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Last V8, The

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Last V8, The

Mastertronic (1985)

Synopsis

Race your vehicle full throttle towards the base before your radiation shield decays. With only a few winding roads and trees to navigate, this should be a simple trip...

Return to base, immediately!


Graphics

Pros:

A lighter, cleaner touch than the CPC.


Cons:

Graphics are still a little crude.





Sound

Pros:

HRH RH, King of SID strikes again!


Cons:

Minimal in-game sounds.





Gameplay

Pros:

You'll believe you can beat the computer.


Cons:

The computer is laughing at you!




Graphics

Pros:

Slightly more colourful non-driving window elements.


Cons:

Jerky scrolling, drab single-colour scheme.





Sound

Pros:

One of the better CPC tunes.


Cons:

Sounds like a lazier rendition of the C64 tune.





Gameplay

Pros:

You'll be tempted to carry on and give it another go.


Cons:

The awkward controls will put paid to that!




Graphics

Pros:


Cons:





Sound

Pros:


Cons:





Gameplay

Pros:


Cons:



Beat The Atomic Clock!




Since I was a wee pup in the 70s, top-down racing games had always been a source of interest to me for their simplicity and, yet, intriguing replay value. I guess it all started out for me with the static tracks of Sprint 2, a veritable feast of indifference towards excess, which eventually lead me to the relatively glamourous mid-80's hit, Super Sprint.


I also loved the vertically scrolling top-down racing games, and I was half-decent at Monaco GP in the arcades, but that ridiculously narrow piece of road always had me nose-diving into the river! I also loved my parents' godsend of a handheld Christmas gift, Digital Derby, even though playing it was like the sound of trees being felled.


It probably wouldn't come as a great surprise, then, to learn that I'd pee'd myself a little at the thought of playing 'The Last V8' upon its release. If my memory serves me right, and it rarely does, I first experienced this game on my friend's Commodore 64, where you're immediately dealt with 75% of the screen looking pretty, but doing very little other than showing your vehicle's vitals, whilst the remaining 25% of the screen is given priority to the actual driving element of the game. This is perfectly fine though if you're viewing the computer screen from within a postbox.


As your tiny car sits on its tiny track in its tiny window of a game, you're greeted with some speech. I'd love to say that the sound was HD quality, but it actually sounded like someone who was recently punched in the teeth, spluttering out their words and spitting in your face. However, that's what this new-kid-on-the-block speech technology sounded like in its infancy, so all is forgiven! But, let's face it, that was better than the zero speech offering on the Amstrad CPC.


Now, just before we dig a little deeper into the game itself, it's only fair to point out that the Amstrad screen layout is also very similar in style... but the game screen colours are thinner on the ground! There's just too many eroded deep greens saturating the first level. The Commodore 64 captures the starkness of the apocalyptic world we're driving through much more tidily.

Your tiny car sits on its tiny track in its tiny window of a game

Racing to the underground shelter before your radiation shield decays is no easy task, especially whilst confronted with winding roads that force you to slow down from breakneck speeds into a crawl within a matter of seconds. This sounds like a lot of fun but, in fact, it will almost certainly test your mental strength way past breaking point.


The problem is in the control of the car. Moving off towards the left of the screen, you use the left key to speed up, and the up key to move upward in the road. Entering a bend that runs upward, however, somehow interchanges the keys so that pressing left now means move into the left of the road, and up means speed up. The controls are practically a gift from Satan himself.


The CPC also can't deal with the horizontal scrolling very well; surprising considering how small the game area is. It's far too slow and choppy, just like the key controls. Sometimes you'll be tapping the direction keys and then thumping them in panic when you find the response is either sluggish or not forthcoming at all.


The Commodore almost works on a polar opposite. Playing this version, you may find yourself completely overshooting the road as the scrolling speed is silky smooth. However, as with the CPC, the slightest scrape against a tree or a bush will make your car explode just like in the movies, but in a noisy yet unremarkable 8-bit kind of a way. So it really becomes a case of balancing your speed against the time limit given to you to reach the base, and without letting any leaves fall onto your egg shell of a motor.


The in-game music by Rob Hubbard is set to the Rob Hubbard industry standard of awesomeness, and captures the urgency and the very essence of the fateful world in which you must race through. The Commodore 64's music is much phatter here than the CPC's rendition, which contains many of the top-end notes associated with numerous games of the era.


Like so many top-down racing games of the time, I love the concept, but the result is disappointing. The directional controls are a let-down, added to which is the confusing speed control, plus a delicate vehicle that has no place in this grave future, and a time-limit that's skimpier than the game window. What better way to ensure a rapid successsion of quick and senseless deaths? The Darlings of Mastertronic made some terrific games during the golden age of computing, but this one is a far drive away from pole position.




Graphics

Crude but strangely passable!


Sound

Wonderful tune throughout. Speech on the C64 version. In-game sounds are fairly limited.


Gameplay

Your interest will diminish very quickly with the clumsy controls.


Overall

It plays like a game that wasn't tested thoroughly prior to release.



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Overall Ranking

25

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ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download

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