It's the mid 1930s and all those magnificent men in their flying machines are flocking to Buckeye, Ohio to compete in the Cartwright Cup Classic. Donning flying jacket and goggles, the player steps into his GeeBee 250mph speed plane and the race begins.
The aircraft is viewed in 3-D from behind, while a cockpit panel below the main screen displays altimeter, compass and speedometer. To win the coveted silver cup, contestants must race against the clock to complete four courses over eight multiloaded levels. A series of pylons mark out the correct flight path across a barren plain, and success involves flying between the markers in the shortest possible time. If the plane strays off course, a warning message flashes up and the clock ticks away at four times the normal rate.
The pilot has two chances to complete each race, and bonus points are awarded in proportion to the amount of time left on the clock. Success on the first attempt means that the extra time is added to that allotted to the next course.
Controls allow the pilot to fly over, dive under or manoeuvre around other racers. Wide and sharp turns can be negotiated by climbing, to speed up, and diving, for extra control as the aircraft slows down. Collisions do not immediately cause the plane to crash although once maximum damage has been sustained, the pilot automatically bails out and parachutes away. The screen then flicks to a still shot of his generally undignified landing.
The fourth course in each level is a bonus event, testing special skills such as slalom control or low flying balloon-popping. Status displays show time counting down and current score as the pilot attempts to steer one of the most dangerous aircraft ever built to success.
'The concept is great - flying through the air, the wind whistling past your ears. Sadly, GeeBee Air Rally comes nowhere near emulating the great flying days of the 30's. The game is just so shallow. There's very little variation in the courses which just appear to be repeated over and over again, and the graphics are plain. The collision detection when banking is a bit dodgy, resulting in a wobble even when you don't touch any opponents. And to finish it off the multiload is a real pain- there's so little difference between the stages it's a wonder they needed it, anyway.'
'GeeBee Air Rally has all the basic elements of a successful racing game. Soaring through the sky, diving and ducking opponents, dodging pylons and popping balloons is suitably exhilarating. It's just a pity that the essential core of the game isn't better supported by a framework of graded difficulty. The various courses are almost identical and don't present a particularly tough challenge; a little manoeuvering and most opponents are easily avoided. Graphically, the game is disappointing: the detailed still pictures of the results of bailing out are accompanied only by the montonously striped and otherwise bare landscapes. Similarly, all you get when an aircraft hurtles to the earth, is an anticlimactic belly-flop. Still, for the pleasure of a slick and easily masterable flying sequence, it might be worth a look.'
'Racing a plane at high speeds, just missing chequered boards, popping balloons and crashing into the tails of the opposition seems a very peculiar practice to me. But it's great fun too! GeeBee Air Rally seems difficult and unaddictive at first but if you bear with it and get onto the higher levels tt gets better as you progress. The planes are all excellently drawn and they dive and soar around the courses very effectively. Taking off is the only problem I had; it seems that you always have to make two attempts at it, consequently losing valuable time to complete the course. Each level is pretty sparse and the sound is the same throughout, consisting of a droning engine noise with the odd tune on the title screen and in between flights. I liked the little extra touch provided by the still shots, though; it's amazing how many pig sties you can find from up in the air. Climb into the hot of a GeeBee 250 mph aircraft if you dare!'