Who’d have thunk it, at the time at least, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge arriving on the ZX Spectrum. Surely this felt like one of those games that was just out of reach for the modest Speccy user.
Aside from it’d monochrome foundations, Lotus actually does a very decent job of replicating the look of it’s 16-bit counterparts.
With the many poor conversions that were made for the Spectrum, Lotus could have been just thrown together US Gold style. But instead, it appears that some love and attention was given to this port. There are obviously a few cutbacks, but at least you get to choose from 3 music tracks (although not like the fancy CD player like on the Amiga & Atari ST 16 bit versions!).
It runs at a reasonable enough pace, the car sprites are nice and the background and trackside graphics are ok.
The style of racing in this game is more traditional racing for position and points, rather than against the clock. The game includes a decent number of circuit based tracks on which the player races against 15 other opponents, needing to finish in the top 8 to progress to the next circuit, or even higher depending on the difficulty mode.
It’s a bit of a roller coaster though, the undulations are a nice touch, but somewhat sudden and a bit all or nothing. One minute you’re on a good piece of flat tarmac, the next your car looks as though it’s off to the moon, then diving back into a pit!
What’s impressive about this game on the Spectrum is that there is a split screen 2 player mode. In reality though the game has too much slowdown in 2 player mode for it to be enjoyable.
The biggest problem Lotus has on the Spectrum is that it just feels there is not enough room to race other cars. This is sometimes down to the frame rate, sometimes the width of the road and sometimes the collision detection, and sometimes my skill levels!. But all 4 of those issues together create headaches!
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge on Single player is pretty good, but Lotus is still nowhere as great as something like Chase HQ or WEC Le Mans on the Spectrum.
The Lotus games are clearly best at home on the Amiga, but for a Spectrum owner at this time, this would have been adequate – Although I’m not sure being called adequate is a compliment, or just patronising! Anyway, this game came in the twilight years of the Speccy’s life, so we can at least give a nod of acknowledgement to it!