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»Rock 'n Roll Racing
  "Racing, blasting and head-banging"

Graphics: 7

Gameplay: 7

Sound: 10

Value: 7

If you’re reading this and are old enough to drive, chances are you’ve experienced the joy that is traffic. I am sure that most everyone would like to turn into “Captain Road Rage”, taking their aggressions out on the car (or cars) immediately in front of you. Unfortunately, gridlock handily prevents you from getting a running start. Now wouldn’t it be easier to press a button and have a plasma cannon or an RPG launcher pop out of your hood and obliterate those nine-to-fivers in front of you? Or maybe have some jump jets installed, allowing you to roll over the vehicular impediment and continue on to your destination. Or, if you are feeling particularly spiteful, drop a landmine for any poor sucker behind you to roll over and mess up his car. Rock ‘n Roll Racing has all these tools at your disposal.

Originally released for both the SNES and the Genesis in the height of the Sega/Nintendo console wars, Blizzard (of Warcraft and Diablo fame) did an admirable job of straddling the fence and releasing some great applications for both consoles. The Lost Vikings was a fun platformer involving three, well, lost Vikings. Blackthorne was a side-scrolling shooter/platformer that made its way through dank tunnels and dark passages to the 32X (Sega’s failed 32 bit add-on for the Genesis) and the SNES. Luckily for us gamers, these great titles made it to the GBA as well. Unfortunately, they seem to have suffered a short production run and may be difficult to come by two years after their release.

Rock ‘n Roll Racing takes place in the future, and the entire premise of the game is racing against human and aliens from other planets while listening to various heavy-metal beats of yesteryear. You can choose to race as either alien or human and each planet has a decidedly different feel: one is industrial, another almost aquatic, etc.

This title is a direct port from the original console versions, graphics and all. As fun as it is to race around these future tracks, you won't help but notice that the graphics do appear dated, even on the higher resolution screen of the SP (compared to playing this title on the SNES console itself). Sure, allowances should be made for a decade old game, but many ports receive graphical updates to make them more appealing to gamers who didn’t grow up during the early nineties. In doing this, Blizzard has more or less ensured that this game will appeal more to the older crowd who is looking for a bit of nostalgia.

The controls for RnRR had to be scaled down to accommodate the GBA’s four-button set up. Most of the buttons are reserved for a single function, but there are instances where they share. The R button, in this game, is used to initiate either a jump or a nitro boost—depending on your current ride—and is also used for power braking on turns. Now, if you hit the R button in anticipation of fading into a turn, then you may very well end up wasting your nitro boost. Even worse, if you are driving a car with a jump function, you may very well launch over the railing and effectively give yourself a second penalty.

New to this version of the game is the save feature. In the Genesis/SNES version, you had to enter a password in order to ‘save’. Well, Blizzard did away with this time-eating feature and implemented a nice auto-save feature which activates between races. Don’t fret; the save doesn’t kick in until after the rank listings, so if you placed poorly and want to retry, simply do a soft reset on the game and try again. No muss, no fuss.

Also new to this version is the 2-player versus mode. Well, it’s not that new since the original had it as well. The key difference is that the split-screen remains in ages past. No more sharing a screen as this game features the ability to link consoles for some head-on action.

What really makes this game great is the soundtrack. I mentioned earlier that the original versions contained heavy-metal music from the seventies and eighties. Each and every track is kept intact and rocking. Just for the record, racing to the instrumentals of “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood kicks ass. Also making aural appearances is Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, to name a few. The game certainly lives up to its title. There is also an announcer who is constantly bleating out, well, announcements. ‘The flag drops!’, ‘Rip is dominating the race!’ Typical announcer linger. But the fact that they add in varied commentary for each character puts it over the top. They did a damn good job here.

Like many other racing games, this one offers multiple difficulty levels and a couple of unlockables to draw the player back, even after you’ve beaten it once or twice. Rookie (Easy) mode, in fact, isn’t easy. Veteran (Normal) mode, which I usually start at for all games I’ve never played before, regardless of genre, is bloody difficult. Even after defeating Rookie, I was hard-pressed to even place in the top three during my first few races on Veteran. The final difficulty level, Warrior, is just plain disgusting. I was left a greasy smear on the pavement more times than I can count. When I wasn’t busy picking up where I left off, I was occupied with eating copious amounts of dust. Word of warning: Rip will beat you.

Whether you’re picking this game up for the nostalgia, or picking it up for the first time, Rock ‘n Roll Racing will not disappoint. Even though it is a twelve-year old game (as of this writing), give it a chance. The graphics may be a little dated, but the gameplay is fun and addictive.

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Posted on: Nov. 14th, 2005

     Review Recap
Good translation from the original, though the combination of booster activation and power-slide into one button was a mistake

The game is a little pixilated even on a tinier screen. There wasn’t much improvement on the port, but it still looks fine for a GBA game.

Most certainly the highlight of this game, assuming you like older rock music. Regardless, the music sounds great in quality and even the announcer's voice-over was done well. Can I start singing now?

 Replay Value
The multiple difficulty levels, 2-player versus, and a couple of unlockables via codes will have you coming back a few times.

  February 14, 2006



Platform: Gameboy Advance
Genre: Racing
Developer: Blizzard
Publisher: Blizzard
Release Date: 06/03/2003
Save Type: 1 Slot
Players: 1-2

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