Super Burnout

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 6

 |||   Super Burnout
 |||   Review by: Frans Keylard
/ | \  GEnie: AEO.2  Internet:

Super Burnout (SBO) is a motorcycle racing game reminiscent of the old
arcade favorite Super Hang-On. The view is from about fifteen degrees
above and behind the racer, which gives you a very good view of the
track ahead. There are six bikes to choose from, and the trade-off is
road grip versus speed. The faster the bikes, the more the bike will
tend to drift in corners. The brake is not a luxury item on these

You can choose to race on tracks in eight countries. In Tournament
racing order, you'll begin in....

America. Your race on this high speed course starts at dusk, and your
headlight comes on when it gets dark. The lit up skyscrapers become
brighter and more pronounced as it gets darker.

The technical Australian track starts at night and also boasts a
skyline, but the discerning feature here is a truly gorgeous and
humongous moon! ("Technical" refers to the difficulty of the track,
and this directly translates into lots of steering.)

The Brazilian track is also rated technical and starts at night, but
dawn comes soon to shed light on the jungle and city.

Canada's daytime high speed course is recognized by the large
mountains, a lake, and lots of green forest, it feels like you are
near the snow capped Rockies!

Moving quickly through Europe, France is semi-technical. The daytime
French scenery is lush and there is a old city with a castle in the
background You almost want to pull over and taste the grapes in the
vineyards. The German track takes you through a hilly countryside and
is built for high speed. Hungary has a semi-technical course with
mountains and forts along the way.

The last track is in Japan, and is technical with many hills, sharp
turns, and lots of obstacles to make your life miserable. The Japanese
gardens and cherry blossom trees are very pretty, shame that they have
to be viewed at breakneck speeds!

Dotted throughout the various sceneries are all sorts of objects such
as barrels, balloons, trees, gates, bales of hay, spectators,
grandstands, and various signs. There is some parallax scrolling of
the backgrounds, but this is not really noticeable when you're racing.

Besides these eight tracks, there are also four modes of play.
Trainer Mode allows racing against drones on any track. Championship
mode pits you against a selectable number of computer opponents on all
eight tracks. The drones you race against certainly keep you humble. I
have seen the drones crash on occasion, and they are very fast movers!

Record Mode is my favorite setting, you are alone on the pavement with
only the fastest times in your sights. This is where you get to know
the tracks intimately and prepare yourself for the Tournament Mode
onslaught. (Average time-per-lap, and best time-per-lap times are
saved on cartridge, along with your initials, whenever you best a
saved record.)

Versus Mode is a head-to-head two player mode. The screen is split
into two horizontal strips much like the classic Pitstop II, and two
players can race simultaneously.

//// Pros

Record Mode is fun to play with friends, instead of Versus Mode (more
about that in a minute)! The in-your-face joy you get from
obliterating your friend's record is great. The best thing about this
game is the sheer SPEED! This game moves at an astonishing 60 frames
per second, and the acceleration you get from barreling down a hill
can be quite exhilarating! The graphics are colorful and crisp, but do
not interfere with the experience. They're bitmapped versus the
polygonal graphics seen in Checkered Flag (CF). The racing conditions
range from day to night and tracks are rated for speed or
technicality. The choice of bikes definitely impacts the times
attainable on different tracks. You can configure the number of laps
to be raced and set the competition level of the drones.

SBO allows automatic or manual shifting and supports the forthcoming
six-button controller. The six button controller will make shifting a
lot easier, and should lead to even better times with the faster bikes
because you can downshift instead of brake. The button layout is
configurable; I prefer having my acceleration on button A and braking
on B.

There is a stationary track map at the top of the screen, it allows
you to anticipate corners, use it! Corners are well indicated with
bright arrows, and this is a good thing because they come up in a
great hurry! After a while you will memorize the track and will be
capable of unbelievable speeds. The casual observer who walks in at
this point will most definitely gain great respect for your seemingly
superhuman reflexes. Suddenly, your bike goes from 200 mph to zero in
one second after hitting a stationary object, at this point you get to
impersonate a human cannonball, but luckily you save face when you
gingerly get up and continue on your way!

