Rad Racer II (NES)

Rad Racer II Box Art

Rad Racer II

System: NES

Release Date: June 1990

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square

Genre: Racing

Hop back in your souped up sports car in Rad Racer II. You may be fast, but are you talented enough to make it to the end of eight rally races? This is where man and machine work together reaching unfathomable speeds.

Race from Key West all the way to the Bay Bridge and plenty of tracks in between. Each course is a rally race where you need to reach two checkpoints and the finish within allotted times. Acceleration is handled by holding the A Button, while brakes are activated by the B Button. If you can keep up your speed, this isn’t too terrible a problem, but it is still a challenge. If you hold the d-pad up, you go into turbo speed. This is useful for getting up to your maximum speed, but should be held off once you get there, as it makes your handling garbage.

Other than the twists and turns of each course, your obstacles come in the form of other cars. Most of them will appear in a lane in front of you, requiring you to maneuver around them. The worst are when three cars cover all three lanes. I take that back, the worst are the red cars that actively try to block you from passing them. They caused more spinouts than I’d like to admit. If you do come to a complete stop, hold the d-pad down for a few seconds to fill the Power Start gauge. You can immediately take off at 255 mph if you do.

It’s inevitable that you’ll run out of time before you reach a checkpoint, but if your speed is high enough, you may be able to coast far enough to get more time added on and another chance to make it to the end. More often than not, you won’t make it to the checkpoint and have to start again. You can do a stage select by pressing the B Button X amount of times and pressing Up+Left+Start simultaneously. X is however many levels you want to skip ahead. If you press the B Button more than seven times you’ll race on courses that have the backgrounds and track blacked out, only seeing other cars and objects on the sides of the road. Hard.

Graphics: 2.0

There is a sense of speed with how fast the road seems to move. There is a lot of flickering, but the background images are nice.

Sound: 1.5

There are two songs available. One of them is terrible, while the other feels like a water stage in Mega Man.

Gameplay: 1.5

Handling doesn’t feel as nice as I’d like it to. The Power Start is interesting if unrealistic.

Difficulty: 2.0

Once you learn the course and when you’re going to encounter other cars, it’s not awful.

Fun Factor: 2.0

I can’t say it’s the most fun I’ve had playing a racing game in 1990, but it wasn’t a waste of time.

Overall Grade: 1.8

Rad Racer II earns a C. This was a fine racing title. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it was probably worth a rental back in the day.

Rad Racer II Video Review on YouTube