Super Scramble Simulator

by ARP Software: Tony R. Porter, Jon Harrison, Ben Daglish
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Sinclair User Issue 88, July 1989   page(s) 28

Something tells me I'm going to have a hit of trouble starting this review. What incredible piece of journalism can I use to grab the reader's attention? How can I begin this page with something amusing, yet captivating? Ah, I know! Did you notice that all the words in the title Super Scramble Simulator begin with the letter S?

I think that did the job, now on with the review. SSS (see?) is a brilliant product from Gremlin that lets you experience all the thrills and spills riding an off-road bike through nine levels of increasing difficulty against the clock. That'll keep even the most ardent rap fan busy.

The word for today is detail. Detail. SSS is full of it (so are you, Tone!), in both controls and graphics. I think for the younger Spectrum owners, the controls might just cause a bit of a problem. Up and down move you left and right on the overhead view (more later) while left and right make you accelerate and brake. Fire with the joystick centred makes you duck. Fire and right lift your front wheel and fire and left lift your back wheel. Fire and up changes up a gear gear and down changes down. Simple.

So, why all these controls? Well, lifting the front and back wheel comes into use when mounting obstacles like logs and things. Speed is used in the same way as Kickstart. You have to move slowly on some obstacles. Gears are used to keep the revs as high as possible when climbing steep slopes and on the later tracks there are poles you have to duck under.

The graphics are pretty darn fab. The star point of the visual side is the animation of the main sprite. It's big and realistic. A lot of work has gone into sticking as many frames as possible into the bike animation, which probably explains why there's little else in the way of actually moving things in the game. Apart from the scrolling. The scrolling is pretty impressive, even though it does lack the parallax that made me sit up and go cor, the first time I saw it (on another machine).

Now, the left and right bit of which I spoke earlier. Just below the main screen is a plan view of the track of which you are currently racing on. Unlike Kickstart, not only do you now have to worry about getting onto and over the obstacles, you have to line yourself up and that can be tricky sometimes when an obstacle follows another closely and they're on opposite sides of the track.

Still, difficulty is a game's strongest point (are you sure about this one Tony? - JD) and SSS is fairly difficult at first. Still, once you've mastered the controls, it becomes a little more playable. I was surprised at how quickly I finished the game. You see, the problem comes when you mess up an obstacle three times. The computer quite nicely gives you a helping hand and moves you along an obstacle.

Super Scramble is a corker. It's got fab graphics, there's precise control over the bike and you can continually develop tactics and tricks to get through the course more quickly.

Label: Gremlin
Author: Magnetic Fields
Price: £9.99/£14.99 disk
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Graphics: 88%
Sound: 74%
Playability: 95%
Lastability: 80%
Overall: 90%

Summary: Playable, fun and it's got a motorbike in it. A Classic.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 111, May 1991   page(s) 32

There aren't that many motorbike scrambling simulations on the market, so I suppose Super Scramble will appeal to anyone interested in the sport. But is it good enough to fascinate people who think that motorbikes are Raleigh 10 speeds with something as fast as a ferret peddling and can't tell their forks from their mudflaps?

Well, I suppose so it's rather too difficult to control to get into very quickly; joystick up to turn left, down for right, left for brake, right for accelerate; with fire button depressed, up to change up a gear, down to change down, left to lift rear wheel, right to do a wheelie. It takes ages to master the control system, much longer than it takes to work out how to manoeuvre through the obstacles such as ramps, drops, carelessly abandoned cars and bits of timber.

The course is viewed from the side in the main part of the screen, and from the top in a window in the middle of the the screen. The bottom window shows speed, rev counters, gear indicator and timer, and message window informs you when you hove managed to stall the bike, run out of time or whatever.

If you get it into your mind that SSS is not a race, but a slow-paced exercise in manoevreing and gear-changing, you might enjoy this realistic slm. But if you're expecting high speed thrills, look elsewhere.

Label: Kixx
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £2.99 Tape
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Graphics: 76%
Sound: 59%
Playability: 60%
Lastability: 69%
Overall: 68%

Summary: Thought-provoking rather than heart-pounding sim, offering all the skill without the mud, guts and spills of the real thing.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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