Chequered Flag is a game by Psion for the ZX Spectrum. It was released in 1984 and was the first purist racing game on the spectrum; a Gran Turismo of its time. It was not an arcade game but a simulator. On some tracks it was hard just to complete one lap, let alone a whole race. Graphically it was pretty impressive for the time, with a smoothly updated road (a dark solid thick curve) and passing scenery such as trees and signs. The horizon also dipped and rose to give a vague impression of hills. There were object on the track to avoid, like oil and water puddles, glass and stones. The puddles would cause a skid if you ran over them, the glass would give you a puncture, slowing you down, and the stones would break your fuel tank. Repairs could be done and more fuel could be acquired by stopping in the pit area.

There were lots of tracks, about ten I think. Some were modelled on real life tracks, like Silverstone and Paul Ricard. Others were made up, like the Micro Drive, a pun on the unreliable "high speed" storage device available for the Spectrum. The choice of cars was limited to four, two automatics and two manuals. I'm not sure if the handling varied between the cars, I was never good enough to tell.

The steering system was revolutionary, literally. You could steer to different degrees by using different keys. S and D would steer left and right a little and A and F would steer left and right more so. It was alleged that the keys were arranged thus so that you could use, say, a roll of sellotape as a steering wheel. I was sceptical as there was no neutral key in the middle to rest on, but maybe it was possible due to the bizarre gappy spectrum keyboard. Of other note were the sound effects, which were pretty good for the Spectrum. The wailing of your skidding tyres as you slammed into a hairpin at breakneck speed still haunts me, even if it was just an insistent beeping. There was no recovery from such foolish manoeuvres though. You got one car per race; crash it and you were out. It was also possible to overheat your car by over-revving the engine, which was fun.

The main drawback was that there were no other cars. You raced against your own lap records, which if memory serves me right you could not save. I've still got a book somewhere with my brother's and my records written in it. I just realised that book is now (at the time of writing) probably 17 years old.

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