1-4 players, horizontal game
Telegames, for the Atari Lynx
Pile into the pickup and head for the stadium, it's time for some mud- stompin' action with SUPER OFF-ROAD. In this Lynx version of the Tradewest arcade game, four racers drive monster trucks around a variety of dirt tracks. Players must deal with ramps, hills, valleys, and more as they race for the finish, while trying to pick up extra money and nitro boosts along the way. Then they take those winnings to the shop to buy better equipment before the next race begins. Up to four Lynxes can be connected for multi-player competition.
The arcade version of SUPER OFF-ROAD was a simple but enjoyable racing game. Unfortunately, the Lynx version is neither, being loaded with major problems that cripple the game beyond rescue. The first problem lies in the enhancements for the players' trucks: aside from extra nitro boosts, money spent on features such as suspension and engines appear to have no effect. There's also a lack of incentive; no matter how poorly you finish, you always go to the next race anyway.
Though each course is a three-dimensional set of jumps, peaks, and valleys, the game often plays like a flat race. For instance, a car in midair may crash into another one passing "below," or a truck in the middle of a lane will suddenly find itself along the side when it climbs a hill.
The death blow is a horrible bug in the driving system. If a human player gets too close to a wall, he stops completely. As a result, running parallel along a wall is impossible, narrow lanes are a nightmare, and sharply cutting corners is an exercise in futility. The computer drivers don't have this problem, which completely unbalances the game against players.
The sounds and graphics in SUPER OFF-ROAD are merely functional and little more. Status screens between races are drawn simply, with no effort made at enhancement or appeal. The races look better, at least; detail is used well, and identifying game action is never a problem. But this is marred by jumpy scrolling and slow screen updates, which detracts from the game. Sound effects are equally unimpressive, consisting solely of a few basic crashes and chimes. A number of background tunes play during each race, but they range from the merely forgettable to the slightly irritating.
SUPER OFF-ROAD's functional graphics and sound are wasted on the game itself. Flaws in the driving system will leave players frustrated as they wrestle with the controls, and only the truly devoted will bother with this title. In the end, there are better driving games on the Lynx and better versions of SUPER OFF-ROAD elsewhere.
GAMEPLAY: 4.5 GRAPHICS: 6 SOUND: 6 OVERALL: 5