Super Burnout

A few weeks ago I looked at the Jaguar's only motocross title, SuperCross 3D, and came to the conclusion that it is a flawed gem of a game. It's got massive frame rate issues and they taint what could and should have been a cracking dirt bike sim. Enter the 'other' Jaguar motorcycling title: Super Burnout...and boy, what a parallel! Super Burnout is everything Supercross 3D isn't: smooth, fast, and unashamedly a 2D, sprite-based arcade racer. Taking cues from Sega's Hang On, Super Burnout is a super-fast circuit racer that throws the polygons out of the window in favour of solid 60 frames per second undulating, silky smooth goodness...and by God does it succeed where others have failed. I read somewhere that Super Burnout was actually programmed by a couple of guys who rented out a Jaguar development kit on weekends, and when Atari saw what they had achieved with an early build of the game, a dev kit was bequeathed unto them full-time just so they could finish it and release it as a full-blown retail title. That kind of thing just doesn't happen in this day and age, and it gives Super Burnout an extra air of 'special' because of the way it came into being. You would expect a major development studio to be able to pull off a game as fast and smooth as this...but a couple of young hobbyists? Mind: blown. I admit that I don't know how much factual basis there is in that tale...but if it's even half true, then I doff my cap to Shen Technologies, and to Atari for a rare (in the Jaguar's case) glimpse of sound talent spotting.

Onto the game itself though. Super Burnout, as I said earlier, is a circuit-based Moto GP style game in which you get the chance to race a full championship against 6 other riders across 8 tracks around the globe. There are the standard 2-player, practice and single race modes too. There isn't an official license, so the tracks (which are easily recognisable by their layouts) aren't named by anything but their country (and there's a glaring omission when it comes to UK tracks...), and the bikes all have bizarre names like Sliding Thunder and Killing Turtle (eh?!). All the bikes have different attributes and are suited to different tracks (which are also divided into either 'speed' or 'technical' classes), so it makes sense to carefully choose your bike before heading onto specific tracks. You can't actually change your bike after you've chosen one in Championship mode, meaning that for at least 50% of the races your bike will be woefully unsuited...but hey, no game is perfect (well, except for Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time...but that's for another blog on another day).

Once you actually start racing though, you'll realise that Super Burnout is a special game. It all moves so damn quickly, and the steering of the bikes - even if they are just 'sliding' across the track - feels so satisfying. The frame-rate, as I mentioned above, is pretty jaw-dropping even in this age of Xbox 360s and PS3s, simply because of the sheer number of sprites being thrown around on screen. I read (again, I forget where) that Super Burnout regularly displays over 1000 sprites on screen at once, and it never, ever slows down or judders. Bear in mind that this is triple (yes, triple) the number of sprites the Neo Geo could handle on screen at once and you start to see where Atari went wrong when marketing the Jaguar. If they'd positioned it as a 2D sprite-whoring beast (which it evidently is) instead of a 3D machine, maybe we'd be playing Jaguar 3s now instead. Ho hum.

Super Burnout doesn't just impress with it's visuals and gameplay - the music too is of extremely high quality. The tunes are very well suited and they, and the sound effects/voice overs are crystal clear and easily as good as any contemporary CD-based sounds or music.

I knew that Super Burnout was going to be decent before I even played it, but having now done so, I can honestly say that it is without doubt one of the best 2D racers I've ever played. The Jag never got the chance to host a Hang On or Road Rash port...but with hindsight it didn't really need either: Super Burnout, with its blistering speed and sublime handling more than holds its own against the big boys.













You can probably see by the blurry pictures that Super Burnout moves at a fair old pace. Highly recommended if you want to see what a turbo-charged Neo Geo would look like in an alternative universe!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome game, just awesome, one of the best racers i have tried.

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  3. I cannot fault the game engine,silky smooth 60 fps when today i see PS4 racing games running at 30 fps.

    It's only flaws are that of being developed by such a small team.

    Tracks can feel a little clinical and with only 7? other bikes racing, you often find yourself racing alone,rather than jostling for position.

    Regarding Supercross frame rate..choose who you want when it comes to wjo wanted the texture mapping and thus killed the frame rate..

    Missile Command 3D coder said Atari and Leonard Tramiel. ..

    Supercross coder is reported to of said it was Tiertex.

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    Replies
    1. Only flaws being made by a very small team? XD The fact that they managed to do this game on the situation the team was back in the day is nothing short of a miracle! I love this game alongside Power Drive Rally. I'm also friend of the programmer (great guy to talk to as well, just like any other Jag developer i've met so far). Perhaps you need to double check how you comment 'cause i didn't understand what you said on the last 3 parragraphs...

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  4. What's a parragrgh?

    Since your personal friends with the coder, i thought you might of been here to give his thoughts on how he felt about Atari Exec's describing the game as mere B-


    You do say you have met these Jaguar developers, claim friendship.

    Perhaps you need to triple check the difference between real friends and people you spoke to on FB etc.

    You described Clint Thompson as a friend of yours when you said he had Jaguar Conan and Phear to give away on FB.

    Only when he joined Assembler forum, it was only to point out he was never your friend and he had no such things to give away.

    I don't understand how you could of come to the conclusions you did on that occasion, so physician heal thyself here.


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  5. I think Clint himself described the confusion over what you had been saying about being friends with him Roberth, far better than i ever could and you won't have any difficulty understanding any of his paragraphs:


    Clint:


    was tipped off about this thread containing erroneous information by not 1, not 2, but 8 different people - the most recent being this morning. So I'm just here to set the record straight once and for all since my name is being used or was brought up here.

    1. I never intended or had intentions of giving away anything this past holiday for a Christmas giveaway like I had done with the 12-days of Christmas the year before. It proved to be far more than I can chew off and incredibly expensive, even as much as I loved doing it. I was asked a dozen times by different people if I was going to do one, at first I said most likely not and then ultimately not at all. Somehow that got turned into I've found more stuff to give away, which wasn't or isn't going to happen.

    2. When you "KGRAMR" use the word friend and reference me as such, you could definitely say that I'm 'friendly' because I've tried to give you the benefit of the doubt and enjoy talking to just about anyone regarding the Jaguar (except for those responsible for banning me on JS3 due to defending Atari.IO and with members constantly threatening absurd lawsuits toward any sort of forward movement with any Jaguar-related project that isn't their own while also spreading lies and misinformation all-around), but I don't personally know you outside of the messages we've exchanged in the past initiated mostly by you seeking information or sharing things you've found that's new to you.

    3. I didn't sell any ROMS or unreleased stuff to anyone recently due to money reasons, or any reason at all for that matter. Maybe you're getting me confused with someone else or stories mixed up somehow but I don't think more story ammunition is warranted at this point.

    Instead of warning others that this or that should be taken with a grain of salt, maybe stop spreading misinformation or rumors that you don't actually know to be true to begin with.

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