Tuesday 28 March 2017

Pitstop (Colecovision review)

Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Epyx
Released: 1983

Pitstop is a racing game that supports either a standard controller or the Expansion Module #2 steering wheel.

There's six tracks that can either be raced individually, in a Mini Circuit (three randomised tracks), or as a Grand Circuit (all tracks). Your car doesn't crash upon impact, and instead the tires gradually turn from blue to red to signify that they're close to blowing; when this happens or you run out of fuel your driver retires. Each track has a pit stop though where you control team members to repair the tires and refuel. The action is fast-paced, but average, and although it's nice to have a simulation style racer on the system it's all very uninteresting. This is partly due to the barren scenery and the fact that each track is identical from an aesthetic point-of-view. Likewise, opponents always enter in pairs and once you've passed them another two will appear in the distance; this quickly leads to boredom and makes you feel like you're repeating the same thing. Enemy A.I. is annoying too and often they'll move into your path at the last second, or smash into you as you're overtaking them. This is unfair considering there's no way for you to exact revenge by depleting their tire level! Sometimes, two cars cheaply block both lanes, leaving you with no option but to hit one of them from behind in an attempt to make room. Although the steering wheel works fine, it's not particularly fast at reacting to quick spins for harsh turns. Weirdly, a standard controller does a much better job of responding to your inputs and allows for more fluid movements. The pit stop mini-game is similar to Days of Thunder (1990, NES), but I don't like how it interrupts your racing flow, and using the cursor to select team members is slow.
Pitstop is an unexciting racing game with dull track design, repetitive action and overly aggressive A.I.. It does nothing to engage players or to spark their imagination, and the end result is a highly forgettable racer that will have you reaching for the Off button within 10-15 minutes.

Random trivia: The game was also released on Atari 8-bit computers and the Commodore 64.

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