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MX Superfly
Review By:  Christopher Coey
Developer:  Pacific Coast Power & Light
Publisher:  THQ
# of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Racing/Extreme
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  8-8-02

First thought about this game: How interesting that there is a scrolling disclaimer before the opening title screens. Too bad; I was just about to run out and buy a dirt bike, to try out one of those Super-man seat grabs while attempting a forward 360-degree flip. But now I know that it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Second thought about this game: When I began my first race, I immediately noticed how terribly bland the audio commentary was. Reminded me a lot of EA’s early attempts. And I mean REALLY early attempts. I don’t know who the commentator is. Maybe he’s actually the foremost star in the MX Supercross play-by-play world. Either way, the developers should have hired an actor with some vocal range. ANY vocal range, the guy in this game is as monotone as the hum on my refrigerator. To add to the audio non-stimulation, is the awful sound. PCP&L (the developer) seem to have gone with "Hmmm, we need some sound effects. Someone go out and record their lawn motor." I won’t bother going into the character vocals, because it would be best if they just weren’t there.

This game did teach me one thing however, that I prefer my racing game to have some from of combat. Ya, I know, there are all those racing purest out there who may cringe at that statement. But when I’m driving around a tight corner beside seven other guys on MX bikes, I just want to start throwing elbows and knocking people on their ass. Alas, no violence in this game. Unless of course you get really good at aiming your bike and landing on to one of other riders heads. But then you might have to deal with the poor collision detection.

Maybe I’m being too picky about details here. Or maybe I’m comparing this game unfairly to other games that are not necessarily the same genre. I can deal with the fact that there isn’t supposed to be aggression and takedowns in the world of motorcross racing. But that doesn’t mean that the programmers can ignore character collisions all together. Half of the time when you run into another player, nothing happens. Other times, you may deflect a little, but not much seems to happen to your opponent. And still other times, you’ll end up flying off your bike and crashing. But the results seem to be rather selective, and not very consistent.

The collision detection is a little off, but the physics are mostly okay. Mostly, if not occasionally questionable. Honestly though, I’d rather deal with a slightly unrealistic physical model, and still able to pull off a spread eagle twisting double, while still landing on the bikes seat after 140 foot air (and no, I have no idea what the ‘correct’ MX term is for that move.)

One thing I found somewhat frustrating about this game is that although it is mostly clear what direction you need to be heading while racing, the actual track isn’t always well defined. If you see a corner coming up (especially in the wide, open, outdoor tracks) and it veers sharply one way or the other, any slight deviation off-road will almost immediately lead to a forced ‘bail.’ Which then leads to a reset, and a lot of lost time. There is almost never any leeway to allow players to get back on course by themselves.

The racing model is fairly standard. Earn money in preliminary events in order to compete in amateur races. Earn enough of a reputation, and you’ll be invited to the pros. After mastering the 125cc races, you can move up and do it all again in the 250cc category. All the while, you unlock new pieces to outfit, and customize your riders. At certain earnings levels, you gain access to various upgrades to your bike. The only problem here is that unless you know a little about MX bikes already, you’ll get little help from the game. The first tune-up you get is to the braking system. You have the option to switch from ‘stock’, ‘power’ or ‘bite’ breaks. Personally, I have no idea what the differences might be, or which situation would call for which braking system. The manual was of no help either.

The saving grace for this game it that it has an immense amount of replay value. Apart from bikes, and outfit parts for your riders, each step up on the racing, or stunt career track gives you a FMV sequence of real-life MX events. But the real value comes from the mini-games. Let’s start with the obvious ones: Bus Jump, Moto-Slalom, Horse, and Big Air. Then there’s "Pizza Delivery", "Wheelball", which is a form of MX polo; "Step Up", which is basically the Olympic high jump on a dirt bike. And probably the best as far as replay value, "Stranded!"; in this game you deliver gas to stranded riders. It’s basically Smuggler’s Run, and it’s an unlockable mini-game.

I mentioned the sound earlier, which is awful. However, you at least have the option to turn the SFX off and turn up the music. The game is full of licensed rock and metal music. Don’t be looking for any Offspring, or Sum 41. These tracks are by bands like "The Vandals", "Little Known Fact", and "Mest." Anyone heard of any of these guys? Anyone? Well, the music’s not half-bad really. Maybe in a couple years all the bands in this game will be household names.

My final thought on this game is: why are the stunt controls so complicated? The buttons seem to be extremely unresponsive. The ‘pre-wind’, and release button is the same as the ‘trick’ button. Once in the air, re-press the trick button and try a trick combo. There is a three-button trick system, and each button can be ‘tapped’, ‘pressed’, or ‘held’, one to three times. The problem is, it's difficult to get more than one button push to register. Most of the time, only the first or last button presses works. Again, the whole thing is rather inconsistent. It’s nearly impossible to perform specific tricks. Just push buttons and hope for the best. In other words: Buy this game for the racing, not for the stunts.

HIGHS:

  • CRacing mode is fairly solid
  • Graphics and draw distance are above average
  • Great mini-games and lots of replay value

LOWS:

  • Glitchy graphics at times
  • Confusing, unresponsive 'trick' system

FINAL VERDICT:

Nearly everyone’s first foray into the Video Game world of MX racing was WAY back with ExciteBike (NES). After playing this, I’m still tempted to say that was the most fun I’ve ever had with this genre of games. Sometimes though, it’s unfair to compare today’s games to games back then. Games then were solely about the fun. There were no flashy graphics or sound. We played with an analog pad, and two buttons. The only thing that made a game good was whether it was fun. MX Superfly HAS flashy graphics, and hot music tracks. The controller has four times as many buttons. But in the end, I still believe that all that should matter is whether a game is fun. And it is fun. I might have harped a lot on this games bad points, and there are a lot of them. But for all it’s flaws, MX Superfly does do some things right. Lot’s of unockables, and mini-games; and a solid race game make it a worthy purchase. Just don’t expect another Tony Hawk however.

Overall Score: 7.3

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