One game I loved on the GameBoy as a kid was a motocross racing game called Motocross Maniacs, developed by Konami and published by Ultra. I originally had this game on a pirated cart that my Grandparents got for me on holiday to Lanzarotti. It came with four games on one cartridge, with a label on it that says “Game Carpridge”! The four games were Doctor Mario, Klax, Battle City and Motocross Maniacs. When I was younger I had played Excite Bike as it was in a collection of video games at my local Youth Club, the same place where I got to play an NES and Super Mario Bros for the first time, and I wasn’t good at Excite Bike at all. But what’s interesting with the Motocross Maniacs was that it was a clone of Excite bike, but made it more exciting as you would pull off insane tricks and go through loop the loops with turbo nitros. I sold the four in one cart to a pawn shop when I was a Teen, as I wanted to get a copy of Wetrix on the N64, what a crazy decision that was! Later on I bought a copy on eBay and relived an awesome unloved GameBoy Classic!
You could treat this game as a plagiarisation of Excite Bike, it feels very much like the game, to a certain extent it even copies game play mechanics in the Commodore 64 game, Kik-Start. The game is side scrolling, and you accelerate to the right, and you press left and right on the D-pad to lean back and forth. Oh yes! Even Trials have taken this concept, but where this game is at least a little to Excite Bike, Kik-Start and Trials is as I said above, there’s Nitro! Now OK there’s a Turbo boost in Excite Bike, but the nitro in this game is different. Rather than a constant thrust, it’s a sudden burst of speed, and you’ll use this on ramps (almost) all the time, and unlike Excite Bike, the Nitros are limited in Motocross Maniacs.
Unlike Excite Bike, but more like Trials and Kik-Start, the game doesn’t have lanes, rather it’s a strictly side view on a single lane. There are three game play modes, Solo, Vs Computer and Vs 2-Player. Solo is simply a single player affair whereby you need to finish 2 laps of a track within a qualifying time, Vs Computer is a race between you a computer controlled racer, in order to win each track you need to beat the computer. And Vs 2-Player is simply the two player mode where you would use a link cable between you and a buddy and race each other.
As I said above, what makes this different to Excite Bike are the crazy loops and platforms you have to go through and over. If you want to get through those loops you’ll need nitro, but again you’ll need to keep an eye on your nitro counter on the bottom right of the screen in case you start to run out, but most loops will have power ups to extend your nitro and time, so they’re still worth doing. Later on in the game, you’ll have much more complicated loops and platforms, many of these have been used in Trails, most of these you might have to use your nitro two or three times to get around. So you’ll really have to economise on those nitros in later levels.
What makes this game different to the other games are power ups. There are six power ups that you can collect in this game, each power up is simply a letter. N For Nitro, pick this up to earn an extra nitro boost, S for Speed, this will allow you to push up your gears to get extra speed, but if you fall over you’ll lose it. R for Radius Tires, this allows you to handle ramps better, and again if you lose it if you crash. T for Time, earn extra time in the game, I forgot to mention that not only do you have a qualifying time, but there’s a timer where if it hits zero it’s game over, grabbing “T”‘s will increase the time you have in the level. J for Jet, this allows you to use nitros to keep yourself air born, but you’ll still have to keep an eye on the nitros that you are using up. And finally there’s a power up with no letter as it’s invisible, but there are 3 “Mini Maniacs” that you can collect in each stage, and they’re achieved by performing flips off certain ramps with good timing.
The music in the game might sound a little off for a stunt racing game, but it’s really catchy. It’s hard to describe how good the music is without actually playing it, so here’s a Youtube video!
The game itself is a bit of an unloved classic in my book, for a GameBoy game it’s one of the better early GameBoy games that should be in everyone’s collection. If you enjoyed Excite Bike, Kik-Start and/or Trials, this is a game you should hunt for and play it. It’s well worth finding a copy!