I think it’s about time I finally review one of my favorite Xonox titles, Motocross Racer. This is the pinnacle of pre red box programming; seriously the sheer amount of game they managed to stuff into a little 8K cartridge is amazing. I don’t really have much to say about Xonox as a company, I think I’ve already said all that could be said but for those of you who haven’t heard… Xonox was a subsidiary of K-Tel a telemarketing company that sold a wide variety of products on daytime and late night TV. K-Tel was aware of the burgeoning video game market and wanted to cash in and so they created Xonox to sell unique double ended cartridges. Apparently Xonox was made up of several teams spread across the U.S., none of them had direct contact with the others and they simply sent the finished products to K-Tel to be shipped off. You may notice that some of the games bear a stylistic resemblance to each other that’s because they came from the same team of programmers. Even though K-Tel had Xonox they still weren’t satisfied and so sold cartridges directly under the name K-Tel Vision, I’m pretty sure they’re just rebranded Ultravision T-handle carts, or vice versa. K-Tel Vision carts are incredibly rare and expensive and can co for upwards of 200 dollars for a loose cart so if you see one for a good price then I’d recommend you snap it up. That’s a brief history of Xonox, but we’re ultimately here to look at the game, due to this game’s complexity I’ll split each of the three unique parts into three paragraphs since each of these three parts could be a game on their own.
Event 1:Desert Scramble
This portion of the game is a behind the back racer where you must avoid incoming obstacles that scale in from the distance. Your ultimate goal is to reach the mountain that is slowly rising from the horizon much like A VCS Tec Challenge or Aztec Challenge. The graphics are quite nice, your little guy on the motorcycle may be wearing an odd assortment of clothes (navy blue shirt and hot pink pants? Seriously) but he’s still well detailed. The scaling obstacles are very good too, they have to be rather small for scaling reasons, but they are detailed enough and the speed at which they can approach the screen is quite impressive. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a set of timers, the top one is your elapsed time while the bottom one is the pace time, you want to stay below the pace time otherwise the bottom of the screen will go red and you won’t quality for the next event. Unfortunately the sounds don’t quite compare to the graphics, as far as I can tell you have a grand total of two sounds, the sound of the engine and the sound of you hitting something. The engine sound is the same generic engine sound you’ve heard several million times except it’s really loud and there’s nothing to offset it so that’s all you’ll be hearing, it gets obnoxious very quickly. I’d recommend playing some music just to drown out that sound alone.
Event 2: Hill Climb
In this event you have to remain on a zigzagging path while avoiding obstacles and moving as fast as possible. You’ll encounter all sorts of obstacles like trees, and trees, and logs formerly trees, and giant holes in the ground. The track itself reminds me of Spike’s Peak except the thing actually scrolls vertically, which is rather amazing, and yes the scrolling is nice and smooth. The controls take a bit of getting used to but when you do you’ll find them to be fluid and well suited to this particular game mode. Again it’s the same deal as coming in below the pace time, you’ve gotta keep the bottom of the screen green, thankfully on the standard game variation you only have to be going an average of twenty MPH to qualify for the next event and your bike can go 100! But be careful if you hit any obstacles your bike will become damaged and you will lose 20 MPH from your top speed. If you crash five times the game is over hit that reset switch and try again. If you’re wondering about the sounds then don’t worry they’re exactly the same.
Event 3: Beach Sprint
This is the final event, a mad dash to the finish line on a beach of all places. I think this is my favorite event from a visual standpoint; the horizontal scrolling on the water and background mountains/sand dunes is excellent and as we all know the 2600 hates going horizontal. This time you’re pitted against your fellow racers who are approaching you from front and back, but they aren’t the only obstacles you’ll face. Beach blankets, flags, and volleyball nets will stand in your way, and don’t forget what happens when you crash. Once you complete it (if you complete it) you’ll be taken back to the start where the average speed to qualify is raised.
This game takes on three types of racing game, behind the back, top-down Micro Machines style, and horizontal, and does them all nearly perfectly. The graphics are excellent and the programming is solid, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this game. Well actually there is one thing I don’t like about this game and that’s the price. There is currently one listed on Ebay for 45 dollars free shipping and they have historically sold for upwards of 50 dollars. Since this is Xonox and they’re the double ended cartridge kings this game also came bundled with another, the Tomarc the Barbarian/Motocross Racer Double Ender is sitting at a lofty 9 on the AA rarity scale making it the rarest Double Ender Xonox ever released, it’s so rare that neither Pricecharting.com or Gamevaluenow.com have any sales info on it, Pricecharting doesn't even have it listed, so I can’t even tell you a rough price for it. At a guess I’d say it’s worth around 200 dollars but it could be more or less I just don’t know. Now we come to the point where I either deem this game a collector’s item or something everybody should own and honestly I’m rather torn. The game almost justifies the price, almost… If it was 30-35 dollars I’d say get it without hesitation, but at 45-50 I’m on the fence. How ‘bout this, if you can find a copy for less than 40 dollars get it, if it’s nearer to 50+ then I’d say pass.