Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge
Copyright/Publisher: Gremlin Graphics, Release Year: 1990,
Genre: Racing Sports, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

Gremlin have come all over British Racing Green with their new release (well, it's more a shade of Go Faster Red actually). So our reviewer straps in for a furious fast lane session, but for some reason he's taken his fishing rod with him...

The aim of Gremlin's latest game, Lotus Esprit Turbot Challenge, is to progress through 32 races, via three levels of increasingly difficult competition, until you can catch fish faster than anyone elese. (Er, Andy. About the Turbot. It's Turbo, as in car. I couldn't find any fish in this game and Gremlin don't know of any either. Cheers - Ed.)

If, at the end of it all, you've scored the most points, the championship is won and you can obtain the covered Lotus Fish Licence. (Oh dear - Ed) However, the nearer to the front you are when you finish a race, the worse your position on the starting grid next time.

There are loads of options in LETC. From the main menu screen you can select the difficulty level from a choice of four (including practice). Choose one or two players, decide on the gear box type, control method and swim bladder capacity and you're ready to go.

The practice level lets you learn to handle the Lotus without the pressure of having to qualify for anything. Then when you want to launch into a full competition situation, select Easy, Medium or Hard. Two players will find, joy of joys, that two player action is simultaneous.

The screen is split across the middle with each half showing a view of the track from each driver's point of view (well, to be accurate, the view is presented from just behind the car). The two player option does run slightly more slowly than the single player jobby but when the action is this hectic it doesn't make a jot of difference to the playability.

There are two types of gearbox to choose from: Manual means you have to physically push the joystick to change gear while on Automatic the computer does it for you. Beginners should use automatic but once you've acquired some proficienct, a manual gearbox allows for more effective use of your vehicle's capability to accelerate.

One of the neater options is the alternative choice of control method. The standard one involves pushing forward on your crabstick (I think he means joystick - Ed) to speed up while pressing Fire to change gear. This, however, leads to extreme arm ache after a short period.

The Alternative control method is much more favourable and involves pressing Fire to accelerate and only pushing the stick when you want to change gear. Finally the swim bladder option allows you determine your buoyancy in order to outwit your fishy opponents. (Oh, I give up - End.)

There are 32 tracks in all, each increasingly more difficult to negotiate than the last. Apart from the fact that later tracks incorporate hillocks, dipettes and terminally sharp bends, these hellish highways are also strewn with debris and other obstacles. There are signposts, barriers, rocks, trees, oil patches, coral reefs and over-zealous fly fishermen which you must avoud at all cost.

Graphicall, LETC is a stunner. The screenshots can't even begin to convey the feeling of speed you get, but take our word for it, this is fast. It's especially impressive when you consider the large number of vehicles on screen, and even then the 3D update stays dead smooth.

Sound is high octane, too. Not only is there a choice of three soundtracks but the FX are fabby as well. The engine noise is a real killer (the most realistic engine sound so far on a 64!) as are the screeches when you corner too fast. The icing on the cake is the playability. There's masses of it in the one-player option and at least double that when you play against a friend. As the say in Germany 'Vorsprung Durch Corker!'

This part of the game is the pits
When you see indications on the roadside telling you that the pits are approaching, it's a very good idea to pull in. If you ignore them the chancves are that, sooner or later, your high performance super car will trundle to a halt as its fuel runs out.

When you pass the sign, simply pull over to the right and brake. Then it only takes a few seconds to fill her up. (And anyway, pulling off the road gives you the opportunity to soak up sweet graphics like these.)

Presenting a Lotus
Not only are the presentation graphics in Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge really gorgeous to look at, they're also extremely informative. In between playing games, you can expand your encyclopaedic knowledge no end. Well, nearly...


Collisions don't slow other cars.
Large range of options gives you plenty to get your fins around.
Screen update is very fast. The impression of speed will have you feeling green around the gills.
Controls are wonderfully responsive.
Sprites are large but flicker free and wonderfully smooth.
Choice of two control method is a stroke of genius.
Two player head-to-head is absolutely stonking.
Ice cool presentation screens.
Sounds is a peach - and catch that engine effect!

Here's the mean machine itself, 2,174 cc's of Esprit Turbo SE. Now, thanks to Gremlin, you can actaully race one of these beasts!