Review: Harley Davidson – The Road To Sturgis

Harley Davidson – Road To Sturgis

ST Format Review

My Review

For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. The release of choice is Automation 510, and we get a fairly plain intro – funky text, some fairly decent music. There is actually one quite impressive effect of lights spelling out the names of various cracking groups, moving around in 3D.

We get a simple intro, I choose new game and give myself a name.

This is either a difficulty selector or a Larry-style “let me see tits” option. The amount of hair on the bloke on the right does not change, disappointingly.

Is this an RPG?

So I better get some fuel and then join an event I guess.

Got fuel but there’s nothing doing, I guess because this is where I start. Maybe time to hit the road. Back to the bike menu and time to Exit City.

So I’m on the road. Taking a while to get used to the controls – for some reason the joystick isn’t working (well it can accelerate, brake and change gear but it can’t turn) so I’m using the mouse. Left and right to steer, left button to accelerate, right button as clutch and space to brake. Clutch while accelerating to change up a gear, or braking to go down. It wasn’t quite intuitive at first but I got the hang of it

I’ve been pulled over for speeding, I’m at risk of getting a ticket. Let’s talk my way out of it. Oh and I missed a chance to pick up a hitchhiker before but didn’t get the screenshot, but I’ll try to get one later.

Thankfully the course is not exactly challenging – I suspect it’s more about simulating a long cruise than racing like it’s Super Hang On, as there’s no timer or anything. It’s a sedate trip between cities, I guess the competitive element is at those cities.

Tried to pull over to pick up the hitchhiker but didn’t quite manage it. I’ll try again. Sound is mediocre, the road well animated, your biker’s jacket blows in the breeze, but overall presentation is probably the game’s strength.

Finally managed the stop – took a few goes, the problem is the hitchhiker comes up so fast and there’s input lag on the brakes.

And I now have a woman on my bike – that’s more like it. Let’s ride. I actually have a feeling the road is infinite until you get the girl, then you can actually get to the next city. We’ll see if that proves to be true.

And I’m dead, from crashing into an oncoming car. Oops. Let’s try this again now I have some idea of what the fuck I’m doing.

So, back on the road, I finally figure out that in options > controls I can choose joystick, so I do precisely that. It makes a big difference, even if I do lose some of the precision steering. Picking up hitchhikers is certainly a little easier.

Impressively, vehicles on the road do seem to be actual vehicles, in a position, and if you overtake them they’ll be behind you and if you crash they’ll overtake and you’ll have to catch them again. It’s not a race of course but it’s interesting that the game does this.

After an absolute age I finally make it to a town. Let’s see what’s there.

This shop is different because it’s a different oil company on the pump.

I refuel and am greeted by this digitised woman – I presume they felt this would get males excited. Next up, time to join an event.

This could be challenging as I don’t have a clue how to play poker… So I end up on a bike, and there are women at the side of the road, but it’s not at all clear what I’m expected to do. The manual is unhelpful.

The Verdict
In some ways what Harley Davidson is trying to do is quite modern, with the obvious comparison being Euro/American Truck Simulator. The game is about driving from city to city, with no time limit, no racing, and there’s an RPG element judging by the stats though I haven’t seen any evidence that they are used for anything. However, the driving then lacks the magical zen of Truck Sim – in part because of the road hazards, in part because the environment is dull, in part because you don’t get any music. To me, if they’re going for a chill game (which the lack of time limit and the speed limit would suggest) then the potholes etc need to go. It’s like they put them there because they felt they had to. The same goes for cars running you over if you’re going too slow.

The other problem, and one not uncommon for games of this era, is that there’s a lot going on that it just doesn’t bother to tell you about. It threw me into a ‘poker run’ without giving me any indication what one is, and the manual tells me nothing. It’s hard to play a game where you don’t know the rules.

The funny thing is a modern update would probably be quite cool, with things like the sausage-eating minigames etc. The game was ahead of its time in that chill out driving wasn’t a thing back then in gaming, it was all Outrun or Super Hang On, but they didn’t quite nail the implementation. Still, a cool idea and I’m glad they tried something different.

Resources
Manual: https://www.lemonamiga.com/games/docs.php?id=776

Next up, Monty Python.

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