Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 94 / MARCH 1988 / PAGE 20


Top Fuel Eliminator

Russ Fisher

Requirements: Commodore 64, Apple II series.

Top Fuel Eliminator is a drag-racing simulation. Included in the game are time trials for practice sessions and entire racing seasons. Start with the time trials first, to become familiar with the dragster's characteristics and how they can be modified for various racing conditions. An entire racing season consists of nine events and may take 30 to 60 minutes to play, depending upon your skill and how much time you use between races to make adjustments to the car. Top Fuel Eliminator is a combination action/strategy game, where the action lasts five to seven seconds for each run down the drag strip.

With much of the newer software employing highly detailed graphics, it is surprising that the graphics here appear somewhat cartoonish. It also takes time to reload the program after choosing either Time Trials or Play Game. It would have been more convenient to switch between playing rounds, especially when first learning to play.

Competition By Computer

Competition in Top Fuel Eliminator is provided by eight computer-controlled drivers and their dragsters. Some of the competitors are very good indeed. There are nine different contests during the game, such as Winter Nationals, North Nationals, and Summer Nationals, culminating in the World Event.

The racing season progresses through all four of the actual seasons, and racing conditions are affected accordingly. Prior to each race, you have an opportunity to make various adjustments to your car in an attempt to compensate for varying track conditions. At each event, you can check air temperature, track temperature, humidity, altitude, and whether the condition of the track is excellent, average, or downright slippery. Some of the adjustments, such as the supercharger setting, engine timing, and fuel mix, are related to engine horsepower. At lower humidities, you might want to crank up the supercharger pressure. But setting up a very "hot" engine can lead to more engine failures during the course of a race, so be careful.

Other dragster adjustments are related to traction and include the clutch, tire, and wing settings. You may vary the tire pressure, clutch slippage, and wing angle. Poor traction will result in excessively smoking tires during the race. Too much traction can have the opposite effect and bog down the car. Sometimes the track conditions change rapidly, so be sure to check them before each race. Astute adjustments are called for if you want to stay in the running.

Qualifications Required

You must qualify for each race. You have two attempts to qualify under the posted time, which is the slowest time of the nine drivers. Of course, you must qualify without jumping the "Xmas tree" yellow light count-down, and you must stay in your lane at all times. One gear shift is also required during each run. Watch the tachometer, and try to shift between 9000-9500 rpm. Going over 9500 rpm will cause your engine to blow.

After qualification, a ladder chart shows the matchups for the first round of races. The chart is shown again after each race until a winner is decided. If you do not qualify, or you lose one of the races, the completed chart shows how each of the computer players performed during that event.

Points are awarded for performance after each event, and a summary of the points is displayed. You receive between 100 and 800 points at each event: 100 points for showing up, 800 for winning. You also receive 1 to 8 points for qualifying—8 for the fastest qualifier and 1 for the slowest.

Shifting Sounds

Although the actual racing times are very short, there is a lot of action happening during the race. The Xmas tree is displayed at the lower-left corner of the screen, the driver's view is at the bottom center, the tachometer is at the lower-right corner, and an overhead view of the track spreads across the top of the screen. Watch the Xmas tree carefully to get a quick start without red-lighting. Then pay attention to keeping your car in the lane, watch the tach for the proper shift point, and glance at the top of the screen to see what is happening to your competitor. You may want to push your chair back a few feet and hope to catch a glimpse of the tach while struggling to keep the car in your lane. Fortunately, the sound effects give a clue to engine rpms; you may find yourself shifting gears when it sounds right. I've driven into the wall too many times while trying to sneak a glance at the tach.

Top Fuel Eliminator, combining action with strategy, pits you against eight other dragsters in a variety of competitions.

After each race or qualifying round, a performance analysis is presented. Examine this screen to see your reaction, shift, power, and traction performance. This screen also shows if you had an engine failure, crash, red light, or if you crossed the line. Finally, your time and top speed are posted. The attention to detail makes Top Fuel Eliminator a good game choice for armchair racing fans.

Top Fuel Eliminator
Activision (Gamestar)
P.O. Box 7287
Mountain View, CA 94039