Despite owning a wealth of games on a variety of old consoles, I hardly ever play any retro. So I decided to bust out the Saturn for a bit of Manx TT action. One in a long line of Sega’s blue sky arcade racers (which peaked with the brilliant OutRun 2 SP in 2004), Manx TT is a motorbike racer based on the famous Isle Of Man Time Trial course. It features (what I assume, having never been there) the actual TT course and a nice coastal route. Yes, there are only two courses – this may sound odd in todays climate of hundreds of courses, but this was an arcade port, and in the arcade thats all you need for 5 minutes of play.
To make it longer for the home, Sega have added reverse mirrors of the courses, plus a “championship” mode where you play them all in a row and an unlockable superbike (ie. faster) mode. They’ve also added some additional easier to control bikes. However, you really just want to delve into the arcade mode and enjoy. Like the best of Sega’s blue sky racers, it is just pure fun. There is cheesy (and damn repetitive) music, fun handling, checkpoints to reach, beautiful blue skies and great backgrounds to storm around.
Despite now being 16 years old (well, the port only came out in 2007, so a little older, but the graphics are worse than the arcade) the graphics still look beautiful. As long as you can see past the low resolution, fairly low polygon count that is. And I find none of that bothers me. Its the style – such idllyic settings to drive around. You have the coast, a nice little village, a winding path through trees, rolling green English fields, and of course, those famous blue blue skies.
What makes this more enjoyable to play than Sega’s super-scaler games (like Hang-On) is the fact that you can’t fall off your bike. Yes, you can hit the walls, but it just slows you down, you still carry on. Your opponents can fall off, which is always fun. The handling feels slightly weird, which is maybe due to the fact you control a motorbike instead of a car. The game supports the Saturn’s 3D control pad which makes control feel every bit as good as a modern controller, with an analogue stick and analogue triggers. It is fun replaying the same two tracks trying to place in first place. There is a really harsh set of two sharp corners at the end of the TT course though. And, like most bike games, first-person view is best avoided unless you want to be sick.
Highly recommend for a quick blast of happy smiley racing action. Four stars.