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Wheelie

When two wheels is too much.

At first glance Wheelie looks like a pretty typical motocross affair with a scramble course that could have been laid out by Peter Purves himself for kid's to injure themselves on national TV.

But that was't the case. Even though it would've been perfectly acceptable, original and undoubtedly popular if Wheelie had portrayed that particular style of petrol-head sports game, there was an unexpected dark and foreboding edge lent to the trail bike trials of the main character. Out on the roads one dark and stormy night on his awesomely named Zedexaki 500, our two-wheeled warrior inadvertently enters the esoterically titled Nightmare Park. Trapped, he's got to traverse the undulating terrain and find the mysterious Ghost Rider (no, not that Ghost Rider, most recently portrayed by undistinguished anti-thespian Nicolas "never the same hair twice" Cage). Once he finds his ethereal counterpart a heated dash to the entrance and high-speed freedom ensues.

Obscure ghostly scramblers aside, Wheelie is an impressive piece of Speccy coding. The multi-level landscape is randomly generated, so memorising the layout serves no reward, while the topographical diversity remains excitingly dynamic and filled with jumps, dips, obstacles and hills. Navigating this smoothly scrolling, erratic environment demands nerves of stainless steel and chrome-plated reactions of... aluminium, with the kind of high-octane hustle and superbly responsive controls not often seen on the rubber keyed prodigy.

Wheelie went beyond its simple brief of providing a trail bike arcade game for the Spectrum, and going that few extra breakneck miles proved Microsphere to be the kind of conscientious developer we lack so severely today.

7 / 10

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