It being 2016, and February and the month of marketing & consumerism led forced romance… I thought the time was ripe to start doing mini game reviews. And I don’t mean this sort of mini… although it’s not too far off the mark.
Supercars II is the game of choice, mainly because it was at arms reach, and also because my Commodore Amiga 600 was setup right over there. So let’s begin, in the best way possible…. at the beginning.
Supercars II, as you may expect is the 1991 successor to Supercars, released in 1990. Both games were developed by Magnetic Fields and published by the well known Gremlin Graphics. Released on Atari ST, Commodore 64, Microsoft DOS and the Amiga machines, it would inspire a later 1996 DOS variation called Supercars International, but we don’t give a rats ear about that, because this is the Amiga and this is Super Cars II.
My version is actually the re-released small boxed variant, published by GBH-Gold. But handily still includes both disks and a short reference manual for your perusing pleasure.
After inserting the first floppy and booting, you’re greeted with a variety of loading screens, followed by some funky music and one of my favourite 90’s sports cars… the Alfa Romeo SZ, just to whet your racing anticipation. Although the crowd of neighbourhood meeting residents does detract from that slightly.
Various options are then revealed to you, including a two player mode and the ability to increase your difficulty level. Hammering on through this reveals your first race, and the course record held by none other than Nijel Mainsail? You may also notice some other ‘famous’ greats such as Alain Phosphate and Aryton Sendup.
From here on out, we’re knee deep in top down racing, and what racing it is. The screen scrolls smoothly whilst you bump around the track to reach your goal of a podium position. It’s a fairly absorbing racer, similar to other top down offerings from the era such as Roadkill and Nitro, and everything looks pretty normal. That is, until you tap up or down on the joystick and rockets expel themselves out from your vehicle in a forward or backward direction respectively.
From here, the game becomes a much more violent affair. You can earn money from each of your races, and additional wedge from interviews, or sponsor meetings following each track. You even encounter a nervous meeting with the fuzz, and the eagle eyed may notice two members of the development team stuck up on the wall behind. Your answers here, dictate how much additional money you’ll earn, and as you’d expect, blatantly unhelpful answers will leave you high and dry.
With said money, you can then equip your vehicle with a variety of upgrades and missiles, being sure to select which ones are triggered by the up or down press of your joystick, as being only one fire button available on your chosen stick of joy, controls are somewhat limited. You can also bolt yourself on some Nitro’s and watch as your car literally flies around the track.
Armed with your upgrades, you can then work your way through the tracks as fiercely and hastily as possible in order to reach the game’s end and be top of the leader board.
There are numerous tracks, which differ in order and type depending on the difficulty level you select. I actually found the medium game setting the easiest and most satisfying. The car just rolls too slow on easy, and I ended up losing concentration before getting to a corner. Although powering up your car’s engine can speed you up again… this seems to negate the slow paced advantage of the easy option however.
Two player mode offers a welcome addition, with a smooth scrolling split screen action. The only problem here is your field of view is somewhat limited in the horizontal direction, and as you spend a lot of your time driving along that plane, it pays to know the tracks well. For this review, I had no friends to play with so I found this mode somewhat redundant.
All in all, Supercars 2 is a fun game to play, although I did find the constant dodgem style bumping a little infuriating, especially on later tracks with lots of cross over, opening road ways and continuous train action. But this is all part of what makes the game interesting. And although the weapons do seem a little out of place, it’s just another element of fun which makes this game a worthy addition to your Amiga collection.