The Lotus series consists of three racing computer games based around the Lotus brand: Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, Lotus Turbo Challenge 2, and Lotus III: The Ultimate Challenge. Published between 1990 and 1992 by Gremlin Graphics, the games gained very favourable reviews upon release. Original Amiga versions of the games were created by Shaun Southern and Andrew Morris of Magnetic Fields, and then ported by other individuals to several other computers and game consoles.
The third game in the series combined the gameplay aspects of its predecessors, allowing players to choose between racing opponents of Lotus Turbo Challenge or the arcade-like time trials of Lotus 2. The two-player option was retained and the music selection feature returns (Patrick Phelan's soundtrack to Lotus III spawned many modern remixes). Lotus III also added a third car - a concept Lotus M200 automobile - and allowed the player to choose which one to race with. The game recycled most of the graphics from Lotus 2, but added a number of new sceneries.
The Genesis/Mega Drive version bears the name Lotus II: RECS (referring to the game's new course creation feature) or simply Lotus II depending on country of release, while the MS-DOS port released in 1993 was called Lotus: The Ultimate Challenge. The MS-DOS version features the Lotus Esprit S4 instead of the Esprit Turbo SE. Apart from the slightly different car's graphics, the difference in gameplay is minimal, if any. The MS-DOS version was released again in 1996, this time on a CD-ROM.
Lotus III features a Racing Environment Construction Set (RECS) course creation system. The system allows users to create a race track by defining various basic parameters, such as amount and difficulty of turns and hills, amount of obstacles, type of scenery or difficulty of opponents. The created track can then be raced by one or both players. The course can also be written in form of a letter-and-digit code and later reused; these can be raced individually or in a series of up to nine user-created tracks.
The RECS system allows players to quickly create a unique track without having to use a course editor; however, it sacrificed the facility of precisely positioning turns or obstacles. The RECS system was later reused in another Magnetic Fields' game, International Rally Championship.
The Amiga and Genesis versions of Lotus III again contain a hidden game, accessed by the password CU AMIGA in the Amiga version and POD PLEASE on the Genesis. The game is a graphically enhanced remake of Southern and Morris' Commodore 64 game POD.
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