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The Great Space Race

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Released: 1984

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Legend

Developer: Legend

Submitted by: Ian Marks

There were some games on the ZX Spectrum that were promised, hyped and never ever materialized… Psyclapse, Bandersnatch, the movie type Scooby Doo and Star Trek being some of the most famous. There were other games on the Spectrum that were promised, hyped and did arrive – to the disappointment of all concerned… The Great Space Race was one of the latter unfortunately.

By the same people that brought you Valhalla (quite a good game), the Great Space Race wasn’t just below average, or even poor, no it was absolutely dreadful. For the younger reader think Rise of the Robots dreadful.

The premise was good. Hire people to race across the galaxy, selling goods and fighting evil aliens as they went. But in reality it played like wading through treacle. All the action was decided by pressing a number to answer a question. Usually 1 for Yes and 0 for No. Often you’d end up pressing the same key twice as it took 5 seconds for the program to respond. The excitement never started.

The real game was so slow as to suspect that nowadays what with all the solicitors adverts on television you could probably sue them for false advertising – it was certainly no race, that’s for sure. The main reason it was slow was obvious, it was written in BASIC. In 1984 releasing a game in BASIC was unforgivable. They didn’t even bother putting in a disable for the BREAK key, you could just press the key and list the program. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

In play there were many, many unfair dead ends to the game. At one point the game asks if you want to repair your ship. If you answer ‘No’ then the ship blows up instantly, and you’re out of the game.

The game made a big thing of it’s realistic facial animations. They were not great to be honest. People either smiling or frowning, or they could make little o’s when they spoke. Not really revolutionary. The other graphics weren’t much cop either.

I would doubt anyone ever finished the Great Space Race, the speed it played it would have taken you a solid month to get through it. You’d have been dead before then… probably from blood loss after chewing your own arms off.

It did come in an immense box, with a fantastic spiral galaxy picture on the front. The box was unfortunately the best bit. Myself I think everyone should emulate this game and give it a go. If you weren’t a child of the eighties then it will educate you on some of the absolute cack we had to put up with 25 years ago. Honestly I think we deserve a medal the things we went through for you modern new fangled gamers.