Producer: Code Masters Plus
Retail Price: £4.99
Author: The Oliver Twins
Skis and BMX bikes are things of the past for Code Masters - now the kings of low-rent simulations are zooming into a new label on jet bikes, personal skimmers of the future.
The rider stands on a jet bike's back as it slips across the water's surface. And Jet Bike Simulator offers 24 courses, with settings that range from lakes and coasts to docklands. In each the jet bike must be steered around numbered floating buoys, taking them in sequence, to complete a lap.
There's a strict time limit, so luckily control of the jet bike is simple. But forward thinking is required for successful steering: the jet bike can, under thrust, overshoot a corner and head in an entirely inappropriate direction.
The courses aren't always simple, and a skilled jet biker can navigate around bridges, leap over aquajumps and avoid great clogging banks of weed.
After the completion of a course, a performance table gives the lap times of the player(s) and the computer-controlled drone racers, the best recorded lap times, and scores and time bonuses.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: small and indistinguished; there's lots of colour but the bikes get lost in the white dots (spray) they create
Sound: crackly speech on the title screen, acceptable title tune, poorly-used spot effects
Options: standard and expert (more difficult) versions - the Plus aspect of Code Masters Plus; one or two players; action-replay option
Jet Bike Simulator is a very fast, all-action colourful creation. Manoeuvring the jet bikes is difficult at first - they tend to slide about all over the place - but getting the speed and skilful swerves right is all part of the fun. I loved Jet Bike Simulator, though I didn't win a race!
Behind the self-congratulatory inlay, the excessive hype and the amateurish poster of the bestubbled yuppies lurk a very good game. The presentation is excellent, with a wide range of options, speedy loading of new courses and a large, informative and colourful display. And there's a wealth of circuits and graded difficulty levels which are genuinely different and challenging. But graphically Jet Bike Simulator is inconsistent. Using arrows to represent jet bikes just isn't good enough, though the trails they leave in the water are effective, and the backgrounds range from abysmally indistinct to very pretty. The control method is the standard Code Masters inertial sprite-guidance given a couple of tweaks; it's very frustrating to begin with, but addictive once you can start anticipating obstacles and speeding around them. There are two major criticisms, however. The drones always take the same route, so there's no real racing; and the £4.99 Code Masters Plus price is too high for this kind of essentially simple game, add-ones and difficulty levels not withstanding.
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