Racing games, as a whole, haven't exactly aged as well as games from other genres over the years, but there's still something to be said for the classic arcade racers of old. Sure they were basic in design and the visuals weren't much too look at, but at their core they were still simple and enjoyable racing experiences. Pitstop II is a good example of this.
The Pitstop series took the arcade racing action, found in many other arcade racers like Pole Position, and added in some authentic pit stop action to make things a bit more realistic. Now you couldn't just drive full out around the racetrack, as you had to also keep an eye on your tire conditions and fuel gauge if you had any hopes of actually finishing the race. While this feature might turn off those who prefer to fly nonstop around a race track, those who can appreciate an added dimension in their racing games will likely appreciate what Pitstop II brings to the table.
The game play in Pitstop is fairly simple and straightforward. You control your car the same way you would in most other racing games of this time period. You can steer the car from side to side using the joystick and accelerate using the action button. As you come to the end of each lap, you'll see a pit lane appear on the track that you can drive into in order to make a pit stop. It's here that you take control of one of two crewman. One crewman changes your tires and the other pumps the fuel into your car. Once you've taken care of the pit stop, you put the steering while icon back onto your car and back out to the track you go for another trip around the track. If you're quick enough in the pits, you won't lose any ground to your opponent. These pit stops are generally where races are won and lost.
At the beginning of the game you can choose your racing options. To start with, you can choose to play a one or two-player game. The one player game is enjoyable enough, but if you want to have some real fun, you'll get a lot more intensity and challenge out of going at it with another player. You also have your choice of six different authentic racetracks, along with your choice of 3, 6, or 9 lap races. If you end up playing the single player game, you can even choose three different levels of difficulty, although there's not a big difference between the three in the overall scheme of things.
The control in Pitstop II takes a little getting used to, but once you get a grip on the controls, the game becomes a lot of fun to play. It's fun to see how far you can push your car's tire and fuel situations, but it can easily be your undoing if you're not careful. The game's play mechanics are obviously nowhere near the level of complexity of today's racing games, but this is actually what makes it so much fun to play. This is just a pick-up-and-play type racing game of old and it won't take you long to see why classic computer game fans still hold this game in such high regard.
The visuals in Pitstop II are about what you'd expect from a Commodore 64 title. The tracks are all very similar in look and feel, with their only differences being the twists and turns of each different track. Although the game contains no 3-D elements, the sense of movement and speed is very well done for a game from this time period. The game does make use of a split-screen display, even in the single-player mode, but it's still quite easy to keep track of the action that's taking place onscreen. Don't expect any eye candy, but Pitstop II does a great job of keeping the racing action as realistic as possible, especially given the hardware limitations of the Commodore 64 computer.
The music and sound effects in Pitstop are about like the visuals. They're good enough, but certainly not anything to get overly excited about. The car sound effects are fairly good, albeit not as realistic as some would expect, and the sound effects in the pit area are also quite good. There's not much to the game as far as audio goes, but it's got it where it counts. About the only thing missing is the speech that's found in the Pole Position game. It's a small omission, but it still would have been a nice touch nonetheless.
If you're a Commodore 64 fan that used to love playing the Pitstop titles, this is a game you should definitely consider taking for a spin again. It's simplistic approach to racing, coupled with the interesting use of the pit stop scenario, makes for a fun and unique racing experience that you just couldn't find on many game consoles or computers during this time period. That being said, racing game fans who've become spoiled by the extremely realistic approach of modern day racers might find this title a little too dumbed-down and basic for their tastes. It's clear that this game will definitely appeal more to those who grew up playing racing games from this era of gaming. Pitstop II proves that even these classic computer racing titles can still be a lot of fun to play, even all these years later.