Rad Mobile (Sega, February 1991)Posted on March 9th, 2010 19 comments
I’ve got fond memories of this. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that it’s my favorite “sprite-scaling” arcade racer of all time; certainly it’s the pinnacle of the sub-genre, which got its start with Out Run back in 1986. It’s packed with awesome little details, from the hilarious voice work to the way your avatar adjusts his gloves right after the start of the game — and no, you can’t control the car while he’s doing this.
The first game on Sega’s System 32 platform (and therefore the first 32-bit arcade game ever), Rad Mobile is neat partly because of its sheer length. A successful trip through Out Run takes about six to eight minutes; crossing the USA in Rad Mobile takes up to eighteen. It’s a test of concentration, especially in the later stages where the roads narrow and get packed full with cars driving at high speed and switching lanes without signaling — a very realistic simulation of East Coast traffic, even today.
Sega released a port called Gale Racer for the Saturn in Japan, but it’s not very good — I mean, the cars are 3D models, for Chrissakes.
Also worth noting: This game actually beat out Sonic the Hedgehog, the Genesis game, to market by about five months, making this (believe it or not) the character’s video-game debut. Wikipedia has no citation for this, but my copy of Famitsu DC’s Sega Arcade History — itself a collector’s item these days, going for 5000 yen or so in the aftermarket shops — confirms the dates.
I remember being really impressed by the fact that you could push a button to turn on your windshield wipers. 32-bit realism!! Could never make it past the rocky mountains level, though.
Great game. A Saturn port? Had I known, I would have picked it up a long time ago just to see what it is like. I am intrigued (despite your warnings).
I think it is pretty kool that Sonic debuted in Rad Mobile, of all places, before his titular game for Genesis.
Oh, before I forget: the Marble Madness posts stirred up some serious feelings and I started playing it again. Good times.
I remember loving the Sonic keyring in this *SO MUCH*. Much more than the game itself.
BTW, can I nitpick and say that Sega’s sprite-scaling racing heritage really starts with Hang On rather than Outrun?
Wow… oncoming traffic, banked turns, night driving, windshield wipers, trains(!), caves cops, Sonic keychains… this game sure throws a lot at you.
“NOW YOU TOOK THE TOP RAD!!” is going to my new personal mantra from now on.
Man, that brings me back — I played this game a lot when I was a kid. I didn’t catch the palm trees and snow-capped mountains of, uh, Chicago, though!
You can skip parts of the course by driving through the differently-colored guardrails between courses, marked by signs. Doing so doesn’t get you the best ending, though.
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