Publisher : Ocean
Release date : 1990
Genre : Racing
Players : 1
Game description...
"The famous 24-hour race is about to begin. Your breath is held as you await the sound that signals the start. As your knuckles turn white from the taut grip you exert on the steering wheel, the horn blows and your 3000cc Turbo-charged Porsche roars powerfully as the tyres squeal into life. The stench of Burnin' Rubber fills your nostrils and you realise that the next 24 hours are going to be the most dangerous you have ever faced."
Programming :
  John O Brien
Graphics :
  Robert Hemphill
Music/Sounds :
  Matthew Cannon & Jon Dunn

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Editors review...
So here we have the very first game every GX4000 owner would have played! The flag ship game shipped with the console, and setter of standards and what to expect. Ocean were handed the job (good choice) to design, code and create a game that simultaneously show off and use all the new GX/Plus features but also give the NES/Master System games a run for their money and show it could compete with the existing MegaDrive and soon to be release SNES! Did it achieve any of this? Read on...

Firstly you're immediately greeted by a really impressive looking animated title screen and fab music. As ever, Ocean's presentation standards are very high and they don't skimp on the little but important things. Good first impression is very important with anything in life. Options allow to reconfigure the controls only, which is a useful thing consider I preferred having the accelerator/brakes on 2 buttons and the gear change on the up/down of the pad (I found the game suddenly a lot more fun and playable this way, but each to their own). So looking good so far...

So onto the game and you firstly have to complete a qualifying circuit lap - you'd have to be really bad to run out of time on this one! And it bizarrely it tells you what starting position on the grid you've qualified for yet in the actual game there's no ranking position (more on that in a bit). What strikes you immediately is the simply WONDERFUL use of colours and detailed graphics. If you hadn't played a Plus/GX game up to this point, you'd be presented with easily the best graphics you've even seen on an Amstrad game!

The good start is however a little diminished after you've had your qualifying lap and played for a while, as unfortunately (1) the game is a little slow really for a racer and (2) the controls are *really* sluggish. Racing games HAVE to be fast, and responsive. It's the key ingredient in the recipe of racing games, and unfortunately the end product is rather stodgy. Perhaps I'm sounding a little too harsh as it's still a brilliant racing game - the physics are correct enough for an 8-bit title, collision detection absolutely spot-on (more on that too) and very well programmed.

You can actually see the similarities between this and Ocean's earlier release WEC Le Mans, in fact its the same programming team. Looks like a large bulk of the code has been re-used and ported, but whereas WEC was in Mode1 and 4 colours... Burnin' Rubber is in glorious Mode0 with a lot more going on! Which probably accounts for the slow down. Imagine Ocean's Chase HQ without the turbo boost and slightly more sluggish response. Really, this game needed to be a lot more fast and fun, regarding the latter the gameplay is simply complete 4 (I think it's 4) laps before the time runs out - and each lap is quite long - whether boredom creeps in after a few games will depend on how quickly you're skills improve and your patience for racing games. For those raised on the NES/Master System consoles quick and disposable games this is not really gonna grab them. Also, the car engine noise is *really* annoying - sorry Ocean but you didn't get this right. The rest of the screeches, bumps and crashes are very well done though.

I'm sounding far too negative here though. I have to be honest, and fair, but it doesn't mean to say that this isn't a great racing game on its own two feet - in fact I'd probably place it at least in the top 5 racing games ever on the Amstrad as a whole. There's plenty of great things to say about the game too - I've already mentioned the graphics but one simply stunning feature that I don't remember ever seeing in a racing game before and since... is the sky that slowly changes colour from day into night and back again! What an inspired and brilliant piece of programming this is! It really elevates the gameplay experience to another level from such a simple thing, but simultaneously shows off the new range of colours and pallette the GX can use and display! Also, the major crash sequence where you flip the car in the air looks really impressive so much so that you might just want to keep crashing the car at top speed just to see it happen! Another really impressive piece of programming is the collision detection and physics - (1) its pixel perfect, (2) the speed and angle at which you hit something affects how the car reacts, and (3) it's implemented perfectly. You're not going to flip the car over hitting the side of another car at 20mph and Burnin' Rubber doesn't do this - it bounces off and loses a little speed which it should do. Ram into someone at 200MPH and expect disaster! Talking further about the physics - a little thing I like they've added in is if you are at top speed, but in the behind and in the slipsteam of the car in front your car speed increases slightly because of the wind reduction!

