The designer, Mike Clifford, responds...

Well. Blessa my soula whatsa wrong with me, etc.

John Harrington's review (probably above) is the first negative press that The Tour has had. El Siggo was happy to print it, because the piece provides yet another independent view of the game. However, in the time honoured tradition, some observations:

Why Lionel Games? Who the hell cares? But if you do, it's a little bit of word play on some cockney rhyming slang. OK?

John's observation about the relative merits of the cyclists (and subsequent comparison to Grand Prix Re-Run) is valid. But the whole point of The Tour is to test the abilities of the 20 or so likely winners of the race, and given that their talents are not dissimilar (as opposed to the difference between a McLaren and a Lotus) the minor variations in the ratings should cover all eventualities.

On any given day, some racers will be in form, others will not. Generally, they do not know themselves until a break has occurred if they are strong enough to cover it. The random nature of a split from the peloton is surely the reason why people watch the sport. Who could be bothered if the same cyclist won stage after stage?

Finally, and to repeat once again, The Tour was designed to provide an opportunity to re-run the '91 Tour De France in a sensible time frame. I have had results from several sources, which indicates that not only is the game being played, it is being re-played. Of course, if you don't understand (or care for) cycle sport, the simulation is hardly likely to appeal. I pray that I am never given a Lenny Kravitz album to review!

All of which reminded me of some Tour variants sent by loyal devotees of the game: Cover (surround) the leading rider counter with those in close contention. ie, remove random element in placing markers. Alternately, distributee the rider counters face-down, therebye introducing an element of surprise to the proceedings. Treat the final stage as a victor's triumphant procession if he has a substantial lead (3+ minutes?). Ignore breakaway chart in these circumstances. Remember, only those rated may take part in the mountain stages.

Incidentally, motor racing fans should avail themselves of Formule De (available from Just Games and other outlets), which, beyond the marvellous production, is eminently replayable and has melded and refined the prime mechanisms of Formula 1, Speed Circuit and Gear Shift. Extra tracks (beyond Monaco, included with the game) are also in print, but almost extortionate at £15!

mike clifford

MS: I don't have much to add to the above reviews, except to say that, in John, perhaps I sent a review copy to the wrong person! I thought John was rather more amenable to the replay format than he appears to be but I am mainly disappointed that he didn't get anything out of The Tour by way of atmosphere. Apart from favourable comments on the counters, we have had more remarks about the flavour than anything - even from those who aren't familiar with the riders or the sport. It seems the real appeal, and this is how it was designed, was to get the 'Indurain is in the lead by just six seconds, Bugno is on his tail, Indurain has a terrible stage' feel. Obviously we failed with John but that's fine.

The 'Bang!' results are a necessary abstraction as otherwise the game is going to take you an awful lot of hours to complete - true duvet stuffing territory. At two hours or so, I think the results are not unreasonable for the time invested. Recording race times is a fact of life in cycling unless anyone can think of a better way - much of the interest in a stage race is derived from the seconds to be made up. Bear in mind you only have to do twenty riders out of 200 odd for the race as a whole yet many of the other riders are still involved.

Generally, I would also point out that The Tour is produced as it is intentionally, not because we couldn't finance a more luxurious production. It is true to say that The Tour won't have a big market so running a large, boxed edition is pointless. The aim was to reduce outlay and risk to a minimum with little trade-off in aesthetic quality - we seem to have succeeded in both aims, having drawn many approving comments on presentation and having turned a profit within a week of publication. Most games (amateur and pro) involve some preparation (punching counters, making parts) so we assume a bit of sticking down isn't too onerous. If you want a box, we may well be able to offer one cheaply in the future, but our view is that it doesn't make a lot of difference to the game.

On to the review of Thoughts on Manager and Playboss or back to the review of The Tour.

Sumo - Mike Siggins - Legal Notices and Other Information