Speed Busters

Although realism freaks will always opt for the supernaturally realistic driving models of Papyrus’ auto sims, there’s something to be said about a damn good arcade racing game. Speed Busters opens with a video sequence that’s cool in a goofy. A police officer has won the lottery, gone mental, and now gives speeders cash rewards instead of tickets. This provides an excuse for people to drive really fast on back-country roads without having to worry about the law.

4Speed Busters isn’t a realistic driving sim by any means. Racing in Speed Busters is fast and furious, with loopy jumps, spectacular crashes, and spinouts galore. You’ve got a near-unlimited number of nitro boosts that send you hurtling madly down the road; and every track is populated with wacky obstacles — the track set in Hollywood features a giant ape smashing his fists onto the roadway, a man-eating shark taking a huge chunk out of the wooden bridge you’re driving on, and an enormous dinosaur dragging a flaming car across the street.

The Speed Busters recipe also includes the best feature of Atari’s San Francisco Rush: hidden shortcuts! If you’re feeling particularly spunky, you can forge your own track off the beaten path at several spots in the game, taking a flying leap on to moving trains or riverboats or across rope bridges. While they’re not quite as cool as Rush’s rooftop jumps, they certainly provide an extra boost to put you in the lead. Still, the game could have used an “abort” button to mash when the player flies off a cliff to his certain doom or gets wedged into a 90-degree corner.

7Aside from the expected Arcade and Time Attack modes, there’s an additional Championship mode, in which police officers with radar guns are spread out over each track. Depending on how fast you blast by each of them, you’ll get oodles of cash to spend on new cars, nitro boosts, and other cool car customizations. There are no officially-licensed, real-world cars, but Speed Busters’ garage features some extremely cool 1950s-era muscle-car lookalikes. Even better are the multiple “skins” available, from hippy rainbow designs to zebra paint jobs.

The only problems lie with the game’s physics. The cars seem a little too heavy, and the friction seems a bit off when your vehicle manages to flip over. And it’d be nice to have more than six tracks (plus one hidden roadway), although the option to play each course backwards adds some variety. There were also clipping issues experienced on some cards in the default D3D. You can’t play on 3dfx or Software mode, so these clipping bugs, where objects just popped into existence randomly, did affect racing results.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 500 MB HDD, Win98

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