Oh and there's some more great little things! Opponent cars dodge in and out and block your progress when they want to, often hitting each other spinning out of control and causing pileups and chaos on the road - especially on later laps which turns into utter carnage! So from being initially impressed, to slightly disappointed about the speed and responsiveness but finally the game winning me over with all the great touches and gameplay - overall it's a winner. Not the greatest game to ever launch a console with, but certainly an admirable effort and worth part of anyones gaming collection.

  Can't be faulted in any way, simply stunning. Amazing use of colours especially for the sky that slowly changes from day to night and back again.
Just a title screen tune, but again with Ocean - it's first rate and quite catchy.
Engine noises, screeches as you slide around bends, bumps when you knock into cars, nasty crash noises when you flip the car - all there and present as you'd expect, and great quality. The only downer is the main engine noise which really grates on you after a while, and not as good as other racing games.
Being this is the launch game that comes bundled with the console, Ocean has made sure presentation is spot-on throughout. From the clever and impressive animation on the intro screen to the level of detail of the in-game graphics again it can't be faulted.
Built from the same engine of the programmers earlier game on the CPC - WEC Le Mans, which in my opinion played better than the arcade original! Although it was done in mode 1 and looked a little dull. Here the codes been transported and all those lovely colours been added - unfortunately with added overheads the game runs a lot slower and feels rather sluggish at times, especially the controls. However collision detection is pixel perfect allowing for nifty maneuvers amongst the traffic.
As mentioned above, collision detection is spot on meaning some clever gaming can be done to get past your enemy cars which is great, but is really let down by the sluggish speed and controls - it really needed to zip along at great speed if it wants to compete with the other consoles. Whether you prefer the 'time attack/get to the end' of this game or competitive racing with positions style of racing gameplay will affect this score. Me? I prefer the latter rather than the Outrun style.
The slower speed and unresponsive controls really knacker the game, and as it takes so long to complete the game with the only reward being that you reached the finish line - there's little to keep drawing you back.
Its a racing game! So no real story or much to the concept - just reach the finishing line! As that's all there is and the lack of 'positions' and specific opponents you have to beat it loses marks.
AI & Challenge
I'm not sure the other cars have been programmed specifically to block your progress - maybe they don't have rear view mirrors? But they certainly slide across the track and jostle for positions against each other - often leading to insane crashes and a road strewn with spun out cars! Great stuff.
GX4000 Features
Amazing use of colours, but I don't think the hardware sprites and scrolling have been used seeing as the WEC Le Mans code has been used - if it had it might have ran a lot faster. I have a feeling though that the hardware scrolling is very specific and wouldn't lend it to an 'into the screen racer'. Otherwise, graphic wise excellent.
Summary One of the best Amstrad racers for sure! Lovely graphics, top tunes and SFX, plus racing games are always fun - but ruined slightly by the sluggish speed and controls. Still, a worthy game to launch the console with.
Final Score 84%
  Fulltime: &07DF -> &FF
  (Note - you will have to keep doing this after checkpoints)
YouTube video...

Further more...
  Amstrad Action final score : %
  GX4000.CO.UK game ranking : #
  Game value (boxed + instructions) : £5 - £15

Manuals and some sleeve scans by mochilote at cpcmania.com

ROMS taken from NVG FTP Site maintained by Nich Campbell, see his other site - CPC Game Reviews

Cheats (various) taken from CPC Zone contributed by Hermol, cpc4eva, Malc and others

Inspiration generally taken from John King's PCW King GX4000 site

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