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MotoGP

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Visual Impact
Publisher:  THQ
# of Players:  1-4 (link cable)
Genre:  Racing
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  7-25-02

Racing games have been around as long as handheld gaming has been around. From those cheap 80's handheld systems to the more modern Game Boy and Game Gear, racing games have thrived thanks to relatively simple gameplay and graphic requirements. The core of MotoGP is really no different than earlier racing games, only this one is much deeper. However, when you make that deepness hard to take advantage of, MotoGP becomes just another racing game.

The reason why is simple: no battery save. Plenty of gameplay modes are here, including Quick Race, Time Attack, Tournament, and Grand Prix. Quick Race and Time Attack are only limited to a paltry three riders and one track to start out with, but like most console racing games extra riders and tracks are unlocked via the Tournament and Grand Prix modes. Unfortunately, this means that to do a "Quick" Race or Time Attack, the player must first type in an annoying password. That wouldn't be too bad by itself, if it wasn't for the fact that actually getting a password is an exercise in patience. The player must either finish one tournament (four races) or an entire Grand Prix (sixteen races) before earning a password. The shortest of tournaments can take 20+ minutes to finish. As a result only the Quick Race and Time Attack modes are really feasible for most situations where a handheld would be played, but as I mentioned before the player must first type in a password if they want to race any track other than the default one. A password save system where a new password can only be accessed after racing many tracks is extremely annoying.

That problem is annoying and frustrating, but the gameplay doesn't really encourage the player to tough it out. The controls are extremely simple, with A being the gas and B being the brakes. Computer rider A.I. is simplistic, as most of the time the riders follow the racing line. Occasionally they'll go out of their way to bump into the player, and of course they're never knocked off of their bikes in the process while the player almost always is. So the challenge really consists solely of whether or not the player can keep their bike on the track. There's not even an option for a manual transmission, and the only thing the shoulder buttons do is rotate the track on the track selection screen. Hmm, I wonder what they could've mapped to the shoulder buttons…

The graphics are good, but simple. There are a good variety of real-world locations, tons of signs along the side of the track, and the riders are animated enough. Most importantly, the engine runs very quickly and delivers a nice sense of speed that matches how fast a MotoGP event should feel. The only problem with the engine is that at the side of the track the bike appears to be riding off of the track, even though it's actually not. You can see exactly what I'm talking about in Image 1 below. It's something the player will learn to adjust to however, and it doesn't hinder gameplay any. The music is your typical Euro stuff, and doesn't really add or detract from the experience. The quality of it is better than in most handheld racing games, but since every music track is a variation of the main theme it gets old pretty quickly.

Highs:

  • Tight racing engine with plenty of speed.
  • Lots of stuff to unlock and plenty of replay value…

Lows:

  • …If you can put up with the horrible save system. Don't plan on whipping this one out for a few minutes at the doctor's office.
  • Computer riders never wreck when they hit the player, but the player almost always will.
  • Where's the manual transmission?

Final Verdict:

MotoGP is a good racing game, but the lack of a battery save and the spacing of the password system make it a chore to play. The racing is fast and fun, but getting to it is slow and tedious. Unfortunately, the simplistic controls also mean that it'll grow old pretty quickly. There are really better options out there (including THQ's own GT Advance 2) for handheld racing fans.

Overall Score: 5.9

Additional Media:

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 4
Image 5
Image 6

 



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