Sunday, October 16, 2016

Test Drive

Accolade's Test Drive was released in 1987 and is one of the many games I got free with my first Atari STFM. I have such fond memories of this during those early days but most folks think it should be locked away, somewhere dark, forever!

The game begins with an intro of a rich dude sitting in his Porche, he then winds down the window to display the cheesiest of cheesy grins before speeding off into the sunset. Now you get to see beautiful artwork drawings of all the various cars on offer, and I personally think the Corvette is the best of the bunch. Each model is displayed with lots of unnecessary stats and information for us to examine before beginning our journey into the hills.

Test Drive is a race against the clock with points awarded for faster times along a seemingly endless mountainside highway. Driven from an in-car perspective, you will note that each car has a realistically represented dashboard with manual gearbox controls that briefly display with each shift. I found the controls a little wooden at first, but I soon got the hang of them after a couple of races. A red dot on the wheel helps to pinpoint a more precise indication of your direction and is as helpful as it is crude but it nicely makes up for the lacking analogue controls. Beware, you're not on a race track, annoying civilians are out and they love head-on collisions! There are also cops so it's a good job that your car is fitted with a radar to signal when they are nearby. You then have a choice of being good or watching them disappear in your rearview mirror and I personally treat these moments as a green light opportunity to push the pedal to the metal, but that's just me! Now refuel at the gas station checkpoint before continuing on with your bullrun.

Many do yawn when they remember Test Drive and I can understand that because it does become visually repetitive driving along that same stretch of highway. It's also a little laborious and could do with more speed thrills, after all, we are supposed to be driving powerful muscle cars. However, Test Drive has some nice characteristics which I personally think are hilarious - like the badly drawn grey fella driving his truck (see above). How about the handless steering wheel or the slo-mo effect as your windscreen breaks up after a crash? It's almost worth slamming into an oncoming vehicle just to see that! The graphics are pretty nice considering their age and the dashboards are ace, with the Corvette being my favourite. Overall, an enjoyable drive without the rush of a thrilling speedster, more like a charming Sunday drive! However, I find myself having a soft spot for this cliffside racer and I don't know why...


 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable version which I highly recommend!
 - Old Games Finder has the floppy disk images.
 - Test Drive is featured within the AtariMania ST database with cool scans too!
 - There have since been a few Test Drive games, I loved no.5 on my old Playstation...