Super Cycle (Epyx)
I have seriously underestimated Epyx, I honestly didn’t realize how many games they produced back in the 80’s, but I’m not gonna get ahead of myself listing every one the games they published since we would be here all year, instead I’m going to focus on one of my favorite games on the C64 (apart from Monty On The Run) and that is Epyx’ Super Cycle. I love arcade style racing games, games like Rad Racer, Top Gear, Enduro, Outrun, even games like Extreme G and Lego Racers on N64 are some of my favorite games to play because of the skill factor involved and the near endless replayability, and let us not forget the ever present Mario Kart. When it comes to racing games in particular I’m not at all hard to please as long as the action is smooth and the speed… uh… speedy, I even like many of the mediocre racing games for Genesis, there are more than you think. So… Shall we begin?
This game looks pretty good, the opening title screen is well drawn and the menu serviceable, if there’s one thing this game is in spades it’s colorful. The driving section looks fairly good; the smoothness of the movement and the smoothness of the object scaling create a convincing impression of speed, even if roadside objects are somewhat sparse. One little bonus this game has over other racing games from this time are the ability to customize the color of the bike and the color and style of the cool leather jacket your biker wears. Backgrounds look nice enough even if there aren’t too many of them, at least they’ve got a little variation to them, you will race in the city, in the desert, in some hills, and on blue (I presume its water.) Overall fairly positive, will the sounds add to this positivity?
To answer the question I just asked, yes and no. The opening music that plays during the title screen and character customization menu is excellent and really prepares you for high octane thrills but when your racing all you’ll hear is the high pitched engine and the occasional tire squeal. If you’re not too good at taking turns, or if your fellow bikers are feeling a bit rude today, you’ll be hearing the sound of your bike exploding a lot, but don’ worry that’s not game over.
This is a fairly standard racing game much in the same vein as Pole Position, you need to get to the end of the track before you run out of time otherwise it IS game over. Thankfully you can blow up your bike as many times as you want but as punishment you’ll lose a large amount of precious time, you only get 1:45 to start out with so don’t waste it. There is fairly rudimentary gear changing systems much like Pole Position again; you simply press the action button whilst holding up with the control stick to shift up, do the same but holding the stick down to shift down (You will never need to shift down though.) This is a score based game so it’s all about getting that high score. More skilled players who manage to pass the first three races will be rewarded with a bonus race where you can collect flags for more of those P O I N T S… I presume you’ll get another after finishing the next three and so on.
Overall this game is extremely fun, the tracks after the first bonus track shake things up by introducing in-road obstacles and more aggressive bikers so the game has some progression of difficulty. Strangely enough this game was released overseas by U.S. Gold on cassette tape and are also the more common, and cheap, way to find this game. Cassette versions plus shipping are around 10 bucks while a floppy disk version could run you the same if not a bit more but only for the loose disk I’ve not seen a boxed copy as of yet. If you get the chance to get your hands on this little gem of a game don’t hesitate and go for it.