AGH Jaguar Review: SUPERCROSS 3D

by Atari

One of the latest racing titles for the Jaguar is Supercross 3D by Tiertex, Ltd. Essentially, it is a 3D dirt bike racing game, much different from Super Burnout (which I do enjoy very much).

The title screen is colorful, with music playing and a view of the arena rotating around from various camera angles that zoom in and out. When you get to the menu, you have a choice whether to practice, race, compete in a tournament, load a saved game or change the game's options.

One of the nice things about Supercross 3D is the variety of options available. At this first option menu, you have the choice of leaving the replays of your crashes on or off, changing your skill level from "rookie" on up through "ace", leaving the in-game music on or off, and choosing which button is for the brake, which is for the throttle, and which is to perform tricks.

After you set the options the way you want and get back to the main menu, you can then practice, race or compete for the Supercross championship. I decided to race first, and was again pleased to see that you can customize your name, nationality, bike/outfit, and which racing team you are on (Atari, Jaguar, Tiertex or as a Privateer).

I entered my name, chose the good ol' USA and Team Atari, and proceeded to select a bike. At that point, a map of the United States appears, with all the various race track sites shown. There are 14 tracks in all, from Seattle in the Northwest to Daytona Beach in the Southeast, and several points in between.

I selected the San Jose track (as that's the closest one to Atari HQ), and at that point, a rotating, overhead view of the track appears. The screen includes lots of information, such as the track record time, who owns that record, what kind of surface to expect (hard, medium, soft) as well as giving you a chance to see the outline of the course from above.

The race starts with 8 riders in the first heat, all with colorful outfits and bikes. There is a qualifying heat, a semi-final and a final, with the 8 riders in the final receiving a certain number of points based on which position they finish in. If you are racing in the Championship circuit, the goal is to win the overall title by accumulating points over all 14 races.

After each race, you have the option of tuning your bike to meet the needs of the track by adjusting your tires, shocks and gears. What's nice too is that you don't have to go through all 14 races in one session: you can save a championship season in progress after each race, and resume at a later time.

All of these options add to the fact the game is fun to play. The playability is perhaps the most important factor in wanting to purchase any game, and Supercross 3D is very playable. There is a fast-driving soundtrack to accompany gameplay, but unfortunately, it is the same tune for all 14 tracks.

There are some nice little touches on the screen. In the outdoor arena, there is a big "Diamondvision" screen showing the action from the track. Of course, "Jaguar" and "Tiertex" advertising signs ring the track as well. And while you are flying through the air on your bike after a jump, you can perform "tricks" to amuse the crowd (or boost your ego).

On the negative side, the frame rate could be faster. Sometimes, when several bikes are bunched together, it's almost like having too many windows open at once on a PC...things slow down. Also, while there are 14 different tracks, the arena setting looks the same in all 14 cities. It is outdoors, and while the sky is blue, there are never any clouds, sun, rain, etc. to look at...just plain blue. And while the texture mapping is good in some areas, there is very little detail in the stands, or on the part of the arena floor that surrounds the racetrack. That lack of detail in the sky, around the track, and in the arena structure is kind of like playing a 64 bit 3D game with some Atari 2600 touches in the background.

Another thing: each track has a record time that you can try to beat. Unfortunately, there is no running clock while you race...your time only appears once at the completion of each lap. That is something that doesn't detract too much from the action, since the purpose of the game is to finish ahead of the other bikes. And those other bikes won't include any of your friends, as the game does not offer a two-player mode like Super Burnout.

While I'm sure that some detail was sacrificed to maintain framerate (which is still very low), it doesn't detract from the game that much. For me, a game is attractive if it is fun to play and offers replay value. The replay value here suffers a bit from the lack of variety in music, arenas, and lack of "scenery", but the game remains fun to play to an extent. It truly is a next generation type title, and despite some shortcomings, if you are looking for a fun racing game, you should enjoy Supercross 3D.

However, don't expect Wipeout here folks: it's not ground-breaking, and it's not all that well-executed. Still, there's something about the game that I like, and hopefully this is something you will be able to find at a discount price in the near future.

Title Supercross 3-D
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 5
Sound 7
Gameplay 6
Replay Value 6
Overall 6
Reviewer Patrick Holstine

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