bring-back-road-rash

In a world where racing games usually involve taking a vehicle around a track smoothly with precision or using power-ups to better your opponents, one game series stands out. Because it features baseball bats and chains which you can smack over competitors heads at breakneck speeds while hanging on for dear life in the saddle of a superbike. Until you slam head-on into oncoming traffic or are busted by the cops.

Road Rash wasn’t your typical racer. Not many games bring the adrenaline, violence, and quirkiness Road Rash brought to the table. It’s a game series that isn’t really around anymore and that’s a shame. Because it was great fun when it was around (for the most part that is). And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who would like to see it return.

Retro Racer

The Road Rash series started in 1991 with the release of ‘Road Rash’ on the MEGA DRIVE/GENESIS. Various Ports and sequels would follow including my personal favourite, a remake of the original Road Rash using the same name which released on the 3DO, PlayStation 1, Sega CD/Mega-CD Saturn and PC (the PS1 version was the version I played).

Road Rash would also make the leap to 3D with Road Rash 3D. However, the response to this game was fairly average whereas older games received positive receptions.

Currently, the Road Rash franchise lays dormant with publisher EA. It hasn’t seen a release since Road Rash: JailBreak in 2000. Though some would say 2003, as that year a GameBoy Advance port of JailBreak was released.

Punching > Racing Line

Road Rash presented an arcade version of racing where a clean smooth approach wasn’t the way to win. Instead a heaping of punches, whacks and bashes would lead you to victory.

Motorcycles where what you would find yourself using in these races. The open nature of motorcycles lent themselves to the physical up close and personal combat cars couldn’t deliver.

Motorcycles also mean more risk. Get hit too many times, hit a tree or collide with a car and you would find yourself being flung into another postcode. The risk paired with the speed kept you glued to the race.

If that wasn’t enough, the long arm of the law would reach for you. Aiming to put an end to your violent vehicular escapades.

1st Gear Knock Out

I remember Road Rash being so fun not just for the extreme two-wheeled action. But because it didn’t take itself that seriously.

One of the best ways this is displayed is in the remake of the original, with its live-action FMV scenes. That would play during various points, like getting busted or unlocking a new level. Scenes like having your bike shot with a shotgun by the police. Or having another rider run over your rider’s wrist as he lays there next to his wrecked bike leaving him rolling in pain on the road. These where the sort of things you would see in the videos.

It may sound quite, well, not very funny. But the sound effects, visuals, subtle voice lines, and general 90’sness give them a comedy feel. Hey, the intro scene shows some sweet motorcycle tricks and the winner ones show you celebrating your triumph (no pun intended) so it’s not all savagery.

road-rash

I can’t help but think that the people who made and were in the scenes had fun making them. I also can’t help but just smile when I watch them. I’m not really one for live-action but if the series ever does return, I hope we get FMV scenes like these ones.

Road Rash had other quirks as well. If you crashed your bike you would be hurled down the road, leaving you to run back to your bike and pick it up or you could just run around in the road if you so desired. And Road Rash 3 had cars change what side of the road they drove on depending on what country the race was set in.

The gameplay is unique and awesome which also plays a big part in why I remember it and would like to see a new release. It was a blast, the speed and threat of other riders beating you literally and to the finish line made the games a thrill.

False Start

Road Rash isn’t active anymore, hence why this is called ‘Bring Back Road Rash’. But what if I told you it could have become active again. Discussion around the internet points at a canceled entry in the series from 2006. Concept art from a game called ‘Road Rash 2006’, along with an early animation from a potential new entry back this up.

Criterion developers of Burnout hinted at a return, with the former creative director at Criterion Craig Sullivan saying “I had a lot of fun playing that game, we think bikes are fun”.”We might make a Road Rash game… But then we might make a game without vehicles in it” when speaking with The Guardian.

Wildcard

The Road Rash spirit has tried to be emulated in other games, for example, ‘Jacked’ which originally came out back in 2003, but the less said about it the better.

Then there is ‘Road Rage’ from 2017. Another botched attempt at recapturing the magic. It failed pretty spectacularly, with the PS4 and Xbox One versions on Metacritic receiving a 26 and 33 respectively. Don’t even go near this one.

Road Redemption is probably the best instance of the Road Rash feel in a non Road Rash game. It’s available on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. Meaning it’s easier to acquire and play compared to Jacked. Not like you would want to play Jacked anyway. Road Redemption received average reception from critics, and it didn’t really fill the hole Road Rash left. But it’s the best we’ve got for now.

There was a game on the PSP called EA Replay which was a compilation of old school EA games, Road Rash 1, 2 and 3 were part of this compilation. It was nice to get them on a newer console, even if it was handheld and it showed EA still remembered the franchise existed and they had the rights to it. Not like anything else come of it though, did it?

road-rash

Twist the Throttle

If the series ever does come back I hope it keeps its humorous side, brings the live-action segments back and sticks to what makes it great, bombastic, barbaric motorbike antics with the throttle pinned in 6th gear. Despite people saying the games haven’t aged well, I still think there is a place for a new modern version. Which keeps the heart and soul of its predecessor’s while feeling good to today’s audience.

