We lined up. Five of us, waiting for the start, all confident of victory. Several others had gone before us and now it was our turn. The five men in the latest time-heat mounted on five dirt bikes, each man covered from head to foot in protective clothing: helmets, pads and gloves already on. We sat, waiting. I was in the centre, the best place to be. 3... 2... 1... Go!
The five bikes were kicked into action simultaneously. Five bikes accelerating manfully. 30... 35... 40... 45... kilometres per hour. I'd had a good start. I was already in second position and felt the power of my finely tuned bike flow through me.
the rider immediately to my left had taken an early lead, but I was now faster, catching up. He seemed to grow bigger as I slowly drew closer. 90... 95... 100, and still accelerating. His bike was slow. Mine was fast. He became bigger and then disappeared from view behind me. I was in the lead. In front of me only the road, the tarmac edged with deciduous trees which whizzed past me. I saw a bump coming up and kept accelerating. 140... 145. I was doing 150 kilometres per hour and, as I dropped down over the bump, my stomach churned. Then I saw my first jump coming up. I pulled a wheelie and took off high into the air. Holding the wheelie, I covered the rocks below and held the wheel up as I hit the ground, sinking down slightly as the impact was dampened by the shock absorbers. Another bend, but I was too far over. I slammed on the brakes and leant as far over as I could. My right foot scraped the foot, as I pulled the bike across safely. I pushed harder on the throttle, and was almost doing 200. The top limit. My tyres were gripping well.
Two more bikes from the earlier race came into view. The road was now lined with firs. I leant a touch first left and then right to weave my way through them. No need for extravagant gestures, just a slight tilt took me sailing through. Flushed with confidence, I saw the next jump too late. I didn't have time to go into a wheelie, and as I hit it full on, my speed slackened and I was thrown upwards. I just managed to hang onto the handlebars, as I was thrown into a hand stand. I fell back back into my seat and pulled myself together I'd survived.
A few more bikes, a few more corners, as the mountainous background scrolled from side to side. Another jump, I saw it in time and pulled another wheelie. Up into the air, soaring like a bird above the ground below. As I came down I forgot to pull back and landed on two wheels. Again, I was thrown into the air, only staying on by holding onto the bars tightly. Again I was in a hand-stand; again I came down safely. Another corner, a few more bikes, a couple more bumps and I'd completed level one safely. And then, as if my magic, the landscape changed. The desert. Sand clouds on the horizon, jagged rocks lining the road, with the occasional stark tree.
As I drove on, clouds of dust billowed from the back tyre. A jeep came up behind me, and I swerved violently out of the way. But now I was wide, too wide. A sharp corner came and I tried to move in or at least keep my guard in the middle, but I was going too ast and my wheels weren't gripping the dusty surface. I slid across into a rock, hit it and my bike went flying high into the air, leaving me lying on the ground.
Seconds later I was back in the race and something happened. This time I hit the brakes. I still went wide, but I was slower and slipped through a gap between the rocks unscathed. I gradually got going again and weaved back through the rocks, returning to the dusty track. I started to accelerate again, over and down across another bump. I was gaining speed again. A jump approached. I wheelied, but I was too slow. Again I was thrown into the air, but I came down too soon, landing on a rock.
After I'd recovered, I remounted and weaved my way through more rocks back onto the road and then the bell rang...! I was at home playing Enduro Racer. It was Saturday night. It if was any more realistic, I'd need insurance!
Sega's Enduro Racer was acclaimed throughout the coin-op world as an excellent sequel to its highly successful predecessor Hang On, Activision have for some time needed a hit and I'm sure it will come in the form of this coin-op conversion. I can safely say that this is the most realistic conversion available.
If by now you haven't guessed or don't already know what Enduro Racer involves, it is a bike-racing game. You must race through five stages, each with a different landscape. You have a time limit for each stage and, if you complete a stage within that time, your remaining time is carried forward. The games end when your time runs out, whereupon it will tell you what percentage of the current stage you have completed. All the stages have different surfaces and therefore your bike reacts accordingly. As I have said, the sand doesn't grip well and gives off dust clouds as you go (It's *that* well presented!), each track has a different background, that scrolls smoothly as you turn left and right and each has a different verge lining the roads: trees, rocks or water. The water is particularly nasty, as it spells an instant crash if you leave the course.
Corners and bumps are extremely well-presented giving a true 3D effect in the way that you see your rider rise up and down. this is done by grouping the trees closer together as you go up and further apart as you go down and moving your bike up and down the screen without making the bike get smaller or larger. The bikes which rise into view as you go over the bump makes it seem more real.
The most important things on the course are the ramps or jumps. You must hit these in a wheelie or you'll lose speed badly. The jumps often take you over some objects which would otherwise be fatal, such as rocks. Each jump may be avoided but this will also slow you down, as you leave the track in doing so. There are no lives