Motor Psycho

Name:
Motor Psycho
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-7852
Programmer:
Jim St. Louis & John Boeschen
Year: 1990
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Originally called Super Stunt Cycle

 

Despite having one of the coolest names in the 7800 library, Motor Psycho isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds.  Instead of being a cool Road Rash type action/racing hybrid, Motor Psycho is just a plain old racing game with the ability to jump thrown in.  According to the manual the name refers to the fact that the race is so dangerous that only 'deranged, psychopathic, and other usual biker types' would compete.  That also accurately describes the type of people who would actually attempt to play this game...

 

Part Hang On, part Pole Position, Motor Psycho is racing game that attempted to show of the 7800's ability to smoothly scale graphics while maintaining a high frame rate.  Unfortunately this actually wasn't one of the 7800's capabilities.  You can tell that the programmers did the best they could with the limits of the hardware, but the results aren't pretty and the low frame rate makes it tough to avoid incoming objects such as deadly traffic cones and other bikers.  Oh and did I mention that you have no brakes?  The only way to slow down is to down shift to LO gear, but that doesn't work nearly as well as it should.

 

Thankfully Motor Psycho comes with a way to change the handling characteristics of your motorcycle.  But rather than put it into a menu or having a shop screen before starting the race, they instead hid it.  In order to access the characteristics menu the player must set the left difficulty switch to B then use the right joystick to adjust the STRAIGHTEN and TURN values.  STRAIGHTEN is the length of time it takes for your bike to return to an upright position after a turn while TURN is the time it takes for your bike to lean into a turn.  Both values can be set from 1 (lowest) to 12 (highest).  While playing with these values can help make your bike handle a bit better, it doesn't do anything to help with the frame rate or sheer difficulty of the game.


At its heart Motor Psycho is a fairly bland racer with a "beat your own best time" theme.  About the only thing that makes the game stand out at all is the ability to jump (and I mean jump high!).  By pressing the fire button when going off a hill, your bike will rocket off the earth for a several seconds and you'll see the scenery disappear.  Unfortunately jumping is fairly useless in the game (only netting you bonus points and possibly flying over other racers) and will usually result in you landing and flying off a curve somewhere.  The ramps and odd jumping ability are due to the original theme of the game when it was called Super Stunt Cycle.

 

Motor Psycho had a long and troubled development process.  Originally starting off as a first person viewpoint style racing game based of jumping over things, over the course of a year and a half the game changed to a more standard 3rd person racer in the vein of Pole Position.  Internal documents reveal that the programmers struggled with the hardware and the lack of proper programming tools they were promised (eventually developing their own).  Given all this turmoil, it's impressive that the game turned out as well as it did.

 

In the end Motor Psycho is really just a poor Mach Rider clone, which is pretty sad as Mach Rider was a pretty poor game to begin with.  If Motor Psycho sported a build your own track mode like Mach Rider, then there might have been a little life in the game.  Sadly as it stands, Motor Psycho is just another 'could have been great if Atari hadn't cheaped out on development' game that plague the 7800 library.  Motor Psycho does however hold the title of Best Motorcycle Racing Game on the 7800.  Too bad it's the ONLY motorcycle racing game on the 7800...

 

Version Cart Text Description
10/14/88  
11/3/88   Static screen demo (Milestone #1)
11/18/88

4/14/89

5/26/89

4/17/90 MOTORPSYCHO C300051-052A 7800 4/17/90 NTSC
Final Version

 

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