Released August 7, 1987- Rad Racer
Rad Racer raced onto the Japanese market on this day in 1987. For the Nintendo Famicom.
Developed by Square for Release on Nintendo, Rad Racer is an iconic game on the NES. It frequently made its way onto show floors and commercials to showcase just what the NES could do. All that, and the game was still at its core, a very basic racing game.
Rad Racer has players driving a Ferrari 328 or an F1 Racer to travel distances across several maps against other drivers. The game included checkpoints along the way that increased your available time to play. However, not reaching them meant it’s game over. To that end, players had to make frequent use of the turbo button to increase their speed, at a high cost. High speed, meant less control, and if you hit one of the obstacles or other drivers at any speed, your car would flip and cost you time.
Rad Racer also allowed players to hit the Select button to switch into a 3-D game mode. As the game was packaged with the red and blue 3-D glasses that the 80’s and 90’s were known for. This effect was clearly a gimmick and didn’t work all that well. Still kind of fun though.
The game was seen as an answer to the game Out Run on Sega hardware and gained a great deal of praise and respect, however, personally, it didn’t grab me in the same way. Out Run had a little more going on than Rad Racer did. That didn’t stop them though.
The game went on to be a huge success for Square and the Nintendo platform. It was even featured in commercials for the system and in the movie “The Wizard” for play with the awful Power Glove peripheral. The game was also a featured game at the Nintendo World Championships of 1990. Included on the timed game cart, players had to play a round of Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and then Tetris. Although this version was stripped of its 3-D mode.
Ultimately, Rad Racer is fondly remembered as a great racing game. But memory can sometimes be a cruel mistress. While Rad Racer is a fun challenging game, it isn’t one of the greats. I would rank it just past Super Hang -On even. But now we’re getting into different territory.
The game sold very well though. It even allowed for a sequel, Rad Racer 2 which released a short time later.
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