Turbo Esprit is a driving game where your job is to hunt down the cars of the drug dealers and ram them until they give up. Traffic lights, pedestrians, road construction zones, having to refill at gas stations, enemy hit cars, and one-way streets everywhere complicate the matter. Thankfully your car also has a forward-facing machine gun to clear the way if nothing else helps. You also have to pay attention to hit cars which will occasionally try to drive next to your car and shoot at you.
Gameplay is further complicated by the fact that you will have to constantly switch back and forth between forward view and the map to locate your target cars. While you are looking at the map, the game is not paused but continues in real-time, so if you are not careful, your car may e.g. crash against a wall and blow up while you are studying the map. So gameplay is actually a bit of a chore and not very child friendly.
So perhaps the main attraction of the game is the very fun practice mode where you can roam one of the four cities as you wish (optionally mowing down pedestrians and blowing up as many cars with your machine gun as you like, racking up an enormous penalty score).
Turbo Esprit might be considered the predecessor of open world racing games like Grand Theft Auto or Driver: San Francisco, except Rockstar would probably never admit this. But the fact is that this 8-bit game delivered a remarkable open world experience for its time. At least Wikipedia acknowledges this in their article about open world gameplay, complete with a CPC screenshot.
The CPC version has pretty marvelous graphics, much better than the C64 or Spectrum releases (except the title screen is more colourful on the C64). Turbo Esprit does not play all that well on a green screen because the gangster cars are a bit hard to distinguish. An arrow over the target car as in Chase H.Q. would have helped playability immensely. But then again identifying (or failing to identify) drug dealer/hit cars is also part of the fun.
Development of this game reportedly took about 10 months, an unusually long time for a typical game of the era. But then again the open world racing aspect of gameplay and the fast and (at least on the CPC) colourful graphics were quite innovative for their time so this is not very surprising at all.
There used to be a video on YouTube, but apparently it was deleted. GIF to the rescue!
- Turbo esprit (Durell Software) (1986) (Small Clamp Case).cdt.zip (CDT for Emulators)
- Zipped DSK for emulators