Rad Racer (NES)

Rad Racer Box Art

Rad Racer

System: NES

Release Date: October 1987

Developer: Square

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Racing

Square is back with their second outing on the NES with Rad Racer! It’s also the second that allows you to experience the game in 3D with your sweet anaglyph 3D glasses. I didn’t have a pair sitting around and I don’t remember how it looks from when I played it last in the early 90s, so you’re on your own there.

It’s nighttime at the beach.

Controls are simple and different enough from OutRun. You accelerate with the A Button, brake with the B Button. Your car is an automatic, so you don’t have to worry about shifting. Instead, holding up will blast your turbo, which is essential in winning the races. Pressing down will start the music and then switch across three different tunes. I like the second song the best, it reminded me of Kirby.

And nighttime on the highway.

The scrolling is smooth. The graphical detail is alright. There aren’t any annoying noises when you pass cars, so I’m totally fine with Rad Racer. What I will say about it is that I was having trouble with it. I was probably 5 or 6 drinks deep at this point, so maybe that’s a good way of saying not to drink and drive, kids. Corners required hard braking, which I just don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of. Luckily, if you run out of time, you can coast your way to a checkpoint for more time, which is a plus.

And evening at the desert. Look, I can fly.

I do not like that the AI vehicles switch lanes to get in front of you. If I had someone coming up behind me at like 200 km/hr, I would be staying in my lane and making them maneuver around me. Running into one of the many side of the road obstacles causes you to do some mad flips. This game is very similar to OutRun, which also released at home in October 1987, so I’m sure Rad Racer was produced for that reason.

Graphics: 2.0

The smooth scrolling is a big plus, but the detail of everything is less good.

Sound: 2.0

I really enjoy the music, thanks Uematsu-san. The sound effects aren’t pleasant, though.

Gameplay: 1.5

Having a manual transmission is a plus. Flying off the edges easily is not cool. That means I have to brake a lot.

Difficulty: 1.5

I don’t think you get enough time to finish the levels, but being able to coast to a checkpoint is a plus.

Fun Factor: 1.5

It’s fine for a solo racer. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it’s fine.

Overall Grade: 1.7

Rad Racer earns a C-. It’s about as good as OutRun. It has its strengths and its weaknesses.

Rad Racer Video Review on YouTube