Compared: March 17, 2003
MX Superfly featuring Ricky Carmichael is essentially MX 2003, but THQ has dropped the year from the title and included a funky soundtrack that is as "fly" as the racing action. Everything that was good about MX2002 is back and better than ever and everything that was wrong with last year's racer has been fixed or removed entirely to create a near perfect racing experience.
As you can see from the scores, owners of multiple systems have a few things to consider when picking your version of this game. Both the PS2 and GameCube versions released at the same time with the Xbox version following several month later. All three version feature identical content so let's dissect these games and find out the good, bad, and the ugly.
Round 1: Control
Control is nearly identical across all three systems. You have a few presets you can choose from for your controller config and ultimately this round boils down to personal preference for comfort. Given the choice between the Dual Shock and Nintendo's controller, Sony wins every time. I found the trick system very fluid and intuitive on the Dual Shock while the GameCube seemed more of a struggle no matter which preset I tried. The Xbox has the clutch and the preload assigned to the analog triggers which offer a greater travel distance than the buttons on the Dual Shock, but the game doesnt really allow for variable levels of preload or clutch control.
While this round is arguably a draw I did prefer the PS2 controller for overall comfort during extended periods of gameplay.
Round 2: Visuals
The PS2 offers some impressive visuals that actually outshine the potentially more powerful GameCube. The riders look better and have smoother animation than the GameCube version and the PS2 seems to have more vibrant colors. The GameCube smoothes out the textures and eliminates some jaggies but at the cost of contrast and clarity.
The PS2 also has better lighting and particle effects, which is surprising considering the capabilities of the GameCube. Even more surprising were the more than frequent slowdowns in the action when multiple riders were on the screen kicking up dust. The entire game came to a crawl, which was very disappointing given the power of the GameCube.
The Xbox version slips into second place even though it is identical to the PS2 version in both quality and the level of special effects. It doesn't look like anything was really being done to take advantage of the extra power of the Xbox. The framerate may have been marginally smoother but given the extra development time for this version I was hoping for something more.
Round 3: Music & Sound
As you might expect from the name, this game features a funky soundtrack that really gets you grooving while you zip around the large assortment of indoor and outdoor circuits. The Dolby surround mix of the PS2 is very nice and separates music from the above-average engine noises and occasional shouts of the riders. There is even some pre-race commentary from actual ESPN announcers.
The GameCube features all of the music and sounds of the PS2 version but it just doesn't seem as nice in overall quality. The surround mix isn't as spatial and the crispness just isn't there, almost as if the music is being decompressed on the fly.
The Xbox win this round with a soundtrack that is identical to the PS2 but it also offers the ability to play your own custom soundtracks. That's always worth a few extra points, especially in a game that you will be playing much longer than there is original music to support it. While I was disappointed that there was no Dolby Digital mix, the Xbox does use the same excellent surround mix found on the PS2 giving you a great awareness of the other racers on the track, even when you can't see them.
Round 4: Other Deciding Factors
The only thing going for the GameCube version of MX Superfly is that there isn't a big selection of MX racing games on the GameCube. PS2 owners have a better selection of motocross titles but the fact that this is by far the best also makes a statement.
The Xbox easily wins this round, but only if you are an Xbox owner who is using the Xbox Live service. If you are then you get to download exclusive new content for your game to keep things fresh and exciting long after you have finished the career, mini-games, and two-player modes.
It's clear this game was designed for the PS2 then quickly ported to the GameCube. None of the special features or additional power of Nintendo's box is taken advantage of making the PS2 a clear victor in this comparative challenge. GameCube owners will still have a good time, and with nothing else in the genre competing for your MX racing dollar, Superfly is a great ride on the Cube - it's just a better one on the PS2.
The designers definitely tried harder when porting this game to the Xbox and managed to include a few nice extra goodies, but in the end they failed to really enhance the graphics or the sound presentation. Superfly is a great game, but it could have been so much better with just a little extra effort. Instead, it is merely an identical clone of the PS2 that looks and plays exactly the same. Don't let the scores fool you. You really can't go wrong with either version. I'm just being overly critical of the Xbox version because of so many "missed opportunities".