Race games never quite seem to lose their thrill, though many in the past have disappointed after raising expectations beyond programming skills. Now, after plenty of rather early magazine coverage, Activisions licensed version of Sega's successful coin-op Enduro Racer is out for appraisal.
The action involves a series of motorcycle races spread over five courses, each accompanied by its own background landscape. The objective is simple; out-race other riders and successfully complete all the levels in the shortest possible time.
The biker is viewed from behind and slightly above, in vanishing point perspective. He's generally centred in the screen, while the track scrolls sideways as necessary to suggest curves, and the distant landscape follows suit. The horizon also moves up and down, for ACTVISION have incorporated the original's bumps and hills.
The first course, set in a tree-lined country road, introduces the player to some of the hazards that lie ahead on other tracks. There's only a handful of competitors to contend with, and few jumps, or wheelies, to be executed. Control is straightforward: steer left and right, accelerate, brake and wheelies (used to avoid losing speed on jumps).
At the start of every race a timer os set to 60 seconds, the limit within which the course must be completed - the actual time taken to complete a course is displayed at the end of each circuit. Opponent racers pose a threat in as much as a collision with one flings your bike aside, losing you valuable time as you restart.
The second track, set in a desert, is made even more treacherous by the addition of rock falls, and the presence of a jeep hurtling around the course alongside the bikes. The third circuit tests your skills further by the inclusion of water on either side of the track, and the two final courses are even harder - snow on the fourth, and sea and sand on the fifth.
Sadly, Activision have decided not to include the arcade original's bike saddle to sit on while playing - you'll just have to borrow a friend's motor cycle, or imagine the sensation!
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: generally monochromatic, with background colour changed for each course
Graphics: large, beautifully drawn, fast and with very smooth scrolling
Skill levels: one, with increasing difficulty on subsequent courses
Screens: five tracks
'Well done Activision! At last someone's come up with a very realistic arcade conversion - you feel as though you're actually sat on a bike, hurtling along a race track at over a hundred miles an hour. The graphics are amazing, hills, dips, jumps, trees, rocks and stones are all well designed and excellently animated. One little quirk though, I wasn't happy with the annoying tune which plays while you're racing - it gets in the way of the engine's revving sound. The price is a little high, but the realism makes this package well worth the money.'
'Full Throttle was undoubtedly my favourite race game, but I must confess, Enduro Racer has converted me. It knocks the pants off Spectrum race games. The graphics are superb, the bumps and ridges in the roads are conveyed excellently. My only moan is the 48K sound; it's been used endlessly for Formula I racing cars, helicopter rotors and aircraft engines. They all sound the same! Still, the superb front end makes up for this, it's got a good high score/best time table and loads of options. Enduro Racer must stand as one of the most successful conversions for a long time, and I think it's a game all road race fans couldn't survive without. Brilliant.'
'Whoever picked this for an ACTIVISION licence took a great risk, but it's certainly paid off. This is the ultimate race game on the Spectrum so far, I've seen nothing else that compares with its graphic realism or playability. The scenery is well drawn and moves smoothly past you in a most lifelike fashion. What is so astounding about Enduro Racer is that it's an almost perfect copy of the arcade game (apart from the 10p slot of course). The landscape and playability make ACTIVISION'S latest one of the most addictive race games you'll ever see on the Spectrum.'
This one's ancient, but it's still a contender for the best Spectrum race game ever. As I remember, it was the first racer to use the hill technique, and the jumps have never been repeated successfully since. Rev that bike and take it through all the levels, over dusty mountain tracks, tarmac courses and desert trails. You have to complete each track within the set time limit to progress on to the next level.
Enduro Racer isn't the easiest of biking games, I still find it difficult to get past the third level (but that says more about my game playing skill, I suspect!). Gameplay retains a big challenge throughout -and still looks and plays well after all these years, which can't be bad! Great fun, graphically impressive and varied, well worth buying, especially on budget.
Don't live life on the hard shoulder. Move up a gear with Activision's latest speedtrap and Marcus "Live fast, die old" Berkmann.
"It's another racing game," they said, and the heart sank. "Motorbikes," they went on, and by this time the ol' red pumper was wheezing away at liver level.
Then suddenly my mental light bulb pinged into action. Wasn't Enduro Racer that huge throbbing arcade game with the twisty-turny effect of being on a real motorbike? Wahay! This might not be so bad after all. And it isn't! In fact, Activision's conversion is more than not bad - it's a down home Class 1 ripsnorter.
