Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Twyb997axC8
Moto Racer - Matrox Mystique Enhanced Edition (1997)
Moto Racer: Matrox Mystique Enhanced Edition was a classic Windows motorbike racing game bundled with Matrox Mystique 220 cards in 1997, and like many OEM bundles, had a renderer that was optimised for this early 3D accelerator. So lets take a look!
Hey everyone, Rees here, and welcome back to ctrl-alt-rees.
In this video, which will be the first of what should hopefully become something of a semi-regular thing on this channel, I’m going to be taking a look at a game from my childhood.
So to kick things off, I want to take a look at this - the 3D motorcycle racing extravaganza that is Moto Racer - developed by Delphine - no, not that one - French developer Delphine software, and published by EA, in 1997.
As an aside, Delphine were probably best known for the excellent Flashback from 1992, and its 3D sequel Fade To Black, released in1995. Oh, and Another World of course. So based on their other output, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect great things.
Now, just before I get started, I’d just like to thank SadKennith on the Backoffice Discord server for reminding me of this game, which is one I hadn’t even thought about since I was 13 years old, and I’ve spent the past couple of days really getting back into it. So thanks!
So I have the boxed copy here, but this isn’t actually the one that I’m going to be playing. You see, the way that I and many others were introduced to Moto Racer was by means of the Matrox Mystique 220 graphics card, which included this game bundled in the box.
Now, funnily enough, I actually found that very card in a box of computer stuff that I rescued from my parents’ house a couple of years ago, and I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. So what better opportunity to get the old girl fired up again.
I still have my MMX 233 system here fresh off the back of my S3 ViRGE video and this is the absolute perfect match for this card, so lets swap that out. I’ve also heard that the Mystique version of Moto Racer can crash if there’s a Voodoo card installed, so I’ll remove my Righteous3D for now, but don’t worry, it’ll be straight back in once this experiment is over.
So after all that, what is Moto Racer all about? Well, it’s a motorbike racing game - obviously - that features a good mix of track and off road racing, multiplayer support via LAN, internet connection - oh yes, even back in ‘97, modem, and serial, and in the case of this OEM bundle, an optimised Direct3D renderer for the Matrox Mystique.
That’s right - it’s not using the Mystique’s proprietary MSI 3D renderer, but it has been tweaked for this card and it certainly shows.
The game offers practice, single race, and championship modes, with 4 tracks unlocked initially and a further 4 to unlock as that championship mode progresses.
I will point out that this game’s notoriously difficult, and I’m not ashamed to admit that as I’m a little out of practice, I am playing it in easy mode here. I’m also using my trusty Gravis Gamepad, just like I did back in the day.
Unfortunately that means I don’t have enough buttons to be able to change gear, but to be honest I always went with automatic anyway so it’s not a deal breaker.
OK, so the draw distance is perhaps a little bit on the short side with plenty of pop-in, but that’s just how things were in those days and the game more than makes up for it with those lovely crisp polygons and that fast paced action.
Moto Racer also has a trick up its sleeve in the form of - well - tricks. These come in the form of a dedicated button that pulls an epic wheelie on the road tracks, as well as some daredevil stunts on the offroad motocross courses. These give you a nice speed boost, particularly when accelerating, and as long as you time them correctly so that you don’t hit anything, they’re a pretty safe bet for getting a one up on the competition.
I was a big fan of the motocross tracks as a kid, particularly Snow Ride, and Delphine did a great job of making this one feel appropriately slippery and icy without making it completely impossible.
They also released 2 tracks for free on their website at the time - that’s right - free DLC! It’s even compatible with this bundled version. I actually didn’t know about these back in the day so they were fun to check out.
The first track, Funfair, is a very high speed road track and a real challenge for the fastest bikes, and I can highly recommend it. It’s a great feeling linking turns in quick succession, particularly on the digital and - lets be honest - rather clunky Gravis Gamepad.
The second DLC track is Sea of Sand, which starts off on a nice wide beach, with waves lapping at our toes, and sees us bouncing wildly over sand dunes before too long. It’s a long track and tricky to memorise, so again a great challenge for anyone who’s completed the game and looking for a bit more to get their teeth into.
On that note, anyone who did manage to complete the championship mode - or, as in my case - blatantly cheated by entering these codes on the name entry screen - was rewarded with even more functionality, including the ability to race tracks in reverse, effectively doubling the number of tracks - and the rather crazy pocket bike mode.
As perhaps could be expected, this mode sees players tearing around on tiny little pocket bikes, and the handling is as bouncy and twitchy as you’d expect. It’s a lot less frustrating on the road tracks, but for a real challenge I’d recommend trying it out on the Great Wall of China, as shown here.
So just a few other highlights before I wrap this up - there’s the commentator who gets overexcited when you pull off a particularly gnarly stunt…
…or mocks you when you get anything other than a podium finish…
“You lost the race!”
…and I’m sure you’ve also noticed the soundtrack, with its high energy heavy guitar riffs and pumping techno basslines.
Sadly, Delphine Software went bust in 2004, but not before giving us a whole raft of excellent sequels.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, of course if you have any memories of your own to share, please do let me know down in the comments.
So as always, thankyou very much for joining me, and I’ll hopefully see you again next time.
Original Video Links
Extra Tracks, Patches, Downloads & Cheats: https://ctrl-alt-rees.com/2021-06-28-moto-racer-pc-extra-track-patch-downloads-cheats.html
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