Rock and Rock N’ Roll Racing was a party. Right from the title and cover art there is no mistaken what this game was all about; fun. It was a vehicle combat game with an actual soundtrack.
In fact, I don’t remember much about this game other than the soundtrack and a vague recollection of the game-play. As the name applies, it featured a Rock N’ Roll soundtrack, but with licensed music. It was one of the first console games I knew of to do this. It had Midi style songs for Bad to the Bone, Highway Star, Paranoid, Peter Gunn, Born to be Wild, and Radar Love. The was also a lot of repetitive voice-over, with both music and voice sounding better on the SNES version of the game than on the Sega Genesis.
A Familiar Feeling
From what I do remember about the game-play (and what I researched to refresh my memory), Rock N’ Roll Racing began with players picking an alien character to race as. Each one had their own name that the commentator would use at nausea while racing. As well, each character had various skill bonuses for cornering, acceleration, jumping, etc. Once the character was selected, players chose one of three vehicles to start with.
The goal of the game was to win races and collect enough points to progress to new planets with new tracks and new competition. A nice feature was that this could be done with one player or two players. Of course, this wasn’t a straightforward racing game as players could use weapons on their cars to take out their opponents.
Each race consisted of four drivers on various tracks with twists, jumps, dips, landmines, and areas where the driver could fall off the planet. The racing feel, style and action was similar to Micro Machines. But Rock N’ Roll Racing also included on-track weapons, vehicle powers-ups and money.
The money earned during the game could be used to upgrade a player’s current car’s performance or buy an entirely new car. As a player advanced, upgrading from the starter cars to things like the tracked-coupe and hoover craft were imperative if one wished to make it all the way to the end.
A Gimmick, A Game, A Rental
And that was about it. The four lap races did vary in terrain, design and obstacles, but the game-play was very repetitive, and after a while, it became a grind. Plus, even with licensed music, there were only six songs, so it quickly became repetitively annoying – especially since these weren’t the real versions of the song either.
Rock N’ Roll Racing fell into that bygone genre of video game – the rental special. It was a game that was wholly worth a week-long rental at your local Blockbuster, but not worth the full purchase price. I remember a friend of mine and I rented it for a weekend and played the heck out of it, having a great time. But by Sunday, the game had been beaten many times over and our interest had already waned. So, we scrounged together another $4.99, returned the game, and got ready to rent our next temporary obsession.