The One

Road Rash

Author: Gary Whitta
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in The One #50

Motorbike racing with a hefty amount of cheatng and violence thrown in is the name of the game in Electronic Arts' second Megadrive-to-Amiga conversion. Gary Whitta straddles the throbbing metal monster.

Road Rash (Electronic Arts)

From the moment you turn to the totally unscrupulous first page in the instruction manual, it's instantly clear what sort of game Road Rash is. A motorcycle racing game, sure, but one where the object is to win no matter how devious the required tactics. The action - set around a fictitious pan-American bike racing tournament held every year between the country's meanest, dirtiest riders - is your basic arcade-style racer, but with one notable twist - it's possible (and entirely acceptable in the rule book) to clobber opposing riders and try to knock them, quite literally, out of the race.

There are five tracks across the United States and you have to race each one against fourteen other 'Rashers', advancing through the levels and accumulating prize money with which to buy faster, more powerful bikes. And so it goes round and round. The only problem is the constant threat of having your neck broken by a timely thump from a fellow racer or by falling foul of the maniac car-drivers who are trying to use the road too. Oh, and did we mention the cops that make the guys out of CHIPS look like Dixon of Dock Green? If you don't end up in hospital or in prison you might just come out of this a rich man...

Each of the five tracks differs slightly in length and terrain, but the object of each is the same - win! You can have as many attempts as you like, but you must finish fourth or better in all the races in order to qualify for the next, tougher level. As you progress through levels, you race the same five tracks, but they get longer and the opponents and the cops get meaner.

Road Rash

Road Rash races don't take place on specialised tracks but on public roads far from the city. As such there isn't much in the way of roadside obstacles and so accidentally riding off the road, although it slows you down, needn't be fatal. There's always the chance that you'll hit some rogue cactus or bush, though, so stay tight on the corners and don't go drifting off.

Of the multitude of other Rashers on the road, there are about half a dozen colourful characters worth watching out for. Before each race, one of them pops up with a brief message, either commenting on the last race, offering some tips for the next, or just shooting the breeze as these Californian types like to do. Alternatively, one of the motorcycle cops might turn up with a warning to watch your speed - if they do, it's a sure-fire bet they'll be there, keeping an eye on you during the race.

The Verdict

To some extent, the jury's still out on this one - the office opinions on Road Rash are a real mixed bag. After much playing and haggling, and then some more playing and a bit more haggling, we came to the decision that Road Rash is a good game, but not a great one.

Road Rash

The biggest thing in its favour is simply that it achieves its most important goal - it's a lot of fun to play. It feels good, the controls are responsive, there's a good sensation of speed and there's plenty of action and excitement all round. However, it's saddening to see that the Amiga converters haven't really bothered to do that much with the material they've been given, and the result is a game that might be fine on the Megadrive but looks and eventually feels a little primitive for the Amiga.

There's a lot to be said for the fact that Activision's Super Hang-On, which is getting on for four years, is faster and more polished than this. Graphically a lot could have been done, but unfortunately there's nothing that really stands out and impresses, and the same goes for the music, which sounds more suited to an ST than an Amiga. Gameplaywise, you could probably guess at Road Rash's console origins if you didn't already know - it's about as deep as the toddlers' pool at the swimming baths, and ultimately its entertainment is limited, if only because there's not a great deal of variety between the different tracks and opponents.

The police are a nice touch, but prospective buyers shouldn't expect too much of the game's violent bits - they're good fun and a worthwhile addition but not as integral to the action as you might be led to believe - think of them as an entertaining side salad to the main meal. What Road Rash really needed was a split-screen or link-up option so that two players could kick the Hell out of each other - that might have made all the difference. As it stands, Road Rash is a worthwhile racer that's definitely worth a look if you're more into bikes than cars, but there are plenty of other speedsters out there.

Gary Whitta

Other Amiga 500 Game Reviews By Gary Whitta

  • Populous Front Cover
  • Super Hang-On Front Cover
    Super Hang-On
  • Dynamite Dux Front Cover
    Dynamite Dux
  • Sub Battle Simulator Front Cover
    Sub Battle Simulator
  • Vixen Front Cover
  • Final Assault Front Cover
    Final Assault
  • Paperboy Front Cover
  • Army Moves Front Cover
    Army Moves
  • Star Ray Front Cover
    Star Ray
  • Skychase Front Cover