Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge
Copyright/Publisher: Gremlin Graphics,
Release Year: 1990,
Genre: Racing Sports, Number Of Players: 1 or 2
Gremlin certainly take their Lotus licence seriously. Apart from loads of very
swish techy Lotus stuff on the Amiga intro (time to first speeding ticket, etc),
they've issued all the competitors with Lotus Esprit Turbo SEs. That way however
poor the human players are an, Esprit always wins!
The only way of telling the cars apart is that the competitor cars are red, with
a one or two on the bumper to show who's who. If you can't find a friend to fill
the second car, the lower half of the screen shows the car in the pits (I thought
Lotus's reliability problems had been solved!).
In any case the tracks ahead provide plenty of challenge, with rocks in the road,
slippery oil spills and water pools to slow you down. Longer races also require
refuelling in the pits. The biggest challenge, though, is those crazy computer cars,
18 of them turboing about with many manically weaving across the road.
There are a total of 32 different worldwide tracks within the three skill levels:
seven in easy, ten in medium, and 15 in hard. In every race, points are awarded
to the first ten drivers home - these are totalled to determone the World
As long as at least one human player finishes in the top ten, both player can
carry on to the next race. Players have a choice of automatic or manual gears, and
two control methods - either pushing forward or holding down fire to accelerate.
This just has to be the fastest racer yet! The cars rocket along at exhilarating,
arcade-standard speed. It's immense fun to weave through the pack, dodging past
the slowcoaches, cursing the fellow driver as his Lotus overtakes you and then
laughing as he comes to grief and you roar past.
This makes it instantly, compulsively addictive. However there is a negative side:
the graphic variety isn't extensive and with only fuel to worry about, strategy is
rather limited. Tunnels, weather conditions, worn tyres or at least different
colour computer-controlled cars would have helped it dramatically.
Lotus works brilliantly as a two-player-game; on your own it loses quite a lot
of its entertainment value. It's technically excellent but in the gameplay stakes
doesn't advance the racer idea an awful lot (Pitstop II has more depth).
As to differences between the two versions, like Phil I found the C64 game
toughest, but both are technically stunning with all twenty cars appearing on screen
on the Amiga (twice over, in fact due to the splitscreen), and the C64 managing a
respectable five or six cars per screen.
Such big, fast-moving cars mean the C64's collision detection isn't always
immaculate, but the sheer spectacle more than compensates. Great fun on both
The 3-D in Lotus is remarkably fast - especially considering the split-screen effect -
and you really feel like you're bombing along at incredible speed. I also like
the way the roads undulate realistically - it's an amazing feeling zooming up to
the brow of a hill at full throttle, not knowing what hazzards might await you
on the other side!
Both versions are technically impressive, with the more speed and cars than is
believable. In fact the C64 version is a little bit too fast - the cars are so
big that you don't have much time to react as they zoom in off the horizon.
For both versions the computer cars make things very tricky, homing in on you
and requiring you to swerve quickly one way then the other to overtake. Later
levels are even more tense with rocks and oil pools littering the road plus the
need to stop and refuel.
This is where the real excitement lies with each driver pushing the other to
the limit, daring each other to take extra risks - especially with quick refuelling!
At the same time, however, ensuring at least one of you gets into the top ten
adds an intriguing twist to the otherwise highly competitive races.