I have hung fire reviewing Road Rash as it was one of my favourite games growing up.
Road Rash is a racing game with a twist! 5 races per level, 5 levels. Finish in the top 5 in all races move onto the next level. Unlike many games at the time, there are no checkpoints, and if you don’t finish in the top 5 you can redo the level.
You only gameover by running out of money, either through being repeatedly arrested, or constantly crashing and wrecking your bike.
The big twist? You can beat up your opponents! The fighting is rudimentary, but the general gist is punch somebody, and they will fall off.
Fall off your bike? Well, you need to run after it!
This is context specific, and can lead to some very unfortunate situations. Crash at the wrong point and you’ll get busted by the police. Hit a road sign at the wrong angle and you’ll be propelled 300 metres down the road resulting a long run back to your bike.
There isn’t really any no rubber banding in Road Rash either, the winner is usually the best rider in that race. None of this Mario Kart shit of pre-destined winners. No “park on startline for 30 seconds and still win“, you need to go for it, every race, and the top 3 will change each race, making the racing seem a little more realistic. Certainly more fun than Bowser stomping you, because that game Bowser was deemed to be god.
If you’re easing off the gas to avoid an obstacle, the opponent will speed off. Hang back from a police officer, they’ll speed off.
It is risk vs reward, which unfortunately for me doesn’t have much pay off.
I can’t complete Road Rash. I can’t finish a single race on Level 5. The best I have ever done is get busted 0.1 of a KM away from the chequered flag.
The difficulty curve is somewhat Mount Everest in ascension; you’ll be able to fluff your way to level 5.
But Level 5… Christ. Non-stop and constant hell! Cars over every hillbrow, corners you need to break on (that opponents don’t) and a police officer every mile or so.
I don’t profess to be good at a lot of games, I don’t think I ever beat Road Rash as a kid, and I can’t beat it now. I spent a solid hour on one track on Level 5 and still couldn’t finish. I sucked ass.
Now, the difficulty curve is fair, and if you put the time in, you’ll pass it. But for me, it was a step too far.
Road Rash does a good job of bringing the characters to life. 10 or so racers are given a personality, and in between races you’ll be given hints, tips, warnings, threats, and even back story.
It makes you feel as though there is something going on bigger than ‘Player A’ is trying to win the sports.
The Megadrive really did excel on music, the bass lines were impressive and Road Rash doesn’t let you down. There is nothing you would listen to outside the game, but what is on offer is decent enough.
You can listen to the soundtrack on YouTube.
The sound effects though… sheesh! If you turn the music off you’ll be treated to a noise that can only be described as mosquitoes playing the vuvuzela. It is a right din!
Road Rash is still a good enough game, you will have fun having a bash with it. Sadly, the difficulty is a little too tough, and you will get frustrated when you hit the wall.
Road Rash is not ‘as good’ as I remember, but I did play solidly for 6 hours and didn’t notice how long I’d been playing.
Pros: good racing for Megadrive, racers have a personality, the twist at the end, running the entire race on foot
Cons: Hard as hell, SoundFX grate!