Moonshine Racers - an everyday tale of hooch-
Moonshine Racers is a road-race epic where, for a change, you play the villain - in a heroic Robin Hood sort of way. You have to haul a load of 'shine to the next country, but, in your way stand West Virginia's finest (or at least fattest) lawmen.
Driving a beaten, but souped-up jalopy you have to negotiate the maze of tracks and country roads to avoid the police. They however, like a demented Chase HQ crew, will try to ram you off the road, eventually damaging the truck so badly it has to stop.
The point of the exercise is deliverance, of the 'shine kind not Burt Reynolds! Firstly, your aim is to avoid being caught. Secondly, you must make the trip without spilling too much hooch so as to maximise your profit before the truck becomes so undriveably damaged, and time runs out.
Finally, the aim is to reach the end of each stage first. You're racing against fellow 'shiners here who are, practised in the art of cutting corners, so the competition is tough.
Jalopys R Us
Moonshine Racers uses this different plot well, creating an original theme and structure for the game. Car based romps have gone to some ridiculous extremes to involve the most powerful scarlet motors around. Moonshine however, takes the opposite tack, by making the main star a beaten old jalopy. The music supports this with 'duelin' banjo style music.
The appeal of race games comes as much from the speed as from the theme. Moonshine lets you hack through the back roads at a fair, but not stunning, speed. The two lane blacktop's habit of ducking, diving, bobbing and weaving, somewhat makes up for this, but it is the highway obstacles that make the real difference.
Each has a specific effect, which must be either used or dodged. Barrels of 'shine can be collected to top up your bounty, but the road blocks must be avoided or the law will immediately attach themselves to your back fender. Others start to erode the cars performance, while roadworks provide handy ramps that can be used to get airborne in Duke of Hazzard style.
The Beer Hunters
The split motives help to add tension, as you are trying to constantly balance four very different sets of conditions. Only if you finish first, with an undamaged motor and a truck load of booze will you gather enough cash to boost the car at the local shop.
And if you don't uprate the car you ain't going to finish first on the next stage. To this end you're given an almost unlimited turbo boost. If you're behind just pour some moonshine into the tank and you crank up the revs. The problem is that the more you pour into the engine, the less there is to sell at the other end of the course!
Moonshine combines all the various elements of a standard race game, plus a whole bag more, but it never makes the classic grade. For all the extras the car never gets stunningly fast.
The theme is amusing, and has been used well by the designer, but it doesn't exactly scream "play me". However, this can't stop Moonshine (the game not the drink) being fun. It's full of character and is reasonably frantic, employing new motives to get you hacking through the backroads of backwoods America. Drawing on the cultural myth of moonshine runners gives the race game formula new life and a fresh face.