Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
SEGA ■ RACE SIMULATION
Julian "Mummy's Metro" Boardman heads to the south of France to find something quicker - and more reliable
If you haven't got a few flags and fireworks for a driving game nowadays, you can forget it. Many months of programming will end up in a box marked 'Too much like Pete Position'. Driving games just don't sell like they used to.
Your decisions start on the title screen. Which of the many areas of the game do you go for? It's probably best to start on a single qualifying lap. After getting a good enough time, you can try your luck in a shorter version of the main game, a three-lap race around a track looking not too dissimilar from the Monte Carlo GP circuit, but strangely different from the main game track.
But the game won't let you anywhere near the 'big boys' tracks till you've correctly set up your car. Beginners would do well to go for the four-speed automatic (with down shift); it's underpowered but simple to use. Players who know the difference between a carburettor and a car lighter might like to risk a spin in the manual version of the four-speed box with a driveable 650 bhp. Budding Alain Prosts should go straight to the top - a seven-speed manually-geared car creating 700 bhp.
With car prepared and L-plates removed, it's time to slip into the cockpit of your finely-tuned racing machine. As you sit on the grid - and probably fall back to last place because you can't suss the controls - make note of the minimum position indicator. II you fall below this, its curtains. However, finish the race successfully and your time and position will be recorded for posterity. All this is very well, but eventually you'll need to move away from the solitary Monaco circuit.
The World Championship comprises the 15 current Grand Prix circuits and could easily take two hours to complete. Of course, some people haven't got that sort of time to spare, and it is for those busy bods that a password option is included. Each race in the championship is an ongoing battle As each race commences you must choose one driver from the 16 opponents with whom you wish to go 'head-to-head'. Each driver is classified according to their racing ability. To work your way up from a lowly class C driver, you must pick a driver close to your own standards. Beat him and you move up the ratings
Before competing in the championship, you'd be wise to make use of the practice option. Here you can choose any of the circuits and try out different car set-ups. Don't worry, you'll soon be bumping and barging with the rest of the Sennas.
Master System 87%
The 8-bit version lacks some important elements and is not a true conversion of the Sega arcade machine. The smaller Monaco racing section Is sacrificed for a two-player split-screen championship, looking like Final Lap Twin on the PC Engine. Due to the lack of screen room, the helpful rear view mirror has gone. But without over-emphasising the differences, the Master System version stands alone as a very competent driving game.