Test Drive [C64]

test_drive_boxOk, that’s weird. I clearly remember playing that game in the late 80’s and not really liking it. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought it was a technical masterpiece for its time, but never understood people praising it as the best thing since sliced bread.

Until today. I don’t know what happened in those 25 years I haven’t played it, but after having a go at it again after two and a half decades I finally understood. Well, I’m still not saying it’s one of the best games ever. No, it does have it’s fair share of flaws, but I experienced something I never experienced before while playing it: Fun.

test_drive_014Now, the gameplay is always the same: Choose between one of five cars and take it for a ride, while avoiding traffic and, occasionally, cops. There’s only one track and the scenery won’t change at all. Have a look at the image to the right, that’s how it looks the whole time you’re on the road.

test_drive_011The track itself is divided into several stages, represented by stops at a petrol station. And as mentioned above, it’s not only the traffic you have to worry about, but there’s a chance a police car will chase you down should you be driving too fast.

The whole game can be completed within 20 minutes, and when you successfully reach the end of the track you can keep the car you were driving.

And if you want to see me bumping into cars and almost falling off a cliff, watch the video below.

I still can’t explain why all of a sudden I started to like it. Back in the day I thought it was a bit bland, driving down the same road over and over again. Plus, the loading times almost killed it for me. And while the graphics where relatively fast for a 3D game on the C64, I never played it that much back then.

Well, it’s certainly not a game I could play for hours, but I now appreciate it way more than I did in the late 80’s.


Title: Test Drive | Developer: Distinctive Software | Publisher: Accolade
Year: 1987 | Also available on: Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, DOS


7 thoughts on “Test Drive [C64]

  1. Funny, after reading yor post about Hard Drivin’ I watched a Test Drive video on yotube to see how fast it was in comparison. I played Test Drive 2 quite a lot back then, I thought it was reasonably fast for a C64: I remember showing it to a guy who complained about the slowness of the game on a 8086 PC and to his surprise he found it even more sluggish and unplayable!

    • Just played Test Drive II last night, and to me it does seem to be a tad slower than its prequel. Plus, I had the feeling the controls were a bit sluggish (again, compared to the original Test Drive).

      And if you consider that we’re talking about 3D graphics on the C64, then both games are quite an accomplishment when it comes to speed, unlike other games (I’m looking at you, Hard Drivin’).

      Well, I think at the end of the day it all depends on the genre. If I play a racing game I expect it to be fast. Then there’s games like Driller, which itself is cool, but you could have a cup of coffee in between moves, at least on the C64.

  2. Least it doesn’t sound like a helicopter when you turn, so that’s an improvement, right? 🙂 I agree with you and the masses, though; a technical achievement for its time period.

    • It might get a bit repetitive, due to the single track, but technically it’s quite impressive. And for a game with 3D graphics it does run surprisingly well on the C64.

      And please, don’t remind me of those screeching tyres 😀

  3. I played the hell out of this when it came out in 1987, and it was a masterpiece for its time. I loved how each car felt and drove differently, and how much care the developers put into the visual details within each. The Lotus ruled.

    But the game brings back memories for another reason. A buddy and I were in a car accident late one night in early 1988. We came home shaken and my friend’s father resorted to an interesting form of immediate therapy: he poured him a big rum and Coke, and got him to play Test Drive. My guess is that the rum had a much greater calming effect than the game did.

    • Yep, it’s a pretty cool game. Just a shame I didn’t appreciate it that much back in the day. And using rum and Test Drive as some sort of therapy is, well… interesting, to say the least. 😀 Hope, nothing bad happened and you guys were just shaken.

      And thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Pingback: On Pixels and Framerate: An Old-Timer’s Perspective | Stir Fried Pixels

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