Spectrum 2.0

Review of '4K Race Refueled'

Rating:4 User: Digital Prawn

This is one of several high quality, professional looking mini-games to have come out of the cross-platform competition during recent years. This 4K entry requires a 128K system and according to the documentation, many hours were spent on its development. On playing the game it is easy to see that this is a well optimised machine code racing title.

The gameplay is superb and very smooth as you drive your racing car at high speeds along the weaving track, taking care to avoid time-consuming crashes with the slower moving opponent cars. The instructions mention this game is similar to OutRun and Super Hang-On. The playing experience also vaguely reminiscent of Pole Position or even the Lotus racing games on the ST/Amiga.

Sound and graphics are very good, with realistic engine sound (for an 8-bit game). There are hi-res road-side sprites of signs and small trees. Also the sideways scolling distant mountains look well drawn and add two extra much needed colours to the game.

I found I had to be careful not to attempt to sneak through narrow gaps between opponent cars and the edge of the road. Driving even partially over the road edge really slows your car down, making overtaking difficult and a collision likely, particularly if on a bend in the road. It's a game where you can build up quite a bit of skill over time and the difficulty level seems to be well balanced.

Possibly, I could give the game a score of five, but there's just two minor issues I noticed. Firstly, when you lose the game, the speccy just hangs and so you have to reload it from tape in order to play again. Perhaps this is a limitation of squeezing the entire game code and data into 4K? Secondly, this "Refueled" release of game is based on an earlier version and the "perspective" of the road was made a lot better here. However, to me it still feels like the car is driving slightly uphill all of the time. Perhaps the road needs to be made even slightly flatter again than it is in this version.

These are very minor criticisms though and overall this is a very good game and amazing that it was fitted into 4K. In summary it's a technically brilliant effort, resulting in a rather enjoyable gaming experience.