HARLEY-DAVIDSON: THE ROAD TO STURGIS / Mindscape / PC


There are all sorts of motorcycle games, but few have tried to approximate American biker culture. Road to Sturgis does that within the context of the sort of "turismo"-style racing game that was popular on PCs in the late 80s / early 90s. These games usually added a little adventure and strategic element to them (probably kicked off by Test Drive). So anyway, this almost ends up being like the biker version of Oregon Trail.


For readers not from the US, hairy bikers have a long and proud tradition of descending on little shithole towns throughout the year for festivals where a good time is had by all. The biggest of these jamborees is held in Sturgis, SD in the first half of August. So our game is the simple tale of a bikerboi living in Maine who gives himself 10 days to get to the hoedown.

There isn't any complicated story or anything, just long stretches of road between cities on the route that are unusually poorly maintained and full of obstacles you need to watch out for. Also, cars that will plow you from behind and continue on their way if you slow down too much or stop. Fortunately, our biker boi is quite resilient and can take many gruesome collisions before going down as can the bike. But enough damage will eventually total the thing and set you up for a big repair bill in town.


You'll also need to stop in some towns to get gas here and there, and you can buy equipment upgrades like a helmet and vest to make you more durable. Also, each town has a random event that can put some more cash in your pocket and raise your stats. These usually consist of little mini-games like climbing a mountain with your bike or bouncing at a bar. You'll also find an unusual amount of hot women broken down on the side of the road, stop and recruit one as your biker mama and you can participate in the time-honored weenie run.


Unfortunately, it's almost as irritating to learn how to play this as it is to learn how to ride an actual hog. The main problem is just getting moving. The game tries to simulate starting a motorcycle by hitting CTRL repeatedly but it just seems hella random. Most of the time the guy stalls out, refuses to move or falls on his ass. It's a small miracle to get the stupid thing moving, and once you do most of the game's content is long stretches of repetitive road that get dull pretty fast ... don't go too fast, though, or magical cop teleports up your ass and automatically slams the game to a halt to give you a ticket.

So if you take the bikes away, bikers are basically just homeless people?

This really isn't a bad concept at all, but nothing about it ends up being fun. The main driving bit alternates between being frustrating and repetitive, and the mini-games (as well as stopping to pick up the mamas) are all about annoyingly precise timing. It's a LONG-ASS grind of all this stuff too. It takes an hour of real-time just to get from your starting point in Bangor to get into New York. At that clip I would assume the full game takes like seven or eight hours!

Videos :

* Gameplay Video