Indy Heat is a multi-player, top down racing game which began packing gangs of boy racers into the arcades a few years back. The Sales Curve's conversion allows three players to drive at once -you'll have to draw straws though, 'cos only two of them can use joysticks, player three being lumbered with the keyboard. The fourth car is computer-controlled, and tears around setting the pace.
Each player has a budget to spend on upgrading their car. There are boosters to be had for six different components: Tyres, Engine, Brakes, MPG (which improves fuel efficiency), Pit-Crew (which speeds up your pit-stops), and Turbo's (which give you an extra temporary boost of speed). There are ten different circuits, each one based on a real American race track. Before each race you're shown a map of the layout, which you can study to decide how your money would be best spent. A ridiculously simple track like Indianapolis will need a different combination of extras than one of the twisty, turny circuits. Don't worry if you can't decide what to buy, though - you can get the computer to choose for you.
When you're racing, the controls arc dead simple - left and right to steer, fire to go, and forward for a quick turbo boost. Your fuel supply and the number of remaining turbo boosts are shown on screen. Before your fuel runs out, a digitized voice and a little chappie holding up a placard lets you know it's pit-stop time. When you enter the pits, the crew rush around filling up the tank, replacing your turbo's and emptying the ash-trays. After a few seconds, the jacks come away and, pausing only to stash your free wine glasses, you can wheel-spin off again.
The overall winner is decided at the end of the tournament, when you're each told your average speed. Did you travel at a constant, fuel-efficient 55mph, or did you manage to clock up the sort of speeds that even Viscount Linley would be arrested for? Only the computer knows for sure.
MARTIN: The world of Formula One car racing -the roar of engines, the smell of burning rubber, the glamour, the speed, the dolly birds and the burns injuries. Is it possible to capture this atmosphere using five-millimetre long sprites, rushing around a one-screen circuit? 'Course not, dopey. But Sales Curve has produced the next best thing - an immensely playable racing game which is easy to pick up and allows you to get all bolshie and competitive with a couple of pals.
My only niggle concerns the shortness of the races. I'd quite happily play a real-time Le Mans 24 hr endurance stage, but sadly it always feels like my fender-bending antics have only just begun when the computer car's taking the chequered flag. Usually it's the only car on the track that gets on with the matter in hand, and doesn't get involved in gratuitous argy-bargy. Shame it doesn't emulate the bully-boy driving style of Mad Max, it'd be a lot more fun.
Cutting up your opponents and forcing them off the road is a real laugh. If you're feeling really Dick Dastardly, you can nobble another player by deliberately shunting their car off the jacks when it's in the pits. This slows them up and squashes one of their pit crew. Now you couldn't do that for real in the world of Formula One racing. Well, not more than a couple of times...
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