Your Sinclair

GeeBee Air Rally

Author: David McCandless
Publisher: Activision
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #30

GeeBee Air Rally

This is perhaps the only time you'll ever meet a cross between Biggles and Pole Position! A racing game in the skies. A nice concept, but what a shame about the game. If you really need the thrill of the chase, even that old chestnut Chequered Flag has to have the edge, for Air Rally is little different, but for a few additional "diversions".

Naturally there's the traditional winding course to follow and, in this case, other 'planes to crash into. But really the race is against the clock - the other racers are simply collision fodder.

There are reportedly 16 "unique and challenging courses" (both untrue), and you are given every chance to get through them, with several attempts allowed.

Gee Bee Air Rally

After every third race there's a "bonus" course - probably the only real interest value of the game. Alternately, there are balloons to pop or an aerial slalom to negotiate, both made difficult by other craft just waiting for you to hit them. Strangely, the clock may start ticking immediately, but the course proper won't begin until you've gained some height -quite a comic affair in the way your 'plane hiccups into the air.

Coloured bands roll down the screen to create the impression of movement, but this is hard on the eyes for any length of time. It's especially difficult to handle when the course markers are the same colour as the background.

The instrumentation in your craft is what you'd probably expect (if you're into these things): what with altimeter, (appears to have a hand missing - you can't hit the ground anyway so it isn't essential), airspeed indicator, (your speed is either zero or fast-ish) and a compass (which is stuck). I am no lover of multiload games, but its execution in Air Rally is so naff it's pathetic. Each additional loading (if you can stop yawning long enough to do it), is so brief I can only assume this is purely for horizon detail. But check this: load the game, flip the tape and load the first part of side B as requested. Leave to simmer for a few moments - and you have to do it all again.

Sorry Activision, but this is not of the quality I've come to expect from you. "Great flying," it says in the instructions. Are they being sarcy??? Forget about great, this one grates!

A nice idea which just doesn't get off the ground. Steer well clear, this one's for the birds

David McCandless

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