves to the right but I must say that it seem to jerk a bit. There are only three backdrops, unfortunately, one of which is fairground.

On the whole, the sound is not up to the same standard of the rest of the game. However having said that, the music at the beginning and end of the game is superbly done and fits in well with the atmosphere of the game. The sound of the engine conks out it sounds more like a car stalling than a plane. I must say that when the pilot bails out the sound of the wind and then the almighty crash sounds more like what the Amiga can handle.

I think this game would appeal to a wide range of Amiga owners. The graphics aren't the best on the Amiga, nor is the sound but the addictiveness and enjoyment that comes out of this game puts it in my Amiga top ten.