Who needs Trials Evolution when you can play Motocross Maniacs on the Game Boy? Okay, that's a stupid question. Everybody should be playing Trials Evolution, because it's awesome and one of the best games of 2012. But if the only system you have is a Game Boy and you yearn for completing overly-complicated obstacle courses with a motorbike, then you should already be playing Motocross Maniacs.
Instead of trying to simulate Excitebike-style races, Motocross Maniacs opts for something more akin to a traditional platformer. You still need to cross the finish line before time runs out, but this is a game more about landing harrowing jumps than speed.
You learn early on that most tracks have multiple paths, each depending on how skilled you are on the bike. The fastest way is in the sky, where you're expected to go over massive jumps and loopty-loops. The high road is not only more exciting, but also littered with much-needed power-ups. In sharp contrast, the lower path is usually full of mud, rough jumps and other things that will slow you down.
Although you can't run out of gas, the real lifeblood of Motocross Maniacs is the nitro canisters. You start with four, but it's vitally important to pick up more along the way. Without the extra speed boost, players won't have an opportunity to gain access to faster paths and pick up better power-ups. Instead you'll be forced to head on the lower road hoping to pick up a spare can of nitro along the away.
Other power-ups give you extra time and tire traction. Perhaps the most interesting is the jet icon, which allows players to double, triple and quadruple jump in mid-air. It's incredibly satisfying flying over the finish line like an airplane.
Like most Game Boy games, there isn't a whole lot of content in Motocross Maniacs. With only eight stages (each with three variations), it won't take you long to do and see everything. There's a competitive mode where players race against the computer, but it isn't different enough from the standard mode to set itself apart. On the other hand, it's fun to go back and beat your high scores. The levels are interesting enough to warrant repeat plays.
Trials Evolution may have more content and better graphics, but Motocross Maniacs holds its own in this incredibly unfair match-up. This was one of the best early Game Boy games, and still remains a solid racing/platformer. It turns out that Ultra Games was onto something back in back in 1990.