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
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