Five levels of vicious motocross await you, and if you think that sounds a bit peasy, on yer bike - just try getting to level 5. You start in woodland, fizzing along the road on your high speed hairdryer, haring past trees and your rival Eddie Kidds. As you power across the landscape, your target is to get through the course in less than a minute - no mean feat. Especially with all those hillocks in your way - still, they make a change from the usual boring flatness and you'll get a real thrill as you mount that hump! Wheee! Don't get too carried away, though, 'cos you'll often find rocks and things lurking over the horizon just itching for you to smash into them.
You'll also come across some devilish looking ramps - uncannily like those "sleeping policemen". But don't slow down - these'll let you fly straight over fields of lethal boulders with the greatest of ease. When you land, pull the joystick back and you'll do a wheelie, which'll allow you to accelerate again more quickly and make you look really macho. Otherwise your body simply jumps off the bike seat (only your hands rescuing you from certain doom) and you'll end up being overtaken by the snails. Push the joystick forward to increase speed, press fire to decrease it When you move round to the left or right, you lean into the bend - if you lean too far, your foot scrapes the turf and apart from wearing out your boots you'll also slow down.
These are very much the basic skills. But while the first level is mainly about staying in the saddle and going like the clappers, the next stage, set in a baking desert wilderness, is a biker's nightmare. In fact it's a bit of a doughnut to get through. Vast slabs of desert rock sit slap bong in the middle of the rood - one false move and crash, you're spattered across the asphalt. Hillocks hide evil hairpins that even Danny La Rue would find a trial. Ramps are alternately life-saving boons and well-disguised traps.
None of this cleverness, though, would mean a bunch of bananas if the graphics weren't up to scratch. And as you can see from the screenshots, they're just what the doctor ordered. When you approach a hill for the first time, you find you're over it before you con say Evel Knievel, let alone react. This can cause the odd problem if there's a rock on the other side.
Some of the effects, too, are spectacular. Crash over a boulder and you can almost feel the bruises. Bang into a slab of rock and you look for the blood. The 3D illusion is so well handled that you barely notice it. I also like the nice little scroll you get when you remount your crashed bike, moving you bock into the centre of the course. Enduro Racer is packed full of subtle touches just like that. It's not entirely perfect, of course - avoiding the boulders, for instance, can often be a matter more of luck than of judgement. Even so, it's a racing game that's streets ahead of the opposition. Give it a road test and see! Brrrrmmmmm......!
Ah, this is much more like it. There are no flies on Enduro Racer when it comes to good clean racing fun. For once, a racing game concentrates on gameplay rather than on the number of tracks or prettiness of backgrounds, and although we're in strict monochrome here you'll play no more atmospheric and effective a burn-'em-up. It's fast, exciting and its five tracks come with a full compliment of hazards - massive rocks that do more than stop you in your tracks, fences that need to be jumped over, huge dips and peaks in the road that stop you seeing what comes next. And for once the programmers have actually discovered what collision detection entails - there and none of those awkward I-wasn't-even-close crashes that budget titles especially are so fond of. A real cracker, and highly recommended, even if it has appeared on 56,000 compilations already.
92% Issue 40
MIKE: Enduro Racer is a direct conversion from the Sega coin-op machine which caused something of a stir in the arcades. In the seat of a powerful off-road motorbike, you have to get around five tracks in a rather limited time. The screen display is reminiscent of Full Throttle: you can see the bike and the track in front of it. The graphics are excellent, too. Fast and exciting, Enduro Racer is the best race game around and it's...
DOMINIC: Activision's cover Smash still seems great - because there's nothing like it. The jerky graphics show their age a bit, but the detailed ups and downs create a realistic enough feeling. I can still feel all the bumps and potholes after all those months.
This looks a bit like Super Hang-On, but there are a few key differences. First of all it's a bit older. Second of all it's more of a beat-the-clock game than a racing one. And third of all it's not quite so good. Oh, and fourth of all there are obstacles on the road.
Right, let's clarify that a bit. There are other riders, but you can't race against them as they're a bit weird. Huh? Well, although there are only about six or so of them on the starting grid with you, after you've burned them all off you still keep overtaking stray bikes further down the track. This is a frequent occurrence in driving games, and seems mighty peculiar. And the obstacles consist of stones and rivers in the middle of the road with logs in front of them. The trick here is to pull a wheelie just before hitting the log, causing you to jump over it and clear the obstacles, On Level Two there are also oncoming lorries to worry about.
