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Fantastic! This game takes its predecessor,
Pitstop I, and improves on it immensely. All other 3D driving games, including some of the arcade ones, pale into insignificance when compared to this. The perspective on the track and cars is near faultless, a point where a majority of the other versions fail. Planning your race, as well as actually driving it, is thrilling stuff, making this the best of the Pole Position genre currently on the market.

.

 
 


This has to be the best ever driving game. It makes
Pole Position look like a Sunday afternoon trip in a Morris Minor. The sheer thrill of actually racing an opponent, even the computer, makes all the difference. With groovy graphics, smashing sound and a panicky pit stop, this is enough to keep any manic drivers happy. My joystick hand is still killing me after a nine lap grand circuit with every muscle throbbing, but boy is it worth it.

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This is a SUPERB implementation of the 3D race game format. Sound is excellent, both cars can be heard independently of each other, and pit stop sound effects like the tyre nuts being undone are terrific. The graphics are clear, crisp, detailed, and very convincing.
Pitstop II is a stunning and innovative arcade game and should prove to set new standards in the race game approach.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Pitstop II
1984 Epyx
Programmed by Stephen H. Landrum & Dennis Caswell
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the second issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (June 1985).
 

PITSTOP II
Epyx, 10.95 cass, 13.95 disk, joystick only


O Ultra-realistic split-screen motor racing duel
O Excellent 3D graphics, superb competitive action

ZOOOOOOOM!!! Remember the time you first stepped into a Pole Position arcade machine and wowed at the graphics and sheer exhilaration of the experience? Well, it returns again with Pitstop II, a motor racing game which allows you to have the race of your life against another player. Believe me, it's amazing stuff.

When you load the game you are presented with several options, the first being a one or two player mode. Selecting one player will pit you in a duel against the computer.

Six race tracks are available, ranging from Brands Hatch to Vallelunga, complete with its mile long straight. You can choose any of these or take them all in one great Grand Prix competition. Select the number of laps and one of three skill levels, then you're ready to race.

Immediately you experience a big surprise. The display is split horizontally across the middle. Each display is a screen in its own right, and shows speed, time, and fuel left. The cars are seen from behind and above, like Pole Position.

The screen halves show the views form the separate cars, and here's where this game scores over all the competition. The action is accurately portrayed from both players' viewpoint so if player A was ahead of player B, then B would see A in front of him. If B then overtakes, A will be highly annoyed to see his opponent appear from the bottom of the screen, pull level, and then roar ahead of him into the distance.

When jostling for the optimum line around a bend, or fighting for the front at the start, much aggression will be experienced. It is possible to rub tyres and try to knock your opponent sideways to get a clear path to overtake.

The trouble with driving like a totally crazed maniac is that your tyres will wear out. Murderous tendencies towards other cars like bumping and nudging, also taking corners at 251 mph, will eventually result in a blowout. This sends you out of control, off the track, and your race will be over.

The tyres start off black, but throughout the race they will turn lighter and lighter as damage increases. When they're white, the slightest bump will hurl you from the racecourse. However, if your tyres show a lot of wear, then you can make a pit stop and change them.

When you race you'll see your fuel gauge ticking steadily down. The faster you go, the more fuel you'll use, therefore needing more pit stops to fill your tanks. It is just possible to make three laps on some circuits before you have to fill up. If you try for a fourth on any course, you will find your engine splutters and dies when you are halfway round and nowhere near the pits.

If your car does crash, it will leave the track and stay there. The other player will see the wreck as he whizzes by, and it's a great feeling to look in the wrecked player's screen as you pass him and see yourself positively whip past and hurtle into the distance.

The actual game controls are simple: left, right, accelerate and brake. You can also switch on your turbo by pressing the fire button. This will give you greater acceleration and speed, and is useful at the beginning of the race. There is a tendency to use it all the time, but beware. On longer tracks you will only be able to do two laps with turbo on non-stop before having to refuel.

