This game's got about as much shelf life as a pint of milk. After all, by the time you read this, the Milk Race will have come and gone in a blur of bike pedals. But then again, if you're a 'Tronic addict you've probably bought the game already, and you're only checking to see if CU thinks it's the same incredibly superlative value for money that you do.
The 1987 Milk Race stands in the land of brown ale and Likely Lands, Newcastle on Type, and zig-zags across the North-east, the Midlands and East Anglia before ending up in London - thirteen guelling laps, including circuits.
Mastertronic programmers Icon Design have done a fair job of transferring the sweat and throbbing thighs of the real event into the blocky pixels of the C64. The road scrolls from right to left as you pedal your roadster in and out of the other cyclists and avoiding obstacles and verges. Milk bottles have been somewhat carelessly left along the roadside by well-meaning spectators, and cycling over these boosts your energy instead of lacerating your inner tubes, as you might otherwise expect.
To spice things up a bit, waggish council workmen have removed the covers from every manhole en route, so as well as keeping an eye out for ze crazee foreigners who come from behind and knock you out of your saddle, you've also got to make sure you don't take a dive into the sewers.
Even the officials, in their slow-moving vehicles, happily run you down. All-in-all, the Milk Race becomes almost as dangerous as cycling round London in the rush hour.
The gradient of the road is shown in a window above, and a vital consideration is when to change gear. This is done by moving your stick up or down - a tricky movement because, for a few split seconds, you can't steer your way out of impending collisions. Though it's tempting to go straight into twelfth and pedal like the clappers, it doesn't half make your pins ache, and even a lotta bottle isn't going to sustain that level of energy consumption.
Every now and then a midget with a flag steps out into the traffic, signifying the start of a time trial, and if you fail to complete the next mile or so in the allotted time you're eliminated. This, and energy loss, are the only things which are going to get you out of the race - you can get knocked off as often as you like.
Despite all these little extras, however, what you've got to endure is really thirteen laps of pretty similar thrills and spills. Even the background graphics don't vary much - shopfronts for towns, and fields and service stations in between. Newcastle, Darlington, Hull, Sheffield all look remarkably alike (which is what I've always suspected [Yer Southern bastard! - Ed] and the same cloth-capped crowd turn up in every town.
Neither is the game that difficult, and you should be able to reach Gloucester and beyond without much practice, though making it to Westminster and finishing first is probably a different matter entirely.
As with most 'Tronic offerings, Milk Race will no doubt sell in respectable thousands within days of its launch, and at £1.99 I see no reason why it shouldn't. It's got all that you could ask of a cycling simulation, with no surprises and adequate addictive qualities.
What is surprising is that I managed to write this review without saying 'on yer bike' once!