45th place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games belongs to Rock N’ Roll Racing. This game was release for the Super NES on June 4, 1993. It also came out for the SEGA Genesis, and later the GameBoy Advance. It was developed by a company known as Silicon & Synapse, which was shortly thereafter renamed to the now famous Blizzard Entertainment.
Although Rock N’ Roll Racing is most certainly a racing game, it differs widely from the norms of that genre. Rather than placing the player’s perspective behind his or her vehicle to produce a control scheme meant to emulate being “behind the wheel,” this title gives players an isometric view of things. Controlling your car from this perspective takes some getting used to if you’re accustomed to other SNES racers like Super Mario Kart and F-Zero, as suddenly every direction on the d-pad matters, not just left and right. The isometric point-of-view allowed the developer to introduce hazards in the third dimension. Players must take advantage of ramps, and avoid landing their jumps outside the tracks.
In both the one and two player modes, gamers zip around small looping tracks, picking up cash and health packs while avoiding the hazards provided by the other racers (four always play at once, with up to three being computer controlled). Rock N’ Roll Racing‘s gameplay is also highly focused on combat, with competitors launching projectiles at one another and leaving behind dangerous mines.
Rock N’ Roll Racing is a perfect match for the SNES controller. B is used for acceleration, while A, X, and Y are each mapped to the abilities of vehicles. One for projectiles, one for mines, and one for boosting/jumping (depending upon your selected vehicle).
There are seven playable characters in this game, each with his or her own stat benefits. This includes one unlockable character straight out of another Silicon & Synapse game, Olaf, from The Lost Vikings. As players progress, they earn money by winning races and collecting cash as items within those races. Those funds can then be put towards purchasing new vehicles and upgrades for those vehicles.
Rock N’ Roll Racing‘s presentation is rightfully famous. The game’s name refers to its pumping sound track, which features instrumental versions of rock classics like “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf, and “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood. Over top of this music, the game’s raucous announcer, played by real life commentator Larry “Supermouth” Huffman is often heard shouting things like “The stage is set, the green flag drops!” Additionally, the game sports a cheesy futuristic aesthetic that looks like it was ripped straight out of a comic book, full of alien competitors and alien worlds.
Rock N’ Roll Racing is another true gem of the 16-bit era. Thanks to its speedy gameplay, recognizable soundtrack, and vibrant art direction, it holds up today and is worth checking out. No patience for outdated gameplay needed here.
Check back next week for entry 44 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.