WACKY WHEELS from Andy Edwardson with Apogee

Previewed by Hank Leukart

Note: These screen shots of Wacky Wheels may not be completely accurate after the final version of the game is released. The game is not yet completed and is subject to change.

          Computer        Graphics        Memory          Disk Space
Minimum   386             320x200x256     2mb             2.5mb (shareware)
Max/Rec.  486                             4mb             7.5mb (registered)

Control:  Keyboard, Joystick, and Gravis GamePad.
  Sound:  All major General MIDI compatible sound cards including the
          Sound Blaster, Gravis UltraSound, WaveBlaster, Pro Audio Spectrum,
          and Adlib.
  Notes:  A dual-joystick adaptor with two joysticks or Gravis
          GamePads and/or a 9600 baud (or higher) modem is useful to play
          the two player mode.

Previewed Beta version on: 386/40, 486/33, 16MB RAM, Sound Blaster v2.0,
                           Gravis GamePad, and Gravis UltraSound card.
     Previewer recommends: A General MIDI wavetable synthesis sound card,
                           a Gravis GamePad, a dual-joystick adaptor,
                           and a 14.4k baud (or higher) modem.

Since I played OUTRUN for the first time in an arcade back in the eighties, I have been looking for a decent car racing game for a PC. I have since seen a large amount of these games, including OUTRUN-PC, MEGARACE, and the ancient GRAN PRIX. I STILL have not found a game that was as exciting for me as Outrun was the first time I played it. WACKY WHEELS, however, comes so close that I would recommend it to anyone who loved the original Outrun. Wacky Wheels has an abundance of features that Outrun never had, which no doubt makes up for its few shortcomings.

I must admit, this is one of my favorite Apogee games that I have previewed. It has a rich variety of features, good music, impressive VGA-256 graphics, and a type of humor and exciting gameplay not seen in many other games. As I mention above, it is one of the few very good racing games for the PC.

Wacky Wheels is full of things to do. After starting the game, one is given a choice of playing one player racing, two player split-screen racing, two player split-screen combat mode, two player Comm-Bat (tm) mode, and one player duck shooting. (yes, I said "duck" shooting)

One player racing makes use of three track sets: the bronze, silver, and gold (the shareware version will contain only the bronze, and the upgrade version will contain an additional three track sets). Each track set contains five seperate tracks, in which the object is to score enough points (by placing first, second, or third) to beat all of the other computer drivers. There is a twist to this and the other events though. Throughout a race, hedgehogs, oil slicks, sideways tire puncturers, and fireballs are strategically placed on the track for you to pick up and fire at the other contestants. This really gives Wacky Wheels a uniqueness not seen in other racing games. The one player racing event has the least replay value in the game, because once you have beat all difficulties and all of the tracks, you have done it all. The time trials, however, are good for trying to beat your best time or a friend's time.

Two player split-screen racing and the two player Comm-Bat (tm) racing add an additional challenge to one player racing. Not only are you trying to beat computer drivers, you are also attempting to cross the finish line before a real, human player. Dual-joysticks are great for two-player games without a modem, and a 9600 baud (or higher) modem will allow you to race against a partner thousands of miles away. Using dual-joysticks causes the screen to be split in half, which limits viewability but is great fun, nevertheless. Special keys in the two player modes allow you to put goofy, devilish characters in your partners viewing area, which laugh and jeer. They also block your enemy's view for a few seconds, making it more difficult for them to control their animal's car.

Two player split-screen combat and the two player Comm-Bat (tm) modes are two of the most fun. In these modes, again using dual-joysticks or a modem, you are thrown into a combat zone filled with ammunition for firing at your "friend." Using such maneuvers as the hand-brake turn to outwit your partner, one must try to destroy the other car using a hedgehog or another weapon. Of course, in two player race mode, weapons simply make your partner's car harder to control, but do not kill him or her as they do in two player combat.

Finally, the one player duck shoot is a great way to play combat mode with a single player. In this mode, one attempts to destroy huge flocks of motorized ducks with wheels moving around on the playing field. This is another good event to brag to your friends about. Personally, I have killed thirty-four ducks. Can anyone do better?

Wacky Wheels performs very well. The engine is quite fast, and runs smoothly in high detail mode on a 486/33. It does slow down slightly in split-screen mode in high detail, however if there are problems, the detail level may be turned down. On lower end 386/40s, split-screen mode still performs very well in the low detail mode.

Wacky Wheels's sound and music sounds like a considerable amount of time was spent on it. All of the animals have their own noise that they make when you pass them in a race. The techno/rock MIDI music sounds great on any wavetable synthesis card. Of course, it still does not quite live up to digitized music quality on lower end cards like the Sound Blaster Standard and the Adlib, but it still sounds impressive, compared to other MIDI music, on these cards.

Compared to other racing games, Wacky Wheels is very low priced. The shareware version (containing one track set and two battle zones) is free. The standard registered version is $24.95 and contains three track sets and six battle zones. A registered version upgrade is also available for $34.95, which includes the original registered version and an additional three track sets and six battle zones.

Overall, I consider Wacky Wheels to be a high quality racing game, and guess that it will be one of Apogee's best this year. Although its "cuteness" may appeal, at first, only to younger players, gamers of all ages will learn to enjoy it. The modem capabilities have great potential, as two player racing and battle is a blast! Watch for Wacky Wheels, coming soon, to be released in October or early November.

This preview is Copyright (C) 1994 by Hank Leukart for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved.