Jaguar XJ220 was one of those games that as soon as I had played the demo, I knew I had to have. However I recall at the time the music and graphics on the demo version being slightly superior to the final game, which caused minor uproar at the time.
With Gremlin Graphics’ Lotus Turbo Challenge series being still very popular back in 1992–93, did we really need another racing game like this? For whatever reason it took a while for the final game to be released, but I remember finally getting my hands on the slick and shiny laminated box; clearly effort was being made in the packaging alone to make it feel like you were buying a Jag. I loved it immediately.
The graphics are blocky, and the juxtaposition between your car with it’s cartoony black outline and the un-outlined background graphics didn’t look great, but once you’re into the game, you soon forget about this. The scenery is vibrant and colourful, and the weather effects are nicely done and effective.
Jaguar XJ220’s biggest merit is the gameplay. The XJ220 handles wonderfully and reaches some ridiculous speeds. It’s an addictive game, and also very large, as the race tracks take you around the globe. The only gripe is the lack of variety in the background graphics in certain countries, but you’re not there to admire the scenery.
The garage sequences are particularly good, and the various elevations and blueprints of the XJ220 are very well illustrated indeed.
The in-game music is also excellent. Before starting your track, you visit the car’s built-in CD player (they’re going to be all the rage!), and can choose a selection of long, top quality stereo instrumentals, ranging from atmospheric chill out, to techno electronica and thrash metal. Or you can scan the radio channels and listen to all manner of quirky tunes. Alternatively, you can choose sound effects.
It’s a shame there wasn’t a combination of music and effects, as, good though the music is, you miss the roar of the engine – that said on other musicales racing games, the roaring rumble of the engine does become tiresome and boring. Clearly a lot of effort (and disk space) was given to the music, and the variety on offer. That was always one of my favourite elements of the game.
The track editor was also a nice addition, and prolonged the enjoyment for a short while, once you’d completed the actual game.
Core Design’s Jaguar XJ220 was, for me, up there alongside Gremlin’s Lotus Turbo Challenge II as the pinnacle of motor racing games on the Amiga. However, when choosing between the two, I was always drawn back to the Jaguar. Maybe I simply preferred the car.