Uniracers – Definitive 50 SNES Game #40

Uniracers, or Unirally as it is known in Europe, takes 40th place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games. It was developed by DMA Design, the studio which would go on to create Grand Theft Auto, and is now known as Rockstar North. It was released in North America in 1994.

Uniracers is a unique trick-heavy take on the racing genre. The game is viewed from the side, as in a side scroller, and players must navigate loops and other obstacles, finding room to perform tricks in order to gain speed boosts to surpass their opponents. Tricks are performed by tapping various buttons and combinations of buttons while in the air.

The single player mode consists of 45 levels broken up among nine tours of five tracks a piece. Each tour features two race levels, two circuit levels, and one stunt level. The race type levels require the player to beat a computer player on one long piece of track. Circuit levels are similar, but are played on shorter, repeating courses of a set number of laps. Stunt levels do not feature a computer opponent, but rather require the player to beat a pre-set number of points by performing tricks.

Up to 16 player’s save games can be stored on the game. Players may rename their save slots at any time, but a few words are prohibited. Notably, this includes “Sonic” and “SEGA,” which the game dismisses as “not cool enough.”

Uniracers was developed late in the SNES’s life, and its CGI graphical style came about as a result of the success of Donkey Kong Country. Player characters in the form of unicycles zoom around remarkably quickly on expansive, but also very sparse courses which consist of small, brightly coloured tubes or tracks.

Unfortunately, Uniracers landed DMA Design in court. The developers worked hard to realistically model the game’s signature unicycles. Pixar sued the company, claiming the design was stolen from one of their animated shorts. Pixar won the suit, and Nintendo was prevented from producing more than the 300 000 copy initial run of the game. That means a sequel or Virtual Console re-release are highly unlikely.

Check back next week for entry 39 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.