Microprose's new Micro Style label looks set to live up to its name with its first release RVF Honda is so good, it makes you wonder if Microprose are ever going to top it. Knowing them, they probably will quite easily. To shed just a little light on what is in effect a pretty cryptic title, the Honda RVF750 is a Formula 1 motorbike capable of some pretty hairy speeds. You, on the other hand, are a helmed, plastic coated action man with a death wish. Put the two together and team them up with a large oddly shaped loop of tarmac and what do you get? Formula 1 racing. Fast, loud, dangerous and exciting.
The easiest way I can describe RVF is that it is superficially similar to Super Hang On, but there is more to it. You view the game from a position some fifteen feet behind your rider, initially positioned alongside his pride and joy. Henry the Honda. To start he runs alongside the bike, pushing it as he builds up speed. Waggle the joystick to run faster until you reach a certain speed and he leaps into the saddle, the engine roaring into life.
As usual for a Microprose product, the game describes itself as an accurate simulation. This I have to argue with. If it's an accurate simulation, then how comes you can't change direction? You can change your lateral position, but you can't actually change course. This is probably just as well, mind, as all your time is taken up just getting around the track at a decent speed and in one piece. As with real life, there are limits as to the speed that you can safely take a corner. This is where the gears come in. By correctly using them, not only can you out-accelerate even the toughest computer opponent, but you can also successfully 'shave' corners, rather than slide hopelessly to the outside of a bend, like I did in my earlier attempts.
You start as a rookie biker, but can move up to National level of racing, which gives you access to some of the more prestigious tracks. This is done by entering and winning the Clubman Championship, which is a seven-race challenge against eight computer riders. In each race you are awarded points based on your finishing position, and at the end of the championship, all scores are totted up. The winner gets promoted.
The graphics are nothing short of brilliant. Just the main sprite in itself is enough to merit an incredibly high mark. I don't know how many frames of animation have gone into him, but there are heck of a lot of little touches. Like the way he crouches forward when he accelerates, and the way he glances worriedly over his shoulder at obstacles he narrowly avoided. The scrolling on the card is amazing, faster even than Super Hang On, if that is possible. Unfortunately, the tracks do look a little similar in places, due to a lack of variation in the landscapes and roadside objects (a mixture of triangular trees, large lollipops and red and white blocks).
Sound is just as impressive as the graphics. A powerful growl emanates from the bike and sounds as if it's sampled from the real thing. Even better, the other bikes make more or less the same noise, except the volume changes in relation to your distance from them. Imagine if you can, the sound that explodes from your monitor when all nine bikes are revving up on the starting grid. The right atmosphere is created immediately. All this plus a hard rock intro tune, what more could you want?
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