Growing up as a kid, what was your favorite dirtbike video game to play? We all had/have our favorites for our own specific reasonings. For me, there was two that stand out. The first being the Motocross Madness franchise, which we discussed earlier this year right here. The second was 989 Studios November 1999 release, Supercross Circuit for the PlayStation 1 console, which was developed by Idol Minds now under the name of Deck Nine since 2017, out of Westminster, CO. Supercross Circuit, was, in my opinion, the first-ever truly realistic Supercross video game to hit the shelves for the console world. And, why is that? Let’s digest…
Prior to the release of Supercross Circuit, The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, released the first-ever dirtbike video game named after a rider: Jeremy McGrath Supercross 98, which was developed by Probe Entertainment and published by ACCLAIM Entertainment. I remember playing MC’s game the day it was released and being both stoked to have a motocross specific video game and also wildly disappointed about how lame it was. Granted, this was the summer of 1998 so dirtbike videos games were not much of a thing, so we had to be thankful for what we could get our hands on. I remember learning to accept it for what it was and having fun. But, I wanted real tracks, real riders, real physics and, essentially, something less irritating than Vince Friese on a Supercross track. Enter, Supercross Circuit.
With Mike LaRocco on the cover, Supercross Circuit promised every Supercross track from the 1999 SX season, all 12 rounds of the 1999 outdoor motocross season, Loretta Lynn’s, real riders, real gear, real motorcycle manufacturers, real life physics, a track editor, and the most authentic career mode to date. And, you know what? For a first generation PS console video game, the developers of Supercross Circuit absolutely hit it out of the park. No questions asked. Aside from all of the aforementioned, what really stood out to me was their ability to capture accurate dirt bike sounds and also whips that you could do in the game. It was, in my opinion, maybe still, the first and only video game that achieved true-to-life whips in a motocross video game console with pretty damn accurate dirt bike sounds.
In terms of career mode, you started out in the amateur circuit. Considering this was 23 years ago, I don’t recall every detail of the video game, but I believe they had three or four amateur races you had to race before earning a contract to the pro ranks and Loretta Lynn’s was the final race on the circuit (I think). In 1999 if you hadn’t raced Loretta’s you only ever saw it in magazines and the Terrafirma movies. Gaining access to actually see that place was not like it is today with 14,000,000 videos on YouChoop, Instashit, DumbBook, and that other platform purchased by jackass, Electron Tusks. So, having that track in a video game was, for that era, a big fuckin’ deal. After successfully having an amateur career in the video game similar to Mike Alessi’s, you would earn your pro contract and decide if you wanted to race 125cc West Coast SX or 125cc East Coast SX with hopes of having better success than Alessi did in SX (sorry, Mike. I don’t mean it). And, of course, they replicated all of the tracks from the 1999 season the best they could. It did not suck. At all. I was in heaven. Badass tracks, bike sounds that sounded pretty damn true-to-form, and a cast of real racers to play as and race against.
It’s more commonplace today to have the current generation of video games feature all of the aforementioned (expect bike sounds. Not sure why Red Bull can send a man to space and broadcast it in HD, LIVE, around the world, but we still cannot get a dirt bike video game with authentic dirt bike sounds), but back then, Supercross Circuit was literally the first of its kind. As a kid back then, being able to select riders to play such as Casey Johnson, Doug Henry, Jeff Emig, Ezra Lusk, Larry Ward, John Dowd, Kevin Windham, Jimmy Button, Steve Lamson, Casey Lytle, and so many others was mind-bending. Again. It’s 1999. Social media did not exist. The Bill Gates and his dumb friends were in the midst of giving birth to the Internet, and our only real connection to motocross was watching the races on TV when David Bailey and Art Eckman would call them on ESPN2 at 2:48 a.m. on a Thursday (I actually miss those days). So, when the most realistic game for its time (Supercross Circuit) released, it was a way to feel connected and involved in a sport that we loved.
Watching the gameplay today, especially for you young kids, it is a bit laughable to see how pixelated and harsh the gameplay was/is. However, believe it or not, at the time, the developers and 989 Studios created something special that stands out as the first of its kind. Unfortunately, Supercross Circuit was also a one-and-done. I never found out the reasoning behind this, but a sequel never appeared. For several years, I held on with strong hopes that 989 Studios would break the news of a second installment of the game, however, it was never meant to be. It was a bummer then and a bummer now. For how forward-thinking this game was at the time, the levels of realism this game could’ve achieved through new installments could’ve really set the standard for dirt bike console games. If anybody out there knows anyone that worked on this game, please tell them I said, “Thank you!” And, if they would like to release a second installment of this game in the near future for my PS5 console, I will be the first name on that pre-order list because, well… I am still holding out hope for a Supercross Circuit 2.