When Kempston decided to throw its name behind a racing car game, it was a surprise to find it appearing on the BBC Micro. This is the one category of game which is particularly well populated.
In the same way as Revs came out of Acorn's association with Formula 3, Chicane was inspired by Kempston's involvement in Formula Ford racing.
Following the efforts of Superior, Software Invasion and Atarisoft, Orpheus Software of Cambridge (commissioned by Kempston) had quite a job on their hands to come up with something original. They haven't quite managed it. The screen display is another Pole Position copy. There are qualifying attempts and actual races. The lap times (rather than points) are part of the move towards more realism (as in Revs). The cockpit is also a realistic touch, a copy of what you might see in a Formula Ford car.
At the keyboard, controls are simple and easy to use, easier than Revs. The fore and middle fingers of the left hand form the steering wheel, the same digits on the right hand are the accelerator and brake. The thumb rests on the space bar to change gear. Joystick control is an option and there are freeze game and sound on/off keys.
A single central light signals the start and acceleration through the gears (with the help of a Rev counter) is quick. The current gear is highlighted on the dash.
The gears need to be regularly employed if you are not to overdo it and jump into one of the regularly placed "signs" on the edge of the track - wholly artificial but a great crunching sound! There's no feel of skidding, just loss of control and then a bumpy ride along the grass. The other race cars do not have the "presence" of those in Revs although they can certainly get in the way! The wing mirrors work OK but the track remains in view even when you are motoring on the verge.
In Chicane you do appear to move fast, one of the sensations Pole Position creates so well, and it's a real thrill trying to defeat the course. Which brings us to the major advantage of Chicane over other BBC racing games, a choice of race tracks, all the famous names in Britain: Silverstone, Brands, Donnington and in Europe Monaco, Monza and the Neubergring.
If you want a game which you can keep coming back to for a new challenge then this feature recommends Chicane. It's an exciting drive so while we wait a re-release of Pole Position (under the US Gold label) and other machines benefit from Pole Position II, why not get some action with Chicane?
If pushed, I prefer Revs as a challenge but if you didn't get Pole Position first time round then Chicane is worth having, especially if you are a racing enthusiast and what to test out a variety of tracks.