AS NORMAN TEBBIT WOULD SAY: 'ON YER BIKE!''
Reviewed way back in issue 37 (and attaining a score of 63%), BMX Simulator has been revamped, given a trendy midi-price, and renamed Professional BMX Simulator.
What are these differences I hear you ask? Well those kind people at Code Masters have added two new data tapes, Quarry Racing, and Desert Riding, each with five death-defying courses. Coupled with the main game tape, this gives you a staggering 15 courses to challenge even the best bikers among you.
The objective remains the same though, to complete the current course in the quickest possible time, whilst avoiding pitfalls and your fellow riders. You have a choice of either playing the standard version, or flip the cassette over and play the expert game.
Here you can choose your tyre and chainwheel size - the wrong choice means that your fellow competitors have the advantage (but I personally found the bike so difficult to control on any level, that this made little difference to me).
Having chosen which game, it's on with the wheels. Another improvement the Olivers have made to this version is that you can have four players on the dirt track at once. So choose between Spike, Tom, Larissa, or Bud (four zany kids who love a challenge... they sound rather like CRASH reviewers). Press that fire button and prepare for some fast and furious action, and when you get tired of whizzing around the same old courses, well why not load up one of the data tapes.
These place you in a desert or a quarry (although the inlay doesn't say which one), for some 'tad racing' (doncha just love jargon?).
Professional BMX Simulator's appearance is better than its predecessor, which was bland and a little crude in the sprite department. Here, all three racing locations are nicely coloured, with well-drawn sprites pedalling around each course.
The only thing to spoil my enjoyment was the rider control. Try as I might, I never really gained full control, but perhaps that was schedule pressure, which meant I didn't get enough time to master it - you may do much better.
MARK … 75%
Joysticks: Kempston, Cursor, Sinclair (port one or two)
Graphics: overhead view of small bikes on a detailed background
Sound: different David Whittaker 128K tune for each venue
Options: definable keys. Up to four players can compete simultaneously in normal or expert version
'Well, well, fancy seeing this little number reappearing with extra options and courses. Yes, now two players can cramp round the keyboard while the other lucky two get to use joysticks. And you really do need at least two players for an enjoyable game - racing against the infallible computer riders isn't much fun. Control is awkward when your rider goes careering down ramps and up banks. The overhead-view graphics aren't exactly outstanding, but the title screen for each course is graced with a different, catchy David Whittaker 128K tune. For pedalophiles, Professional BMX Simulator represents a fairly cheap multi-player game, with plenty of different courses to test your pedalling power'
PHIL ... 72%
'Professional BMX Simulator is typically Code Masters ... I mean the aerial views, small graphics and the detailed and colourful backgrounds. It's just a pity the game is so frustrating. If you accelerate too hard, or just touch another player, you go flying off your bike and the stupid computer puts you back facing the wrong way (fume!). The different courses you can load in are even more frustrating than the one you start with. It had me tearing out my hair, and will appeal only to those with great patience. Stop calling me 'Baldy', Phil...'
NICK ... 48%
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an evil ruler, Count Toten of Plaxo, decided that any visitors from another planet had to go through certain ordeals before being allowed to stay. These ordeals involved getting on a BMX bike, and belting around a number of tracks of increasing difficulty, and if the poor beeyemexer should fail it was into the lions pit. Actually, this is a lie, but there isn't a scenario with this game, so I thought that as Your Sinclair readers deserve the best I'd write on for you anyway.
Back to Professional BMX Simulator however, which is the latest from Codemasters Plus, designed by that little Darling, Richard, and coded by the Oliver Twins. As a Codemasters Plus game, it means it's bigger than yer average budget game, and three quid more expensive. So what do you get for that extra three quid? Basically the original BMX simulator released aeons ago, with various additions.
For a start this time around you'll find fifteen tracks, five each of dirt biking, quarry racing and desert biking. The last track on each of the three sections is professional course, where you can customise your bike by changing the tyres and the size of chainwheel. Coo! The bikes can also crash into each other on the professional course, which makes things ever more difficult. And, for the first time ever on the Speccy, there's four player simultaneous action. Fab. Unfortunately, as my computer didn't have enough ports, and I don't have enough joysticks, and I don't have any friends anyway (altogether now... aaaaaah, you'll have to hear about the one player point of view.
The idea, of course, is to guide your bike around the track, avoiding the various obstacles and ditches, and using the burms (BMX talk for banks) to build up speed for the straights or steep hills. Forget about winning the race, you'll need loads of practice before you can do that.
The graphics are standard Code Masters simulation fare, primarily one colour, with black being used to create the impression of burms and other colours for the obstacles. Your bike is a tiny tittle sprite, about twelve pixels long, which does create problems when all four bikes (in one player mode the other three are computer controlled) are going around the same corner, and you lose sight of which one you're in control of. This is resolved when your bike is the one which crashes into a wall and the other three go merrily on their way, lapping you before you've turned your bike to face the right direction.
Control is a big problem - initially it took me half an hour to gain any type of control over my bike, but I persevered and found quite a playable little game underneath. The sound effects and various tunes are excellent, in the Ping Pong mould, and of the same high quality.
The thing which made the for me was the sheer variety of tracks, only three of which I managed to complete. Each of the different types - dirt racing, quarry and desert biking - have varying qualities and must be handled accordingly. I never reached 'expert' grade, so I can't tell you what difference being able to customise your bike will make.
I didn't get a chance to try the multi-player option either, but I can imagine that with enough ports, joysticks and friends, you could happily spend many a winter evening gathered around the Speccy with Professional BMX Simulator glowing warmly on your monitor. Ah yes, the pleasure of racing up hill and down dale, arguing, cheating, having fun and generally making enough noise to really annoy your parents.
All in all, an addictive little game from Code Masters and although a little awkward to get used to, it's well worth a fiver of anyone's money.
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