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Top Gear Hyper-Bike

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)




Snowblind Studios


March 2000

ROM Size:

128 megabits


One to Two Simultaneous




Controller Pak (35 pages for season)


Expansion Pak, Rumble Pak



> Final Rating: 3.7 out of 5.0


Since the release of Top Gear Rally in 1997, one Top Gear game per year has appeared on the Nintendo 64, with Top Gear Overdrive in 1998, Top Gear Rally 2 in 1999, and now Top Gear Hyper-Bike in 2000. With Top Gear Hyper-Bike, Kemco is hoping to capitalize on the red-hot motorcycle genre. Top Gear Hyper-Bike unofficially takes the best of the Supercross and Superbike worlds and throws it into one big arcade mix.

Gameplay & Control

After the small group at Snowblind Studios developed the sleeper hit Top Gear Overdrive, Kemco enlisted the company's services again to make the first version of Top Gear on two wheels. Snowblind's influence is seen readily from the beginning, with familiar gameplay styles, graphic styles, and other subtleties.


Rather than go the simulation route of games like EA Sports' Supercross 2000 and Acclaim's Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000, Top Gear Hyper-Bike is 100% pure arcade racing. The game doesn't contain bike-tweaking options. The sense of speed is high from the first race. Nitro boosts will be used regularly. You can glaze off walls without falling off your bike. Major air will be seen with the dirt bikes. Checkpoints must be passed in regular intervals. And shortcuts—some obvious, some not so obvious—can be found on every course.


Interestingly, Top Gear Hyper-Bike contains dirt bikes (for Supercross/Motocross-like fun) and street bikes (for Superbike-like fun). Six tracks exist for each bike style, and although they're based on the same location, a race through the Redwood Forest, for example, is quite different when using a dirt bike than when using a street bike. The game doesn't have the official Supercross or Superbike licenses for real tracks or riders, but it does have real Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha bikes. A cool option is the ability to change the color of your rider's suit and bike.


There's a noticeable difference in bike handling and track design. Dirt bikes can take more abuse and get plenty of air on the wide-open outdoor tracks. (A few indoor tracks are available, too, for exhibition races.) Street bikes are all about speed on the more narrow tracks with white lines and side barriers. They're also easier to wreck.


With both styles of bikes, you have to pass through checkpoints in short, regular intervals. This was done to prevent massive shortcuts with the dirt bikes, as you will find out. You know you got credit for a checkpoint, because the announcer will say "Checkpoint" and a split time will flash on the screen. If you miss a checkpoint, you must go back and ride through it, or you won't get credit for additional laps.


The control in Top Gear Hyper-Bike is not unnecessarily complex. The Control Stick only is used for steering. The A button is the throttle. The B button is the brake in racing modes, but it doubles as the trick button in the Trick Attack mode. The Z button is your spring gauge for jumping. An on-screen indicator literally shows how much spring energy is available for your next jump. The L button changes the camera view, whereas the R button looks behind your rider. Finally, hold down the Bottom C button to use nitro, which can be replenished during any race.


Although Top Gear Hyper-Bike was originally going to have a four-player mode like Top Gear Overdrive, this feature did not make the final version. Instead, one to two players can choose from five different options: Single Race, Time Attack, Trick Attack, Championship, and Track Editor.


The Single Race mode lets one or two players ride a one-, three-, or five-lap race using any opened bike on any opened track from the Championship mode. Twelve total riders are in the one-player mode and six total riders race in the two-player mode.


Time Attack is a one-player race against the clock. If you replay the same course immediately after finishing it, you'll race against a ghost of yourself. Top Gear Hyper-Bike saves your top five best times, along with your name and bike used, for each course. Times also are saved from the Single Race and Championship modes.


The Trick Attack mode, also only for one player, is setup much like Time Attack, except your goal is to get the best trick score in one lap while reaching each checkpoint in time. Tricks are accomplished by pressing the B button in conjunction with Control Stick movement while in the air. (Spring in the air by holding and releasing the Z button.) Your best scores are saved for each course, but the cumbersome trick method doesn't make the mode very fun.


The Championship mode is for one or two players. A two-player Championship season isn't great here like in Top Gear Rally 2, but at least the option exists if you don't mind the reduced viewing distance, the smaller pack of riders, and the foggy graphics.


The single-player season rocks, however. You always start in 12th place and must work your way to the front of the pack in three laps. Each season consists of four races; the races alternate between dirt bike racing and street bike racing. You need 100 points to move onto the next season. You can get anywhere from 40 points for first place to 5 points for sixth place. This is where you unlock new tracks and bikes.


Like other Supercross games before it, Top Gear Hyper-Bike has a track editor, except it requires the Expansion Pak to use the option. The CAD-like system is easy to use, but it's also quite basic and limited. You start with an oval that can be stretched and pulled in different directions. Then your indoor dirt track will be available in the Single Race, Time Attack and Trick Attack modes. You can save your best times and scores, and computer competition will battle against you, too. Overall, though, it's a disappointing feature.


Other options include brightness correction, reset save game, video modes (either 320 x 240 without an Expansion Pak or 640 x 240 with one), controller configuration, stereo (on or off), and credits.

Graphics & Sound

Snowblind Studios did a nice job with the graphics. Honestly, though, it doesn't look as nice as Top Gear Overdrive. Everything—the ground, the environment, the bike, the rider, and so forth—has a much more blocky look compared to the smooth, lush visuals of Top Gear Overdrive. The riders are composed of very few polygons, too, but you have to look hard to notice. Comparatively, EA Sports' Supercross 2000 looks better indoors, whereas Acclaim's Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000 doesn't come close to either game.


On the other hand, how many other N64 games can claim to push around large, open environments with no pop-up or fog, 12 riders on the track and a blazingly fast frame rate? Yes, the trade-off is well worth it. Moreover, the backgrounds are sweet—almost like murals deep into the horizon.


Top Gear Overdrive featured hard rock music (complete with vocals) from a band local to Snowblind Studios. The MPEG-compressed quality was decent but noticeable. For Top Gear Hyper-Bike, an outside company called "Sound Element" has composed the music. The closest comparison would be that the music and music quality are much like the tunes in Cruis'n World in that each musical selection fits the track's location and is upbeat. Some of the music almost sounds like club music. Sound effects are slightly above average. Voice has been included to tell you what options you're picking and to let you know you got credit for checkpoints. Other sound effects, such as when you crash, when you run through things, or when you get fancy, are decent. Different bike sounds exist, but they're not especially impressive.


Top Gear Hyper-Bike is another fine effort from Snowblind Studios. It's more refined than the company's first game, but it's not quite as fun overall. Still, the dual bike arcade action fills a nice niche on the system with good course design, high-speed races, and a fun season mode. If you're into arcade-style racing, you owe it to yourself to try the game.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: April 13, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




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