RIDING around the perilous streets of the City of London on a Honda H100s is one thing but roaring around a race track with a colour co-ordinated sidecar is another. That is not to say that I would not like to try, but I would like a little practive on say a Kawasaki GPz 550 first. However, failing to raise three grand for such a machine, I would rather spash out 25 quid for Combo Racer and play that.
After all, Combo Racer does have the advantage of being some £2975 cheaper, you do not get all hot and sweaty from wearing all the protective gear, your hair does not feel lousy as the sweat circulates over your scalp, and the only real damage you can do to yourself is to contract joystick finger or fall off your chair when you realise that this is a very good game (Bah! You big pansy).
Combo Racer is the product of one of the best programming teams in the country, Imagitec Design. Its playability largely depends on whether you like fast action racing games. Personally, I have had enough to last a lifetime, although I must admit I would rather play this than many others.
My first impression of the game was one of disbelief. The title page makes use of a truly awful digitised black and white picture of a motorcycle-
There are eight tracks to race around and you will need to qualify for a starting position on each of these. Once you have completed all eight, you progress to the next level where the going gets tougher.
There are three levels and each must be completed beore being promoted to the more difficult stages. Your vehicle, equipped with a side car, carries both you, the rider, and a pillion whose job it is to keep the baike balanced around those tight corners.
What makes Combo Racer so playable is the inclusion of team spirit. Two people can play at once. However, they do not compete against each other but instead have ultimate control of the combination.
Joystick one has control of the machine while joystick 2 controls the pillion. Once both players have got the hang of the controls and know how to balance the machine, some pretty hair raising speeds can be maintained around those corners. In single player mode the human controls only the machine, the pillion crawls about under automatic supervision.
Although eight tracks are more than you find in many games, Combo Racer has the added advantage of a track editor. Accessible from the main menu screen, the track editor allows you to modify any of the existing tracks or begin from scratch and design your own.
Edited tracks can be saved to memory or permanently to disk. Those saved to memory can be practised and then edited again if required.
There is nothing more boring than racing around falt lanes, so the track editor allows you to create hills and valleys with fantastic effect. You can even dig out a tunnel or two along the course. One thing however you cannot do is to make crossroads - a shame but not too disappointing.
On technical merit, Combo Racer scores highly. Its graphics are fast and colourful with a rescaling routine that is second to none. The undulating motion of the screen when ascending or descending hills is very good, however hills do not seem to affect the performance of your engine.
The sound too is not harsh as in some racing games and the noise of other vehicles indicates that thre is someone up your rear end.
My only complaint is of other racers passing - the bikes simply fly, especially when you have crashed. Whoosh - a noise then a dot on the distance. Still this does not spoil what is really an enjoyable game.