DOS Days

Test Drive III: The Passion

Released: 1990
Published by: Accolade, Inc.
Developed by: Accolade, Inc.
Author(s): Tom Loughry, Justin Chin, Roseann Mitchell, Jeff Rianda, Russel Shiffer

256-colour VGA/MCGA graphics


The third installment of the Test Drive series after Test Drive and Test Drive II: The Duel. Entitled "The Passion", it introduced 3D graphics to the series, actual digitised dashboards for the cars, a radio with three stations for music while you drive, and an instant replay feature. You have a choice of three sports cars: the Chevrolet Cerv III prototype, Pininfarina Mythos, and the Lamborghini Diablo, and the included Pacific Coast to Yosemite course consists of five sections (Scenic Coast, Coast Hills, Valley Farms, Foothills, and Sierra Vista), each with variations in scenery.

The game's 3D environment was a thing of beauty in 1990, with rolling hills, a lighthouse, trains, planes and other cars on the road to avoid, and you were permitted to drive in the wrong direction, off the road, etc. True to earlier Test Drive games, the police are out in force and will give chase if you are seen speeding. Weather also exists in the game, with rain, thunderstorms and snow, and working windscreen wipers can be used to remove rain, snow or bugs that splatter your screen. Headlights and brake lights are also operational, not only on your car but computer-controlled vehicles also.

Intro sequence for TD3 with Roland MT-32 audio


The game also had several game modes, including head-to-head against two other computer-controlled drivers, a time trial, and racing up to three other human players (taking turns). The instant replay feature was excellent and permitted full control over camera angles, starting and stopping of the recording, forward and rewind.

However great the 3D polygon mesh environment was, the game was let down by its highly CPU-speed sensitivity and difficult control mechanism on keyboard or joystick - this was somewhat remedied in the final version [3.0] of the game. The AI also isn't great with police ramming you from behind, though you can simply move offroad at their first sighting to avoid a penalty!

Andy's Recommendation
"Three versions of Test Drive III: The Passion were released in close succession. Version 3.0 is the one I recommend as it fixes the appalling steering that earlier versions had, to be more progressive. You can find out the game version by pressing 'V' when you're behind the wheel. The Roland MT-32 music option is the best to choose - for any others it's worth switching it off by pressing Ctrl-Q.

There are several hacks around - one gives you infinite lives and another will allow any response to the copy protection.

I do recommend also installing the Road & Car expansion, as it gives you twice the maps on which to drive."


TD3 was developed in-house by Accolade, unlike the first two Test Drive titles that were developed by Distinctive Software. An expansion pack was launched eight months later that added two more cars, the Dodge Stealth R/T and Acura NSX, and a new course from Cape Cod to Niagara Falls in New England. It also added new scenery including covered bridges, low-flying aeroplanes, hot air balloons, horses and buses.

System Requirements

System Requirements Intel 8088/8086 CPU, (a 386DX-33 is ideal)
Graphics support for Tandy/PCjr, EGA and VGA/MCGA (320 x 200 in 256 colours).
Audio support for PC speaker, Tandy/PCjr, Creative CMS, Ad Lib/Sound Blaster, and Roland MT-32.
Keyboard, mouse and joystick are supported.
Original Media Three 5.25" DS/DD 360 KB floppy disks or two 3.5" DS/DD 720 KB floppy disks.
Installed Size 847 KB (without expansion disk)

From where can it be run?

The game can be run from the floppy disks, or installed to hard disk.


Game Audio/Video

Ad Lib (emulated) Intro 
Tandy 1000 (emulated) Intro 
MT-32 "Old" Intro 
MT-32 "New" Intro 

Struggling with the steering just a bit!


Copy Protection

Test Drive III uses a code wheel for copy protection. Before being let into the game world, you are asked a question which you have three attempts to get right. Get it wrong more than this, and you are granted 3 minutes of game time. Click on the code wheel below for an interactive HTML version of it.

How to Setup

To install the game, run INSTALL.EXE from the first floppy disk ("Boot Disk"):

To setup the graphics and audio for the game, run SETUP.EXE:



Symptom: The game runs too fast!
Cause: It's how the game was written. Probably the biggest issue with the game for most users.
Resolution: It is very CPU sensitive, designed for the average PC in 1990 which was a 386. The best CPU to run the game on is a 386DX-33.


Arrow Keys = Steering/accelerate/decelerate
Space = Brake
A = Gear up
Z = Gear down
D = Show gear window
C = Automatic steering wheel centring on/off
Left/Right simultaneously = Centre steering
H = Headlights on/off
W = Windscreen wipers on/off
R = Rearview mirror on/off
M = Music change/off
V = Display game version
Ctrl-Q = Music on/off
Ctrl-J = Calibrate joystick

F1 = Switch between small window (for slower computers) or full-sized (for faster computers)
F2 = Detail level - low / medium / full
F5 = Chase car view (game is paused until you return)
F6 = Return to the road (if you go off)
F10 = Instant Replay on/off
Space = Exit Instant Replay once it has completed

To Quit the Game

Press ESC to return to the main menu with the revolving car, then hit ESC again to exit to DOS.


Supporting Documents


Save Games

There is no opportunity to save your progress in TD3. If you exit the game, you will lose your progress.


Versions of the game known to exist

Version Date Comments
Demo October 1990 Non-playable demo. Toggle sound on/off with Ctrl-S, music on/off with Ctrl-Q, and engine sound on/off with Ctrl-E.
1.0 4th October 1990 Initial public release.
2.0 October 1990 Fixed steering controls to now be adjustable.
3.0 October 1990 Final release.
Expansion 2nd June 1991 Road & Car expansion, comprising two more vehicles: the Acura NSX and Dodge Stealth R/T, and a new course from Cape Cod to Niagara Falls. To install, do not just copy the files from the expansion's PLAY disk into your game directory. You must use the included TD3TOOL.EXE utility to merge the two.


Original Floppy Disk Contents

The floppy disks have no specific volume label. Here are each disk's contents:

    Disk 1 of 2 - "Boot Disk" (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    README                 730 09-17-90   5:01p
    INSTALL EXE 5,869 10-04-90 10:08a
    SETUP EXE 5,245 10-01-90 1:49p
    INSTR DAT 1,863 09-25-90 3:08p
    TD3 EXE 137,845 10-04-90 6:47p
    DATAA DAT 124,614 10-04-90 2:36p
    DATAB DAT 248,685 10-04-90 2:37p
    7 file(s) 524,851 bytes
    202,752 bytes free


    Disk 2 of 2 - "Race/Play Disk" (3.5" 720 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    DATAC    DAT         1,785 10-04-90   2:37p
    PLAYDISK DAT 178 10-04-90 5:31p
    CCERV LST 675 10-03-90 2:34p
    CCERV DAT 57,941 10-02-90 12:53p
    CCERV POB 2,232 09-19-90 11:15a
    CMYTH LST 675 10-03-90 4:21p
    CMYTH DAT 60,077 10-02-90 1:17p
    CMYTH POB 2,276 09-22-90 9:53a
    CDIAB LST 675 10-03-90 2:36p
    CDIAB DAT 48,204 10-02-90 1:03p
    CDIAB POB 2,264 09-19-90 11:15a
    SCENE01 DAT 169,445 10-04-90 2:37p
    SCENE01 LST 1,638 10-04-90 2:38p
    13 file(s) 348,065 bytes
    374,784 bytes free


    Disk 1 of 3- "Boot Disk" (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    DATAA    DAT            124,614 04-10-1990 14:36
    INSTALL EXE 5,869 04-10-1990 10:08
    INSTR DAT 1,863 25-09-1990 15:08
    README 730 17-09-1990 17:01
    SETUP EXE 5,245 01-10-1990 13:49
    TD3 EXE 124,447 02-08-1991 11:38
    6 File(s) 262,768 Bytes


    Disk 2 of 3 - "Race/Play Disk" (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    DATAB    DAT            248,685 06-02-1991 11:59
    1 File(s) 248,685 Bytes


    Disk 3 of 3 (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CCERV    DAT             57,941 02-10-1990 12:53
    CCERV LST 675 03-10-1990 14:34
    CCERV POB 2,232 19-09-1990 11:15
    CDIAB DAT 48,204 02-10-1990 13:03
    CDIAB LST 675 03-10-1990 14:36
    CDIAB POB 2,264 19-09-1990 11:15
    CMYTH DAT 60,077 02-10-1990 13:17
    CMYTH LST 675 03-10-1990 16:21
    CMYTH POB 2,276 22-09-1990 9:53
    DATAC DAT 1,785 04-10-1990 14:37
    PLAYDISK DAT 178 04-10-1990 17:33
    SCENE01 DAT 169,445 06-02-1991 11:54
    SCENE01 LST 1,638 04-10-1990 14:38
    13 File(s) 348,065 Bytes


    Road & Car 1 Expansion (5.25" 360 KB DS/DD):

    Directory of A:\
    CCNSX    DAT             53,211 06-02-1991 13:29
    CCNSX LST 675 06-02-1991 15:28
    CCNSX POB 2,262 06-02-1991 13:29
    CSTEL DAT 52,047 06-02-1991 13:30
    CSTEL LST 675 06-02-1991 15:28
    CSTEL POB 2,278 06-02-1991 13:30
    DATAC DAT 1,785 06-02-1991 13:29
    PLAYDISK DAT 178 06-02-1991 13:29
    PLAYDISK OLD 178 06-02-1991 13:28
    README 469 06-02-1991 13:28
    SCENE02 DAT 209,483 06-02-1991 13:33
    SCENE02 LST 1,638 06-02-1991 13:33
    TD3TOOL EXE 24,495 06-02-1991 15:28
    13 File(s) 349,374 Bytes



Installed Directory Contents

Once installed, the following directory structure exists in the game directory:

    Hard Disk Install chosen (original game only, no expansion)

    Directory of C:\TD3\
    README                 730 09-17-90   5:01p
    SETUP EXE 5,245 10-01-90 1:49p
    INSTR DAT 1,863 09-25-90 3:08p
    TD3 EXE 137,845 10-04-90 6:47p
    DATAA DAT 124,614 10-04-90 2:36p
    DATAB DAT 248,685 10-04-90 2:37p
    DATAC DAT 1,785 10-04-90 2:37p
    PLAYDISK DAT 178 10-04-90 5:31p
    CCERV LST 675 10-03-90 2:34p
    CCERV DAT 57,941 10-02-90 12:53p
    CCERV POB 2,232 09-19-90 11:15a
    CMYTH LST 675 10-03-90 4:21p
    CMYTH DAT 60,077 10-02-90 1:17p
    CMYTH POB 2,276 09-22-90 9:53a
    CDIAB LST 675 10-03-90 2:36p
    CDIAB DAT 48,204 10-02-90 1:03p
    CDIAB POB 2,264 09-19-90 11:15a
    SCENE01 DAT 169,445 10-04-90 2:37p
    SCENE01 LST 1,638 10-04-90 2:38p
    21 file(s) 867,047 bytes


Accolade moved away from using Distinctive Software for its third installment of the Test Drive series, instead choosing the develop it in-house. This was their first 3D-polygon-based driving game, and while its visuals were very appealing, the game was let down badly by a poor control mechanism that made the car very difficult to drive.

In its favour was true open world driving and a plethora of 3D objects, many of which were animated and moving, such as trains, planes, hot air balloons and lighthouses. The initial game had just three cars you could drive, and only one course that went from the Pacific Coast to Yosemite broken up into five sections, though the world was a good size which allowed for a fair bit of exploration.

Hills and mountains feature pretty highly in Test Drive III, and driving up and down them is modelled really well - you can drive across the landscape without fear of crashing, though you will be offered an option to return to the road if you stray too far off the beaten track. Avoiding water is a recommendation - as with every car game, it will end your journey quickly should you fall in.

Just as with the first two Test Drive games, the main purpose was to get the fastest time over the sections of the route or compete against a computer-controlled driver to reach the end first. Cop cars feature once more to hamper your progress, giving out spot fines that add penalty time to your total.

An expansion pack called Road & Car was released the year after, which added a further scenery area from Cape Cod to Niagara Falls and also added two more vehicles.

On top of its lovely scenery (which it could run in 256-colour VGA at 320 x 200 resolution), the game provided both day and night driving, weather effects including rain and snow, working headlights that shone out from the front of cars, windscreen wipers, actual digitised dashboards for all driveable cars, a graduating sky and nice shading on 3D models that gave them depth.

I do recommend you persevere with Test Drive III - there is much to go and see, and once you get used to the erratic nature of the driving controls you can become much more proficient at feeding just the right amount of steering to keep the car in the direction you want it to go. The physics are, I would say, identical for each of the cars you can drive, so beyond acceleration and top speed there isn't anything new to learn between them.

Graphics: Possibly the most well-done 3D driving game we've seen to date in the graphics department - the team at Accolade obviously dedicated a lot of time and effort to try to create a 'living' game world. The 3D models are detailed enough at the highest resolution of 320 x 200, and simple extra features like mountains and houses that made clever use of shades to present a quality 3D effect really make this game a beauty to behold. 8/10

Sound: Decent music and sound effects add to the quality of the game, with Ad Lib, Sound Blaster and Roland options. 7/10

Gameplay: Here's where Test Drive III: The Passion becomes a mixed bag. Despite having created a gaming world that is both beautiful and expansive, the control mechanism they developed to drive the cars is too reactive to your inputs - this was somewhat remedied in the version 3.0 release. The game is very speed-sensitive, so running it on anything apart from a 386DX-33 will result in it running slow and jerky or too fast. 6/10

Lastability: The large open-world nature of TD3 means there's plenty to explore once you get bored of the actual racing/time trial aspect of the game. With the Road & Car expansion, this world's size is doubled, so there's even more interesting content that will suck up your time - and you will want to [if you can get a hang of controlling your car]! 8/10