Kill for credit

Turbo logo

THERE's many a game that relies too heavily on audio-visual presentation and way too little on actually being fun to play. There is also many a game that gets stuffed to the back of the software drawer quickly. Many phrases describe th game, most of them end with violent and begin with words such as outrageously, senselessly and gratuitously. How else could you describe a race game where the major aim is to destroy anything else that moves, using only grenades, missiles and hub spikes? Cute it ain't.

And when you realise that each player gets less than half a 200-line screen to themselves, certain doubts arise about the quality of the production.

The excuse for a scenario is set in the uncomfortably near future. For no adequately explained reason, the populace have decided that commuting is dull and every other vehicle and pedestrian is fair game. Some unknown character has strewn the road with bolt-on goodies, all designed to get yourself noticed.

Missiles and grenades fire forwards, the only differences being speed and range. Oil causes anything behind you to lose control, while hub spikes knock out the competition at the sides.

Closet kamikazes are also catered for with the turbo wheels, which allow extreme speed at the expense of any control whatsoever.

The police are not happy about all this unrest and will try to stop you whenever they can. Certain enterprising pedestrians lob grenades, but with a shriek, a splat and a splash of gore they are gone. All the other vehicles are either obstructive, offensive, or all three. Like most of suburban America, there is a level crossing every few miles. Hitting trains hurts, but they can be missiled.

Turbo is a traditional top-view scroller, much in the spirit of Spy Hunter. It can be played against the clock, which is enormous but short-duration fun, against another player, which is enormously enormous fun, or over a comms link, which is critically unreliable according the publishers.

The graphics work, the sound is suitably grotesque and the whole thing is presented with the panache of a dead stoat. But it is such manic fun to play that that all goes out of the window.

If I had to describe Turbo as glibly as possible, I would go about it this: Audio-Visual Jadedness is the disease, Turbo is the cure.

Turbo logo

Micro Illusions
Price: £19.95

You have just entered a death race with no rules and no judges. There's you in your modified racing car against a set of opponents so desperate to win that they are willing to kill. The race course is a stretch of highway that runs through the city, the country and the desert. En route you may find weapons to help you in your quest. Grenades, missiles, oil and wheel spikes can all be used to off your opponents.

There are three modes of play in Turbo. You can play against the computer, a friend or someone on the end of a modem line. When playing the computer you must try to finish the course within the time limit; after several hours in this mode I decided that this is tricky but possible with special tyres.

Turbo is much more entertaining in the dual player modes. It's quite satisfying to grenade your opponent or send him careering off the road with a carefully placed oil slick.

I would class the sprites as good, the scrolling is average. Nothing is really breath-taking, but there are some nice touches of animation on the player-controlled cars, e.g. when you rush from a car before it explodes. You get different cars as you progress through the game.

All of the standard sound effects are present: the roar of the engine, the squeal of the brakes, the splat of the pedestrians being flattened, their little shrieks.

Control of the car is easy but simple, making it easy to get into a skid and difficult to get out of one. The action is viewed from above and the screen scrolls jerkily from top to bottom as progress is made.

Turbo is excellent fun in two player mode. It's one of those games which the more you play, the more you're going to get out of it - like learning how to push your opponent's car in front of a train.

A grower, in true Kick Off tradition, Micro Illusions seem to have a winner on their hands with Turbo. A gleefully spiteful game and really quite addictive.