Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Publisher: U.S. Gold
Developer: Electronic Arts
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
Start your engines, rashers, it’s time to hit the road and hit your opponents square in the helmet! Road rash is for all intents and purposes a motorbike racer, and a tight one at that, but it has a few tricks up its tight leather sleeve that have kept it in a lot of retro gamers consciousnesses and hearts for many years now. So for the uninitiated let me explain the ins, outs and roundabouts of what it takes to become a rasher!
The first thing you might notice when you’re done choosing your track and reading what one of the other cheesebag racers has to say to you, is that you can quite literally beat the other racers into a ditch at the side of the road. This can be done in a few ways the first of which is with a total classic: a punch in the face beef. This uncalled for assault will take a chunk off of your fellow racers health, and if you hit your opponent enough and they will come off their ride and land butt first on the road, or conversely if you get slapped about enough it’ll be you picking your sorry, grazed, hide off the floor with a spatula. Your other attack comes in the form of a solid kick in the shin that’ll send your target flying away from you and hence leave the road clear for you to take off for first. If you’re unlucky/lucky enough you may come across a rider who’s got him/herself a club that you can either snatch from them increasing your attack power significantly, or again on the other hand you could take the club square in the nugget and become a stain on the highway- I’d personally choose the former.
In addition to other rashers the road is often filled with other obstacles such as cars, police bikes (which will do their best to ram their Harley where the sun don’t shine), busy crossroads and oil slicks. Hit a car side on and you’ll come off your bike and be forced to run back to its scratched carcass somewhere down the road and climb back on. Hit a patch of oil and you’ll be left skidding around with your fingers crossed just hoping you don’t hit a tree.
On the side of the road you’ll whizz by a multitude of scenery, and the details in this game make most other SMS racers look a bit weak by comparison, however it’s not just eye candy at the side of them there roads, no sir, come off the road and you are in crapsville cause that scenery is out to get you. Hit a tree and you’re off your bike, hit a road sign it’s the same deal but if you hit something low down like a rock you’ll be launched into the air much like you’ve just come off one of the games many jumps.
There are only five stages on the SMS version but each has its own tunes and SFX which are quite decent. Each of these stages must be raced on before you race on them again with a higher difficulty, but hopefully by then you’ll have won enough cash by coming top in each race to buy yourself one of the bikes at the bike store.
All in all this is quite a lengthy game and as such a handy, but typically long winded, password system is available. As I hinted at before the games pace and graphical prowess are amongst the best of the 8-bit racers. Couple all this with great controls, interesting locals, decent sense of speed and just-one-more-go game play, plus 2 player action, and you got yourself a winner. This is getting a little thin on the ground for us Master System collectors so expect to pay over a tenner at very least but trust me this great conversion is totally worth it.