Modern motorcycle racing games incorporate real-life physics into the game engine and require the player to practice a finesse gameplay style in order to master the game. Back in the 1980s, however, video games were far simpler and a good motorcycle racing game was one that created a fun arcade-style gaming experience.
Mach Rider – Nintendo Mach Rider was one of the launch titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System and helped solidify the 8-bit system as the future of video games in the mid-1980s. The game featured a pure racing mode and a fighting mode that allowed you to attack Death Race-style. The game’s hyper speed, aggressive game dynamics and futuristic setting laid the groundwork for future classic racing games from Nintendo like F-Zero.
Rally Bike – Nintendo Rally Bike is often overlooked by many when they consider the best motorcycle games of the 1980s, but the game’s solid gameplay and bright, crisp graphics place it among the top titles of its time. The game’s bird’s eye view perspective allowed for a broad view of the course and the bike’s nimble handling allowed for aggressive maneuvering when picking up the pace.
Hang-On – Sega Master System. The legendary Yu Suzuki-created arcade game was converted down to Sega’s 8-bit Master System with rather impressive results considering the home console’s limitations and the amount of processing power needed to run this speedy game in a smooth manner. The behind-the-motorcycle perspective of this game gave it a true sense of speed that set it apart from its contemporaries and has made it an enduring classic.
Excitebike – Nintendo. Excitebike is probably the first game that comes to mind for most gamers when they reflect on classic motorcycle games of the 8-bit era. The game was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda. The man’s knack for honing in on solid gameplay mechanics is on clear display in this classic game. It is a simple horizontal scrolling racing game, but the precision handling of Excitebike has made it one of the most beloved 1980s games to this very day.
Enduro Racer – Sega Master System. Some may consider it blasphemy to place any game above Excitebike when counting the best 8-bit motorcycle racing games, but that is probably due to the lack of awareness surrounding Enduro Racer. The game did not achieve the level of popularity that some of its contemporaries did due to its release on the Master System, a console that was crushed by the NES in the American marketplace. This game’s fluid and well thought out courses make for the best motorcycle racing game of the 8-bit era and the vivid graphics make the everything pop from the screen like few 1980s games were capable of doing.
The contributor lived out his wildest Evel Knievel fantasies during the 1980s playing these now retro classics.