Format reviewed: NES/Famicom
Developer: Nintendo R&D2
Submitted by: Steven Ronald Jackson
Video-games and futuristic settings are normally a match made in heaven. The imaginative and infinite possibilities setting a game in the future allows go as far as gaming programmers want. Even the earliest of games were set in the future or at least space, allowing imaginations to run wild. One such game which followed this trend was the NES’s Mach Rider.
Mach Rider is set in the year 2112 and has you taking on the role of the eponymous Mach Rider, trying to defeat the evil Quadrunners which have invaded the Earth. Armed with an array of bullets on your modified futuristic motorcycle, you have to race and destroy all the Quadrunners to save mankind.
Mach Rider was one of the initial 18 launch titles for the NES and it is fair to say, it has not aged well. The game itself has three modes/courses; Fighting, Endurance and Solo. Fighting course is the main mode in the game which has you trying to navigate through 10 sectors of the Earth, while being attacked by Quadrunners. Endurance course has you trying to get to a specific distance (in kilometres) before the timer runs out, or you are killed by the Quadrunners (Solo is exactly the same, bar containing no enemies). There is also an mode which allows players to design their own tracks and race round them, which is a novel touch.
So in short the gameplay modes are not very appealing, and the same can be said for the graphics. The graphics on Mach Rider are challenging to say the least. Due to the speed you are travelling on screen, the windy roads and bends cause the screen to rapidly move, which when mixed in with the various coloured backgrounds, headaches and eyestrain are abound. This is mainly down to the NES’s graphical capabilities for a game like this, so it could not be avoided, but when played almost over 20 years later, they haven’t aged well.
The controls are so-so. While the bike has the option of having four inter-changing speeds by pressing up on the D-Pad and shooting out bullets by pressing the B button, the controls are very slippery. More often than not you crash into barrels which are meant to stop you or oil slicks or even crash into fellow drivers, which is the biggest pain of all.
In conclusion, Mach Rider was a brave attempt at something new, but sadly due to hardware capabilities and limitations hasn’t aged well or got to its full potential. Mach Rider would however set the groundwork for Nitendo’s hugely successful F-Zero franchise and being one of the 18 launch NES titles, it does have some significance at least. The game got re-released for the Wii’s Virtual Console, with the new option of allowing players to save designed tracks, but if I was you, I would save your points and get F-Zero instead. However, if Nintendo are ever short of an idea for a game, an updated version of Mach Rider I think would be a great project, especially with the new hardware capabilities since the game was originally released, allowing this classic to be enjoyed to its fullest potential.