Fatal Fumes is an overhead racing game featuring 256-color parallax scrolling similar to James Pond 2: Codename: RoboCod at the speed of 70 fps. It is the first project of a small Finnish group which later improved the game after its first release. The full version for registered users contains 35 tracks, twelve vehicles, twelve opponents, a track editor and both a 2-player and a general multiplayer mode. There are no weapons in the game, the focus is entirely on racing.
Fatal Fumes is a fun shareware racing game that should delight everyone who likes miniature racing games. The review at Games Domain says it all:
"Fatal Fumes is a top-down racing game along the same lines as the Micro Machines games, although without the fanciful level design. It's primitive from a technology standpoint, and lacks many of the amenities found in current major game releases, but gamers looking for a fun, low-budget gaming experience will find something to like in this title. Also, Fatal Fumes has one major feature that actually puts it into a class by itself among modern racing games: a track editor.
The graphics in Fatal Fumes are... adequate. The resolution is low, but the colours are bright. 2-D sprites sliding around on a two dimensional background. I feel like it's 1988 all over again. The car physics remind me of old arcade games - the kind of alternate reality where you can change the facing of your car without the car being in motion. Must be handy for parallel parking, but it makes the driving model difficult to take seriously.
There's multiplayer, of a sort. Two players share the keyboard and the screen. Unlike Micro Machines, which dealt with the shared screen by giving the player in the lead a point whenever he/she made it to the edge of the screen, Fatal Fumes just doesn't allow the lead car to proceed without the other vehicle. To say that this makes it difficult to build up a commanding lead hardly scratches the surface.
The game allows up to three levels of track, so you can design a track as intricate as your heart desires. Be warned, though: you can't see your car through an upper level of track, which can make navigating on the lower level tricky. You can set your courses in ice, desert, or country environments. Add little jumps, water hazards, obstacles. Make them as fiendishly convoluted as your tortured mind can imagine. Then realize you can't possibly drive on such a think, and make a nice tame oval for yourself instead. The interface is semi-intuitive, but a look at the documentation (supplied as a Word file) is certainly helpful.
The other good thing about Fatal Fumes is this: it's fun. You can choose your competition from a set of opponents with varying abilities, so you can make the game as hard or easy as you wish. Drive around for a while, skid around a few corners. If none of the tracks quite floats your boat, make your own! One touch I particularly liked was the "soap bubble" that, after the first lap, retraces your previous lap around the track. If you can keep ahead of the bubble, you'll keep improving your lap times. It's a nice touch, although owing to my tendency to play first and read documentation later, it took me a while to figure out exactly what this bubble was doing. It wasn't until I noticed that it was driving just as badly as I was that I clued in to what was happening.
Okay, it's like this: the game is fun and cheap. If you're willing to trade sound effects and graphical flair for the chance to design and race on your own tracks, this game is for you. It's got a few major flaws (shall I mention the sound again?), but if you're willing to overlook them you'll find a fun little game that, for our older members of the audience, is a trip back to a simpler era of computer gaming. If that's not your bag, then you'd best look elsewhere."
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