Road Blasters
Copyright/Publisher: US Gold Ltd/Atari Games Corporation, Conversion By:
Amazing Products, Programmed By: Martin Webb, Graphics By: Dennis Webb, Music & FX By:
David Whittaker, Release Year: 1988, Genre: Weird Racing, Number Of Players: 1

In the distant future, where the highways are hostile places, lined with gun turrets and traversed by battle cars, you are put behind the wheel of a high performance armoured vehicle. Impressive technical bit: it's a GWB 68 Turbo (2 door), with a 5942 cc engine, top speed of 222mph, customised Road Blaster tyres, and a cost of a mere 243,000. So pull on your driving gloves and polish up your helmet visor - the race checkpoints of many countries lie ahead.

At the start of the game, you select the diffculty level; Rookie (Bubble City), Veteran ( Forest Sector) or Expert (Desert Region). These respectively start the game at levels one, four and seven. Further levels are multiloaded in groups of ten.

The standard race game view from above and behind the car is displayed, with the track stretching over the distant horizon, incorporating twists 'n' turns and road-side obstacles (some of which can be really nasty.) A chequered finishing line at the end of each level has to be reached before running out of fuel, and collision with objects wastes this precious commodity.

The driving itself is only part of the action. Streamlined stinger cars, similar to your own vehicle, also speed down the highway, along with armoured command cars, fast agile cycles, and unpredictable rat jeeps. Collision with these should be avoided at all costs, and the best way to avoid them is to turn them into piles of molten Kevlar with a couple of well-placed shots from your roof-mounted cannon.

Indestructible, hazards appear as play progresses. Cars drop spiked balls onto a track already littered with explosive mines and puddles of corrosive liquid, while the trackside is lined with hostile gun emplacements which fire across the road.

At regular intervals in the game, a jet passes overhead and drops a more powerful weapon which, if caught, can be mounted on the roof of your car to augment the standard laser armement. Extras available include unstoppable cruise missiles, rapid-fire UZ cannons, a nitro-injector for extra speed (increases maximum to 298mph), and electronic shields to protect you from gun fire, vehicle collisions, mines, and spikers. All of these can only be used for a limited time.

Your vehicle has a thirsty engine, but luckily additional fuel is available in the form of collectable fuel-bearing red and green globes which lie on some sections of track, and extra fuel is also awarded when the car crosses a bonus line.

It is essential to pick up as much fuel as possible at every opportunity, as when both the main and reserve tanks run dry, the wheels on your Roadblaster car grind to a halt and the game ends.

P.G.
Coin-op conversions are generally a little disapointing, with a rare few of real quality. Road Blasters lies somewhere in the middle ground: whilst it doesn't greatly resemble the real thing, it's a viable alternative for race and shoot'em up fans.

Perspective and screen update are both iffy, and the cars, mines, and fuel globes approach at erratic intervals. Your vehicle is the most pleasing thing in the game as you weave your way down the track, though its tyres lack brilliant animation, and the car just bobs up, down and sideways to simulate movement.

The add-on weapons are easy to access, and the nitro injector is very nice to use; it's quite exhilarating to burn down the track at 298mph, barely in control of your mighty battle car! As a conversion of the coin-op, this isn't brilliant, but as an interpretation of the game's theme, Road Blasters does well.

M.E.
When being critical of 3D racing games, there comes a reply crammed with excuses like 'the 64 can't cope with the graphics well enough'. This has been proved otherwise on many occasions, in games such as Pitstop II, Super Cycle, Buggy Boy and to a certain extent, Revs.

The arcade original Road Blasters was noted for its fluid control, smooth playability and continuous blasting action; the conversion captures virtually none of the atmosphere of the coin-op original, being jerky, slow and difficult to handle.

The presentation has the same features (three skill levels, score table, etc.) but none of the 'feel' - I can think of severla racing game I'd rather play. Only check it out if you've got to have a version of Road Blasters in any form.

G.H.
Apart from Buggy Boy, quality racing games have been lacking on the 64 these past two years, so Road Blasters is a welcome release in that respect. As it also has shoot'em up facets and is a conversion of a hot coin-op, my expectations were quite high.

Unfortunately, the expectations don't match up to the finished product, since the conversion is pretty pale imitation of the original, though it's far from a total disaster. Whilst track animation is passble, cars and gas capsules approach jerkily, as do roadside objects, which seem to pass backwards along the landscape!

The sound is passable, although there isn't the depth and power of the arcade... It's a reasonable racing game with shoot'em up overtones, but it's not going to overly excite anyone, least of all lovers of the coin-op.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 67%
Handy difficulty level selection, decent multiload and easily accessible add-on weapons; the overall look is poor, however.
GRAPHICS 57%
Slow screen update with odd 3D perspective effect. Sprite quality ranges from very good (on the player's car) to barely recognisable (the enemy cars).
SOUND 47%
Adequate effects but annoying title tune.
HOOKABILITY 73%
The racing and shooting combination is easy to get into.
LASTABILITY 65%
50 tracks to drive through but interest may wane.
OVERALL 59%
Most of the gameplay is there, but it lacks sparkle or presentation. In all, it's a mediocre conversion which manages to be playable despite its poor looks.

A hazardous road stretches into the mountains.

Vroom! Chunky graphics and ropey 3D make this a pale shadow of the arcade original.


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