If we said: "Here is a game with good, fast colour graphics, needs skill and can be played by two players at the same time", you'd be forgiven for expecting it to need at least an 8K expansion. You'd be wrong. Chariot Race runs on the unexpanded Vic 20.
A little on the Road Racer theme; this game has more thrills and spills than average. You have to guide your chariot up the screen, between the walls of the grandstand, in competition with the other player and other Vic chariots.
The left hand player is called Sinister, the right's Dexter - all in true Roman fashion. Each player has four control keys: left, right, faster and slower. There is no joystick option.
Survival is everything at first. Then you'll want to knock up a few points by bumping other chariots into the side walls. Every so often a buttress sticks out from the walls and you have to keep opponents pinned against the wall until their chariot smashes into it.
If you go too slowly, the crowd will get restless and throw fireballs on the course, which can mean instant annihilation. The more points you get, the more speed the crowd expects.
Your pushing power is depleted when you have a go at another chariot and is replenished if you don't then use the direction controls. It's all too easy to run out of pushing power and find yourself trapped between chariots with buttresses coming up at warp ten.
To successfully carve up a chariot you have to smash your chariot's wheels against the other chariot's horses. Then move left or right to push the chariot up against a wall. At this point, slow up - or the chariot may duck out from behind you. You could run out of pushing power and be repulsed, so to speak, so keep an eye on your power indicator. It's possible to trip up other chariots to get points; you do this by backing into them.
Scoring for destroyed chariots is related to your speed. A Vic chariot is worth twice your speed, the other player counts for twice that, while crossing the finishing line gives you eight times your velocity. Dangerous as it may be, it really pays to keep the heat on.
The graphics may not be brilliant and the screen design is simple, but given the limitations of 3.5K of RAM, it requires intense concentration, and two players can enjoy the game at the same time.
Playability 5/5 Lasting appeal 4/5 Use of machine 5/5 Overall value 5/5