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Super Sprint (Arcade) artwork

Super Sprint (Arcade) review


"The top of an outdated genre isn't a bad place to be. Super Sprint will always have a place in any respectable classic arcade. Give it a shot to see what the cranky old-timers used to play; I bet you'll have trouble walking away."



Super Sprint lets up to three players race simultaneously in a four-car challenge, with AI opponents filling any remaining slots. Since the track is pretty small, each race lasts four laps. Puddles slow vehicles down, whereas oil slicks, mud, other racers, and even tornadoes cause cars to spin out . . . which is a problem unless you're a racing genius who can spin 1080 degrees and still come out driving in a straight line. Opponents in the early tracks don't put up much of a struggle, but learning the best line for every course is imperative to reach the fabled Super Speedway (which I've yet to accomplish, since I refuse to credit-feed).

Throughout each race, extra points and wrenches appear on the track. Drivers in the real world would get pretty pissed if some bum kept hurling wrenches onto the track, but they're a desirable bonus in Super Sprint: collect three to improve the vehicle's performance.

Improving the vehicle can only do so much; skill is still the most important key to success. Certainly, avoiding the walls is a good thing -- ram one too forcefully and the car EXPLODES. A helicopter always drops off a replacement, but an endless supply of money can't buy back the time lost during a crash. Players will quickly spot a few shortcuts littered throughout the tracks; perhaps a bit of wall is missing, or perhaps a BIG RED GATE just opened. Taking advantage of those opportunities will also help.

One of the tracks includes what appears to be a diagonal shortcut to the finish line. I say "appears" because the diagonal path is much narrower than the main road; unskilled players who try to cut across will bounce into the walls and, ultimately, take longer than if they had simply followed the wider path.

Other tracks feature numerous sequential corners and "S" curves. My initial impulse was to simply hold the accelerator down and try to force my way through via radical turning, often resulting in crashes or speed-reducing wall-bounces. I eventually realized that the same drifting techniques I learned in first-person-perspective racers work here. Drifting will help negotiate the twisty tracks with a minimum loss in speed; the car even looks like it's drifting. Super Sprint may appear simple on the surface, but it was designed by someone with experience and insight. Consider me impressed.

Championship Sprint, a sequel released in the same year, only allowed two players and featured inferior tracks. It also added the "higher helicopter speed" upgrade, which is useless if one simply avoids crashing. Other knock-offs, even good ones like Super Off-Road, never quite matched Super Sprint's ease of play. Companies eventually stopped making fixed-screen racers altogether, for reasons that become obvious after playing enough of them. One screen of track simply isn't sufficient for complex course designs, and behind-the-car perspectives better capture the feel of hairpin corners.

With that being said, the top of an outdated genre isn't a bad place to be. Super Sprint will always have a place in any respectable classic arcade. Give it a shot to see what the cranky old-timers used to play; I bet you'll have trouble walking away.

//Zig

Rating: 9/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (November 07, 2010)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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honestgamer posted November 07, 2010:

The Izzy's pizza in Bend, OR used to have this game. I remember playing it when I was a kid. I have it on retro compilations now, and it's fun even with a controller. More people should definitely look into this one, though I still recommend Super Off-Road on consoles. Good review, by the way!
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bloomer posted November 08, 2010:

I played this in the arcade on a few occasions (probably years or months apart). This review makes me feel I should have put in a few more 20 centses at one sitting. Because below unskilled there is another category I didn't leave, and it is 'incompetent' :)

But I guess I had no pocket money, and dad would let me play one game per occasion. Usually before a movie in town, or before we bought a hamburger while on holiday. So when I played this game and crashed really fast, I was unlikely to spend my one game money on it next time.
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fleinn posted November 09, 2010:

..lol. I just remembered - the first game I played must have been RC Pro AM on the NES. hm.

..But Offroad Racer on the Amiga is still a solid title, imo. Had massively better animation, gameplay and resolution compared to the nes version. Strange.. that I haven't heard of any solid remakes of that one..

Btw, great sentence:
"Most players will quickly realize the true nature of the deceptive diagonal path and avoid it."

:)

There's a "1080 degrees spin" in there, unless that was deliberate. Like the intro to drift and braking. The entire gradual throttle and break mechanism with an on/off button really was extremely good. Gremlin rescued that with Supercars - but Super Sprint did it best.
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zigfried posted November 09, 2010:

The 1080 degrees is intentional, because that lets people keep going in a straight line =D It does happen sometimes.

Thanks for the comments all! After playing it again (the last time was years ago), I was pleased by how well it has held up -- and how I was able to notice new things about it.

//Zig
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aschultz posted November 12, 2010:

I really want to try this game now. Even in Pole Position, which seems inferior and less difficult, people managed to make it look so easy I got frustrated when I couldn't.

Once I learned to drive in real life, driving games got easier--so I'm thinking I missed out on a big sub genre I want to look into now. But I don't want just some schleppy driving game, and I want to try that shortcut.

And I'll cook myself a Tombstone pizza and pretend I'm playing it in a pizza parlor when I'm using MAME. You know, I'd forgotten about video games in pizza parlors.

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