Turbo is a racing game released in 1981 by Sega. The game was manufactured three formats: standard upright, cabaret/mini, and a seated environmental/cockpit. All three versions feature a steering wheel, a gearshift for low and high gears, and an accelerator pedal. The screen is a vertically oriented 20-inch raster display. In addition to the on-screen display, Turbo features an LED panel to the left of the screen that displays the current player’s score and the high score table. Turbo also features lighted oil and temperature gauges on either side of the steering wheel.
Turbo requires the player to navigate a road race through different urban and rural locations, through differing weather conditions, and during changing times of day. The cars in the game resemble Formula 1 race cars. The player is required to pass and stay ahead of at least 30 competing cars before time expires. Collisions with CPU-controlled vehicles will cause the player’s car to explode. Some CPU-controlled opponents drive predictably, while others swerve across the road suddenly. In the first round, the player has unlimited lives. In subsequent rounds, the player is limited to three lives, and awarded an additional life (up to a total of four) for each completed round. In addition to competing racers, an ambulance occasionally comes along from behind and overtakes the player; it too must be avoided, as contact with it will cost the player a life.
Turbo was designed and coded by Steve Hanawa. In an interview, Hanawa stated that despite its historical significance as a precedent-setting racing video game, he considers the process of creating it to have been his worst development experience at Sega. Development of Turbo required such a difficult and protracted schedule of coding and debugging that he was hospitalized for a month following its completion due to stress, exhaustion and a spontaneously collapsed lung.