Since it’s Tour De France time, I thought I’d take a wee look at an old cycling game from 1988 – Gremlin’s Tour De Force to be precise.
Unlike now when sports simulations are limited to motor-racing, football and golf back in the golden age ™ of videogaming just about every sport under the sun received a simulation at some point, even judo and squash got their own home-computer versions. Cycling doesn’t get a look-in these days but back in the ’80s there were a couple of cycling games published one of which (funnily enough) is this one.
Now, because the sport of cycling involves peddling along a road somewhere and very occasionally overtaking (or being overtaken by) a sweating man in very tight shorts it doesn’t have much to grip the typical gamer. For this reason Tour De Force relegates the “cycle race” part to just the core of the game and adds all sorts of things around it that you wouldn’t get in the actual Tour de France that this is so very very thinly based on. So, as well as just having to overtake the other cyclists the player also has to dodge roadworks, occasionally jump over them using a ramp, collect food and drink to boost points and keep heat levels down and avoid obstacles placed in the road both living and inert.
Actually, come to think of it, most of those things probably are encountered on the average Tour de France.
Tour de Force also takes place over a number of levels with races in a number of different countries, starting in Japan (that well-known home of the long-distance cycle race, there) although I wasn’t able to get much further than level two (France, which should have been level one or something).
This isn’t a bad wee game. The graphics are okay, have plenty of character and aren’t too messy or confusing and although there’s some frustration (such as crashing into an obstacle and then making the same mistake with the start of your next life and an inability to cycle backwards meaning no way of getting out of a pickle you’ve managed to cycle into) it’s quite good fun to play. There’s just one thing about it that really, really annoys me, though. When you finish a race the wee bloke doesn’t cycle across the finish line, he stops with the front wheel right on top of it whilst all his opponents cycle across it and then he has the termacity to raise his arms up as if he thinks doing so makes him look good rather than a tit. Whoever signed off that little detail at Gremlin Graphics wants a strongly-worded letter, I tells thee.
I played both the Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions (Speccy has better graphics, Amstrad better sound). You can find both of them here.