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Enduro Racer (Sega Master System) artwork

Enduro Racer (Sega Master System) review


"Most young girls growing up probably get to experience all kinds of girly things. They fantasise about ponies, go to ballet and generally do all the frilly things that normal, well-adjusted parents encourage in small females. Well luckily my parents are maladjusted weirdo's. So instead of playing with Barbie's and spending weekends baking cookies with my Mum, I spent much of my childhood down big holes with a lamp Caving or halfway up a remote hillside in northwest England watching motorbikes ju..."



Most young girls growing up probably get to experience all kinds of girly things. They fantasise about ponies, go to ballet and generally do all the frilly things that normal, well-adjusted parents encourage in small females. Well luckily my parents are maladjusted weirdo's. So instead of playing with Barbie's and spending weekends baking cookies with my Mum, I spent much of my childhood down big holes with a lamp Caving or halfway up a remote hillside in northwest England watching motorbikes jump over rocks and timing them.

So I've always had a soft spot for motorbikes. I even learned to ride one. Alas, after crashing it into a stationary car my biking career came to a swift end. I kept the leather trousers, jacket and boots though. I like to dress up in them occasionally and run round my living room going ''Vroom! Vroom!'' They are very nice leathers too, white and green. Very sexy. Much like the orange and blue leathers worn by the biker in Enduro Racer, the cute biking game for the Sega Master System that came out in the late 1980's. Enduro Racer is not a flashy game, it's pretty basic in looks, sound and gameplay. Yet it's also one of the most compulsive racing games I've ever played!

Basically you take control of a biker and you have to race to the end of a series of courses littered with ramps and obstacles. There are other participants, but you are only racing the clock. The sooner you get to the end of the course the better your score. Each bike or buggy you pass scores you a point. At the end of each course you can ''spend'' these points on a tune-up for your bike. This is an interesting touch and it does genuinely affect you performance. For example tuning the accelerator means you can go much faster on the clear ground, improving the tires makes your passage over the rough ground a little easier. So its good to tailor your bike to the upcoming course. The rugged desert tracks have much rough ground to drive around and better tires might be an option, the water based course requires rapid jumps so better acceleration is needed.

The graphics are fairly plain. The courses are viewed from a half side-on, half top viewpoint. The box describes it as ''a diagonally scrolling background with stunning 3D effect''. Maybe a bit of over exaggeration now, but at the time (around 1988) it was state of the art. Bright colours abound, the first grass based course is a rich and vibrant shade of eye-watering green, it's a nice lead in to getting used to the handling of the bike. Later courses such as the water based one will have you a nervous wreck as you attempt to jump ramps, avoiding sinking and avoid the vicious bikers who are trying to bump you off.

The AI (Artificial Intelligence) of the other riders is particularly commendable. They actually make mistakes, same as you. You'll see them veering off into rough ground, taking jumps at he wrong angle and smashing into signs or boulders and blowing up. They'll even start psyching you out, racing neck and neck with you as you both aim for the same small gap in the coming obstacle track. The collision detection is very well implemented as well. You can race up close to each other without colliding due to glitches, when they do aim for you and try and knock you over it's not an accident, they really come at you! With the game lacking a two-player mode this really adds to your involvement. It's surprising how many developers in the intervening years have forgotten that godlike CPU opponents make for very dull racing.

The animation of the main rider is also very good. He/she tilts their bike and sticks their leg out to balance and steer as you direct them. The simplicity of the controls (one button to accelerate and d-pad to steer) makes it very quick to get to grips with and you can get on with learning the courses and improving your times. Sound is perfunctory, a jaunty little tune plays for each course, and when you complete a course its plays a sweet little victory tune. Best of all the game moves at a great pace. The screen scrolls smoothly, speeding and slowing with your rider so you never feel overwhelmed by scenery popping out of nowhere. As you reach a good speed and start leaping ramps and dodging boulders and cacti you begin to feel a real sense of exhilaration. The responsiveness of the controls means you only have your crummy reflexes to blame when your poor rider ends up eating a face full of gravel. The desire to complete each course with out pranging once, finding the fastest routs through the obstacles and trying out the different tune-up options makes it incredibly playable even today.

There are frustrations. There is no save or continue option. If you crash out on the final course you have no chances, just the game over screen. You can't save your High Scores and Best Times either once the console is switched off. But personally I have found myself happily whiling away a couple of hours every now and then, indulging my biker fantasies in the safety of my own home. It's simple, colourful, fast and great fun to play. A neglected classic of the racing genre and definitely one for the dedicated Master System fan to seek out.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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