[I ♥ The PC Engine] MotoroaderPosted on September 3rd, 2009 3 comments
Maker: NCS (Masaya)
Release Date: 2/23/89
Price: 5200 yen
Media: HuCard (2 Mbit)
PC Engine FAN Score: 21.19 / 30.00
This game has a tendency to be heavily overlooked in modern times. You can’t blame people; it looks remarkably Famicom-like and seems to be over in less than an hour after you begin playing it. But this game earned its PCE FAN score (and, in fact, scored the cover of the April ’89 issue, which included a massive strategy guide covering every course in detail) because, for a pretty short time in the marketplace, it was the killer app for Multitap owners.
Simply put, Motoroader is a five-player overhead racing game. You’ve got eight courses, you’ve got five crazy futuristic race cars driving ’em (designed, funnily enough, by Masami Ōbari, who worked on about eight billion SF and girl-service anime in the 1980s and ’90s), and that’s about it. A lot of the basic design is swiped from Sega’s 1988 arcade game Hot Rod, a slightly obscure release which I loved to bits but strangely never got ported to any console. (Activision did a few low-quality computer ports that were released in Europe only.)
The race gameplay itself is pretty simple, and once you get a grip on the outline of each track, you can pretty much beat the computer cars every time…if you were evenly matched. Parts selection between heats takes on supreme importance in this game for the plain fact that the computer is cheating harder than me when I play Monopoly. While I have no physical evidence, it seems like the computer cars have some sort of mafia deal with the auto shop and get all their parts for half price or something — you’re still bumming around with your future equivalent of a Corolla and meanwhile your opponents all have turbo and enhanced acceleration. This means nabbing 1st place in the first two or so heats is all but required; otherwise, you won’t earn the money you’ll desperately need for the upgrades that keep you competitive in the latter half of the game.
It’s not fair, no, but — as you’ll see in the video below — even the crappiest cars have half a chance at victory. In addition to optional weaponry you can install to turn your bout of Motoroading into a Mad Max death-a-rama, the game also has a helper function that automatically puts you back in the middle of the screen, without penalty, if you get scrolled off by the leader. The smart gamer deliberately lowers his speed just before everyone reaches the finish so he’ll (hopefully) get scrolled off and be carted across the line ahead of everyone else by the computer. This ProTip will make your friends hate you, but the PC Engine will see nothing wrong with it, and really, that’s what matters.
Motoroader is undoubtedly at its best as a Multitap game with as many human beings as you can round up, and for this scenario, NCS has a great deal of extra content available in the form of hidden codes. With the right button inputs, you can unlock not one, not two, but 32 extra courses — two sets of tracks that mimic real-life raceways, one 8-heat set of beginner tracks, and a “crazy” course run, including a course that is nothing but cross intersections which makes your head spin if you try to run it at any speed.
This game is pretty common in Japan nowadays; presumably once Bomberman came out, that became the choice for most Multitap owners. It proved popular enough to spawn two sequels, however, the last of which was a 1992 Super CD-ROM release.
1. It was a blast to play this with a bunch of friends back in the day, despite its shortcomings (i.e. the lead car had very little time to react to the changing course). Yes, there was always someone who cheated by warping and using weapons at the finish line. It was infuriating and hilarious.
2. The ladies.
3. The music is really wonderful. These tunes maintain a vibrant, distinctive fingerprint… even today. The tunes feature an odd pairing of incessant double-bass drums + ethereal synth keyboard, and, for whatever reason, the formula works. The drums, which could easily overwhelm the synth, actually complement the synth nicely.
4. The ladies.
i hated this game when i first played it, before i realized top-down racing games are actually fun. now i lurves it! especially the first sequel!
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