Things get curioser and curioser at JVC - the software house that brought you the ultra-bonkers Keio Flying Squadron and Sea Bass Fishing have struck again with Highway 2000, a Euro-restyling of the bizarre Japanese driving game, Dead Heat.
On the face of it, racing against the clock, another opponent or computer-controlled cars across five urban highways might not seem so bizarre. What makes Highway 2000 different, however, are your glamourous co-drivers - select your companion from ten lovely ladies who'll give you an earful of abuse if your, ahem, performance doesn't live up to their high expectations. You get to choose from three top-of-the-range sports cars, and must come first on each track in order to progress to the next level - and stay sweet with your fickle girlfriend.
A Pal conversion (and Westernisation) of last year's Japanese driving game Dead Heat.
Negotiate the tight city streets at sufficient speed to impress your glamorous, er, 'co-drivers'.
Since we previewed Dead Heat, the Japanese version of this game, JVC have westernised it by shooting new FMV sequences with European babes replacing the Japanese air-hostess types. We can't go into too much detail about your hot new co-drivers (Dan gets very excitable - he had a very sheltered upbringing, you know) but we can only hope that the weather's warm wherever you're going. They'll catch their death dressed like that otherwise.
There are five courses in Highway 2000, and each gets progressively harder. The scenarios will all be familiar to Baywatch viewers (as should some of the bimbo-types you take with you on your journey). Coastal roads, bridges and tunnels are all familiar sights in these predominantly urban motorways.
In fact, the most surprising feature of these courses are some of their names. I don't know about you, but if I was taking a hot chick out on a date I wouldn't visit a place called Wind-Breath Highway.
Highway 2000 features a slick two player option (called Battle Mode) which splits the screen horizontally and pits you against an opponent in a race to the finish line. Other luxury items include the option to view your car from any one of three angles - from above, behind or inside.
Racing against the likes of Need For Speed, Sega Rally and the forthcoming Dayona SCE, Highway 2000 comes a definite last. But then what do you expect from a year-old Japanese game?
The graphics are shoddy, the sound is painful and the car handling harks back to the days of Pole Position!
Everything about this game screams 'tacky', from the repetitive roadside scenery to blatant 'babe' exploitation in the FMV sequences. Well, OK, maybe the exploitation's not so bad, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Sorry, but Highway 2000 smells.
Highway 2000 takes its place on the starting grid with some very stiff competition, not least of which is JVC's own Impact Racing. Unfortunately, a faltering performance shows that this game is badly in meet of an MOT - the car handling, graphics and animation are all of a standard that has been bettered, even in ageing games like Need For Speed.
The only real distinction here is the babes, which add a bit of a twist (but barely an incentive to finish!) the game. Unless you're desperate for a night out with these digi-chicks, I'd suggest taking your road rage elsewhere.
N. The courses are very samey, and lack the sort of detail that makes them clearly distinct from each other.
P. The clouds of dust thrown up by skidding wheels aren't bad, but there are few impressive touches.
N. Car movement is very limited. Sega Rally it ain't!
N. The pumping tunes are suitably cheesy - just the sort of Bon Jovi out-takes likely to impress your passenger.
N. Pretty much below par, compared to the competition. You've heard better revs, skids and handbrake turns elsewhere.
N. It's principally let down by the awkward car control - there's a definite knack to be learned.
P. There are five courses...
N. ...but there isn't enough variation in scenario or course design.
Novelty value can't save this from being outclassed by the competition.