Episode 29- Motocross Maniacs

Posted: April 24, 2014 in 5DG Plays
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Source: GameFAQs

System: Game Boy

Release Date: January 1990

Rarity: 25%

Price: $0.99

One of my earliest gaming memories involves playing Excitebike on the NES. My friends and I would use the edit mode to create the wackiest tracks we could to see if we could out do each other. It all came to a head when one of us (probably me) made a course of nothing but large hills. They take forever to get up if you don’t have enough speed. Of course as close as these hills were put together, building speed was impossible. This led to a course of nothing but grass patches and the eventual demise of Excitebike in our NES gaming rotation.

It wasn't exciting anymore.

It wasn’t exciting anymore.  (Source: Wikipedia)

I bring up Excitebike because it seems quite the inspiration for Motocross Maniacs. This game was published by Ultra Games, a subsidiary of Konami, created to skirt Nintendo’s early limits imposed on 3rd party developers as to how many games they can release per year on Nintendo systems. Those crafty bastards.

Like Excitebike, Motocross Maniacs is a side-scrolling dirt bike racing game in which you race against the clock to finish the course. The controls are similar. A to go, B for a nitro boost, left and right tilts your bike on jumps. There is also a mode that adds in a computer controlled opponent. Unlike Excitebike’s drones, you are actually competing against him instead of dodging what are essentially moving obstacles.  The courses are actually pretty challenging, even early on. Not only do you have jumps and hills to contend with, but also loop-de-loops. This adds a really neat dynamic to the game. Some of these loop-de-loops require skillful timing to get on to. Your nitro boosts are limited (rather than Excitebike’s turbo button) and are often required to hit these loops. In fact, nitros are required to make pretty much any jump.

This jump is impossible to make without nitro.

This jump is impossible to make without nitro.

This issue left me frustrated as hell. The game’s 4th course (as pictured above) is all about jumps requiring nitro boosts. Problem is, if you run out, you get stuck. I often had to restart the game or wait for the timer to run out so I could try again. I was getting frustrated with the game until I realized something. There is a strategy at work here. Some jumps you have to use nitro on to complete… but you don’t have to complete all jumps. There are multiple paths through the course. The trick is finding a path that works best for your nitro conservation strategy. This added another cool layer to the game that I hadn’t noticed right away (courses 1-3 allow for liberal use of nitro boosts). Only problem is, as of writing this, I still haven’t found out that strategy and am stuck on course 4. I haven’t given up hope yet.

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

And it’s because I don’t want to give up that I’m scoring this game as a high-five. I’m actually compelled to try to figure out how to tackle this course. It’s frustrating in a good way. I love when a game can challenge me not because of frustrating level design or poor gameplay, but because I haven’t properly formulated a strategy to beat it.  I feel like I’ve definitely got my dollar’s worth out of this game.

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