Diary of a Game
Hard Drivin' Zzap Review
• Domark/Tengen, C64 (available only on compilation)
Tengen's extremely realistic coin-op has been a smash hit in the arcades. Now, minus the steering. wheel and gearstick, it's at last made it onto the C64.
There are two tracks for you to drive round in your 140mph car with optional automatic or manual gearbox. The Speed Track is a normal race circuit to be completed within the time limit. If you veer off the road you're allowed ten seconds to return, otherwise you're automatically dropped back onto it. Crashing into oncoming vehicles also costs valuable time. But unlike the Amiga version, there's no replay when you crash.
Go fast enough and you're challenged by the computer-controlled Phantom Photon to a race around the Stunt Track. This features three main stunts: a jump across an open drawbridge, a loop-the-loop and a steep banked corner.
Now we know why Domark never bothered releasing this in its own right: it's awful. The graphics are not only monochromatically Spectrumesque but far worse than the Spectrum versions! There's a near total lack of roadside scenery while, considering its simplicity, the road itself suffers from an incredibly slow, jerky update — it's almost like Freescape! The game plays just as badly as it looks with oversensitive steering, dodgy collision detection — the other cars have no sides! — and the general sluggishness making it unplayably tedious. Basically, this conversion just doesn't work at all, being totally devoid of the coin-op's driving realism. You'd have more fun pushing a Fiat Panda up a steep hill!
What happened to the subtle brown shades of the preview shots? But the Spectrumesque graphics are the least of the problem with C64 Hard Drivin', at least the Z80 version was playable. The C64 version moves incredibly slowly, but the worst problem is the sluggishness of the controls. As you go skidding off to the left of the road frantically pushing right eventually takes you back on the tarmac — and off to the other side. Needless to say, weaving across the road like Phil on a Friday night soon results in a fatal collision. Poor control also makes the loop-the-loop extremely difficult and completing a track virtually unimaginable.
It's no wonder Domark didn't release this on its own, but apparently a cartridge version is planned. Due to the memory accessing possibilities of cartridges this might mean faster 3-D but don't hold your breath.
C64 Hard Drivin' is so delayed (the Amiga game was reviewed way back in issue 58, earning 81%) that Domark have decided not to release it on its own. Instead they've put it on not one but two compilations:
Wheels Of Fire features the amazing Turbo Out Run (97%, Issue 56), Power Drift (94%, Issue 55) and the disappointing Chase HQ (53%, Issue 58).
TNT adds the very playable APB (90%, Issue 54), Toobin' (75%, Issue 58) plus the appalling Dragon Spirit (24%, Issue 57) and Xybots (27%, Issue 54).
Both compilations cost £14.99 on cassette, £24.99 disk. They're also available on the Amiga for £29.99.
If you have any idea what should go in this box, please let me know! :)