GameCube Index Episode 64: MX Superfly

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As we discussed in the past, the motocross scene hasn’t been very well represented so far in the GameCube’s life cycle. In fact, it’s only had the one release: Jeremy McGrath Supercross World. And while it was great that GameCube owners had the chance to play some motocross madness, it was a lot like wanting to watch Transformers on Netflix but having to settle on Transmorphers instead. That was, of course, until the summer of 2002 when THQ came out with MX Superfly featuring Ricky Carmichael.

Now normally, a video game title with a celebrity endorsement in the name is a lot like, well, any other product with a celebrity endorsement in the name: presumably terrible. However, MX Superfly really brought the intensity of the sport, the excitement of the sport, and thanks to the pop punk sounds of Mest, the sound of the sport to the GameCube in a great, if not short, package. At the time, Ricky Carmichael was riding high (ha, get it? riding?) on two years as back-to-back AMA Motocross Champion wins and had just signed a new sponsorship deal with Honda, making him the perfect candidate with enough momentum in the sport to be a successful face on the cover. Carmichael was no stranger to games, either, as he had previously lent his endorsement to Championship Motocross for the Playstation and MX 2002 for PS2.

MX Superfly does its best to express the word EXTREME without actually using it. Bikes go fast, jumps go high, and crashes hit hard, which are all things that players were looking for in a motocross game. There is a standard Exhibition and Freestyle modes, allowing players to jump right into the racing or trick option. The real meat of the game comes in the Career mode, where you create your own racer and take them through an amateur tour, then through the pro season, racking up cash and reputation along the way. Your career touches every different aspect that the game has to offer, from racing to freestyle trick comps to all of the crazy minigames that are available. These games range from everything from HORSE and Bus Jump to Balloon Toss and Pizza Delivery. There’s a huge variety that can be pretty realistic and expected in a motocross game or completely over the top and stretch the limits of realism.

The controls of MX Superfly are fantastic in almost every aspect. Turning controls feel tight, and there are two different types of powerslides that players can perform depending on the curvature of the turns they need to make. The bikes run fast and feel like it, and jumps are a bit of a challenge but incredibly satisfying when executed correctly. Being in the air is pretty floaty, which I found to be a good thing, as I enjoyed the extra seconds I had to perform tricks. Speaking of tricks, that’s another thing that’s tough to execute, but satisfying when you pull them off. The reason why tricks are so tough is that in order to get great air, you need to hold the R button while coming up on a ramp, and release when you launch into the air for maximum, well, air. Then, immediately, you need to hold the R button and then press a combination of face buttons in order to perform a trick. You’re not quite ready to return to the R button after just performing a trick, so the controls here feel a bit clunky. There’s no real reason as to why you need to hold the R button first in addition to pressing the face buttons, and it can be disappointing when you’re dropping back to the ground, thinking you’re entering in tricks, and your racer just sinks motionless like a stone.

Multiplayer is a blast to play, mostly for head-to-head Freestyle competition. Exhibition races run slowly in multiplayer due to the split-screen display, and it’s not as fast or fun as single-player can be. The last mode that’s included in Superfly is absolutely its weakest: Track Editor. Described as “fairly robust” and “decent” upon release, the editor was actually very bare and hard to navigate. Players moved through the menus with a combination of an on-screen cursor and the shoulder buttons, and moving a cursor with a control stick is an incredibly painful way of navigating menus. The selection of ramps and obstacles was minimal, as were the stadium choices, and everything was simply flat. This was nothing like what one would find in the track editors of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, and in Superfly it feels tacked on and unfinished. There is the option to unlock additional track pieces and one more stadium, but they do little to improve the initial experience.

MX Superfly is a great motocross game. The variety of modes give it replay value, there’s a decent selection of unlockables, and it has just enough of an arcade touch to keep you coming back and trying to beat your high score. Developers Pacific Coast Power & Light would go on to bring GameCube owners WWE Crush Hour and Power Rangers Dino Thunder before closing their doors in 2008. Stay tuned for episodes 223 and 451 for those games, respectively. Until then, if you’ve got a GameCube and an itch for motocross, look no further than MX Superfly.

Did you ever play MX Superfly? What did you think of it? What did you like or hate about the game?

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About Geoff Girardin

Geoff Girardin is the producer of GCNdex, a weekly series that covers every GameCube game in chronological order. He also helped make two tiny humans, and he eats so much that his wife is worried. You can follow him on Twitter @geoffgirardin, or keep up with his experience with fatherhood on geoffgirardin.com.

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