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GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
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JET RIDER

Developer

SINGLE TRAC

Options

Distributer

SONY

1-2 Player

Game Type

Racer

Mem. Card

Review Date

March 1997

Setting the Scene

Jet Moto on NTSC, Jet Rider on PAL. Oh, for a game with the same name, never mind a worldwide release date. The game comes from the same developing team that brought us the excellent Twisted Metal 2, or was that Twisted Metal World Tour, Single Trac. The pre-release hype promised a true 3D physics system that would give the game a realistic representation of inertia and momentum !?*!?* I think they mean that you can lean forward and backwards but we will put this to the test.

Genre

Jet Rider is a frantic multi surface racing competition that allows you to tear up tortuous stretches of ocean, swamp and snow covered mountain side as you strap yourself onto a cross between a jet ski, a motocross bike, and a rocket. The object of the game is to compete against 19 other riders through championship, rally and elimination races on a futuristic Jet Bike that flies, bucks and manoeuvres like nothing seen before in a game.

Graphics

The camera angle is from a behind rider perspective with an option to switch on the cinematic action that will roll and tilt the view as your bike twists around the tracks. If this is not to your liking then a stable view may be selected.

The graphics bring up the old argument of gameplay over appearances and I think that Single Trac have hit the balance perfectly. The graphics are in no way perfect but should satisfy those players who are fed up of spending their cash on the games that look awesome but suffer a serious lack of playability.

The ocean levels are superb as your rider surfs across the waves within the wide marker boarders which are color coded to help with your directions. The sandy beaches churn up loose fragments as your jet ski skims over the dunes, while a collision with an obstacle will see your rider catapult over the handlebars to skid across whatever surface he is unfortunate to land on. Head on collisions with an overhead check point bridge leaves your character clinging on for his life as his jet ski races of out of control before crashing into a side bank. The dirt tracks throw mud into the face of the rider behind before smashing into the mirror like waters of the rivers to shower off all around.

Comparing the graphics to Cool Boarders would be unfair as the game engine in Jet must cope with a further 19 competitors but it could stand along side Twisted Metal 2, which incidentally was developed by the same team.

Sounds and Effects

The music was produced and composed by Chuck E Myers, Lance Lenhart, Tom Hopkins and The Pinnacle group and bares a strange resemblance to a certain Quentin Tarantino soundtrack from the movie Pulp Fiction.

The effects are generally drown out by the heavy musical presence apart from a monotonous motor sound and the grunts and groans of the riders as they make contact with each other.

Playability

The options screen allows you to customise your game to suit your preferences and skill level. There are three levels of difficulty with an additional Master class available for those of you with the skill to win a full season outright at Pro level, or possess the programing ability to punch in the cheat codes. Stunt race is only accessed by the more skillful racers, where your bike gains performance enhancements when you complete a daring stunt. Other options include the number of laps per race, from 2 to 6, Turbo and Grapple on/off and the usual sound and vision adjustments.

Before entering a race you must select your bike from the 20 different riders that are divided into four teams. Each rider has his own bike with its own special attributes. A curved graph analysis' the four performance categories, handling, acceleration, mass and lift. Mass influences the stability of your machine while lift rates the suspension.

Next step is where Jet stands head and shoulders above any other racing game to date, the races. There are no less than seven categories of racing formats for you to compete in. A one off Single race, a league Championship, a time trial Rally, an Elimination KO competition, a full Season, a Practice race against the clock and a two player split screen head to head.

There are nine tracks and a special bonus track with each presenting its own unique difficulties and challenges. The game uses a win-to-unlock method of play, so you initially have access to only three of the courses.

Control of the bike is imperative and the joy pad can appear a little tricky to master at first. The shoulder buttons are used to roll your bike and perform tight turns, while the directional up and down buttons allows you to lean forward and backwards, lowering your wind resistance and increasing your lift on the jumps. The accelerate and brake buttons are straightforward but it will be the perfection of the turbo and grapple buttons that will allow you to keep up with the pack and challenge for the lead. You may fire up to four turbo boosts per lap to get an instant burst of speed but this must only be used on the straights as a mistimed turbo will see your rider catapult from his machine, skid across the scenery, through the back of your monitor and end up in your neighbors front room. The magnetic grapple comes into play on the particular severe corners of the course, if timed correctly a pink beam will connect your bike to a red energy pole and slingshot your jet ski safely around a tight corner at top speed, incorrect use will grind your rider to a sudden halt and probably wrap him around the pole and send 20,000 volts up his backside.

