Turbo [Sit-Down model]

Arcade Video game published 40 years ago by SEGA Enterprises

Turbo [Sit-Down model] screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Turbo © 1981 Sega Enterprises, Limited.

Sega's Turbo is a 3-D racing game from Sega in which the player must pass a set number of rival racers (usually 30) 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-color, 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 has dominated and innovated within the arcade racing genre.

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).

Goodies for Turbo [Sit-Down model]
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[Sit-Down model]

Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 4.992 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Discrete circuitry.

Screen orientation : Vertical
Video resolution : 208 x 248 pixels
Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette colors : 256
Monitor size : 20 inches

Controls :
360 Degree Steering wheel
2-Way Shifter (Hi/Low)
Pedal (Gas)
Button : Illuminated 6v 200ma (Start)

Service Controls :
Button : Demagnetizing Coil Switch
Button : Service Switch
Button : Test Switch
Pot : Upper Speakers Volume
Pot : Lower Speaker Volume (Subs)

Tracking :
Steering Wheel : 360 Degree Optical
2-Way Shifter : 1 Microswitch
Pedal : 2 Optics. 4 positions : off,1,2,3

Audio :
Speakers 1 - 20cm 8ohm 10w (Front Bottom)
Speakers 2 - 12cm 4ohm 5w (Rear Top)
Speakers 1 - 30cm 8ohm 40w (Rear Bottom)

By using 2 optics and a notched light blocker, the Pedal had 4 positions available... which simulated analog control.

Value 1 & 3 were each individual optos triggered. When both Optos were triggered at the same time, it produced value 2. Value 0 was produced if no optos were triggered.


Turbo was released in October 1981.

Turbo was also released as :
"Turbo [Upright model]"
"Turbo [Cabaret model]"

This was the first game ever to feature the now common 3rd-person perspective (action is viewed above and behind the player's car), that virtually all subsequent racing games would come to utilize.

MB (Milton Bradley) released a board game based on this video game (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.

A gameplay video appears in the great music video 'Hard to Explain' of the music rock band The Strokes.

Goodies for Turbo [Sit-Down model]
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Scoring in this game is combination of things. Your score is tied to distance travelled 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 :
Round 1 : Cars Passed x 50
Round 2 : Cars Passed x 60
Round 3 : Cars Passed x 70
Round 4 : Cars Passed x 80
Round 5 : Cars Passed x 90
Round 6 : Cars Passed x 160
Bonus increases by 10 with each subsequent round completed.

There are two ways that you can extend your game time :
1) The initial way is that you have to pass 30 cars in 99 seconds, if you achieve this then you go to the second way to extend your driving time. If not, your game is over.
2) The second way gives you two cars. You have 99 seconds to pass 30 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 30 cars in the allotted time, then you will get another 99 seconds and so on.


* Official Instructions (printed on bezel) :
- Blue lamp indicator signals game start.
- To win EXTENDED PLAY, pass 30 cars before timer counts down to "0".
- Spare player car is awarded for each EXTENDED PLAY, up to 4 cars.
- In first round, player car is returned to starting line in case of a crash. In later rounds, However, a crash causes the player car to explode.
- Cars passed during EXTENDED PLAY add bonus points to the score.

* The Different Roads : As you drive along, you will notice that the roads and scenery change. If you go through a few extended plays, the cycle repeats itself.

Here are the roads in order of appearance:

Starting City--Open highway with hills(1)--Open highway--Seashore right side--Right curve--Oil tank right curve--Seashore left side(2)--Tunnel--Icy road--Tunnel--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Highway with street lights--Open highway with hills(1)--Open highway--Bridge--City at sunset--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(2)--Tunnel--Icy road--Tunnel--Highway with street lights going over water--Narrow bridge--Open highway(2)--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Open highway(2)--Open highway with hills(1)--Narrow highway--City on right at sunset--Open highway with hills--Open highway--Seashore right side--Right curve--Oil tank right curve--Seashore left side(2)--Tunnel--Icy road with city on right--Tunnel--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--Open highway with street lights on left--Open highway with hills(1)--Narrow highway--Bridge--City at sunset--Open highway(2)--Narrow right curve--Narrow left curve--Narrow right curve--Open highway--Highway with street lights going over water--Bridge (span)--Open highway--Open highway with hills(1)--Narrow highway--Right curve--Oil tank right curve--Open highway(2)--Tunnel--Icy road--Tunnel--Highway with street lights going over water--Narrow bridge--Open highway--Left curve--Oil tank left curve--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.

(2) Here, an ambulance appears on the road. See below for details.

* 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. See "The Different Roads" above 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 pass 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 any more. 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


Colecovision [US] (1982) "Turbo [Model 2413]"
Mattel Intellivision [US] (apr.4, 1983) "Turbo [Model 2473]"

[US] Commodore C64 [EU] (1987, "Death Race 64")


Game's ROM.
Game's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc