Amstrad Computer User1st April 1987
Published in Amstrad Computer User #29
Now whatever Mel Smith and Gryff Rys-Jones may say about the French, there is no denying the fact that previous French offerings for the Arnold have been pretty reasonable - so is this another Froggy tour de force?
Once loaded, a really spectacular (a few lines in the middle of an otherwise blank screen) display appears. With all the pzazz of a wet kipper, you are given the choice of three levels. There are the obvious beginner and pro options but I would be intrigued to know why the middle level is pilot - I thought it was a bike, not flight, simulator.
Next you get to pick either a red or a blue bike - there is no advantage for either one - you just pick the colour to fit your mood (or politics) I suppose.
Finally you get to choose either joystick or keyboard control. Discerning games players will know that there isn't really much choice (unless your parents were members of the mollusc family with eight tentacles.)
The major selling point of this game is not so much its use by single players but its two player option.
Assuming you have a joystick cable splitter or a P1/2 type of joystick that allows another to be plugged into it two can play simultaneously using joystick. Otherwise it's all huddle round the keyboard time.
Once you have picked whether you want to take part in all 12 international grand prix(es) ? or just one, and have chosen whether it's going to be two laps of practice or a full nine lap race, the screen changes to multicoloured Mode 0.
The screen has two main windows. One for each bike.
If you are playing on your own one window will effectively be redundant, though the action will continue to happen in the "unused" screen as well as the one you use.
The windows are identical, each showing the particular bike as if viewed from about 10ft behind it. The motion of the other bikes is shown relative to this, so as they accelerate faster, you see them moving away ahead.
The feeling of motion is given by the two age old techniques of flashing red and white road edging (the epileptic's nightmare) and the same clump of nondescript mountains scrolling from side to side in the distance.
Beneath each "view" are the bike instruments. The large dial on the left would appear to be the speedo, while that on the right is the tacho - actually more useful cos you know to change up when the arrow goes into the red. Between the windows is a column of "coloured lights" which are kept sorted into order as the positions in the race change - a nice touch.
At the top of the screen are six coloured squares that give a lap count for each bike. A lap time is also given • for each bike. In the middle there is a small version of' the circuit you are currently racing. It took a while to realise that the red blob on this actually marks the startifinish line. It's a shame coloured dots on this map couldn't have been used to show relative positions.
Mode 0 graphics and poor controls always count against a game. This game started low in my opinion and fell when I discovered that boring Silverstone had been chosen for the British race as opposed to the less accurate but interesting Brands.
Cornering seems to be a matter of getting the speed right, the gears are fiddly and you cannot slide. A mediocre program.
'Tis a strange thing that there is a host of car racing games for other machines and the CPC has relatively few, yet a few years back when I wanted a bike game no one had produced such a thing.
Now there are loads all on our fave machine. This may have been spurred by Sega's Hang-On in the arcades. I am as useless at this as I am in the arcades and found the whole thing boring.
The idea of this game is quite good, especially if you can find a friend to ride the other bike.
Unfortunately the control leaves a lot to be desired and I found the best technique was to keep the fire button pressed almost all the time and slam the joystick from right to left (or left to right) as a corner approached.
When racing against the other bikes I invariably came last (even on beginner level) because once you have crashed it is virtually impossible to catch up with the others. I think I'll stick to the real thing until something a bit more realistic comes along.