The control has a great feel to it. If you're speeding along and try sharp turns, you will find yourself swinging all over the shop in a desperate effort to straighten. As with most computer race games, a certain edge is lost by using a joystick for control. But when you play there is still a realistic feel to the car, partly because it's so easy to lose control. This does not detract from the game in any way but makes it more of a challenge -- with practice there is potential for a high degree of control.

When you are racing, a map of the course will appear in a small box on the right hand side of your screen. It shows the starting point, pits and your current position -- to see where your opponent is you need a quick glance at his map.

The 3D effect of the game is stunning. The realistic perspective of the road has always been a problem on race games, but here the track is represented accurately. The cars rush up in full 3D and are beautifully portrayed.

Each car, including the other computer cars, has it's own colour and personality. For example, the yellow and green cars have homicidal tendencies and try to cut you up when you try to overtake. The detailed background scrolls smoothly from left to right as you hare round bends at suicidal speeds.

Player 1, suffering serious tyre damage, prepares
for left-hand bend. Player 2, with two undamaged
tyres, steers to the right.

The corners themselves rush up quickly and adhere closely to those of the map: the sharper the bend, the more you will skid to the opposite side of the track, so if you take a sharp corner at high speed you will end up careering onto the red and white curb, slowing you down and ruining your tyres.

The eight computer cars, apart from your main opponent, are not just placed things to pass and gain points for. They actively race you and you'll have to overtake them to gain first place in the race.

Since they never have to make a time-consuming pit stop, they do present quite a challenge. They also don't like being overtaken, let alone lapped, and will try to thwart your efforts by hogging the middle of the track or swinging from side to side in an attempt to cut you up.

When playing in one-player mode, the computer's 'Epyx Robodriver' will fill the role of player two. This driver proves himself a formidable opponent. Although it's easy to gain some seconds over him, he drives much more safely and therefore does less damage to his tyres and needs fewer pit stops. When he does take a pit stop it's done in record time, so good, fluent racing is required to beat him.

If you choose to take the grand circuit, then the computer will keep track of all the scores and results of the races. Scoring is the same as a real Grand Prix: nine points for a winner, six for the second placed, and so on. All the cars feature in this table, so if you have a bad race you might find yourself overtaken by a computer car in the points' table. If you fail to complete the race, then you won't get any points at all.

JR
.


Beware the Dreaded Cramp!

The game seems so realistic that there is a tendency to wrench the joystick from side to side. This is especially true at corners where the feeling is that the harder you wrench the joystick, the quicker you'll get under control. You have to remember that this is a normal game and that only normal control is necessary.

Try to use a joystick with a trigger -- constantly holding the fire button down on an Atari type joystick will give you horrendous cramp over long periods of time. (Even so, the game is so involved we didn't notice until we finished the race: that's when the pain starts.)
.

 


What happens in the pits

During a race you will eventually have to make a pit stop to take on more fuel or change your tyres. The pits are located at the lap starting point and you can enter them by driving into a marked slip lane.

You will be presented with a new screen showing a close up of your car with two men next to it, one carrying a fuel hose (to refuel your car) and one wearing a blue tracksuit (to replace faulty tires). A steering wheel icon will appear on screen and you can use this to put your team into action.

Move the icon to the desired member of the team. Press the fire button and the icon will disappear, giving you control over the man.

If you need fuel, then just move the attendant up to the petrol tank and he'll connect the pipeline. While this is happening, you can guide the other man to replace your damaged tires as fast as possible. Beware, though, if the tank fills beyond its capacity it'll automatically empty and you lose a lot of valuable time.

Remember, every second counts. A race can be won or lost on your pit stop performance.
.

 

 
PRESENTATION
ORIGINALITY
87% Excellent instructions and in-game options.
54%
Another race game but with split screen, twin racing.
GRAPHICS
HOOKABILITY
90% Great perspective, pits and cars.
95%
Belt yourself in drive till your muscles throb.
SOUND
LASTABILITY
71% Good engine roar and tyre screech but no music.
91%
Lots of variability and
two-player excitement.
VALUE FOR MONEY
89% The best race game yet.

 

Pitstop, (c) 1983 Epyx, is also worthy of your attention.

 

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (10 September 2001)

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