I half expected this to be a version of the first ever scrolling shoot-'em-up, Scramble. Thank goodness it isn't! What we have instead is a modern version of the old classic motorbike scrambling game Kikstart, with much bigger graphics and even more playability.
Super Scramble Simulator is spread over 15 levels, five blocks of three. There are three mud courses and two concrete; each type has its own type of obstacle. For instance, the concrete tends to have ramps, skips (yeah!) and lorries, and the mud courses usually have lots of hills and logs.
Each course has a qualify time - you incur time penalties by going too fast over certain sections, crashing onto either wheel, letting the bike stall, or going off course. If you manage to complete the course with time to spare, the remaining seconds get added to your score. It you don't... game over.
Should you fail an obstacle several times, then you'll get taken onto the next one, incurring an extra big penalty. On the first two courses, you get three attempts at each one, on the second couple of levels, four attempts, and on the last one, seven!
Super Scramble Simulator is an excellent game, however, it has one fault, and that, unfortunately, is a big one: having to go back to the beginning after playing through the first three sets of courses is very, very annoying. That said, it manages to retain a lot of addictiveness despite the frustration (like life really) (the oracle speaks - Ed). The graphics are good, the sound is superb, the game is fun, the price is right. So where's Leslie Crowther? Playing Super Scramble Simulator if he's got any sense!
'Brrm, brrm, who remembers that brill program Kikstart? Gremlin seem to have, with their great version of the old fave. Super Scramble Simulator (sounds like something from Code Masters!) is packed full of excellent graphics, tricky course layouts and loads of addictiveness (no it can't be from CodeMasters!!). Of all the courses the obstacle ones are the best, with such things as cars, trailer, barrels and water to be negotiated. I have spent hours playing SSS and apart from the back-to-the-beginning problem, Super Scramble Simulator is an excellent game.'
Have you ever seen Kick Start? The BBC's trials riding programme, hosted by Peter "Old Blue Peter Presenters Never Die, They just Fade into Mild Obscurity Along With Their 70's Hairdos" Purvis? The idea is this - a number of 'bikers' compete with each other over a hellish course which is choc-a-block full of obstacles such as logs, cars, see-saw ramps, 86' slopes and crocodiles. (Are you quite sure about that last one? Ed) The course has to be completed in the shortest possible time, and failure to negotiate any of the obstacles results in a time penalty - usually ten seconds. And that, essentially, is what Super Scramble Simulator is - a Kick Start computer game. So let's have a gander.
S.S.S. is a right to left horizontal/vertical scroller with the playing screen split into three bands. (Look at the screenshots. What's that? Oh, you have already. Sorry, my mistake.) The top band is a side view of your bike, the middle band is a bird's eye representation in smaller scale - so you can see what obstacles are coming up long before they appear on the top bit. The bottom band is your motorbike control panel, with speedo, rev-counter, icons to show which gear you're in and the timer, which ticks down from an initial nine minutes and 20 seconds.
There are two types of course in the game - obstacle and off road, the former being, erm, an obstacle course and the latter a more up and down hilly and marshy type affair. The essential difference between the two is that the off road race is a mite quicker. So what's the control like?
I'll tell you.
Pushing to the left on the joystick (there's no re-define key option, and the ones you're given are horrendous) opens the throttle and revs up on the tachometer. Pushing forward and firing selects first gear. It's off road Number One (there are three to choose from) in the easy section. I'm picking up speed very nicely, thank you, and I think it's time to change to second gear. Forward on the stick, fire, and back to the right for full revs Yo! I'm hacking along! (Well, doing about thirty.) Yikes - there's a dirty great hill! Up, up, up. Hmmm, time to change back down to first again - back on the stick and fire. That's better - the bikes really pulling again. Yikes, it's the crest of the hill, and I'm steaming. Ally-opp! Up in the air. Left and right now controls the inclination of the bike. Back, back, back - let's get the front wheel up for a nifty Eddie Kidd type landing. On dear, too far - it's going to be more of an Evel Kneivel landing. Blammo!
The course is littered with other hazards such as little holes in the ground, which have to be taken at very slow speeds and bunny-hopped over, wheeling the front wheel over them and then popping the back wheel over as well (left and fire on the joystick). All the time you're riding it's a good idea to have your eye on the middle strip, as you also have to steer the bike left and right to avoid brick walls and such like. You can only perceive this lateral motion from the birds-eye view, and in more difficult obstacle course levels you've got to weave around all over the shop while keeping your attention equally focused on the side-view screen 'cos you've got bunny-hops to do at the same time.
