Commodore User1st March 1987
Published in Commodore User #43
Sport Of Kings
If you fancy a day at the races but you don't have the dosh this might be the game for you. A horse racing simulation for the penniless punter.
The simple idea is to choose a season and as many horses as you want running and place bets on the runners of each race. And you can't lose a penny!
The whole business is icon-run and just about as easy as a trip to the bookies can be. You begin the season by choosing the number of horses you want to run (25-50-75) bearing in mind that the more horses you choose the less easy it is to get to know the runners' form. You can then select which other aspects will determine the outcome of a race, such as weight, the going (i.e. the condition of the turf) and whether the jockeys can alter the result. You can also auto-run a few races which allows some form readings to build up. This means you just sit back and watch the race like you do on Channel 4 of an afternoon [I thought you had a dentist's appointment - Ed].
Once the form has built up a bit, you can get your money out and start placing a few crafty bets. So follow Commodore User's number one racing correspondent 'Knacker' with the top tips.
First, you'll want to check the race into for the next meeting to see who's riding what, then you'll want to access the form icon to suss out the nags' previous outings. This is where the first major problem with the game occurs. You have to have more than a passing knowledge of the gee gees to understand the form card. In fact, you probably need to spend at least three days in William Hill!
So when it comes to genning up on curretnf rom, so you can pick the best horses, everything is too confusing. Unfortunately, Mastertronic have not chosen to explain it in the instructions. Since most of you will be too young to nip round to the local turf accountants for advice this seems to be a cock-up.
Once you've made your mind up you nip over to the bookies icon and place your bet. There are no favourites or tips to help you out.
With the bet placed including the money (you don't get an option to pay tax before the race) they're off! The screen switches to a perspective view of a racecourse with the runners spread out. An ambulance follows them as they make their way down the course whilst a talking head commentator mumbles into a microphone. Apparently, if you have a Currah speech unit, you'll hear him but it's as much fun doing your own race commentary: "On the inside it's Napkin, closely followed by Brillig, Jet Boy is third, then comes Apollo..." and so on in a ranting voice raising to a crescendo as the winner noses into the lead inside the last furlong.
And when it's all over and you've lost (as you invariably do in this mug's game), the bookie will appear to tell you how much you made. If you lost he looks smug, but should you win he'll look well peeved at having to cough up.
Sport Of Kings is entertaining and very polished at its price, but it does let itself down by assuming too much from you. Most people only manage a bet in a sweepstake on Grand National day, and whilst this isn't dreadfully complicated, it is hard. Try and keep your own notes. Oh, and talking of the National, anyone got a hot tip?