If you grew up in the ’90s then you most likely remember the days of split-screen 2D racing on the SNES with Mario Kart. A little less known racing title, but one that arguably offered more by way of mechanics and ingenuity, was Rock N Roll Racing. Originally released on the SNES and later on the SEGA Genesis, this 2D racer offered a unique take on the cart style racer with an amazing soundtrack, voiceover work, and some unique mechanics. Fast forward to 2021 and Blizzard has decided to port the title, along with two others, to work on modern consoles and PC. Titled the Blizzard Arcade Collection, Rock N Roll racing is bundled together with The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be revisiting each and seeing just how well they hold up almost 30 years later. So grab that coffee, kick back and check out our review of Rock N Roll Racing.
New Parts In An Old Car
At the starting line, it’s important to note that the new Arcade offers up all three titles in their original format as well as some new modes to play. In the case of RnR Racing, the game comes with the original SNES and GEN version as well as a new 4 player head-to-head mode and a Definitive Edition. I spent the majority of my time in the definitive addition but the SNES and GEN have been ported over exceptionally well. With original aspect ratio, sounds and features all present and accounted for.
The new Definitive Edtion offers all of the original features of the SNES version but with a fresh new 9:16 aspect ratio, new soundtrack, and a new character for you to race as. The game takes place over a series of tracks set to different backdrops. For a game released in 1993, It offers a pretty diverse set of tracks and settings for players to explore. Even by today’s standards of arcade racers, It’s easy to see that many of them drew some inspiration from games like Rock N Roll Racing.
Does this come standard?
Some of my favorite features include a leveling system that allows you to use your earned money to purchase upgrades for your car, or if you’d prefer, you can purchase a whole new car. Although these seem standard today, back when I was a kid this was all revolutionary stuff.
Also included is an item system similar to Mario Kart but with a much more Sci-Fi, post-apocalyptic theme. Forget locking on to cars to unleash devastating damage. Everything here is run and gun, meaning you’ll have to do your best to line up your shots all the while power sliding into turns and avoiding enemy fire.
While on the topic of things that are amazing, The soundtrack and voiceover work for Rock N Roll racing is amazing. Even the original SNES version included some amazingly popular rock n roll songs done over in 16bit goodness. In the definitive Edition, those songs have been replaced with their real recorded counterparts and have now become one of my favourite playlists on Spotify. Throw in the beautiful voicework of Larry Huffman, and you have a pretty amazing racing experience.
It’s important to mention the new 4 player mode as well. This new mode creates some instant fun for friends that want to go head to head in a PVP-style race. This is a split-screen affair and it’s a lot of fun to jump in and go at it for a few rounds. Although functionally having an online version of this would be a nice quality of life function, the split-screen experience feels great and once again points back to what gaming used to be like.
You went with that color?
The original game used a passcode system to save player progress and is featured in the definitive edition. Along with this original mechanic, the SNES and GEN version now includes a save feature accessed through the overlay menu. This allows you to save your progress at any time without the need for passcodes. Interestingly, though, The Definitive Edition left this feature out meaning you’ll have to rely on the old passcode system to save your progress. It feels a bit odd considering all the other quality of life features that game added.
How’s it handle on the turn?
Rock N Roll Racing offers both controller and keyboard support. Although I did give it a good run-through with the keyboard it felt way better playing with a controller in hand. RnR handles exactly as I expected it to, and when my new USB SNES controller comes in, I’m looking forward to really turning the nostalgia factor up to 11.
Rock N Roll Racing is everything I remember it being. It’s a fun road trip down the nostalgia highway and also allows younger gamers to experience some of what made gaming great back in the day. A few design choices, like no save feature in the definitive Edition and no online play with friends, do limit some of the potential replayability the game could have.