Is This the Legacy of …Exitebike? –D’arcy Briggs

While not a launch title for the original Game Boy, Motocross Maniacs was a year-one release, and it plays like one. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s in that transition between a single-screen and score-focused experience and a more complex experience that the new hardware allowed for. Like Alleyway, it’s the kind of game that almost struggles to expand beyond what was the tradition at the time. Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Motorcross Maniacs.

This Konami developed and published game, under Ultra here in North America, plays heavily into elements used in Excitebike on the NES. Players take control over a motorbike and can tilt the front wheel up and down. They also have the ability to use a speedboost, letting them launch off ramps and into loops, or make up for lost ground during a crash. The goal is to complete the level within the time limit. There are power-ups to give more boost or time, but losing a level doesn’t give you that ‘one more time’ itch that a good game should, just a sense that you will repeat a section in what can sometimes be a bit of a slog.

There are a few game modes, including one that takes advantage of the Game Boy link cable for head-to-head action. Generally speaking, it’s a pretty simple game where the idea is to just replay levels to beat your established score. The music and graphics are simple but serviceable, something that adds to this game’s almost stoic structure.. You do have the ability to do flips for combos and take alternate routes, but this is largely a game where the amount of fun you have is directly proportional to how much you enjoy high-score racers.

Like a lot of the early-release Game Boy games that have been covered on Yokoi, they’re fun but leave something to be desired. Motorcross Maniacs doesn’t necessarily feel like something is missing, but that what’s offered feels more like an appetizer. It’s a nice bite, but really only serves to open your Game Boy appetite to more substantial offerings.

D’Arcy is an educator and gamer from BC, Canada. He’s been gaming his entire life and enjoys both new and retro games. His consoles of choice are Game Boy, PS3, and Switch.You can follow his gaming online @darcyska_gaming

Motocross Maniacs: Excitebike with Power-Ups –Pete P.

I was thrilled when asked to choose this month’s game. Being my first selection, I wanted it to be a game that was personal to me because it was something that I owned or borrowed as a kid. After comparing my list to the back issues of Yokoi Kids I was down to two choices, one of which was Motocross Maniacs. I played each game for a bit and then I heard something that made me choose Motocross Maniacs, which I’ll get to in a bit.

This was a very early title. It was the first of the Ultra Games for Game Boy and only the second post-launch title release overall in North America. It was also one of the games that my parents got my brother and I when we first got our Game Boys. The racing has lots of jumps and there are different power ups, including the hidden jet pack that can only be found by doing a flip in certain locations. There are also mini maniacs that can be found this way that follow you around but don’t actually do anything. You can play two players via link, race against the computer, or race alone. Ultimately, you’re just racing against the clock, as you will get a game over if time runs out and it doesn’t matter if you lose to the computer (something I did not realize as a kid). There are ten tracks that repeat across three difficulty settings (i.e., you start with less time to complete the race). Ultimately, management of your nitros and mapping out the course to make sure you get power-ups, especially time boosts, without losing too much time is the key to winning in the later stages.

Short, simple, repeatable, and very difficult as you start with less and less time. Good music and satisfying sound effects help round out the otherwise limited game. I give this game a B. If you normally play via emulator or 3DS shop because of cost, this is one that you can get physically. A loose copy of the physical cartridge itself can be had for less than $10.

Now, as I said earlier, I heard something in this game that made me select it. While racing on Motocross Maniacs track 4, I heard something that sounded extremely familiar.

Recently, I have been listening to a lot of NES OSTs while working. One series that is frequently in my rotation is the Mega Man series. To me, the stage 4 music sounds exactly like the intro to Gravity Man’s stage in Mega Man 5. I know Capcom is never shy about “borrowing” music, names, likenesses, etc., but to do it from their rivals at Konami!? As far as I can tell from my brief Google searching, I might be the first person to notice, or, more importantly, to care about this. Anyway, hope you enjoy. –Pete (@dmachetto on Twitter)

June 2022: Motocross Maniacs (1990)

VROOOOOOOM, SUCKAS! We’re out here in June just dreading the upcoming heat which turns your boy into something resembling a red, bumpy fruit. The heat is not for me! If the sun and heat aren’t your pals either then this is an exceptionally good time to pick up that Game Boy (or whatever you use to play) and get on Motocross Maniacs (picked by Peter P.)our game for June! I’ve only played this briefly, but it’s sort of similar to the auto-scrolling levels found in another of Konami’s Game Boy entries from the time, Skate or Die: Bad n’ Rad, mixed with the Nintendo classic Excitebike. Trial and error will be key here, but I certainly don’t mind a bit of that. It can be very rewarding to learn your way through a course or level in many games. With a month dedicated to it I wonder how many of us will be able to beat it? It’s only eight levels!

This one isn’t available on the 3DS Virtual Console (which is closing soon anyway), but a physical copy should be really reasonable. Or emulate! Have fun!

::pops wheelie, crashes::