US Gold began 1990 with the high octane growl of Turbo Out-Run (97% and a Gold Medal). The game zoomed up the charts to be US Gold's Xmas bestseller (across all formats) and won a clutch of Zzap! readers awards (Game Of The Year, Best Coin-Op Conversion and Best Sound). Programmers Mark Kelly and Steve Crow picked up best Programming Team award as well, so how does the game stand up now?
Very good indeed, is the answer. The superlative presentation with an excellent hip-hop version of the coin-op tune is still astounding. The basic gameplay a Ferrari F40 racing a Porsche across America for the favours of a beautiful blonde is simplistic but addictive. Beautifully drawn and incredibly fast graphics make it an unmissable experience. The only drawback is a hefty cassette multi-load between stages.
Crackdown was US Gold's next hit Sega conversion. An overhead-view game with a split-screen for simultaneous two-player action. Mow down the baddies and plant the bombs before hitting the exit! Sixteen levels make for a big challenge and the game won a 90% Sizzler. Phil had his reservations about this souped-up Gauntlet and a year on it's not so impressive technically. Playability remains high, though.
The last US Gold game here is also the least, the company's big hope for Xmas 1988 which ended up in flames (well, 69%). Thunderblade is a fairly simplistic shoot-'em-up distinguished by mixing levels of into-the-screen 3D with overhead-view, vertical scrolling 3D. Chris Butler scramed in the coin-op speed, but some wobbly overhead graphics and unremarkable gameplay make for a dull game.
Rounding up this compilation, there's two Sega conversions from Activision. Dynamite Dux (57%) sadly dropped the two-player mode, but is otherwise an okay conversion of a simplistic horizontally-scrolling beat-'em-up cum shoot-'em-up, enlivened only be weird cutesy characters. Super Wonderboy (68%) is a horizontally scrolling arcade adventure with some tiny sprites. A frequent multiload combined with some very short levels doesn't help matters either, but it's nice enough as a filler.
If you haven't got Turbo Out-Run and Crackdown, this is a very worthwhile collection; otherwise its value is more dubious with three weak titles.
Not really as exciting with only Crackdown standing out with a 90% Sizzler rating. Both Turbo and Thunderblade are respectable with 80% each, while Dynamite Dux boasts a two-player mode but still only earned 65%. The simplistic Super Wonderboy (36%) suffers lengthy disk accessing of C64 standards.