Hi there! Welcome back to Rockin’ Awesome Retro Reviews. The second game of my whirlwind tour through my video game collection is a personal favourite and is probably responsible for my continual desire to own remote control vehicles.
Awww yeah. R.C. Pro-Am. This game is a total beast. One of the big influencers for titles such as Mario Kart and Micro Machines, you take control of a remote control car and take part in fights to the death! Well, not quite. You race around little circuits against other remote control cars instead.
This game was made by Rare. Remember them? They made Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, and Goldeneye before kind of going off the rails a little. Well, they got started on games like this and Wizards & Warriors. R.C. Pro-Am was one of the first proper racing games on the NES and has, surprisingly, held up fairly well over time.
With an isometric style similar to Rock’N’Roll Racing, R.C. Pro-Am has a fair few bits and pieces that are now staples of the cartoon-style racing game. You can shoot your opponents with projectiles – in this case rockets – and you can damage cars behind you with little bastard-hard bombs. Both of these will put your rival racers out of action for a couple of seconds, giving you the chance to race away, laughing maniacally. Until, of course, they catch up with you and overtake.
Along with the aggressive power-ups, you can pick up the roll-cage – acting like the star power-up from Mario Kart – which allows you to cause other cars to spin into walls and survive hitting barriers and oil slicks. The miniature tracks of R.C. Pro-Am are lethal, as along with the slicks and automated blockades, you’ll have to deal with puddles, storms, and anti-power ups that deplete your weapon ammo. Plus, if you end up going off the course you’ll hit invisible barriers that bring you to a halt.
You get a little bit more help, though. You’ll sometimes find car upgrades along the way, such as upgrades to your top speed, acceleration, and cornering ability. Not only that, but each circuit has a letter on it. Collect them to spell out NINTENDO and you’ll find yourself driving a brand spanking new vehicle. It doesn’t alter the game play much, but it gives a nice aesthetic change. The first change, shown here, changes your tiny pick-up truck into a tiny jeep, but there’s a final change into one of those awesome off-road karts that were totally cool in the 80s.
One thing that always fascinated me, though, was that these were remote control cars for kids. So, who the hell has modded out these RC cars? They are, essentially, deadly weapons. I dread to think what happens when I shoot at one of the other cars and miss. I suppose you might end up beating the blue car because, although you missed the vehicle itself, your rocket goes on to hit little Timmy in the foot and blow off his leg. Not only that, but has anyone noticed that these cars are also able to regenerate any damage done to them? Have scientists been informed of this remarkable technology? What if it works on humans? We could become practically immortal.
Right, serious stuff: R.C. Pro-Am, for something from the late 80s, looks fairly good. It’s pretty intuitive and you never feel as though you won’t know what something does. The little arrows on the floor are, obviously, going to make you go faster, and generally you’re unlikely to hit an oil slick and think ‘this is going to end well’. The presentation is good, too. You get a little trophy screen when you complete a race, showing your gold, silver, or bronze award and if you’ve got any special trophies for being a total badass.
The music is a collection of classic 1980s 8-bit themes, although the sound during the races is excruciating. My personal favourite is the theme when putting in your high score, which is eerily reminiscent of Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
And what about the game play? It’s fun, addictive, and more than a little frustrating, particularly in the later levels. But you’ll sure as hell want to keep playing. R.C. Pro-Am is a lovely little game. Unfortunately, its biggest flaw is a major one – it would have been fantastic if it had multiplayer. As it stands, the closest I can get to having a multiplayer R.C. Pro-Am experience is going to the park, strapping fireworks to a remote control car, and letting nature take its course.
Here’s the review in video format:
That’s all for now. Up next, a real bastard of a game. ‘Til next time!