XS Moto (Game Boy Advance) review
"In this world of ours, there are top-notch and "middle-of-the-road" developers and publishers. Yet, there are still the "value" (AKA "Bottom of the Barrel") publishers and developers. Such a label tends to stick to the company for a very long time, not that they care. Many of the value publishers only care about making money with games, with very little regard of the quality of the game. In any case, these companies just want to have it produced in the fastest and cheapest way possible, usually ..."
In this world of ours, there are top-notch and "middle-of-the-road" developers and publishers. Yet, there are still the "value" (AKA "Bottom of the Barrel") publishers and developers. Such a label tends to stick to the company for a very long time, not that they care. Many of the value publishers only care about making money with games, with very little regard of the quality of the game. In any case, these companies just want to have it produced in the fastest and cheapest way possible, usually going to some no-name developer, who does not mind such unscrupulous ideals. The games they make seem like a reflection of this, with little to offer in the way of presentation and fun, along with the usual game-crippling bugs. Simply put, these "value" games does not offer anything in the way of value to the consumer. Remember, the GBA does not have the luxury of patches; once a game is released on the GBA it must work well and it needs to be good, unless the publisher wants to lose its customers.
XS Moto is a motorcycle racing game that places you on one of four incredibly simple tracks as one of four racers whom have no noticeable differences outside of how they look. The object of course, is to place first, second, or third in a single race or championship. However, once you get into the actual races you will likely notice a lack of important gauges, such as a speedometer, a gear shift, or anything else which has become staples in racing games. It is a bare interface that only displays your standing, lap count, time count, and one more gauge...
Unlike many other racing games, XS Moto implements a balance system, which is controlled by the shoulder buttons during a turn. Rather than using it as an opportunity to add a good option for making tight turns or giving an feeling of analog control, the developer requires you to use this "feature". If you turn too much you WILL fall off the bike, unless you balance into the direction you are turning. For example, if you turn left you should press the "L" button during the turn, or else you can expect to hit the pavement. But even if you pull it off successfully it is very easy to lose control, so do not be surprised if the turn has you heading straight into a barrier, thanks in part to the awful track design.
Generally, motocross games tend to have obstacles such as jumps or hills, which are things that can make the game seem exciting and different than your average car-racing games. Some racing games, such as Super Hang-On, use long tracks that require good acceleration and braking skills to master the turns. This game does not have such obstacles or tracks, instead it replaces them with very short and flat tracks full of barriers and invisible walls designed to knock the rider off the bike with the slightest bump. As a result, these tracks can be very simple to figure out in time; for all you need to do is master the balance system and you will be going through the tracks with absolutely no problems. To tell you the truth, the brake button seems to be useless on all of the tracks, you can get through them with nothing but balance and constant acceleration.
However, just because you can get through the track easily does not mean that it is easy to win, thanks to the awful (lack of) Artificial Intelligence. In general, the other racers go through the track in a robotic manner, never crashing into obstacles and rarely going off the track. They only seem to crash into each other, giving you a chance to pass them, or into you, making your bike slow you down or go out of control. Such physics could be excusable in games such as Super Hang-On because you are racing the clock, not the other racers. Although, that is not the biggest problem, for the AI quickly overtakes you with a burst of speed the second you pass them, a speed of which you can never attain. Yet, when you fall too far back from the pack, the other bikes actually slow down, giving you a chance to catch up after a crash. After playing through a few races one could see why there is no speedometer, because if there was one it would be much easier to identify how ludicrous and unfair the AI is.
You would think that with the awful way the game works, the designers would have at least given the game some nice visuals and sounds in an attempt cover it up. Yet, they seem to have given these factors even less attention than the other parts of the game. The few animations for your bike are very jerky, and the bikes have a very pixelated look to them. Also, it seems rather short-sighted of the designers to use only one "falling off the bike" animation for all of the crashes, whether it is a head-on collision or an incorrect balancing maneuver. The tracks use a Mode-7 engine designed in the past for kart racing games, making these tracks very colorful. But the overall flatness, lack of polygonal objects, flat barriers, and invisible walls easily overwhelm this. In fact, as you race through the tracks, you are likely to notice some out of place textures, quite a noticeable lack of graphical polish.
Not surprisingly, this game actually sounds even worse than it looks. Normally, you will hear the textbook engine sound and... that is all. In fact, there are sounds that are downright awful; for example, when you step on the brake you will hear the same skid sound looping over and over again, rather than just one continuous sound. There are also some sound effects which are absolutely bizarre, such as when you crash you hear a loud BOING! After hearing such a sound, it could make one wonder: Are these bikes made out of rubber? On the bright side, the sound effects only last a short duration of time.
The worst part of this game is without a doubt, the music. Even to the untrained ear, the music tracks seem to be nothing more than the same annoying and repeating "rock" song remixed for each race track. Keep in mind that these songs must be about a minute long before starting over again. It is even worse when you consider that you cannot turn the music or sound effects off in the game, for the "options" menu contains only one option: Credits (Although I do not know who would want their name on this game). The only way to turn the music off is to turn the volume on your GBA down. But now that I think about it, after listening to the awful music and strange sound effects, turning the GBA's volume down may not seem like such a bad idea...
If you can somehow stand the cheating AI and the repetitive music enough to beat the game, you will find that nothing is unlocked; no special modes, no new tracks, no extra racers, and even your times are not saved. If you add that to the fact that there is no versus mode and this becomes a very short-lived game. In fact, you will probably be done with it in about an hour or two, if you can persevere with the problems of this game.
This game seems like a great example of a sub-standard "value" game for the GBA; the AI cheats, the presentation is awful, there are no unlockables, no multiplayer mode, no saving of high scores, a pointless balance feature, and a bunch of poorly designed tracks. It seems rather funny that there been better motorcycle racing games on the GBA, since most of them were remakes or ports of games from the past (Super Hang-On in Sega Arcade Gallery, Excitebike, and Motocross Maniacs Advance). There are absolutely no reasons to buy this terrible game, for there are better games out there for $20.
Community review by sonicthedgehog (December 08, 2004)
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