reviews\ Apr 13, 2002 at 8:00 pm

MotoGP - GBA - Review

Motorcycle racing has come to the GBA, and it's a whole lot of fun. There are sixteen tracks in all, based on actual racing tracks around the world. There are four modes of play: Quick Race, Time Attack, Tournament, Grand Prix and Multiplayer Mode (up to four players). Quick Race is designed to jumpstart players right into the racing action, but only one track is available in this mode until a best lap time has been accomplished in another mode, unlocking more tracks. Multiplayer mode is played in Quick Race and requires each player to have a copy of MotoGP. Time Attack is where players will attempt to beat lap records and has only one track available at first, but other racing tracks in Time Attack can be unlocked in Tournament play.

While all the modes offer exciting racing, the real action is in Tournament and Grand Prix modes. Tournament play is set up into four different leagues of four tracks per league. The leagues each have different placement goals to be met before moving on to the next league. The Grand Prix takes place during the MotoGP season, with points awarded according to placement in each race. Points accumulate, and the highest scorer will be the MotoGP champion.

The racing is fairly realistic, but too forgiving of racing errors to be exactly like the real thing. Hitting barriers on the sidelines will only slow racers down, unless they stay on them for a long time. Similarly, running into other racers usually doesn't result in a major wipeout, but will just slow the speed of the driver. Realistic details lie in the way the motorcycle will skid out if turned too sharply around a turn and in the way racers will just spin their tires at the beginning of the race if attempting to start off too fast.

Statistics and information about the current race are located around the screen, such as the racer's best lap time, the current lap/total laps, race position, time, track outline, current speed and wheelie gauge. The wheelie gauge allows drivers to pop a wheelie and add a burst of speed to the motorcycle momentarily when the gauge is full. The best feature available on the interface is the turn indicator, which shows turns coming up, how acute and what direction they are. This is extremely helpful in determining ahead of time the driver's direction and speed. The worst feature is the game save option; for one thing, it uses automatic passwords which are a pain, and also only offers certain places for saving, which is inconvenient. Players should be able to save their games after each race, which they cannot do.

The "feel" of the racing is incredibly smooth and adds much to the experience of the game. Graphically speaking, the look of the game is very nice, with each track lovingly rendered in correlation to its real-world counterpart. Getting started is simple, and beginners can jump into the game successfully from the beginning. In fact, the game may be a little too easy, judging from my experience with it - I actually placed first in my third race! I'm notoriously bad at these type of games, and the fact that I won so easily speaks volumes for the difficulty level of some of these tracks. My sixteen year old nephew also felt that it was pretty easy, it didn't take him long to finish the Tournament mode. However, Grand Prix mode can be played in easy, medium or difficult modes.

The sound is good, with an upbeat but not obnoxious rhythm that will enhance the racing experience. If desired, the sound can be turned off.

MotoGP offers good racing fun for all type of players, from beginners to experienced gamers. Even though the racing itself may be a little easy, there's still plenty of action for everyone. Gamers looking for a racing game that doesn't require hours of play to familiarize themselves with the controls, but instead is geared toward getting immediately into the racing, will be pleased. The multiplayer mode would probably add more challenge to the gameplay, but as each player has to have a copy of the game, finding competitors may be difficult. This is unfortunate, as it means that family members would have to buy multiple copies to go head-to-head. The save game feature is awkward with its scarcity of save spots, so players may want to be sure they have time blocked off before beginning a game.

Gameplay: 7
Getting started racing is fast and simple, just jump right in! A good racing game for the whole family to enjoy, with realistic tracks and smooth racing action.

Graphics: 8
Nice, crisp graphics, plus good animations of crashes.

Sound:  7.5
The music is catchy and upbeat, but nothing spectacular.

Difficulty: 6.8
The difficulty level may be too easy for some players.

Concept: 7.5 
While there's nothing new about racing games, this is the first foray into motorcyle racing for the GBA, and is well-done.

Multiplayer: Yes
Up to 4 people can play, but unfortunately each player will need a copy of the game.

Overall: 7.3
We enjoyed racing with MotoGP and will probably continue to play from time to time. The racing itself is very enjoyable and offers a real sense of speed, and trying to beat your best time can be addictive. Too bad the multiplayer mode required multiple game copies, or we could really have had fun beating each other, for that personal touch that adds to the flavor of trouncing your opponents.


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