Baja California is a 1000-mile-long Mexican peninsula that has been for some years the site of grueling desert races for off-road vehicles called Baja buggies. Usually these buggies are beefed-up, stripped-down old Volkswagens. Now there is a new computer game from Gamestar named Baja Buggies that lets you pretend you are driving in this race.
Since you are the novice driver, you start last-in a field of 80 other cars. Your goal is to finish first, and that means you have to pass all the competition. You steer with the joystick and can brake by pushing the fire button.
When the race begins your car automatically spurts ahead at full speed and you pass a few other cars. The buggy bounds through a 3-D landscape of realistic and dangerous scenery. The track is narrow and collisions with other cars can only be avoided by using extreme care.
Your position improves as the game progresses-50th,49th,48th. Maybe you can catch up with the first three cars. A small "radar" display at the bottom of the screen shows your relative position. The game ends when the first car crosses the finish line. I have managed to place tenth in the race, but Gamestar claims it is possible to make it to second or third.
Baja Buggies is an excellent product. Compared to driving games of the past, this is a programming masterpiece. It has some similarities to "Turbo" by Sega, but it is not just a copy. It was created by Scott and Keith Orr, formerly of Arcade Plus, whose Ghost Hunter was a popular PACMAN look-alike. The Orrs left Arcade last June, and started Gamestar in October. This is their first product.