//// Cons

Two-player mode is exactly that, there are no drones. Worse is that
the lack of perspective due to the horizontal splitting of the screen.
This makes anticipation of corners quite difficult. The worst aspect
is that the top half of the screen seems to be smaller than the bottom
half. This gives an unfair viewing depth advantage to the lower
player! (At least that is my excuse for getting stomped as Player 1 all
the time.)

The announcer's voice sounds tinny, I guess some people are not meant
to be announcers. The other sound related gripe is that the countdown
buzzer is annoyingly shrill. The rest of the racing music is adequate
however, but after Tempest 2000, all sound gets judged by that
astronomical standard.  I have a suspicion that there are hidden bikes
and other cheat codes in this game, but I sure wished that the
programmers would have supported the Catbox, Jaglink, or Voice-modem
with this game. That would have allowed two-player Doom-like games
with the full screen and possibly even drones. I emphasize such
options because they provide such wonderful replay value.

I like being able to at least tinker with my bike, but there is no
customization option. The first thing I'd customize is the silly
headlight, this could have been an amazing special effect, but instead
it is a fairly useless round yellow spotlight just ahead on the road.

//// Tips

Memorize the tracks; this is the only key to fast times. You will find
out quickly enough which turns warrant heavy steering and which ones
you can take without any steering. As long as you start some turns at
the inside corner, you will end up at the outside of the turn when you
come out of it with all your speed intact!

The Killing Turtle is the bike to learn with, it has no drift and is
therefore extremely forgiving in the corners compared to the other
bikes. After this you can graduate to the Super Rabbit, and so on.
Set records with the Super Rabbit or Reflex-Z, and then try to break
them with the other bikes. Try to ride out corners without leaning the
bike over, it appears that you can gain lots of speed if you don't
lean over. Often times certain corners can be taken by entering them
on the inside of the turn at full speed, without too much steering
involved. This is a key to fast times.

The Super Rabbit will be a good choice for the tracks with "technical"
ratings but will be at a disadvantage on the high speed tracks. For
those faster tracks I prefer the Reflex-Z, the other crotch rockets
are even faster, but also a tad suicidal. I bet these bikes would be
even better if you master the manual shifting, this way you don't have
to slow down to a crawl while braking.

Tournament racing is pretty tough, but if you keep to the tire tracks
on the pavement, then bikes coming from behind will smack into you if
you just fell or are going very slow. Of course this works both ways
and it slows you down or worse.

If you think you are the king of the hill, compare your times to those
posted on GEnie or USENET. That should keep you humble!

//// Conclusion

Super Burnout is an exhilaratingly fast and colorful game with
excellent control. The bikes respond as advertised and cornering is
predictable and smooth. I can't help but wonder that if Checkered Flag
would have had a similar method of control, it would have been a great
game. As listed in my "cons" section, there are many little nitpicks I
have about it. Nevertheless I did enjoy the sheer speed for speed
itself. This is the same sort of thrill you find in Val d'Isere Skiing
and Snowboarding. I will keep playing SBO until no more records
crumble. Judging by some times posted to the net, I have some more
work to do! I will try to find the hidden codes in this game, try the
same! [Ed: There are three codes in SBO - one for a super bike, the
"Punisher"; one for a "turbo boost" for automatic transmissions; and
one to set your bike at the front of the pack. The codes have not
been released yet.]

//// Final Ratings

        Title: Super Burnout                   JagNet: No
       Design: Shen                           Players: 1-2
 Published by: Atari                        Cart Size: 2 Megabyte
       Retail: $69.95                    Availability: Now

 A Summary of ratings:
        "*" is a whole
         "+" is a half
       5 stars maximum

 Graphics -  ***+     Fast and flashy!
    Audio -  ***      Music is adequate, but some sound effects are
  Control -  *****    Excellent control, responsive and accurate.
 Gameplay -  ****     I feel a need, a need for speed!
  Overall -  ***      A solid "Good" rating. Vroom, vroom!

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings
""" """""  """""""""""
 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.
  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.
  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.
  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.
  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.
  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.
  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.
  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.
  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.
  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.
  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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