BMX Racers, Commodore 16, Mastertronic - 2C0007
While the screenshots make this C16 port of the early Mastertronic release look better than it’s C64 counterpart, BMX Racers quickly disappoints. While it offers greater depth than the original, frustrating gameplay makes for a disappointing experience.
User Review( votes)
One of my first reviews for this website looked at Richard and David Darling’s BMX Racers for the Commodore 64. It has to be said that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the obstacle-evading race game. Even given the age of the Darling brothers at the time they wrote it, you can understand why early Mastertronic releases gave the company such a poor reputation in terms of quality. But a year later it was ported to the Commodore 16 by Tony Kelly, so did that fare any better?
BMX Racers on the Commodore 16 – What’s New?
Rather than being an exact copy of Richard and David Darling’s original release, Tony Kelly has added some new elements to the C16 port of BMX Racers. The core gameplay remains the same – navigate the course from start to finish before moving on to the next. But there are a few new mechanics that have been added. On paper, these should have added extra depth to the game making it more fun and more challenging…
For starters, each course has a number of flags that you need to collect along the way. If you miss any of them, you can’t complete the course. Secondly, as well as having to avoid obstacles and the edge of the tracks, you now have a finite amount of fuel to complete each course. Run out and you lose a life. More can be collected by riding over barrels but timing for these can be incredibly tight.
What lets the Commodore 16 version of BMX Racers down is the gameplay. Collision detection is questionable at best and there are times when it’s easy to get stuck behind objects on the track. Instead of skidding on oil slicks you crash into them and lose a life. My biggest gripe has to be the new fuel mechanic added to the game. Having to deal with punishingly tight course design is bad enough, but when you barely have enough time to get to the fuel to get through levels it makes the game unnecessarily harsh.
And to be blunt, have you ever seen a BMX that needs to refuel? If this were a motocross game, adding a refuelling aspect to it would have been fine, if not frustrating, but there’s just no logic to it even existing here. This is before I even look at how the course design makes the game even harder for the player to enjoy.
Visually the game has been improved from the C64 version, making use of the C16’s expanded colour palette. Well, until you start playing, that it. As expected, the scrolling isn’t particularly good and there’s a lot of flicker on the main sprite for your bike which is now a single colour. With just a single moving object on screen, the flicker is quite disappointing to be honest and even with the limitations of the hardware it’s capable of much better.
Sound is just the same. Despite the music on the C64 using just a single channel and frankly being rather awful, the only sound here is sparse effects when you collect flags, fuel or crash. Again, the C16’s soundchip is neglected and while it’s not the only game guilty of this, it is capable of much more.
When I first saw the screenshots, I truly had high hopes for this version of BMX Racers. In reality however, this would have been much better had Tony Kelly simply opted to do a straight port of the original just with updated visuals instead of trying to add new gameplay elements that simply don’t work. Sadly because of all of the issues with it’s playability, BMX Racers is one of those C16 games that’s for Mastertronic completists only.