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Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (Atari ST)

Atari 5200 Guy


After all the life changes happening as of late I finally managed to sit down and play a video game on real hardware.  I decided to hook up my STe and the game I picked to play was Lotus Turbo Challenge.  Granted I have not seen this game since the Genesis days so it was nice to see it again.  


The first thing I noticed were the graphics. To me they seemed to be better than those on the Genesis but on par with those IBM PCs equipped with EGA graphics adapters.  Those were the good ol' days.  Every screen pays tribute to the exotic Lotus sports car.  Screens detail exterior and interior designs and features, there's a 360 degree rotating render of the car, and power house tech sheets for you car buffs.  At its roots, however, LETC is a basic and simple racing game.

The objective is really simple...place 10th or better to advance to the next race.  Should you cross the finish line in 11th place or higher then the game ends.  Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Lotus on the ST I believe has nine tracks to race on with pit row.  It offers split screen racing for two players to have fun.  The game offers multiple music tracks to listen to while racing or you can simply turn them off.  The beginning of each track has information about that track including lane closures and pit requirements.


The visuals of Lotus are very impressive in my opinion and remind me a lot of how Top Gear on the Super Nintendo looked like.  The controls are simple to use with a couple of control options to choose from and is controlled by a joystick.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge became an instant hit then and it is easy to see why.  It's a nicely made racing game that is easy to pick up and play for one or two people.  Searching EBay for physical copies turned up very little.  Only a few were available from outside the USA.  Prices ranged from $16 to $115 at the time I did a search.  For STe owners this game got a recent upgrade in graphics and sounds and is available on Atari Mania.  This one is a classic!  So grab a buddy and lay asphalt.



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I LOVED this game. I had an Esprit back in the day, partially due to this game and partially due to the Esprit being the "sister car" to the DeLorean DMC-12, as the DeLorean was based on the Esprit and engineered by Lotus at Hethel. They're sisters but not quite twins. Park them side by side and you'll see the similarities, same low, swept-back stance, both designed by Giugiaro, the DeLorean is wider, Esprit typically had a smaller engine at that time, nestled in the middle of the car rather than the rear.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge was a cool game, fun to play, and one of the first racing games I can think of that was both 1.) officially licensed and branded with a car brand (Lotus) as opposed to games like Out Run which were not officially licensed through Ferrari and never used the Ferrari brand, and 2.) challenged the player with more detailed and somewhat more realistic driving physics, instrumentation, cockpit layout and gear shift. I remember playing this game and thinking it was like a flight simulator for driving. Really a neat game.

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Fun Fact: The 1989 Lotus Esprit SE was the "movie car" that Richard Gere famously drove throughout the film Pretty Woman. Neither Ferrari nor Porsche wanted to be associated with Pretty Woman because one of the leads was a prostitute, so they prohibited the film from using their cars. 

Lotus didn’t mind.



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