Road Rash
for 3DO

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Mr Creosote:
Company: Electronic Arts
Year: 1994
Genre: Sport, Action
Theme: Driving / Fighting
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 659
Review by Mr Creosote (2020-12-19)
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Given Electronic Arts' long history of vocally supporting newly introduced, technologically promising systems which ultimately failed to make an impact on the market, it's a wonder they are still around these days. In case of the 3DO, it made some sense, given that their own founder, former CEO and at the time still board member Trip Hawkins was behind this new console. Electronic Arts' contribution: a re-imagination of one of their highest profile games released for their previous love, the Sega Mega Drive.

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Road Rash had actually turned into a series on that system, with its third part being developed at the same time as this game. Direct comparison really showed the "next gen" nature of the 3DO: colourful graphics (even if not in real 3D yet) and, more importantly, CD quality music not just of typical video game composition, but real songs from real metal bands booming from the speakers. All spiced up with what was then called "full motion videos" of bikers as cutscenes between the races.

Appreciation of both those videos and the music, obviously, being a big question of personal taste. As hard as it may be to imagine taking a band called Monster Magnet seriously, it is undeniable that this genre of music just fits spot on in frame of such game contents. As for the videos, they are obviously grainy from today's point of view, but by virtue of being full screen alone, they easily impressed anyone back then. Content-wise, they are made with an eye for semi-ironic distance towards its own contents, increasing the game's accessibility for non-bikers hundredfold.

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What's unfortunately often missed both in contemporary reviews and retrospective is that although basic gameplay has been retained mostly unchanged, the racing courses did receive a major revamp. Specifically, the different categories of tracks (which existed before) have been vastly diversified. Number of lanes on the road, amount of traffic and other obstacles makes for quite a different challenge between a city versus a coastside landscape, for example. In the same vein, the cycles which can be bought using the price money handle quite differently, too. Rising from league to league, challenge gradually increases due to a combination of length of the races and AI controlled drivers making fewer mistakes.

In spite of the gimmick of punching and kicking other drivers obviously being what most people associate this game with and in spite of the cartoony game physics (with drivers being catapulted off their rides at collisions, only to get up again unharmed right after), this fine-tuned challenge makes Road Rash a significantly more serious racing game than one would think. The fact that it received much more character in this version is just the icing on the cake. The "multimedia" fluff may not have aged perfectly (though I've seen much worse), but the game itself is good enough to have stood the test of time.

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