You're in a jen-you-wine two-tone green metal-flake dune buggy with a pair of monstro sand haulers in the back and some smaller knobbies up front. You're racing across the Baja desert against a pack of 80 other good old boys and girls.

Right away when you boot up Baja Buggies, it appeals to you with some spiffy 3-D visuals. The tires spin and the craggy mountain range in the distance scrolls right and left as you snake through the turns. In front of you, the scenery is desert-crisp. A brown expanse of sand extends to the mountain range. Behind the mountains is a fine strip of crimson, suggesting dawn. Above you, the sky is a sharp desert-blue, cloudless except for one creamy cumulus, which also scrolls.

This is a racing game of the Turbo school. A pair of dotted lines that fade into the middle distance shows you your course. You control right and left movement with the joystick and brake with the red "fire" button. Rear stopping lights glow when you brake. As you get up to about 80 (as indicated on the speedometer on the bottom of the screen) you start to pass other drivers.

Baja Buggies is tricky. It's easy to get trapped on the outside of a curve and careen out of control into the pipes of the guy in front of you. There are five levels of difficulty. At the harder levels, the buggies you try to pass leave you less room on the road.

The game would get our top rating except for a few flaws. 1) The sound is drab, a mindless revving engine and a dull white-noise crash. 2) There's no accelerator, only a brake. 3) There's no shift, though this is not so important. 4) Joystick control is not as fast as paddles would be. Why not design this for paddles, since it's only left and right movement?

Keep your eye on the middle of the screen to watch cars appearing instead of watching your own buggy. Look for patterns.