There are 15 courses to be completed in all, ranging from quite hard to flippin' murder. The graphics in the game could be described as somewhat rudimentary. I found they worked quite nicely but could have been better. The sound's just the motorbike engine (the whine goes up and down depending on the revs), and a little tune plays when you crash. Everything scrolls well, and once you've got the hang of the control system it's quite an addictive little jaunt. It'd be brilliant if someone could produce a hybrid of this and Enduro Racer, but Super Scramble Simulator will keep me going for now!
Not even Kixx are immune from the dreaded s- word it seems, but in a daring break with tradition this sim actually, um, 'sims' a gas-guzzling, dirt-eating (and in my case, stallin'-all-the-time) motorcross experience.
You race against the clock over 15 tracks, split into sets of three. Each set is either an obstacle or an offroad course and you can bring along up to five pals to race against. (If you want.) Presentation is slick - your bike and rider are really nicely animated as they bounce their way along the horizontally-scrolling tracks. The 128 sound is good too, with a variety of toe-tapping tunes. A lot of thought's gone into the design, from the 'everything accessed from the joystick' controls, through the separate high-score and best-time tables (which double the competitive element) to the scanner beneath the main screen that shows out of you what's coming up next. As for gameplay, well, that's equally swish, with the nastily-planned courses plunging you into freezing rivers, bouncing you over the backs of parked Volkswagens and enticing you to go flat out down hills then putting logs at the bottom etc etc.
Unfortunately, there is one glaring fault. Unlike games such as ATV where you can see by the actions of the blokie on the buggy if things are going wrong, the bike in Super Scram carries on normally right up to the point where the program stops dead in its tracks and politely tells you that "You went too fast and fell off". This means you have to keep one eye on the bike, one on the scanner, one on the speedo and the others on the clock. (How many eyes do you think we've got? Ed) Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of fun to play (once you get into it) and with a couple of friends shouting 'advice' the confusion can be largely avoided - it's just that it shouldn't have been there in the first place. If you're a motorcross fan, or you simply want to impress lesser mortals. Scram s the game to master. Practice hard and hone your joystick - twitching skills, but don't play it within earshot of Granny!
Something tells me I'm going to have a hit of trouble starting this review. What incredible piece of journalism can I use to grab the reader's attention? How can I begin this page with something amusing, yet captivating? Ah, I know! Did you notice that all the words in the title Super Scramble Simulator begin with the letter S?
I think that did the job, now on with the review. SSS (see?) is a brilliant product from Gremlin that lets you experience all the thrills and spills riding an off-road bike through nine levels of increasing difficulty against the clock. That'll keep even the most ardent rap fan busy.
The word for today is detail. Detail. SSS is full of it (so are you, Tone!), in both controls and graphics. I think for the younger Spectrum owners, the controls might just cause a bit of a problem. Up and down move you left and right on the overhead view (more later) while left and right make you accelerate and brake. Fire with the joystick centred makes you duck. Fire and right lift your front wheel and fire and left lift your back wheel. Fire and up changes up a gear gear and down changes down. Simple.
So, why all these controls? Well, lifting the front and back wheel comes into use when mounting obstacles like logs and things. Speed is used in the same way as Kickstart. You have to move slowly on some obstacles. Gears are used to keep the revs as high as possible when climbing steep slopes and on the later tracks there are poles you have to duck under.
The graphics are pretty darn fab. The star point of the visual side is the animation of the main sprite. It's big and realistic. A lot of work has gone into sticking as many frames as possible into the bike animation, which probably explains why there's little else in the way of actually moving things in the game. Apart from the scrolling. The scrolling is pretty impressive, even though it does lack the parallax that made me sit up and go cor, the first time I saw it (on another machine).
Now, the left and right bit of which I spoke earlier. Just below the main screen is a plan view of the track of which you are currently racing on. Unlike Kickstart, not only do you now have to worry about getting onto and over the obstacles, you have to line yourself up and that can be tricky sometimes when an obstacle follows another closely and they're on opposite sides of the track.
Still, difficulty is a game's strongest point (are you sure about this one Tony? - JD) and SSS is fairly difficult at first. Still, once you've mastered the controls, it becomes a little more playable. I was surprised at how quickly I finished the game. You see, the problem comes when you mess up an obstacle three times. The computer quite nicely gives you a helping hand and moves you along an obstacle.
Super Scramble is a corker. It's got fab graphics, there's precise control over the bike and you can continually develop tactics and tricks to get through the course more quickly.
Author: Magnetic Fields
Price: £9.99/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
There aren't that many motorbike scrambling simulations on the market, so I suppose Super Scramble will appeal to anyone interested in the sport. But is it good enough to fascinate people who think that motorbikes are Raleigh 10 speeds with something as fast as a ferret peddling and can't tell their forks from their mudflaps?
