Amstrad Computer User1st March 1988
Published in Amstrad Computer User #40
Jet Bike Simulator
Bruce Everiss, the wandering minstrel of the computer industry, is very proud of his new project for CodeMasters. It is called CodeMasters Plus and costs £4.99. Bruce has been heard to comment that this is because the customer wants to pay more; it also leaves a bus sized hole in his argument that CodeMasters' £1.99 games are just as good as everyone else's £9.99 games... Well, unless you accept the unlikely theory that this new range is better than other people's £9.99 games!
If Jet Bike Simulator is not better than other games - some of CodeMasters' excellent budget offerings included - what does it offer? There is a poster and badge (Shades of World Cup Carnival perhaps?) and a second tape.
I don't understand why you need two tapes. Some compilations get six whole games on one tape, and the CodeMasters program would easily fit on to one long tape. I suppose it is to make you feel that you are getting better value for money.
The second tape contains extra circuits, a bit like US Gold's Deeper Dungeons for Gauntlet. The Oliver Twins think it would be unethical to sell more tracks at a later date, and they dismiss the possibility of their launching a track-designing program.
If you have seen BMX Simulator or Grand Prix Simulator you will know the kind of game. The simulator name is a misnomer, instead of actually putting you in the driving seat an overhead view shows the aquatic combatants pitted in a race around various marinas.
The Jet Bikes look more like small boats, pointy at the front, flat at the back with a very effective wake.
They are pretty, but far too small. A better approach is that of Street Machine which used a bigger sprite (a car in its case) and scrolled the screen.
Jet Bike Simulator epitomises the strength of budget games. Often the simplest things are best. JBS is not very complicated but it is very playable.
Control of the jet bike is much more precise than that of the cars or bikes in BMX or Grand Prix. Things like jumps and sand banks mean you have to choose between a faster route around them or a slower but more direct route over them.
It is two and a half times better than other games of its ilk, and so justifies the higher price. The Oliver twins' trademark of digitised speech is as effective as ever, and there are plenty of nifty touches - things like a replay mode and lap times. I hope they bring out a disc version.
Collision detection is good, you can only bump against human-controlled boats, making overtaking easier.
The thrust and rotate controls make the game exciting, experienced players learn when to ease up on the power.
Practice makes perfect. And it is a game which you will want to practice a good deal.
Normally I'd look at this and say I've already got three race-around-the-track games, I don't need a fourth. But this is so much better than the others that I'd be happy to shell out a fiver.
I think the proliferation of tracks and the Expert level are going over the top a bit, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to.
Super Sprint started it, the competitive multiplayer game. It is a shame that the Activision-licensed version was so poor. The Oliver Twins claim that this uses none of the routines from Grand Prix Simulator. I doubt that this is 100 per cent true, but many things do seem to have been improved.
For a month's programming it is impressive and a tribute to the Maxam assembler the twins use.
Jet Bike Simulator will be in the charts next month. You can be sure of it. I just hope that CodeMasters are sensible enough to realise that a game has to be better to justify the higher price, not just split onto two tapes.
Jet Bike Simulator is fun when you play by yourself, but really comes into its own when you play friends.