On a side note, you don’t realise how long I’ve wanted to talk about those FMV sections from the 3DO/PS1 game.

3 COMMENTS

  1. 10-15 years ago, a studio would be super happy if, the game that cost them 30 or 40 millions to make, would sell well and would make 100 or 120 millions. That would be considered a massive success.
    Devs were themselves gamers, and they would put a tin of love into their creations… after all, they would also be playing those games.
    Devs had hundreds of ideas, to create hundreds of great games, but, unfortunately, resources, employees, money, was limited.

    Today, these big companies have 10’000 employees, they have dozens of billions in cash, and many titles bring them a constant flow of cash, from hundreds of millions to over 1 billion.

    These companies own hundreds of smaller studios, and licenses, and, with three current tools, where we can create a gta5 map, with random buildings, trees, npcs, roads, mountains, etc etc, by setting a few rules, a few variables and values.. press enter… and in 5 seconds, a full playable map is generated. Current tools allow creating games, much easier, much faster, with less employees.

    These companies could easily grab a few hundreds of employees, and could easily make a ton of smaller, but still great games.

    An example, Peggle 2, published by EA. All my friends, even my family, adored playing this game. Move a line, and press x to shot.
    I even platinumed the game.
    Now, EA could really create a Peggle 3, with a level editor, in just a few months. A level editor would let users create millions of different levels, like little big planet.
    10 to 15 employees, and 5 or 6 months, would be enough to make such game. No need for some top senior enginneers, even young, talented people could easily do it. With less than $100’000 , EA could finish that game. At $10, if EA sold at least 150k copies, they would already make 1.5 millions.
    Hey, 1.5 millions , that’s 10 times tube initial investment. Aren’t 1.5 millions any good ? Peanuts ?
    Who, in the world, wouldn’t want to get 10 times the investment…?

    Obviously, EA has 0 interest in making such games. Today, all these companies care about is, selling a game, and then, keep selling thousands of different items, as microtransactions, so the money never stops falling from the sky.

    They would only release a Peggle3 game, if they could grab 1000 or 10’000 extra bucks, from each buyer. No items to sell, in a game ? Then, NO GAME !

    video games are no longer a question of love, passion, devotion, to create the best game as possible, and make the gamer happy.
    No. After google, Facebook and apple started selling mobile games, some big investors, the same who buy tv channels, movies, magazines, or pretty much anything that can make them a lot of money, started noticing some little, stupid video games were making several millions per day. And so they started approaching all the big studios, with their pockets full of billions.

    Suddenly, many of these guys became CEOs, and they brought with them an army of shareholders.
    THESE are the people who agree making 99% of the decisions. These people don’t play video games, most even hate video games. All they care about is more and more cash.

    When someone says ‘we should create 2 new levels, and introduce a new character”, the first question they will ask won’t be ” wil the game be much better, with those levels ?”, but rather “how much will those levels cost ? ”

    No love, no passion, nothing. Only cash matters. The same with movies. Most movies released today, are just comics/super heroes stuff, with tons of visual fx…

    I spent hundreds of hours, playing road rash games on my Sega Genesis/ megadrive, with my brothers. Ultra simplistic graphics, running on a 7 MHz Motorola cpu… but so much fun !

    Of course, Ea wil never bring back such game… and thousands others. Not only they can’t monetize these games, but also, they prefer having a ton of gamers playing super monetized games than playing some tiny $5 title.

    Even the sports games. Back in the days, we all had tons of fun, playing soccer games… nba games… golf…. tennis….motorbike games…baseball…hockey…damn, even those multi sports Olympic games.

    Graphics weren’t super detailed, but games were super deep, and every year, devs tried to make everything much better.

    Today, all these games are just casino games, where we start with players and teams so so weak, that it is impossible to win a match. In order to win a match, we must level up everything… but to level up everything, we must win matches…solution: PayPal or Visa card.

    It is impossible to play a sports game, without spending hundreds of thousands of real money ! Even worse, when it’s a EA game !

    So yeah, I wish I could play a road rash, with photorealistic visuals, raytracing, etc, on the next gen consoles. But that’s simply impossible.

    When we grab a creation, a piece of art, etc, and we remove the love and passion, and money is the only incentive, it’s basically over !

  2. Microtransactions are not just ruining franchises that are active, but they are sabotaging the ones that aren’t. Why make a niche game when you can sell some digital sports cards and make 50x more.

    More risky games just won’t get the support they need, meaning less games which are different or bring new ideas to the table. It’s really sad and unfortunate.

  3. Microtransactions are not just ruining franchises that are active, but they are sabotaging the ones that aren’t. Why make a niche game when you can sell some digital sports cards and make 50x more.

    More risky games just won’t get the support they need, meaning less games which are different or bring new ideas to the table. It’s really sad and unfortunate.

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