Well, I suppose so it's rather too difficult to control to get into very quickly; joystick up to turn left, down for right, left for brake, right for accelerate; with fire button depressed, up to change up a gear, down to change down, left to lift rear wheel, right to do a wheelie. It takes ages to master the control system, much longer than it takes to work out how to manoeuvre through the obstacles such as ramps, drops, carelessly abandoned cars and bits of timber.
The course is viewed from the side in the main part of the screen, and from the top in a window in the middle of the the screen. The bottom window shows speed, rev counters, gear indicator and timer, and message window informs you when you hove managed to stall the bike, run out of time or whatever.
If you get it into your mind that SSS is not a race, but a slow-paced exercise in manoevreing and gear-changing, you might enjoy this realistic slm. But if you're expecting high speed thrills, look elsewhere.
Price: £2.99 Tape
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
GREMLIN count the rev up the gameplay.
This is a bit of a turn up for the books and no mistake. It's been a while since we saw anything this good from Gremlin, or should I say since we saw anything good from Gremlin. Let's face it - they've had a bit of a bad spell recently. Even titles like FOFT and Paranoia Complex that promised to be brilliant flopped on release. But now it seems that Gremlin have finally pulled their socks up and caught up with the rest of the software industry. Super Scramble Simulator is great.
Super Scramble Simulator (hereafter known as SSS) doesn't actually offer anything new to the land of computer gaming. It has no quest, no plot, no violence, no sex, no political message and it isn't even a license. So what are Gremlin playing at? Well, rather than layer it with hype, they've spent more time and effort just making the game fun and playable and less time telling everybody how great it's going to be. And it certainly shows.
The idea is simple. Get on your scrambler and try to complete nine off-road tracks of increasing difficulty against the clock. That's it. Sounds a bit dull, doesn't it?
But of course, it isn't. The main dish is fun, followed by a jumbo slice of playability with a generous side order of detail. While still classing itself as a simulator, it isn't a true sim, but lays more emphasis on machine's handling than on an exact representation of how it works: you know what I mean, keep revs at an optimum when climbing a slope, go slowly over rocky or bumpy areas etc.
The game is viewed side on, as in Kikstart, but then there's more. Just below the main window there is an overhead view of the course you're racing on. As you go onto the harder tracks, obstacles no longer appear in the centre of the track. Series of obstacles have to be steered through, and there's no going around. Try to manoeuvre past an obstacle and you'll be put back with a time penalty.
Perhaps it's not not the most inspired game in the world. Probably it's not the most original either, but who needs either of those when you've got a title as fun-giving as SSS?. Go on, take it for a spin.
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Imminent
Amiga, £24.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum £9.99cs,£14.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128 £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
No, this isn't a computer reproduction of a sequel to an infamous bomb and laser scrolling shoot-'em-up (and it certainly isn't from Code Masters), but a sim of cross-country motorcycle trials. It's undoubtedly inspired by BBC TV's Kick Start programme (hosted by hairy Dave Lee Travis), especially as it was created by Shaun Southern, author of C64 Kik Start and Kik Start II.
As this is a computer game, the competition you are taking part in is the ultimate challenge (it always is). 15 testing courses - arranged into five sets of three await you, with nasty steep slopes and obstacles such as logs, cars, water hazards and lorries. A plan view of the current section of the current course is displayed toward the bottom of the screen.
Each course is against a time limit so care should to be taken to avoid stalling. Precious seconds are also lost if the bike lands incorrectly from a jump.
Immediately this is seen as a(nother) sequel to Kik Start; same sport, same viewpoint. There is in fact less variety of obstacles than in Kik Start II and there's no construction kit.
The ability to steer left and right has been added - though this has little effect - and it's a simulation in as much as it's possible to stall the bike, and landing incorrectly can damage suspension. The benefits of this depends on your point of view. The game isn't all-out race and Jump (it would be a jolt and a shudder if you tried) but the restraint of driving the bike carefully and properly can have its own rewards.
On the Amstrad the biker hunches over his small-wheeled cycle and trundles along a juddery-scrolling course. Detail is adequate if a little sparing, but play elements (bike, rider, scenery) are each in two colours - better than monochrome but fairly bland. A boppy Machine number plays on the title screens but in-game sound is the usual engine drone.
In a similar awkward position, the Spectrum rider and whole playing area are in the same two colours, but scrolling is smooth and animation is quite realistic in the way the biker bobs around as he passes over obstacles and bumps. Jingles (usually of condolence) break the silence.
A bit blocky and white on the C64, the bike and its rider are adequately drawn, and though the colours are gaudy, bushes are well shaded. Scrolling's fine but the title music drones on - though not in such an irritating manner as the jingles and engine noises.
Gameplay requires too much discipline - and has too little fun - for most people, but if the idea appeals to you, try before you buy. Atari ST and Amiga (£19,99) versions will follow (provided they don't stall, land on their front wheel, hit an obstacle, run out of time...)
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB