Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Turbo (encrypted set 1)

Turbo (c) 10/1981 Sega.

A 3D racing game from Sega in which the player must pass a set number of rival racers (usually thirty) before the time limit expires. Success would see the player progress to the next stage. Turbo's gameplay was unique in that centered ENTIRELY on the passing of cars; while the tracks the player raced on had all of the usual bends and turns of the racing genre, they existed purely for effect and at no point did the player actually have to STEER through them.

Turbo was the world's first full-colour, sprite scaling racing game and not, as many assume, Namco's "Pole Position". Turbo was released a full year before the Namco legend and is a further example of how Sega have dominated and innovated within the arcade racing genre.


Turbo was available in three different cabinet styles. The first (and most common), was an enclosed sit down cabinet. Less common were the two stand up variations (both a full sized model and a smaller cabaret version). The sitdown and full sized standup models both featured full top to bottom painted sideart of cars in action (while the cabaret version was simply labeled 'Turbo' on the side). All Turbo machines were controlled by a steering wheel (with full 360 degree rotation), gas pedal (optical), and a high/low shifter. These controls where of exceptional quality. The Sitdown and upright machines both used an Nanao 20'' monitor (which was very resistant to burn in). The Turbo games also had a few innovations in the general design of their dedicated cabinets. They had no top marquee, instead the monitor glass simply extended all the way to the top of the machine. Top scores were kept on a LED panel to the left of the screen (unfortunately these scores reset every-time you turn the game off). Turbo also used 3-channel audio (which was practically unheard of in 1981). Standard stereo speakers behind the control panel played most of the sounds, while a huge 12'' subwoofer down by the coin box played the engine noises. Sadly the PCB boards in Turbo games were subject to a wide variety of failures (as where many of the other components). Making Turbo machines fairly rare today.

Main CPU : Z80 (@ 4.992 Mhz)

Sound Chips : Samples

Screen orientation : Vertical

Video resolution : 208 x 248 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 256

Players : 1

Control : Steering wheel, gearshift (with just H and L), gas pedal


This was the first game ever to feature the now common third-person perspective (action is viewed above and behind the player's car), that virtually all subsequent racing games would come to utilize.

A Turbo unit appears in the 1983 movie 'Koyaanisqatsi - Life out of Balance' and is featured prominently in the band Rainbow's 1982 video 'Death Alley Driver'.

A Turbo machine was shown at the 2003 classic arcade games show 'California Extreme' in San Jose, California.

MB (Milton Bradley) released a boardgame based on this videogame (same name) in 1983, 'You're in the Driver's Seat for High-Speed Fun.' : Players spin the spinner and move their cars along the track. Cars printed on spaces of the track block movement, so players can set up blockades in places to keep from being passed. First one across the finish line wins. There is also an ambulance participating in the race.


Scoring in this game is combination of things. Your score is tied to distance traveled so obviously you want to cover the most amount of distance in the shortest period of time. You also get a bonus at the end of any time cycle of : Cars Passed x 50

There are two ways that you can extend your game time :

1) The initial way is that you have to pass 39 cars in 95 seconds, if you achieve this then you go to the second way to extend your driving time.

2) The second way gives you two cars. You have 99 seconds to pass 39 cars. If, however, you lose your two cars or fail to pass the required number of cars in the time allotted, your game is over. If you do pass the 39 cars in the allotted time, then you will get another 99 seconds and so on.


* The Different Roads : As you drive along, you will notice that the roads and scenery change. If you

go through a couple of extended plays, the cycle repeats itself. Here are the roads in order of appearance : Starting City--Open highway with hills(1)--Seashore left side--Right curve--Oiltank right curve--Road toward city--Tunnel--Icy road--Tunnel--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Highway with street lights--Open high withhills(1)--Bridge--City--Open highway--Right curve--Left curve--Right curve--Highway with street lights going over water--Bridge(span)--Open highway--Open highway with hills(1)--Open highway--Right curve--Oil tank right curve--Open highway--Tunnel--Icy road--Tunnel--Highway with street lights goingover water--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Open highway--Open highway with hills(1)--Narrow highway--City on right--Open highway withhills(1)--Seashore right side--Right curve--Oil tank right curve--Seashore leftside--Tunnel--Icy roads with city on right--Tunnel--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Open highway--Open highway with hills(1)--Open highway--Bridge--Starting City

(1) It's actually one hill. The computer cars disappear briefly from in front of your car to reappear rather close giving the illusion of a hill in front of you.

* When you start the game, your car will be among other racers at the starting line. There will be both the graphic and sound for the countdown to start racing. Once the countdown is up, put it in gear and start driving. Get into high gear as quickly as possible. Not only will your score go up faster, you will pass the required number of cars quicker.

* A note about passing. You can pass all the cars you want, but, if a computer car passes you, your passed car counter goes down. The best thing to do is to maintain a steady speed since passing more cars then 40 doesn't add up more cars then can pass you.

* The steering wheel is very responsive on the game. Learn how to, in a controlled fashion, spin the wheel from side to side. It makes it a whole lot easier to maneuver your car around the other cars and you also have better control on the curves. On the icy roads, just maintain your direction and slow down if you have to. Remember, keep a light touch on the wheel and it will be easier to control your car then if you are clenching it.

* In order to drive effectively, you must know what you will be encountering next highway-wise. Look at ''The Different Roads'' to see the sequence of highways you must drive on. Forewarned is forearmed.

* When you see the yellow flag waving right under the Cars Passed display, that means an ambulance is coming. You can use the ambulance to your advantage for a couple of seconds. The computer cars will clear a path so the ambulance can pass. Let the ambulance you and immediately get behind it. This should give you a couple of seconds of clear driving.

* Obviously, you can afford to be a little careless in the first part when your car just bounces off other cars and objects. You can still get the required cars for extended play. In extended play, however, you don't have this luxury anymore. Any contact with any object makes your car go up in a big puff of smoke.

* Be prepared for hazards in the road such as ice and puddles. Both of these can quickly cause your car to spin out thereby causing you to lose complete control of your vehicle.

* Drive on the shoulder if you have to but quickly get back on the main road. Also, downshift and upshift quickly if you slow down too much. It takes much longer to get back to speed if you are in constant HI gear then if you downshifted briefly to LO and then upshifted again.

* Since you don't have brakes, per se, on your car, just take your foot off the accelerator or downshift to LO to achieve the same effect. This is especially useful when you are approaching a pack of computer cars or are going around a blind curve (such as the oil tank). You may get passed by a couple of cars but it's better then trying to ram your way through and losing a car.


Designed and programmed by : Steve Hanawa


* Consoles :

Colecovision (1982)

Mattel Intellivision (1983)

* Computers :

Commodore C64 (1987, "Death Race 64")


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc