The eagerly anticipated new Isle of Man TT motorcycle racing game, Ride on the Edge, is due to hit the shops next month. The game promises to faithfully recreate the full 37.73 mile course and will be available for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC, priced £39.99.
We’ve played some sections of the game and were suitably impressed. It also got us thinking ‘what are the greatest motorcycle computer games of all time’ so we’ve banged our heads together to come up with the quintet that we’ve enjoyed the most over the years.
Picking our top five was super difficult, so in the end we decided to focus on pure racing games, rather than arcade style titles like the legendary Road Rash, and games that feature only road style bikes. With a Dakar game also due to land in the coming months, we may well revisit this and choose our favourite dirt bike sims some time soon as well…
While the Xbox Forza Motorsport titles and Playstation’s Gran Turismo series provide a feast of car driving simulation fun for four-wheeled fans, for a while there was little in the way of similar games for motorcycle enthusiasts.
Polyphony Digital, the company behind Gran Turismo, used their car game’s engine to create Tourist Trophy for the PS2 in 2006. The game featured 135 real life bikes and was well received, but the success of the Gran Turismo series meant that the bike game was never really focussed on or developed further.
It was only when Italian publisher Milestone launched the Ride game in 2015 that the genre was rebooted. Milestone have established themselves as the motorbike game specialists, starting with the official world superbike series, and have gradually tweaked their game engine to make the dynamics increasingly realistic.
Ride 2 was launched in late 2016 and has faithful recreations of over 200 bikes, covering everything from Cagiva’s Mito 125 to the firebreathing supercharged Kawasaki H2R Ninja. What’s more, you can get it on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Official MotoGP games have been around for almost 20 years now, with annual updates making them increasingly accurate and reflecting the latest riders, bikes and circuits.
The aforementioned Milestone took over the series in 2013, with the gameplay and interface largely shared with the previous SBK series. MotoGP17 also shares its basic engine with Ride 2, meaning that the dynamics and controls are very similar. But where the Ride series uses road bikes and (mostly) fictional circuits, MotoGP features all the riders, bikes and tracks from the 2017 Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP series. It’s a very faithful recreation, and even covers the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup.
Players can do a single race or time trial, a championship or even a career, but one of the best features is the ability to race online against other gamers from around the world. Indeed, last year saw the first MotoGP eSport championship with the winner ‘TRASTEVERE73’ from Italy winning a BMW M240i car in a live final held at the Valencia Grand Prix.
Look out for MotoGP18 later this year.
Manx TT SuperBike
The desire to create a video game of the world’s most demanding road race has long been the holy grail of computer game designers.
In 1995, Japanese aces Sega blew the world away with Manx TT SuperBike. Following the successes of their arcade games Sega Rally and Daytona 500, the game wasn’t a super accurate recreation by modern standards but it was the game that took motorcycle sims to a new level.
The arcade game had two circuits, the easy Laxey Coast track and the difficult TT course that was based on the real TT track (albeit much shorter). The bikes were modelled on the Honda RC45 of the time and the coolest thing about Manx TT was the realistic plastic motorcycle that the player mounted to control the game. Up to eight could be linked for a massive game against your mates down the arcade, and a version was also made available for PC and the Sega Saturn home console.
It may be over 20 years old, but Manx TT remains a huge hit. The arcade game is still regularly seen at bike shows, almost always with two blokes battling it out intensely.
TT Superbikes: Real Road Racing
It took another 10 years before a game would come out that fully replicated the full 37.73 miles of the TT circuit.
TT Superbikes was a relatively low budget affair and a bit too niche to appeal to mainstream gamers, but bike fans loved this PS2 cult classic.
By modern standards, the graphics and dynamics were dated, but the course layout was accurate enough to help new racers get a gist of the track layout. A sequel, TT Superbikes: Real Road Racing Championship came out in 2009 and added more tracks (the fact that the original only featured the full TT Mountain course was a major criticism) including Aberdare Park, Oliver’s Mount, Macau, North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.
Old but gold, Microprose’s 1999 game GP500 replicated the 1998 Grand Prix season and was a PC benchmark for over a decade.
The game was licenced from Dorna and featured all the bikes, riders and circuits from the 1998 500cc world championship, meaning that you could pretend to be Mick Doohan smoking his Honda NSR500 around the likes of Donington Park and Mugello, with timing graphics emulating the TV coverage of the period.
The dynamics and accuracy were amazing for the period and were much more ‘simulator’ than the arcade style MotoGP games that would appear on consoles in the coming years.
As well as marking the pinnacle of two stroke racing, part of the game’s enduring appeal was the ability to ‘mod’ it, with the rise in internet use allowing gamers to change the skins and dynamics of the original bikes, and share them over the web. Bike sets for world superbikes and four-stroke MotoGP bikes were created to breathe new life into the game each year. Indeed, one hardy enthusiast has even created a 2017 bike set, claiming that ‘GP500 never dies’. Indeed!