Microsphere seem to have done it again, following up their excellent Train Game with another wholly original, beautifully put together game in Wheelie. You have just taken delivery of the ultimate two-wheeled machine - the four cylinder fuel-injected turbo-charged Zedexaki 500. While you're out on the road trying it out, you see this sign saying 'Private road - no speed limit to brave riders'. All excited, you enter the driveway, the gates slam shut behind you, and you are trapped in Nightmare Park. Your only way out now is to find the ghostrider, who's dozing somewhere off to the right, wake him up and then race him back. The park is full of wildlife, all trained in karate, so bumping into any is not so good for the health.
The screen display takes the form of four 'roads' stacked one on another almost like a cross section through caves. There are not always four visible, and any road travelled may well go steeply up or downhill to another level. There are thin 'up/downhill' lines across some, and the bike will travel down a level if the down key is pressed, and the same for uphill.
Apart from the vicious wildlife (includes leaping kangaroos and giant hedgehogs getting their own back for truckers) there are other problems to be encountered. Humps in the road can only be got over by accelerating rapidly at the last second and doing a wheelie' - front wheel riding up and over. Sometimes you have to jump over a bus! There's also ice on some roads, which must be taken with caution. Running into a dead end will kill you off if you don't brake in time, and going downhill too fast can also be rather fatal! Gas stations are few and far between, so it's worth backtracking for them. To be promoted to a new level requires completing the one you're on, when you'll be given a code to let you enter the next one up. Good riding!
Control keys: left = bottom row left, right = bottom row right (these act as accelerate and brake), second row = down, third row = up and top row = freeze
Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek and user-definable keys
Keyboard play: very responsive
Sound: good (excellent on bike effects)
Skill levels: several
Screens: new regenerated, and scrolling
'When I first saw another reviewer playing 'Wheelie', I thought that it was totally different and looked good. Then I got round to reviewing it and my impression that it was a sort of 'Scramble' game faded! It's much, much more! Revs are important when jumping cars and buses - too fast and the bike cartwheels, flinging the rider off, too slow and you won't make it. Once you get to the end of the complex you meet the ghost rider, a tune is played, and the race back begins. You must beat him but he has a distinct advantage - he can travel in a straight line across the screen, but only at about a third of your top speed. All that I can say is that I spent about three hours playing before I remembered I was supposed to write something about it! A dangerously addictive game. Great, Brill, Fantastic - super words fail. Just buy it!'
'The makers boast that Wheelie has some of the best graphics you're ever likely to see on a Spectrum. I'd like to think that there's still room for improvement as time goes by, but certainly these are exceptionally good. Smooth, very detailed with loads of animation. The spills the biker takes are all quite varied, depending on the type of mischance he hits. It's all quite realistic. At first you might assume that you can memorise the layout of the caverns, but I'm afraid not, each game they change. All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable games I have played for a long while, and I'm sure it's going to keep players entertained for hours.'
'If you're playing with the keyboard, it has a very sensible layout, but there's a menu for selecting Kempston or cursor type joystick as well as a routine for setting up other joysticks via user-defined keys. Very good. As for the game, well it is pretty good. Lovely graphics, very, very difficult and challenging. Excellent value.'
Producer: Microsphere, 48K £5.95 (2)
Overall on percentage, the highest rated game in issue 2, and a worthy follow up to their excellent Train Game. You are riding the ultimate motorbike in Nightmare Park, a place full of lethal animals like hedgehogs and kangaroos all trained in Karate! The park has four 'floors', interconnected by hills and optional hills. You must drive along, collecting fuel on the way, avoid the animals, drive carefully over ice, leap buses and cars, do 'wheelies' over humps in the road and squeal to a halt before running to dead ends. If you get to the far right of the park you will wake the Ghost Rider who will race you back to the start. He may travel slower than you, but can do it in a straight line, whereas you must retrace your path through all the obstacles. The graphics are amazing, the biker is really well drawn and animated, falling off his machine in all sorts of different and realistic ways, depending on the particular accident that befalls him. It takes reall skill to get through. Quite good control keys but they may be user-defined. Almost any joystick will work. A very difficult and challenging game with progressively difficult skill levels. Rated as addictive, generally excellent and very good value. Overall CRASH rating 93% m/c.
Use of Computer: 89%
Getting Started: 95%
Addictive Qualities: 99%
Value for Money: 99%
Wheelie got the best overall percentage in CRASH issue 2- 93%. In fact that makes it one of the highest scoring games in any issue of CRASH. Even now, it is fighting it out in the top five of the HOTLINE chart and has been successful in most popular sales charts as well. What do we think today? All I can say is that Wheelie is still the same compulsive, addictive game that it ever was. Nobody has tried yet to copy this game because it cannot be bettered. This game is so panicky, I just can't put it down. All the features are well structured to test the skill of the player and develop those skills in preparation for the final race against the biker. The graphics are so realistic, especially the crashes, but also the way in which the speed of the bike relates to hazards. They just haven't been improved upon by anyone yet.
Wheelie was a highly original game when it came out, and looking at it now, one can only say that it is still original because no one has done anything like it. I rather doubt that any other version would be better anyway. I don't know yet what the Eddie Kidd game from Martech will be like, but if it's anything like Wheelie it will have to be really good to be better.
(Matthew) I think the graphics are marvellous and I would want the rating to go up from 86% to 90%. I'm tempted to put up the playability (90%) a percent as well, as for addictive qualities (which were 99%) I'm only disappointed they weren't lower so I could put that up too!
(Lloyd) Wheelie seems like a good wine, put it down and when you open the bottle it tastes even better than when it was new. I agree with Matthew - a real curve of a game.
GHOST RIDER RULES IN DUEL OF DEATH
FIND the ghost rider and race to death in Wheelie, a motor-cycle game for the 48K Spectrum. Before you can take part in this death race you will have to hunt through the many strange roads in the cavern scenario for the mysterious figure on a motor-cycle who will be your opponent.
In the caverns you will find hazards such as buses and cars to jump over, ice and gas to avoid, and ramps to pass over to reach the various parts of the cave system.
Your machine has all the latest equipment and will accelerate to phenomenal speeds. You should be careful, however, as many of the roads in the ghost rider's world are dead ends.
When you crash your rider will fly from his machine and skid to a halt on the road. While the animation is excellent, during those effects the crash sequence is a little too graphic and some people might find it tasteless.
Wheelie can be obtained from Microsphere Computer Services Ltd, 72 Roseby Road, London N10 2LA.
Joystick: Most joysticks - key program option
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
Guide your bike through a large scrolling maze jumping over cars and buses and avoiding monsters. The skill lies in getting your speed right, and picking the most sensible route. It's fun and it'll keep you interested.
Realistic screen displays are becoming more and more common. Wheelie, from Microsphere for the 48K Spectrum, sends the player hurtling past obstacles and through caverns in search of the ghost rider. In the program, crash sequences are very graphic and tend towards the tasteless.
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