“The stage is set, the green flag drops!” This week’s Retro Corner takes a trip back to 1993, to Silicon & Synapse’s Rock n’ Roll Racing. The studio has since become Blizzard, which is a bit of useful pub trivia for the future. Released on the Sega Genesis/Megadrive and Super Nintendo, Rock n’ Roll Racing was then ported to the Gameboy Advance 10 years later.
Rock n’ Roll Racing is a shoot ’em up racing title, viewed from an isometric view. Whether single player or two player split screen, the player’s goal was to take part in races of 4 laps, and destroy his opposition using weapons and gadgets that were specific to your vehicle. You have access to front firing lasers, oil slicks and a jump boost with the first vehicle, and as you progress and save your winnings, you can buy newer, faster vehicles which have other specialised abilities.
What made Rock n’ Roll Racing so memorable was its soundtrack. Featuring instrumental versions of well known rock numbers, you would be blasting around circuits listening to Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Highway Star by Deep Purple, Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood, Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf or The Peter Gunn Theme by Henry Mancini. On the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, an additional song was included, Radar Love by Golden Earring.
The gameplay was pretty solid, you never felt cheated if an AI opponent won the race ahead of you, and the controller layout was straight foward enough. Accelerate, brake, weapon one, two and three. That was it. Playing splitscreen with a friend or sibling, you would work your way through the races, earning money via positioning and from pickups, and advancing onto the next world, which would add new features such as slippery ice or lava pits. Each world would have its own local hero character that you had to beat in each location.
Rock n’ Roll Racing also featured a commentator that would keep you updated with the racing antics. “Loudmouth Larry” would spout memorable lines such as “The stage is set, the green flag drops!”, “Let the carnage begin!”, or mention individual drivers along with their current situation “Rip: is about to blow!” Despite the short selection of phrases, it never really got tiresome, not to me anyway. Between Larry and the soundtrack, the audio was just good fun in Rock n’ Roll Racing.
Rock n’ Roll Racing was just a fun game. Even playing it again recently, it still retains its charm and the music, although lacking in cd quality, still does its job of giving the game a rock n’ roll vibe. If ever another Rock n’ Roll Racing title was to be up for consideration, I’d be promoting the hell out of it!