AMA Superbike

5_1At the outset, AMA Superbike looks like a winner, having many aspects of a professional bike racer. It features a wide variety of gameplay modes, allowing you to practice, take part in individual races, compete in the full championship circuit in a quest for the AMA title. There are a total of nine bikes, each of which can be tweaked as you see fit, and nine authentic tracks. The only initial problem is the menu system, which was clearly designed with aesthetics first in mind. Many basic options require multiple mouse clicks, and the whole setup is awkward.

From there, however, it’s all downhill. Physics aren’t fully realized. Cornering is next to impossible at even moderate velocities. Successful navigation of even the mildest curve requires speeds well under 50MPH, forcing you to cram on the brakes to avoid a nasty wipeout. And it takes a ridiculously long time to learn how to do this without pulling a Super Dave.

Another annoyance involving curves is the standard camera setting. When bike riders lean into turns, they often crouch too low and lose their view of what’s coming up next. The game engine attempts to compensate for this by automatically swiveling the camera forward. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, this led to severe motion sickness. Everything—bike, track, sky, and stadium—seems to be pivoting on an axis when you hit curves.

Visuals are basic, with very rigid falling animations. Audio is also plain. Bikes make that familiar, grating, high-pitched whine when they’re ripping around the tracks, but that’s about all you’ll ever hear. A similar effect, accompanied by what sounds like jackhammers, shows up when navigating the menu screens. Need I add that all of this is incredibly annoying?

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98

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