MOTOCROSS MANIACS / Konami / Game Boy
Motocross Maniacs keeps it very simple and basic, but that's a wise choice for the confines of the original Game Boy (and for a title released very early in the system's life). Input is limited to pretty much just judiciously using nitro boosts to launch off of ramps and a bit of correctional steering when coming down from jumps, but somehow it's still enough to be one of the better racing titles for the system.
No fancy setup, character creation, league modes here ... this is simple oldschool arcade action with eight levels to conquer simply for their own sake. The main goal is simply to beat the best time for each track, but you'll definitely want to take on optional jumps and loop-de-loops to collect much-needed extra nitrous boosts as well as bonus points. The one neat-o feature here is a ghost racer of your previous best lap, which may not seem like much now but was pretty impressive on the Game Boy in 1989! This functionality also works with the link cable, where the other player is in control of the ghost racer as both players run the track simultaneously.
Though the eight tracks can be run through in fairly short order, each has three difficulty settings that kajigger things up a bit differently. The game also has the benefit of surprisingly good Konami chiptunes accompanying the action at all times (clearly done by whoever did the TMNT NES soundtrack), and there's even a few spiffy hidden power-ups if you perform a full mid-air flip in the right spot.
The monochromatic Game Boy was the first real portable gaming system, and it's funny how portable game design has come full circle. From games like this that were intended to just be played for five to ten minutes with no real long-term investment on the part of the player, building through the more powerful systems into games that were meant to be just as complex as console games ... right back to games on mobile phones once again designed to only be played for a few minutes! Motocross Maniacs would really be right at home if spiffed up slightly for the iPhone or Android; Bike Race Pro attempted to do it but didn't really nail the "feel" of this game (and also loaded the app down with crapware you really don't want to install).