Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ultimate: The Collected Works - Part 3

Tranz Am (1983)
By: Ultimate Play the Game Genre: Action Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: Not much :|
Also Available For: Nothing

The platformy action games that comprised Ultimate's first two releases were well received and are fondly remembered today, but probably weren't the kind of thing they would become most famous for. Some of their titles, however, seem to get forgotten altogether by some. Arguably the most ignored of them all, of their Spectrum releases at least, is Tranz Am. Is that because it sucks donkey balls or is it simply because many of their other games were so much better? It was a bit of a departure for them but their trademark simplicity remains intact for it's an overhead-viewed driving game where the object is merely to collect trophies. Browsing through the instructions/inlay, however, certainly gives the impression that a great deal more thought was put into than it may initially appear.

Found some 'gas' but a Black Turbo is prowling too...
Indeed, the Stampers have come up with a surprisingly detailed story for Tranz Am which reveals, amongst other things, that it's set in the year 3472 in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that formerly comprised the USA. Petrol is now as valuable and sought-after as gold as everyone is after the '8 Great Cups of the Ultimate'. It is these that you should be on the lookout for as your drive around the multi-directional landscape in your 'Super Blown Red Racer'. Also after the cups are numerous evil 'Deadly Black Turbos' - computer controlled cars similar to your own. You can adjust the speed of your car at will but it has a limited supply of fuel which can only be replenished at one of the infrequent 'gas' stations. Contact with other cars or any of the slightly-more-frequent scenery objects will cost you one of your three lives though, so careful rather than speedy driving is often the key to success.

They're Deadly Magenta Turbos at night...
And that, as they say, is pretty much that. As mentioned earlier, it's a simple game and I must be honest and say that I quickly got bored of 'thundering' around in my little red car. The sound is almost non-existent and aside from an occasional switch to 'night driving', there's no variety in the graphics except for a few things dotted around such as trees, gravestones, and rocks. Sadly, the gameplay is just as repetitive. The instructions proudly states that the total playing area is equivalent to 'over 600 times the actual screen area', but unsurprisingly it doesn't mention that it's effectively all the same! When this game was originally released, Ultimate weren't the revered legends they are today so it probably wasn't judged as harshly as now, but I'm afraid I just didn't enjoy playing Tranz Am at all. It might've killed the odd ten minutes thirty years ago but it's not aged well at all.

RKS Score: 4/10


  1. Yep totally agree Si, never got into this one either.

  2. I do have a slight soft spot for this but it's probably for the reason that I had it on a cart and being possible to fire it up instantly it got a lot more attention than if I'd had to wait for the tape to load.

    Does this pre-date LED Storm? That was much better and had added Tim Follin soundtrack :)

  3. Glad to hear I'm not alone, JD! :) I suppose it's not a bad achievement for a 16k game - I wanted to enjoy it, but I didn't... :(

    Hi Wil - I know what you mean, I sometimes used to favour games I had on disk for my +3 over superior tape games :P Yes, it does pre-date LED Storm by around five years. I've reviewed that here as well, actually (Amiga version). Didn't like it much either :P