Does anyone remember Super Hang-On ? When I was just a kid I remember being totally enthralled by this game which allowed me to actually sit on a motor bike chassis and pretend that it was real. It was something that you just can't do with a home system. Manx TT Superbike continues that same tradition of trying to provide the player with the basic look and feel of real motorcycle racing. Does it live up to it's heritage? Let's find out.
The first thing anyone notices in an arcade game is the graphics and Manx TT is not too bad in this department. The game runs on a model 2 arcade board which allows the back grounds to be rather detailed and still maintain a decent frame rate. The courses themselves depict the scenic country side of the Isle of Man and they are quite well done. If you're willing to take your eyes off the road for a moment Manx will treat you to views of everything from the rolling sea to peaceful English villages. I've never actually been to the Isle of Man so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the backgrounds but they seem rather nice to me.
Sound / Music
It always seems a shame to me that arcade developers spend so much time and effort developing great sound tracks only to have them drowned out by the thundering stereo in the local arcade. I couldn't actually hear much of the music in Manx but it seemed to be ok. The sound effects were also decent. The engine roared when I twisted the throttle and complained bitterly when I got caught up in the rocks beside the roadway. There's nothing to complain about here.
Control / Gameplay
The key to success for any driving game is the control. In this department Manx is rather so-so. It's difficult to make a game that's easy to use yet retains the feel of a real motorcycle. The bike accelerated well and the steering is accurate, but it just doesn't have that sense of raw power that one gets from a real bike. I'm no expert of motorbikes, but I think most cyclists would agree with me. A racing game should feel fast and Manx doesn't quite capture that. For those who are just looking for a good gaming experience, however, it's not too difficult to get into the flow of the game. You'll improve on each lap around the track and within minutes you'll be passing other racers and flying over the hills.
Variety / Lastability
In an arcade game it's essential to provide a lot of variety. You want the gamer to keep pumping in quarters to see what's going to happen next. Unfortunately, this is the biggest weakness of Manx TT Superbike. For some reason that I can't explain, the game only has two tracks to race on. There may be a hidden track somewhere, but I only saw two. One is a wide open sprint along the coast, and the other passes through the winding back roads of the island. This isn't really a great deal of variety. Of course, in a two player cabinet you get the added fun of whipping the pants off your friends.
So how does the game rate overall. It's actually a pretty good game and I enjoyed it. It could have benefited from more tracks and more speed, but it was fun and that's what counts. If you happen to find it at a local arcade drag your friend over and try it out. You won't be disappointed. Just don't expect the ride too last too long.
Review By: Sheridan Hortness