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Motocross Challenge

Score: 80%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: DHG Games
Developer: DHG Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Sports (Racing)/ Sports (Extreme)/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

With the rise in popularity of extreme sports titles, it has always surprised me that Nintendo hasn’t dusted off the Excitebike license and given it a go. Yeah, they’ve announced Excite Truck as a Wii launch title, but it doesn’t look to fill the fun 2D action of the NES title. This, of course, leaves the door wide open for any developer to walk right in and newcomer DHG Games has accepted the invitation with Motocross Challenge.

Looking at Motocross Challenge, you’d expect a much different game than it really is under the hood. The visuals are bright and have an almost cartoon look to them. This, of course, would lead you to believe that the game is more of an arcade game only to later reveal itself to be more of a simulation in the vein of the Tony Hawk series (only on MX bikes). Still, the game looks good – especially when you consider that the game is coming from an independent developer. Rider animations are smooth and the tracks show off all sorts of neat details that really make things “pop”. I especially liked an indoor arena area that does some really neat things in regards to scrolling backgrounds. It isn’t a major graphical feat, but certainly helps to give the area a “big” feel.

Sound doesn’t have the same impact as the visuals. As far as I could tell there is only one song on the soundtrack, which works for the game but it does get tiring to hear the same thing from the minute you fire up the game until you turn it off. The standard “race time” noises like engines sound good, if a bit low.


As I alluded to earlier, Motocross Challenge is a very deceptive game, which can be good or bad depending on what you’re expecting to get out of the game. Again, the visuals suggest more of an arcade styling similar to Excitebike, and in some ways the game delivers just that. The controls, though complicated later on, are simple and it doesn’t take too long to simply jump into the game with just the basics. However, the bulk of the gameplay is styled more towards being a simulation, so in the long run, it will likely appeal to this audience instead of the casual fan.

Gameplay is broken up into two core modes: Challenge and Free Ride. Challenge is further broken up into three event types and is where most of your gameplay time is spent. Beat the Clock is a checkpoint race where you must complete laps around the track in a set amount of time. World Tour is the game’s racing component where you face off against three other racers in a fight to the finish. Finally there’s Trick Attack, where your goal is to accumulate a set number of trick points.

All events take place over the same set of ten tracks, each of which lend themselves well to each event type, though some are better suited for certain events than others. Some courses are heavy on jumps, which are great for pulling tricks, but not so much for racing. Also, some tracks like the Colorado Open are multi-tiered and can become disorienting your first few times through.

As you progress through events, you’ll unlock new bikes, tricks and tracks. Even though they have different stats which suggest that some are better suited for certain event types than others, the difference wasn’t that great. As a result, I tended to just stick with the last bike unlocked.

Free Ride is, as the name suggests, a free mode where you can pick a track and bike and just have fun tooling through courses. Tracks and bikes must be unlocked in Challenge mode before going into Free Ride. So, while it can help you hone your skills on tracks, it doesn’t make for a great training area since, by the time you’ve unlocked all the tracks, you’ve already finished the game.

Outside the two main modes, there isn’t much that will keep you coming back to Motocross Challenge once you’ve completed all of the events. There are no multiplayer modes, which is something the game practically screams for, even if it is a simple “Pass the System” Trick Challenge. A Track Editor would also go a long way.


Early on, Motocross Challenge was really hard to get into. There’s no practice mode anywhere in the game and you are really just thrown into the game with little explanation as to what is going on. All you really know in the beginning is that you have a bike and a track – so I was left to figure out things on my own for the most part.

After the initial difficulty hump, Motocross Challenge is fairly easy depending on which event you decide to take on. Beat the Clock mode can be completed very quickly, while World Tour might take a little longer but not too long. Trick Challenge is the hardest of the three modes, if only because of the time it takes to learn how to handle your bike and perform tricks.

Game Mechanics:

My main issues were with the game’s handling, which takes some time to break in. Expect to crash early and often once you begin the game, especially when you start to attempt tricks.

Controls are simple to understand, but take time to actually “get”. Rather than simply hitting the gas and going, you have to worry about your rider’s weight distribution on the front and back of the bike, which is handled by pressing forward or back on the D-pad. Tricks are handled by pressing a quick combination of buttons and are easy to pull off. The challenge, however, is in getting the timing right. Some require little timing to get right while others, mainly flips, are really tricky. Even after spending considerable time with the game, I still have problems pulling off flips because of timing issues.

I can understand the reasoning behind a more realistic trick system, though in the case of Motocross Challenge, throwing in more arcade elements might actually benefit gameplay. Even something as simple as speeding up the time it takes to do a flip by a little bit would up the pacing and make performing tricks more fun.

Saving presents another awkward problem. Rather than allowing you to save a profile, you are instead required to input a password if you plan on continuing. Not only is this a bit dated, it actually makes the game less portable friendly since you don’t always have a pen and paper handy.

All things considered, Motocross Challenge is a fairly good game coming from a new developer. It isn’t perfect and could use more work in adding longevity, but it is still a fun game that is simply lacking cleaner basics and polish.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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