Saturday, July 15, 2017

First Impressions: Rad Racer

The other day, I was out running some errands, and popped into my local used game shop.  After browsing for a bit, I found Rad Racer, a classic racing game, for $5.  This was a game I'd heard of, but had heard mixed reviews.  It sounded like this was one of those games that was every American of a certain age's first game in the genre.  Out of historical curiosity, I picked it up.

One of the biggest surprises of my recent foray into retro-gaming has been how much I've enjoyed racing games.  One of the first N64 games I bought was Cruisin' USA.  Surprisingly I've put significantly more N64 time into that game than games like Goldeneye and Super Smash Bros.  I've also discovered a number of other classic racers like San Fransisco Rush(also N64) F-Zero(Super NES).  Rad Racer is the first NES racer I've played and I'm genuinely impressed with what they did with the technology available.

Rad Racer's gameplay is basically exactly what I expected.  It's a very simple behind the car view going down the road, with other cars acting as obstacles, and street signs that cause the car to get thrown if you hit them.  One criticism of the game is that sometimes cars or turns will pop up without giving time to adjust, and the street signs that warn of the turns are sometimes difficult to read.

In spite of all that, it's a simple game that I can put on mute while I listen to a podcast.  The blue sky or the black night and some of the simple scenery do a great job of making the game feel like I'm on the open road.  Obviously the arcade racing genre has evolved since Rad Racer, and there are probably better games from this era as well, but I still can't shake the idea that without games like Rad Racer, we wouldn't have Cruisin' USA, one of my all time favorite games for N64.  Not to mention, it's a nice break from Dark Souls.

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