The successful formula to Jet is in the timing of your turbo boosts. All twenty competitors jostle and push their way to the front from the word go, therefore a timely boost away from the pack will assure you of a good start. I must admit to throwing down the control pad on numerous occasions through sheer frustration as, unfortunately, Jet is one of those games where a single collision will see the whole pack shoot past in a blink of the eye. Why, oh why does this happen, because when you fight your way back through the field there appears to be at least a half a lap separating last position from first.

If you select an amateur setting, then you will have the advantage of a centrally placed arrow to guide you through the course but don't be a wuss, go blind as it's half the fun. The opening track, Joyride, is a wide open, easy baptism into the sport of jet ski racing where once you get your bearings on this sea and sand course, a win will be forthcoming. After a few circuits you will be performing a selection of acrobats over the palm trees as you turbo up the concrete ramps, while a perfect grapple will be rewarded by the cheering on of the crowd (I looked around, but I could not see them, perhaps it was in my imagination?).

Cliffdiver is a winding, treacherous course that I would rate as the most difficult to win. A mixture of sea and dirt track that hides many sneaky short cuts that I found quite accidentally due to the fact that my bike remained in contact with the barriers for the full circuit.

Hammerhead is a suicide course with multiple routes across the bridges and water. Risk gaining precious seconds by sticking to the broken bridges or guarantee a win by staying on the water below.

Cypress Run is a congested nightmare full of innumerable obstacles within these backwater swamps. If the thick reeds don't slow you down, then the trees certainly will, while the stumps....well, keep you legs crossed.

Blackwater Falls is the second freely available track that required many runs before I knew where the hell I was going. A winding track inside a quick moving river with a nice shortcut through the house that is placed on the left hand bank. Once open, you may cut through on each lap to avoid a tight corner before experiencing the perilous drop over the dam. A turbo boost up the sloping concrete dam, will result in your riders bike reaching the finish line long before his head does. Master this track and you are ready for the best of the rest

Suicide Swamp is the third opening course which is fairly easy until you reach the end of the track as a U turn sends you racing back into the pack, head-on. It is also the track that can be found in Single Tracs Twisted Metal 2.

Willpower is the first track where your brake is more important than your accelerator. Set high on the snowy mountain side, this is a difficult track to assess your direction with one slip resulting in an endless fall. Take heed of the SLOW sign if you do not wish to study geology.

Ice Crusher is carved out of fragmented glacier. Imagine a ton of ice cubes falling to ground then racing across the surface. Keep your nose up!

Snow Blind is a jet ski shaped course that is a fairly straight forward snow bound course, but beware of the turbo as there are many low bridges that feature teeth marks from previous joyriders.

Nightmare is the bonus track. Some people dream of flying, others about falling, welcome to your nightmare. Set high above the city at night, Nightmare uses the same background that was used in the New York level of Twisted Metal 2. I was quite surprised to win this track on my first run, perhaps I need a dope test!

So there you have it. Ten variable tracks packed with speed, thrills and plenty of spills. Seven modes of gameplay including a head to head split-screen mode. Oceans, beaches, swamps and ice laden mountains. Try it out, I think you'll like it.

Oh, and by the way you CAN move with a realistic representation of inertia and momentum, and this does mean forward and backwards as far as I can tell.

Value for Money

Jet Rider is a game that you must persevere with over a week or so. The pad will be thrown down in sheer frustration many times before you come to grips with this fast flowing, testing racing game, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel as it will all slip into place, eventually. The win-to-unlock method should guarantee you will still be playing this game in many weeks time and the two player head to head mode allows you to enjoy the sport of jet riding alongside a mate, but no fighting please.

Opinion

MARTIN

GRAPHICS:

Good

I was almost ready to bin this game after a few days due to sheer frustration, then I picked it back up one day and won eight of the nine courses. It's that type of game. The last time I experienced this feeling was when the original version of Wipeout was doing my head in, then it all fell into place. I can thoroughly recommend Jet to the speed freaks of this world, but if you are the type of person that is still playing F1 on arcade mode, then you'll be better off getting your kicks from a game of Pac Man.

SOUND:

Brilliant

PLAYABILITY:

Good

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
8/10

ADAM

GRAPHICS:

Good

Enjoyed the two player mode but found the single player mode a bit too hard.

SOUND:

Brilliant

PLAYABILITY:

Good

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
8/10

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