SX Superstar Review

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Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Acclaim

Platforms: Xbox, GameCube
Reviewed on Xbox

The rewards of becoming an SX Superstar include money, women and fancy digs. You make your start on the championship circuit as an impoverished SX rider, newly signed to an agent, with a pathetic (and underpowered) bike and just enough money from your parents to secure an apartment that accommodates roaches more comfortably than you. By winning individual races and becoming the top rider in your league for an entire season, you can earn cash and work your way through the Amateur league to compete at the Semi-Pro and Pro levels.

Kyle Ackerman

SX Superstar's early game (when in championship mode) is mostly about remaining solvent – just having enough money to pay your bills. You have a small stash of cash, but that's earmarked for rent, tires and maintenance on your bike. Ideally, you'll win enough races that the prize money will help you get a better bike. Realistically, you have the worst bike in the league and are just learning the controls, so you just need to survive a season well enough to buy a better bike and leave your competition in your dust. Cash is king. More money means you can purchase a better bike, and even an awful rider can lap the competition when his ride completely outclasses theirs.

You can play head-to-head multiplayer matches, or try single arcade-style races on any track you've unlocked, but the game really revolves around the championship mode. The championship mode lets you compete in a season of events against other racers across five locations. The goal is to win the overall season by winning (or placing highly) in all the events. There are five locations, each with an arena race and a Baja race. The arena races are just a simple speed sprint around a track filled with jumps and hairpin turns. These can get irritating, because portions of the track aren't clearly defined, and if you veer slightly off the track a three second counter begins. If you aren't back on the track immediately, you are teleported in a disorienting way to the middle of the track, sometimes at an awkward angle, destroying any sense of continuity during the race. Baja races allow you to roam the track freely, as long as you go through a set of markers in the correct order, and the markers can be arranged in two paths. These can be great fun once you know the layout of the track, but some tracks (such as Italy's ice-filled Baja course) are a near-certain loss the first time through.

There are a few other optional events on the circuit that can be used to earn additional cash, including two stunt venues, a race against an ultralight, an uphill race and two possible attempts at world-record setting jumps. The racing element of SX Superstar is adequate, but this is supposed to be a stunt racing game. SX Superstar follows the typical stunt racing formula – executing stunts gives you nitro that can be used to accelerate your bike. In most such games, you have to do complex stunts to earn enough nitro to boost your way to first place. In this game, once you have a superior bike and know the Baja race paths, even a poor player should be able to win every tour. To make matters worse, the stunt controls are really unresponsive – it's difficult to correctly time difficult stunts or chains of stunts. In fact, once you have a good bike, it can be a bad idea to even try stunts. Too many falls can lose a race, and by attempting stunts with a fast bike you can jump clear out of the arena, or leap over checkpoints entirely. So, SX Superstar is a stunt racing game in which you are better off not attempting stunts.

Your life and participation in the championship races is managed from your rider's apartment. There, you can take a look around, listen to your messages (be they from your agent, parents, friends or stalker), check the racing calendar, and check out faxed offers of sponsorships for extra cash. You can even depart for the bike shop or your personal garage to check out your bikes. It's not surprising that as you qualify for the more competitive leagues, you can afford a much nicer apartment. What may seem odd is that you can upgrade your girlfriend, as well.

As you win victories, your racer will dump his current girlfriend over and over again to go out with a newer and more "bimboesque" girlfriend. This means you get to hear a sequence of messages from jilted lovers on your answering machine as you win. Also, the girlfriends are tiered, so that if you lose too many races, your current girlfriend will dump you, and your old partner will (reluctantly) take you back. Your current girlfriend can often be found lounging around your apartment, sitting, stretching or admiring your trophies. Just having an upgradeable girlfriend isn't enough – the girlfriends adhere to dramatic stereotypes, presumably for comedic effect. The starting girlfriend is an obese, older woman, and while the third girlfriend is cute, she's supposed to be undesirable because she's a librarian. Later partners steal your credit card to go shopping and appear as polygonal women in outfits like hip boots and a tank top, or a tight sweater and mini-skirt. Apparently, female SX riders are celibate, as they don't get a boyfriend (or a girlfriend).

Visually, the game is up to snuff and comparable to other racing titles without being particularly remarkable, and the game comes with the usual extreme sport soundtrack. The championship shouldn't take more than a few hours to complete, and there isn't much else to the game. Once you complete the Pro tour mode you'll get a splash screen that says, "Game Over – You Must Retire," and that's all. There's no resolution to the stalker messages, no reaction from your parents or girlfriend, and nothing else to do but look around your apartment. There are so many other trick racing games, you are better off looking elsewhere for your entertainment. Even the tracks of SX Superstar are filled with advertisements for Acclaim's ATV2 Quad Power Racing which would be a better choice for your rental dollar.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 27, 2003 8:22 PM.

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