C64 Review of Duel, The: Test Drive II from Issue 51

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


The Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 are nothing less than the two fastest production road cars in the world. The Porsche was the first to hit the streets, the most technologically advanced supercar ever, with a 197mph top speed and a £145,000 price tag. The Ferrari, many feel, was built with the express purpose of proving Italian supremacy over the 959. Accordingly the F40’s twin turbo, V-8 engine will rocket it to 201mph for a price of £160,000. But the difference between the two cars is more than that. While the Porsche is the height of refinement, the Ferrari has no carpets, plastic side windows and doors which are opened by pulling on a piece of string! If the Porsche is the world's most sophisticated supercar the Ferrari is ‘merely’ a full blooded racing machine made street legal. Test Drive II offers you the choice of these amazing dream machines.

In fact you can choose to race either against the clock or a computer controlled 959 or F40. Acceleration and braking are activated by moving the joystick forwards/backwards, gear changing is either automatic or via pressing fire depending on skill level. Of course, the steering is most important but the onscreen wheel only moves left and right when your steering is extreme, otherwise a little blue dot on the wheel indicates subtler steering movements.

If your steering is less than precise be prepared to meet an oncoming Ford at a 256mph — the roads are busy so overtaking is hazardous. Smash into something and you lose one of five lives, as well as getting twenty seconds added onto your race time. You can also lose a life by failing to stop at the gas station at the end of each level! If you do manage to slow down in time, the race statistics are shown, including average speed and overall time.

In-game info is provided by authentically styled dashboards both with the addition of a radar detector to warn when police cars are about. You don't have to slow down but the cops are fast and if they catch you a ticket adds seconds to your race time. Ram the cop and it’s game over — this is America and the cops are tough!

If you get tired of the two included cars (Ferraris are so dull, aren’t they?!) or even the scenery, extra car and scenery disks can be bought to expand the game. At first using these involves much disk swapping but a Play Disk can be created by copying parts of the master and extra disks onto a blank disk. This eliminates most of the disk-shuffling.


This contains five of the sleekest, fastest sports cars from around the world:
Porsche 911 RUF — Louis Ruf’s custom-built, twin-turbo 911 has a top speed of 211mph.
Ferrari Testarossa — £90,000 to get to 60mph in 5.3 secs from a standing start.
‘88 Lotus Esprit — Real thing a touch unreliable, but Bond used to drive one so it can’t be that bad.
‘88 Lamborghini Countach 5000S — Its performance is as stunning as its looks. A V12 engine can shoot it to 179mph.
‘89 Corvette ZRI — Detroit’s ‘best kept secret’ was designed to be the world’s fastest production car, with a top speed of 185mph.


This scenery disk encompasses seven stages through California, from Oregon down to the border with Mexico. Along the way you’ll see spectacular redwood forests, the Pacific Ocean, steep hills and the Golden Gate bridge.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 41%

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John Robson - 5 Nov 2009

Rating : 20%
alessio - 5 May 2005
No no no this is not the kind of game you make for the commodore 64! the machines 64k is used up by flashy graphic and buzzy sound, and hey there you have it no playability!. To me this is a waste of time loading its too hard to keep youre car on the road, man i handles like a brick!

Rating : 19%
CraigGrannell - 13 Apr 2005
This was one of those games that just never worked on the C64, although I suspect that has as much to do with dodgy programming as the limitations of the machine (the exception being the disk access, which is perhaps unavoidable for this sort of game). The graphics and sound weren't particularly exciting, but crucially nor was the gameplay. Graphics and hookability need to come way down, as does lastability. Overall, this was a pretty mediocre game at the time, and time itself has done it no favours.

Rating : 45%
Iain - 13 Apr 2005
The original Test Drive was one of the first 16-bit games I ever played, on my cousin's Atari ST and I was very impressed.

So when Test Drive II came out on the C64, I got it straight away. Obviously I was disapppointed somewhat but it's not a terrible game.

Once your eyes get used to the 3 frames a second update (!!) it's quite a good play, but you do only spot oncoming cars when they're about 2 seconds away from hitting you!

From the original marks, I'd cut graphics down to 60%, sound down to 40% but I'd edge overall up to 80% and leave the rest as they were.

Rating : 80%
Robin Hogg
The addition of a computer-controlled competitor adds a whole new element to the Test Drive format which really urges you on to take risks overtaking, running from the police and going into corners on tight mountain roads way too fast. Yeah, the Amiga version may look better, but on both machines the road movement is sturdily done, although the only improvement graphically over the original game is the addition of some trees, tunnels and cacti. Personally I think it falls just short of being a Sizzler on the Amiga as well as the C64, but there’s no denying that it is extremely playable, and the cars are great.
Phil King
On the Amiga the scenery moves smoothly and the other traffic is well-drawn. What really makes you feel like you’re driving though, is the realistic noise of the engine; different for each car. If you’re looking for a great driving game, then look no further.

The C64 version is less convincing, mainly due to oversensitive steering and the way oncoming traffic suddenly appears from nowhere. Most of the playability of the Amiga version is retained however, and the ability to expand both versions with add-on disks should prolong their appeal.
Paul Rand
So it’s basically along the same lines as its predecessor, and it could do with a few of its raggedy edges clipped, but Test Drive II on the Amiga is simply brilliant. The view from the windscreen, when beating a hasty path up one of the many twisting, winding roads, is particularly effective. Sadly, the outside objects, such as trees, do tend to go into spasms when travelling at low speeds, but then again this is a game where acceleration is not only a lot of fun, but a necessity, so less than 60mph is a rarity. So while it won’t get you through your driving test, it will provide some superb entertainment.

The C64 game has been crammed onto one disk, and in terms of general gameplay, little has been lost in the transition from one computer to the other. But both colour and sound are bland, while oncoming vehicles lack detail and advance rather jerkily. Apart from those small gripes though, there is little actually wrong with the 8-bit version which stands up as an impressive piece of programming.
Plenty of options, especially with the extra disks. The 'play disk' option eliminates irrating disk swapping.

All vehicles are well-drawn but the colour scheme is rather bland.

The theme tune ain't too hot and engine noises not that realistic.

Putting your foot down in a fast car is instantly appealing.

Driving at 200mph is so exhilarating, you'll be playing this for months.

A worthy sequel - great fun for all fast car fans.