Hot Wheels (US Gold) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

Hot Wheels
By U. S. Gold
Commodore 64/128

Published in Computer Gamer #18

Hot Wheels

This is an interesting produce, in that it isn't actually a game at all but a sort of toy. Epyx call it a 'Computer Activity Toy', but that's a bit of a mouthful and over-the-top American-sounding or me. Suffice it to say, it's a sort of game with no end, no object and no score.

To start with, it is a driving game (I'll use the word 'game' from now on, but in this context it means more along the lines of "let's have a game of cards") using customised cars. To start with, you can pick one of a number of ready-built cars, or choose to enter the factory.

In the factory you can select the front, middle and rear section of your car and then drive it to the paint shop where you can paint it in one of the Commodore's allowable colours. Both these sections are very well thought out and completely icon-controlled with little spray cans and conveyor belts for the car. The graphics are very good and have interesting backdrops with lots of things for younger kids to see.

Once out of the paint shop, the car undergoes 'dealer preparation' (loading the next section off disk!) and you are presented with your car in the driveway of the salesroom. From here you can drive around the town, which is a left/right scrolling backdrop with various activities to do on it. These are the Demolition Derby, the carwash, car park, and through the 'Expressway' to the other end of town with the petrol station, turns up centre, oil change and the fire engine.

The demolition derby is like bumper cars with four cars (you, a friend, and two computer-controlled cars). You just drive around smashing each other up until everybody gets crunched up. Again, no score or anything - it's just something to do. Driving into the carwash puts you through various cycles of washing, soaping, rinsing and finally drying with gleaming paintwork on the car. The graphics are very nice, but there isn't a lot to do here.

The car park (or Parking Garage as the Yanks seem to call it) means a drive onto a lift, raising it up to the next level and moving the attendant around to the car you next want from the half dozen or so that are there. He will park your car and give you the car that you indicated. You can then drive around in this.

The Expressway is a sort of motorway that gives you something to watch whilst the next section of town is loaded off disk. In this other section is the petrol station, where you must drive up to the pumps and guide the attendant from his office to the pumps, fill up the car, and back again. The car seems to take around twelve gallons and the price for this is about $15. Which is roughly the price of petrol near me (after conversion from $ to £ and USG to Gals). You can also check tyre pressure.

The tune-up section is one of the more interesting bits. You drive into the tune-up area in one of the garages. Here you go through your four (only four, I thought American cars had more than that! Never mind, you live and learn...) cylinders one by one. Each cylinder puts up a little graph on a screen behind the car. You have to match the waveform with that to get a pattern of lights to light up. If you get four cylinders all green, then everything starts flashing.

You can also change the oil in the car. This involves jacking it up and moving your mechanic around to catch all the drips of oil as they fall out of the engine. You can then put some new oil in.

The most involved bit of all is the fire engine. You have to park your car in the garage adjacent to the fire station and drive the fire engine out of its bay. This is the biggest vehicle in the game and cannot take part in some of the activities, such as parking.

Once in the fire engine you can also stop at a burning house to try to put the fire out with the fire engine's hose, shooting water at a joystick-controlled target.

On the whole this is a great game for younger kids, anybody over eleven would find it very tiring and repetitive after only a few plays. And as there is no score as such to compare against every time you play, there is no on-going challenge.

The game is obviously designed for younger players and as such is excellent at what it does. These also seems to be one or two 'pseudo-educationalist' aspects to it (the price of petrol, the cutaway picture of an engine, etc) and things like the American phrasing and spelling of everything tends to reduce the usefulness of these slightly.

Good presentation, good sound and graphics, good for kids but nobody else. Will be interesting to see if it sells or not, though it might do well at Christmas with parents wanting to buy a game for their kids and remembering the brand name from their youth (Hot Wheels is largely unknown amongst the under 10s nowadays).