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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: June 11, 1999
The battle between console and computer games for supremacy in the home market has raged for years, but because of the persistent success of both platforms, it is increasingly common for titles to be ported from one type of hardware to another. Nowhere is this pattern more evident than in the area of arcade racing, which has long been a staple of console players and in the last year (thanks to advances in 3D video acceleration) has captured the hearts of an increasingly significant percentage of PC players as well. While this cross-platform porting is extremely efficient for both developers and distributors of digital entertainment, it is not unusual for direct ports to leave something to be desired.
Boss Rally from Southpeak Interactive, a newcomer to the crowded racing scene, is a glaring case in point. Developed by Boss Game Studios (hence the title), Boss Rally is explicitly designed to give PC owners a chance to experience its best-selling Nintendo 64 racer Top Gear Rally. When porting occurs from consoles to PCs, I always fear problems in such areas as user interface, multiplayer support and graphics detail. In the case of Boss Rally, unfortunately, these fears are fully realized.
Given that this is squarely an arcade offering, there are not too many tweak settings one can adjust. But you may choose one of three tire types and three shock setups as well as set the steering responsiveness to deal with different weather (sun, rain, fog, snow and night) and racing conditions. What is not completely clear to me is why tires and shocks are deemed to be the most important areas where adjustment is possible rather than the many other components of a car that affect performance. It goes without saying that one can select either automatic or manual transmission. A decent user-controlled instant replay is available for your favorite races.
The range of actual racing choices in Boss Rally is quite standard. There are 16 cars to choose from on six rally-style courses. You may race solo against up to 19 computer-controlled opponents or engage in competition against up to three other humans — an awfully restrictive number that is quite a bit smaller than the eight erroneously listed on the game box — in multiplayer mode over a LAN, modem, cable or the Internet. It is also possible to race in Championship mode and advance through a series of competitions that include Time Attack mode, where you race against the clock, and Quick Race, where you compete against a computer-controlled opponent.
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