Review by Eric43
"Leland “Super Sprintizes” its Super Off-Road game and hires Danny as a spokesman"
In the 1990's, racing games made a gradual change from the 2D to the 3D realm. This means that games such as Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off-Road and Super Sprint became outdated, only to be left abandoned in funky old bowling alleys and skating rinks. However, Leland, the people who brought you Super Off-Road, released this final faux-2D racer in 1991. This time around, the theme is American Formula 1 and Danny Sullivan is the ringmaster. Anyone who has played Super Off-Road should appreciate the changes made to this sequel.
The arcade cabinet consists of three steering wheels; the red car on the left, the white car in the middle, and the blue car on the left. The yellow and black cars are controlled by the AI (AKA Danny and his dimwitted accomplice, otherwise known as JOHNM;" forget about JOHNM, he never wins). To drive, players must step on the single pedal at their feet and swing the wheel around to steer the car. Races take place on one static screen with cars running laps around a track; either eight laps for ovals or five laps for technical courses. Players that manage to beat all of the AI drivers continue playing for free. However, the game ends once anyone loses to the AI, but they can continue if they put more money into the machine. After each race, players get money and can spend it on upgrades, such as a faster pit crew, a better engine, slicker tires, and spare turbo boosts.
The game feels and looks pretty good for being an old-timey arcade racer. If you don't mind pictures of Danny pasted everywhere you go, then you should have no complaints about the presentation. Also, the game is kind enough to choose a face for your driver, which is pasted on the body of your driver at the end of each race. It's only a little gimmick, but a pretty humorous one for that. In the game, the cars are pretty small and resemble Micro Machines, but they look pretty neat for being only being in the double-digits when it comes to pixels.
Different from Super Off-Road and Super Sprint are the courses themselves. Unlike the other game's non-descript, bland courses, Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat boasts fourteen different courses, each modeled after the layout of their real-life counter-parts. Each track is full of detail; for instance, Indianapolis has tons of stands, Phoenix is laden with sand and cacti, and Vancouver has buildings and underpasses to drive under. Also, the courses are well designed as to eliminate the annoying bumper-fests that happened in Super Sprint and Super Off-Road. There is some grass and dirt to run up on, and this leads to a nasty loss in speed.
Unlike Super Off-Road, the game ditched random money and turbo icons that popped up all over the track for a pit stop system. Yes, every race, cars will run out of fuel and need to pit. This usually happens over a period of thirty seconds, and cars can fly into pits, get refueled by a cute little pit crew, and race back out. Don't worry about forgetting it, since the game will display a visual as well as an audio cue for each player when their fuel runs low. What's even neater is that there is the ability to ram other cars off their jacks; in other words, if your pit area is in front of someone already in the pits, you can ram into them and halt their refueling at that moment. It's a pretty sneaky maneuver to use on Danny himself. Also, should you run out of fuel or crash so that your car catches on fire, the car will putter at a very slow speed until remedied by a pit stop.
In the audio department, Leland used all the tools from the early 90s to provide good audio. The game has its own cool and enjoyable music. The attract screen as well as each course has its own music, and while I can't say it goes much farther than the standard synthesized music you've heard over and over again, it's still enjoyable. Sound effects usually involve squealing of the tires and even some recycled sound effects from Super Off-Road. Remember the infamous wwhhhaaahhh of the air horn? This sound's back in the game. Also, the announcer gives some basic lines here and there, but he's not a bigshot by any means.
However, you'll find all of these things a bit of a waste compared to the Master of the Game that is named Danny. Yes, like Super Off-Road, the AI tends to be too cheap for its own good. Danny is usually programmed to speed up or slow down to match your performance, regardless of how many upgrades you purchased. Usually every third or fourth race, Danny will pick up the pace to match your car's ability. Sometimes, he will start to cruise around the track not messing up at all, and it's impossible to win. Sometimes, he won't even pit ONCE in a race! This is really frustrating, especially since it doesn't reward skill all that much and it's the developers' cheap way of making you pay up more money. Also, why should I put in extra quarters in order to improve my ride beforehand? That'll make the races go by faster, and I'll have to pay more money in a quicker period of time.
But regardless, the game is pretty fun to play, until Danny cheats its up and ruins everyone's fun. If you should play until you complete all fifteen races in the series (Indianapolis is repeated twice) with the highest point total, then your initials will appear in the Hall of Fame with your average speed for all courses. It's kind of a drag that it's doesn't keep the big list of statistics that Super Off-Road had, but it's not a big deal. All that matters now is beating that darned yellow car. If you have any spare change on you, give this arcade game a shot.
Presentation: 7/10 If you wanted to read a biography of Danny Sullivan, this game's attract screen is the second most reliable place since Wikipedia. Still, Danny will get on your nerves, since he is EVERYWHERE in this game.
Gameplay: 7/10 Racing is so much fun until Danny cheats and wins the race.
Graphics: 8/10 For being a 2D racer, the tracks look great and the action is pretty fluid throughout.
Sound: 7/10 Standard sound effects and music get the job done.
Lasting Value: 6/10 Fun for an arcade game, but there's only so much racing that can be had from this kind of game. Keep playing until you can't stand Danny any longer.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/18/06, Updated 07/09/09
Game Release: Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat (US, 12/31/91)
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