Commodore User1st December 1987
Published in Commodore User #51
Grand Prix Simulator
Super Sprint? No, Super Sprint clone? Yes! From what I hear, this was based loosely around BMX Simulator, though it's nowhere near as good. In this case there are fourteen tracks, each one centred around the idea that driving under bridges is fun. Not very! For the best part, you're clueless as to what's happening; whether you're stuck, whether there's an oil slick or some other difficulty.
Each course lasts for three laps or ninety-nine seconds, whichever comes first. Super Sprint's appeal was that you could wrap yourself around the steering wheel as you threw the car around bends. Sadly, most of the world's top software programmers do not realise that a five inch piece of plastic makes a bad steering wheel. So you end up getting cramp in your trigger finger which is using the fire button as an accelerator pedal, while the rest of the hand is bending the stick at alarming angles trying to rotate the car onto a half decent heading.
Speaking of cars, the one in Grand Prix Simulator looks more like a soap dish. In layman's terms, a block. Interesting, huh? The tracks aren't exactly pretty to look at either, samey and bland. The only variation comes with the different track positions. What is pretty though are two neat cars which take up the top third of the screen, doing nothing other than looking, well, pretty.
If not a contender for biggest rip off of the year, Grand Prix Simulator has to take the title of most frustrating 'beat-your-head-against-an-iron-anvil' award. The inertia effect is put to good use, but strategically placed gaps in the crash barriers mean that as you come out of a death defying spin, you crash through the hole and into a stand of spectators. Here's the tricky bit: with no room to manoeuvre or accelerate and no way of going into reverse, how do you do a U-turn to get out again? A weeny bit tricky, eh? The computer car doesn't seem to fare much better either. Sadly, though, it still suffers from the syndrome that first appeared in BMX Sim, where you could easily say to yourself "I don't have to worry about being behind at this stage, the computer car crashes at the third bend and takes three seconds to get going again."
The sound is different, a strange technoramic noise blares, somewhere between an engine noise and a tune. The brake noises sound like a pid who has just discovered that it's destined to end its days on Bernard Matthews' plate. Supporting the sound FX is an equally tacky display of digitised speech, the person whose voice was digitised would have no problem on an advert for Tunes or announcing the cancellations of trains. Both jobs require an inability to grasp the fundamentals of speaking through the mouth.
GPS is officially endorsed by Formula Three race driver Johnny Dumfries, who cannot possibly be doing his career much good by putting his name down for a game such as this.
At first sight worthy, but it's not until you have tried persevering with it for more than an hour and realising there is no way you're at fault with the game, that it becomes clear that it's the game itself which is so hideously frustrating. This is the sort of game I would only recommend to Yuppies who have lost their driving licences and don't mind forking out for more than a day's entertainment, or who just can't wait for a regular fix of the genuine version of Super Sprint.