Grand National
By Elite
Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #102

Grand National

If mounting nags and having a flutter on the fillies is your bent, Grand National makes good horse sense. Career around Aintree in the quest for success over one, five or ten seasons; place bets on the favourites and buy new stable stock with your winnings.

The race presentation features a combination of overhead and side-on views. Overhead is more detailed, showing all the other horses in the race, but side-on allows you to time the jumps perfectly.

Riding a horse and whipping it around a race course is no task for the faint-hearted. Jump too soon or too late and your season ends in failure. Thrash the beast too hard and its legs give way, but let it off lightly and you won't see the leaders for dust.


Grand National

Creating a game based on horse racing is an ambitious idea, and Elite have carried it off very well. Every aspect from betting through buying horses to winning a race has been brilliantly executed, including a neat control and display system, and some of the best sampled speech I've ever heard on the Amiga.

The betting sequences are a good idea, too - the form book doesn't guarantee the winner, so plonking half your initial capital on the race favourite could leave you with a £5,000-shaped hole in your pocket. There are only a couple of drawbacks: the long-term monotony of racing and the cumbersome post-race results sequence - each element of speech is loading in separately, and it takes too long before you're racing again.

A practice ride option would have helped to get you into the swing of competition, and would have provided an initial way round the program's occasional slowness. Apart from that, the animation of the horses is realistic and the sound effects appropriately sparse. It's really a question of horses for courses: if you like a bet on the nags, take a look.

Gordon Houghton

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