NOT very many people know this, but in my spare time I am a grand prix driver for Ferrari. I have even been known to combine my daytime job as an investigative journalist for The Guardian with racing by using a Z88 portable while tustling with my old mates Prost and Mansell at Monaco.
Not easy with thick gloves on I can assure you, but thankfully my excellent co-ordination, allied to 100 w.p.m. typing, produces error-free copy every time. Obviously with a background such as this the chaps at Amiga Computing had little choice but to offer me the latest driving game to come out of Activision for review.
This superb conversion of a Sega coin-op is the hottest speed sensation on the circuit (myself not withstanding) so I was eager to test my mettle against it.
Now, here is a little competition for you. There were only two accurate or honest statements in those opening paragraphs - can you guess what they were? No? I will tell you then. Hot Rods is the latest driving game to come out of Activision, and it is a Sega conversion.
Super Sprint players, or Badlands players if you want to be more up to date, will immediately recognise the 2D top down graphical style of the game, allied to four large cars, any of which can be human controlled. Yup, up to four can play if you have one of those Microdeal adapters that nobody stocks so you have to go to a computer show to buy one.
The objective is to race around the track (bit of a tricky concept there I know) and finish first or second to continue on to the next level. Running out of gas naturally precludes you from further competition. If playing against three computer teams, the gas factor is the only one to really worry about, as finishing first or (more commonly) second is relatively easy.
The difference between this game and the Super Sprints of old, and the Badlands that will be released next January, is that the screen scrolls in Hot Rod. Should you be at the back when the screen -which follows the race leader, of course - does another lurch forwards then you lose valuable gas (which can be collected from cans around the course anyway) and are dumped into second place.
Due to the proliferation of gas canisters, it is worth the sacrifice to get yourself promoted in the race order if you happen to be losing. With three or four human players you find people racing backwards just so that the can get repositioned in second place with the flag approaching.
In between these races of total silliness there are extras which can be added on to the car to help it hold the road in certain weather conditions, and basically make it go faster and sustain more collisions. Unfortunately, you cannot add weaponry to shoot people.
The trouble with Hot Rod, besides the idiocy of the repositioning business, the feeble squeaks from the speakers, and the depressingly bland graphics, is that it is just far too easy. After 17 or so levels, on only my second go at that, they start to repeat themselves as well.
With three friends taking part it does become more competitive in a brutish and crude sort of way, but as a one player game Hot Rod can only be considered as a cure for insomnia. Even if you cannot drive a formula one racing car while using a Z88 I think you will find this far too easy.