Road Rash (N64) – You didn’t buy it?!

Younger gamers may not remember the Road Rash series of motorcycle racing games, but they were extremely popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, the games saw ports to most consoles and one of Electronic Arts most successful franchises. Road Rash 64 is the sixth installment in the game series and the only one developed by THQ instead of Electronic Arts.

The gameplay is much in line with previous games in the Road Rash series. Players can punch, kick, and use weapons to slow down fellow racers with the ultimate goal of winning the race and bringing in some cash to upgrade your bike.

Conversely, players want to avoid the police. If you kick a police car or otherwise do something extremely egregious to another player, you’ll get arrested and fined. If the player cannot afford the fine the police levy on him, then the game ends. Another way to lose the game was to damage the motorcycle. If your repair bill from the mechanic is more than the money your player has on hand, the game is also over.

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Really a simple concept, but mountains of fun in execution.

This game, unlike others in the Road Rash series, uses interconnected routes instead of a single long road. The graphics are a muddled lot but nothing to complain about too terribly. It won’t win any beauty contests but, then again, most Nintendo 64 games would not have that honor. One nice option is that if a player has the expansion pack, it does enhance the game somewhat visually.

The music and sound are competent, with special effort being paid to the music. Some recognizable bands like Sugar Ray provided music for the game’s soundtrack, which is impressive given that it is cartridge based.

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Road Rash 64 met with a largely apathetic reception when it launched to market in 1999, with many critics decrying its muddy graphics and somewhat sloppy execution in the single-player mode. Many reviewers loved the gamers multiplayer mode, however, praising its ability to remain fun even while offering little in terms of variation from the single-player game.

The biggest complaint critics and gamers alike had about Road Rash 64 was that it lost the spirit of the original arcade games and, in effect, lost the mojo of the game in general. Road Rash was best experienced as a kind of brash, no-holds-barred racing game that put racing second to causing some form of mayhem.

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There are a ton of racing games out there, but few that do combat well and even fewer that are known for their combat. Road Rash is one of those series that comes with expectations and if those expectations are not met, gamers are going to be upset.

While not a bad game by any means, Road Rash 64 is a relatively uncompelling game, and that is as condemning as being a badly mad game. Sapping all of the fun out of a concept predicated on nothing but could do nothing positive for the series and that seems to be the case with THQ’s Road Rash 64.