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Trans Am - What it is and why I liked it







publisher: Ultimate Play the Game 1984

Released around the same time as Ultimate's other 16k greats, Jetpac, Pssst and Cookie, Trans Am has been awarded the least memorable award by history. I am here to lend a hand to this discarded hero!

Sure Jetpac was in many ways the more impressive, and that game has enough devotees already, Pssst and Cookie are over rated in my opinion - too fiddly and annoying. Trans Am though - thats a game you could play for a long time, and I did. 13 year old boys are not tall enough to buy topshelf (ahem!) and too tall to play with toy garages - therefore, logically (!) they are primed to play Trans Am.

The game itself was quite good, especially for the 16K spectrum, which is what I had in 83/84. Your mission was to drive around the USA collecting the 8 'great cups' (they were pink!) and you were the red rider speeding through the US in your overgrown beach buggy with an engine that sounded like a, erm... a distant moped.

Anyway, you could go for these cups if you wanted but the real meat of the game was in the driving. Go too fast and you overheat, too slow and the 'black riders' crash you up good n proper. You had to give these guys the slip and thats where the gameplay came in. Eventually you'd be tailed by a couple of these dudes, you'd have to make sure you refuel regularly and avoid overheating - even maxed out the black riders could catch you! The trick was to weave in and out of the obstacles getting your pursuers to crash into them. Crashing for a black rider actually meant bouncing! For you it was a little more serious.

This game was the spiritual forefather of greats like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) - where your mission is secondary to the skill of driving with a top down view, being chased by other cars and avoiding obstacles. Is it any wonder I played GTA in adult life? Of course not. Do people realize the importance Trans Am (and arcade games like Crash (1979) and Spy Hunter (1983) ) had for the top down view style of gaming. Nope.

There was a neat 'stunt car' game for the spectrum circa 1987 on a budget label (wasn't every Spectrum game on a budget label by then?). Can't remember the name, maybe you can help, but it was another top down classic!

And to think people pass off Trans Am with the 'it was their worst game' comment!

Look at these shots and marvel, remember the night driving sequences folks?



controls:

Keyboard (Q-P - accelerate, A-L - break, Z/M left/right) Kempston Joystick

pokes:

infinite lives (25445,0)



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Get a kinda sorta feel for Trans Am with this Javascript trickery! Play web trans Am two!
Other 16k (yes 16k!) games of the era
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Links! Other than the webring, here are the five major links for spectrum fans