Great moments in PC gaming: Blasting off the wall of death in Motocross Madness

Sometimes you have to make your own fun.

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Motocross Madness

A dirtbike launches into the air

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Developer: Rainbow Studios
Year: 1998

In the vast tundra of Motocross Madness there were few landmarks. The game map was a mostly barren wasteland, with only a small motocross track carved through it. Outside of the pre-ordained track, next to nothing. That is, until you hit The Wall.

Instead of an invisible wall preventing you from escaping the bounds of the map, which was the go-to approach for many games in the late ’90s and early ’00s, Motocross Madness offered a looming cliff. A cliff so large it would put off anyone thinking of trying to progress any further, in theory. But this cliff wasn’t insurmountable. It was very surmountable. You just needed to be a bored kid with nothing better to do than drive full-pelt at the wall and hope that through sheer speed and a dash of luck you’d make it to the top.

I must have spent countless hours driving at that cliff, trying to figure out how best to reach the top. Direct at the face? Parallel to the cliff edge and turning in at the last second? As it turns out, the trick was to find a particularly concave bit of the wall and drive extremely fast from a good distance away at a sort of 30° angle.

And once you hit the top, that was only half of it. Dare I say one of the most enjoyable easter eggs in any game—if you can even call it that—was learning that if you kept driving away from the cliff edge and even further to the outreaches of absolutely nowhere, Motocross Madness would launch you and your bike hundreds of metres into the air.

What made it so fun is that Motocross Madness had surprisingly good ragdoll physics for the time. The bike went flying one way, your rider went off the other, both eventually tumbling back down across the featureless tundra. Then you’d just pop right back on the bike and do it all over again.

Looking at videos of others enjoying the same thing brings the memories flooding back—sitting around the home PC with a few pals as we took it in turns to launch off the cliff and come crashing down. Just hearing the tinny sound of the bike revving up makes me smile.

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