Rad Racer
Box Shot
Rad Racer
Platform: NES
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Square
Genre: Racing
Players: 1
Published Date 1987
Reviewed by: 8-Bit Star


Oh, the Squaresoft of the old days, making...... RACING GAMES? Interesting... This is an obvious Pole Position clone, and I didn't like Pole Position. I don't like this either, it just reeks of design flaws!

There is no story. Just go. Not even some hot blonde (a la Out Run) sitting in the passenger seat, so I'll just get on with the actual gameplay. You drive on a linear track, that is, you can NOT go off of it, or you crash, which I'll get to later. You must stay on at all times (just like in Pole Position) driving carefully to go on curves, and the like.

Let's get the GOOD things out of the way: there are three music tunes, two of them are good and the other one is just okay. You can change tunes by pressing DOWN, but I'll get to that...

There are plenty of problems though. First, the control. The actual commands and stuff are just fine, A accelerates, B Brakes, UP gives a Turbo boost, etc. The problem lies in the on screen action. Your car tends to skid a lot, often into the side of the road, in which it crashes. Everything you do gives it a 90% chance of skidding. Go too fast around a curve, it skids and crashes...get caught in a twisitng path, it skids and crashes...touch a fellow racer with your pinky, it skids and crashes... get what I mean? Often an enemy tends to be right in front of you, and simply lightly bumping his back can send you off the road. As mentioned before, by pressing DOWN you can change the tune. I rather hate this, as it's kinda silly. Square couldn't even come up with a REAL use for the select button! It just makes a graphic glitch (which I heard was supposed to be a "3D Mode" but mine didn't come with the 3D Goggles, so it's moot.)

There's also a problem with the timer. You only have about 40-50 seconds to reach a checkpoint, in which you get another 40-50 seconds to reach the next checkpoint. As usual, the timer tends to speed by when you don't happen to be watching it. I hate this, for one, when recovering from a crash, the timer continues to count down. This would be expected, but it takes SOOO long for the car to get back on the road. Therefore crashing means like 7 seconds wasted, which is a problem in a game where you either drive straight or do alot of crashing (As I mentioned earlier, your car LOVES that roadside!). There is One thing though: when you run out of time, the game doesn't end until your car stops, and it takes it's time doing so, so you might reach a checkpoint before your car stops, and therefore can continue.

I must question the game structure, the tracks are described like this: "Turn this was, then turn this way, turn that way again" Where are the nice, peaceful straightaways? How about some some hills? Very rarely is there ever a good long straightaway, and these constant curves send your car screeching to the beloved roadside all the time. The Turbo boost is kinda useless because of this. Also, there are no continues, if you lose you must start from the beginning. Speaking of which, if you are having trouble completing difficulty Level 1, after awhile Level 2 cars show up (well, cars with Level 2 AI anyways). So therefore, the more you suck, the better the AI gets. Someone please explain this logic to me.

You might still have fun with this game though, despite it's problems. I found it fun, though not addicting. This one is rated Common+ (actually, I haven't seen it in very many places) so don't bother getting it if you collect rares. At the current I have not played Rad Racer 2 yet. If you are a Squaresoft fan and absolutely must have every game that they ever designed in order to qualify yourself as a certifiable nut, get this game. But remember, you were warned.......