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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by THQ

Ups: Cool tracks; lots of tricks; tons of riders to choose; great replayability. 

Downs:  No multiplayer.

System Reqs:
Game Boy Color

3-01.jpg (4380 bytes)When I first got Championship Motocross 2001 featuring Ricky Carmichael, I thought that I might be writing a review that waxed nostalgic about the days of the original Excitebike. Some of the best GBC games have been ported from the original NES version and I didn’t think that it would be possible to surpass the fun of Excitebike. I was wrong. Championship Motocross takes all of the fun of Excitebike and puts on 3D tracks. On top of that it adds a freestyle mode for when you get bored with the race circuit. I always felt that the best thing about the original Excitebike was your ability to pull a wheelie. You can’t do that in this game I’m sorry to say. But on the other hand you can pull heart attacks, cordovas, bar hops, and lots of other tricks that I had never heard of before.

4-01.jpg (3797 bytes)All of the race games I’ve played on the GBC have been poor copies of Pole Position: flat tracks with the same cars again and again. It was kind of cool 20 years ago, but we’ve come a long way since then. Motocross 2001 is the first Game Boy game I’ve played to show just how far we’ve come. Everything about this game says quality. Even the menus are nicely done.

I’ve watched enough dirt bike racing to know that it’s all about the jumps: how high and how far and what insane things can they do while sailing through the air? This game captures that excitement as well as can be hoped for on the Game Boy. The controls are responsive and use a simple gas/brake configuration.

1-02.jpg (2349 bytes)Besides being a fun racing game for your casual gamer, this is a must-have for any fans of the sport. The folks at THQ have licensed the rights to using over 25 real riders and more than a dozen tracks. And on top of having a ton of tracks and riders, you can also customize your bike and play around with the driving conditions. I’m not sure how much this affects game play, but it’s cool to have nevertheless.

I would have liked to have seen a link option, but the game probably pushes the system hard enough as it is. The link option is often used to compensate for a game that can be finished in a matter of minutes, but the racing circuits and freestyle mode will keep you busy for so long that you won’t even miss the opportunity to play with a friend.

2-01.jpg (2659 bytes)The Game Boy often suffers the afterthought syndrome. When developers put games together for the bigger consoles, I’m sure they often say, "Oh, we might as well put something together for the Game Boy as well. It won’t take that much more effort." And the game always ends up being a derivative side scroller or Pole Position wannabe. Playing Championship Motocross 2001 you really get the impression that they wanted to make a good game regardless of the fact that a PlayStation counterpart was planned. Championship Motocross would have been a good game if it only had races, but with the introduction of a freestyle mode it has been raised to the level of a really good game. This is the first Game Boy Color game that didn’t make me nostalgic for the gaming days of the mid-eighties, but rather made me excited to be playing games in the here and now.

--Jason Frank