Back in the 1990s, motocross racing was a big up-and-coming sport. Racing on motorized dirt bikes wasn't a big deal until guys like Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael made household names for themselves by doing big tricks and winning championships. As usual, the video game world took notice and began making games about the sport. By incorporating the big tricks with the breakneck speed and chaos of the sport, the game ranged from mediocre to excellent and became a huge hit with gamers. While the racing element has given way to the trick exhibitions nowadays, some gamers still clamor for races with this particular vehicle. For Wii gamers, DSI Games has answered the call with Yamaha Supercross, a title that makes you want to go reach for older, better titles in the field.
Yamaha Supercross features two main modes of play: Tournament Race and Challenge. As expected, Tournament Race is where you choose a rider and bike and participate in tournaments featuring four different bike classes against other riders. Placing in the top three of each tier will unlock the next one until all 18 tracks are unlocked. Challenge takes those same tracks but asks you to do various tricks to rack up points. Doing so will give you attribute points, which you can then allocate to any stat on your chosen rider.
The sub-modes of the game are Arcade and Practice. As the name implies, Practice gives you free rein over any unlocked course and gives you the opportunity to practice the routes as well as learn how to perform tricks. Arcade lets you play either by yourself or with a friend on any of the unlocked courses against the computer-controlled opposition.
If the above descriptions of Yamaha Supercross sound uninspiring to you, that's because of the nature of the game itself. The track designs are decent with just the right amount of obstacles and straightaways used. However, despite having 18 different tracks to choose from, they all start to feel the same after a while. The AI seems to play out the same routes no matter what happens and never seems to adapt to how the player is doing. Whether you take a big lead or take a big fall, the opponents seem to ignore you and go about their business. Finally, the upgrade system doesn't exactly work as well as one would hope. No matter what upgrades you decide to do to your rider, it doesn't seem like any improvements have been made. Couple that with the fact that you have to go to one mode to power up your rider just so you can do better in races instead of doing upgrades in Tournament mode, and you have players who may never want to perform any tricks at all while playing this game.
The controls are simple enough but fail to take advantage of the hardware given. The analog stick takes care of steering, while the A button accelerates and the B button brakes. Both the C and Z buttons perform stunts while in the air, with different tricks being triggered depending on which button combination is hit at the time. The controls seem fine enough, but the game fails to use the system's unique features. At no point in time is there any use of the IR pointer, which would make sense when selecting menu options. There is also no option to shake the Remote or Nunchuk for tricks, making the lack of GameCube and Classic Controller support strange due to the more traditional controls used here.
The graphics are serviceable and nothing more. The character models don't look amazing, but they don't look horrible either. The same goes with the race tracks, which look generic and similar to one another. The fact that the stands and the crowd all look flat doesn't help either. The animations, however, aren't all that bad, and the tricks all look nice when done. The problem, though, is with animation transition. Everything from going from trick to trick to crashes on the track all seem to have one animation to them, and it becomes readily apparent when the animation cuts would happen, changing the quality from smooth to robotic. On a good note, the frame rate for the game holds steady at around 30 and never drops for any reason.
The sound, like everything else, is just basic enough to be passable. The music follows the tradition of many older titles by going for original music instead of paying to get licensed ones. Unfortunately, the music is some generic rock material instead of something special, resulting in some completely forgettable tunes. The sound effects seem to be drowned out by the music, since you hardly hear any while the race goes on. Apart from the menu noises, all you get is the sound of the bike landing on the rough ground and the buzz of the starting lights. Some things, like engine noises and the crash of metal when you miss a landing, don't exist here. Voices, meanwhile, are limited to grunts from your rider when you get hurt and the looping of the crowd when you pass by the stands. The crowd loops actually wouldn't be too bothersome except for the fact that you hear specific lines from the crowd repeated here, making the lack of polish all the more noticeable.
If one word could be used to describe the experience with Yamaha Supercross, it would be "bland." The graphics range from mediocre to sub-par, and the sound reaches for nothing more than generic. The main modes of the game barely try to go for anything exciting. Even the controls, which one would think would be a bit different due to the nature of the system it's on, remain pedestrian in nature. If you really want a motocross experience on the Wii, your best bet would be to either grab MX Vs. ATV Untamed or snag a GameCube controller and find one of the older motocross titles if you want to keep things purely on two wheels. This game is best left unplayed.
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