Sunday, February 7, 2021

Matter of Import 024: Safari Race (SG-1000, 1984)


In Safari Race the player races their Lancia Stratos against other cars, including Audi Quattros, in an endurance race across Africa, dodging rocks and jaywalking wildlife along the way.

This is, apparently, one of the first racing games to license real-world cars for use in the game, but there's not a lot to note beyond that. It took me a few to figure out the game's controls, but a quick glance at the game's manual confirmed that up is "accelerate at low gear" – good to about 80 kph, and then down to accelerate at high gear to a max speed of 300.

While there are plenty of obstacles to avoid – signs, rocks, rival cars, and the aforementioned dashing wildlife – the biggest challenge in the game comes from managing your fuel use. As with a real car the faster you go, the less efficient your use of gas, and the more often you'll need to stop to refuel. And your Stratos is a guzzler.

To refuel you need to come to a complete stop at the side of the road with the sprite of your car intersecting a gas pump sprite, and then wait... patiently... while you slowly refuel. Given the distance you have to travel and how long it takes to gas up, finding that perfect cruising speed is by far the most important skill to master.

I'll let you know what that speed is when I figure it out. Or rather, I won't – I'm not a huge fan of racing games in general and Safari Race didn't really do enough to grab me in the ten minutes or so I spent playing it. I'm not going to give it another try, and instead I'm going to rate it a C-.

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