Considering its age, Enduro Racer is very impressive indeed. There's plenty of attention to detail and everything is just about right. It gets a bit easy after a while though.
Motorbike racing has been done to death recently but, undaunted. Activision has pressed ahead with the most faithful and compelling coin-op conversion I've seen since the launch of the 128 - Enduro Racer.
Sega's game doesn't settle for the standard put-the-bike-in-the-middle-of-the-screen and move the scenery. It's not a little see-through biker either but a large, fully animated character who leans forwards on his bike when you press the joystick forward, puts a steadying foot down when you turn left or right and rears into a wheelie when you pull back.
Your bike can reach 199km per/h, if pushed, but because the joystick's used for wheelies when you pull back you'll have to keep a finger on the fire button to slow it down. Success depends on high speed, but the slower you go the more manoeuvrable the bike becomes. Then there's the rocks, lorries and peaks which pop up in the latter levels.
At first it's quite simple. A dense forest track with low- grade walls, over which you have to wheelie, boulders in the middle of the road which you mustn't run over, and other racers who will continually jostle you for position.
I had little trouble avoiding the boulders on the first level and I wasn't able to knock other bikers off their machines. The walls, strung at intervals across the course proved a more intimidating challenge. They're rather like the water jumps at a horse jumping event - there's usually something nasty waiting for you on the other side.
In the case of Enduro Racer the obstacles are rocks scattered along several yards of the course. As with any good simulator/arcade game a bit of logical thinking and ingenuity solves the problem. Pick up speed and do a wheelie as you hit the wall. Your speed and height will take you safely over any wall-hidden object - odd scattered rocks in Level 1 or massive rocky outcrops in Level 2.
If Level 1 is easy. Level 2 ain't. It's a nightmare populated with suicidal trucks, cacti, wind fluted mounds, and lots and lots of sand. The sand sprays up from your bike's back wheel obscuring the road in front and making things pretty dangerous for all concerned.
I found that on every level there is a safe speed at which you should travel in the dangerous bits. During the first level, for instance, it's approx 195 km/per hour - which you'll have problems reaching anyway - and just over 100 km/ per hour for the second. If you go much over the second level safe speed the bike veers to the edge of the road.
Crashes, designed with great graphics flair by Aliens the design team, Focus, are simple but realistic. The bike bumps, there's a spray of dust and suddenly you see your machine sail up into the air to land in a heap on the road in front of you.
All Enduro Racer's effects, including the sight of your little rider bouncing off the seat of the bike as you jump a wall, are just as spectacular. The bike even moves up hills and down dales, an effect which not even TT Racer has managed to achieve.
If you only buy one coin-op arcade game conversion this year on the current turn out from companies such as Ocean, US Gold, and Elite go for Electric Dreams. Enduro Racer is tops.
Label: Electric Dreams
Reviewer: John Gilbert
PRICE: £9.99 (Spectrum/C64/Amstrad), £14.99 (Atari ST), All Discs £14.99
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum
Could this be the best of the current arcade conversions? It certainly comes close. But as we went to press only the Spectrum version was complete so we'll have to reserve judgement on the overall Enduro situation.
But the Spectrum version is a blast - as close as this machine can get to the arcade version. All the obstacles are there and even the dips and bumps in the track have been reproduced.
But we're racing ahead a bit here. If you've not come across this epic coin-op you won't know that it's a sort of dirt-bike simulation.
You find yourself in the saddle of a high power enduro machine blasting across dirt tracks and rugged forest trails in an effort to become enduro-champ of the universe.
You have to complete each of the five tracks in a certain time - fail and it's back to the starting gate.
The first track is relatively simple - small rocks to avoid and jumps to jump. Timing is all important here. Get your jump wrong and your rider ends up dangling by his handlebars high in the sky. Sometimes you can save him - but it's more likely that you'll end up in a tangled heap at the side of the track. If there's time left you can pull yourself together and head for the finish line.
Complete a track within the time limit and you'll get the extra time added on to the next track. Track two is set in the desert and is much more difficult. More rocks, more jumps and maniac jeep drivers to watch out for.
The scrolling is pretty smooth and fast enough to give you a thrill! Graphics are effective and a pretty good copy of the arcade original.
A minor moan is that - on the Speccy version - your rider is the same colour as all the others - black. It would've been nice if he had different coloured leathers to make him stand out a bit more.
The game is nicely presented with a good hi-score chart. Nice lap times/percentage of track completed display as the arcade machine features at the end of each game. And there's a two player option as well.
Enduro Racer is the best Activision game for ages. Get it.
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