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Code Masters Ltd
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

They have their good days. And they have their bad days. Moto Cross Simulator must have been written on a wet Thursday afternoon in Slough.

Codemasters' series of budget simulators wobble up and down in quality like, er, something extremely wobbly indeed. When they're good (like Jet Bike Simulator) they're very very good; when they're bad (like Pro Ski Simulator) they make you very sad.

Moto Cross Simulator veers and skids more towards the downside: there might be a game hidden in there somewhere, but it's so irritatingly difficult to play, so poorly presented and so, grrrrr, annoying, that I can't find much good to say about it.

The concept's OK. Imagine a 3-D version of Kikstart - all motorbikes, jumps, ramps, obstacles and mud - and you've to the general idea. Steering your Super Mudbuster bike, you have to complete five skill sections, where the challenge is to control your bike and avoid falling off, and four time trials, where it's a matter of you against the clock. I can only really comment on the "skill" section, because after a solid hour of effort I never managed to complete it and get on to the time trial.

The first problem is that the monochrome backgrounds are so poorly designed that your eyes keep flipping over into the back of your head. Is that a ramp or a drop ahead of me? is that a slope going up, a wall going sideways or a ditch? By the time you can work it all out, you'll have fallen off dozens of time. All you can do in the first section is to raise or lower your front wheel, and press fire to jump. It took me ages to work out that you have to jump at the bottom of a slope, otherwise you'll fall off. Crazy.

If you can work out how to negotiate the logs and boulders (wheelie, jump, level off), the next challenge is the jump. Now I don't remember seeing a motocross event where the competitors were required to fling themselves over sheer cliffs, but that's all part of this game. Just try to keep your nose up as you land, and you might make it.

Simple slopes and level bits are easy, in fact dull, to negotiate; this just leaves you with the big jump at the end of the level. I must have tried this 200 times, and though I can get to within sight of the finishing flag, I'm stonkered if I can do it without falling off. At this stage my patience evaporated and I flung the computer out of the window.

If there was any incentive to get to the higher levels I might have persevered, but the graphics are dull, the sound minimal (David Whittaker's 128K theme music being largely wasted) and the gameplay is more Moto-irritated than Motocross. Sorry about the lousy pun, but that's how I feel about spending my precious life reviewing this one.

Label: Codemasters
Author: Pete Williamson/Neil Adamson
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Irritatingly difficult and unrewarding bikey sim, best buried in the mud.