Racing games come in numerous flavors - motorcycle, car, boat, jet ski - and now you can add Vexoid to the list. Scorcher, the new racing game from Zyrinx, gives you control over a futuristic cyberbike as you race through the streets and tunnels of New York City. The game combines incredible graphics, a pulsating techno soundtrack, and simple controls in a somewhat overpriced package.
Scorcher contains program files for both DOS and Windows 95. The DOS version is low resolution, but boasts an incredible frame rate, while the Windows 95 version provides a much better looking environment at an acceptable frame rate. Depending on your system speed, you can make choices such as full screen/window or 320x200/640x480. Once you've configured the game for your viewing pleasure, you're off to the races.
The bikes themselves look like a man riding a barrel inside a gyroscope. Before you choose your track, select from Practice, Time Attack, or Championship modes. Time Attack puts you in competition with up to five other computer-controlled opponents. Championship is a full season that takes you through all of the tracks. Once you are in the driver's seat, so to speak, your task is simply to complete the course in the best time. Controls include left/right, hard left/hard right, brake/accelerate, jump, and boost. As you proceed through the course, you'll be amazed at the scenery. Barrels, barricades, and buildings are rendered in great detail, as you fly by them. Enter a cave and you'll suddenly feel like you've jumped into Descent. Watch out, thought - at times it's easy to lose control and just fly off the course. Sound effects include scraping sounds as you make a hard landing back on the track (flying sparks included at no extra charge!), and the music provides you with a rhythm to follow.
Scorcher's computer opponents provide some additional challenge. In places, pileups look like pool balls being scattered over the roadway. All of these features add up to an entertaining, but imperfect, arcade challenge. The biggest flaw is the limitation of just six tracks. Modem and network play would also dramatically increase the replay value. In the end, where there may not be many games that look better, there are several that play better.