Tag Archives: retro

R.C. Pro-Am: Rockin’ Awesome Retro Reviews!

28 Sep

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.

Curse you, other cars!

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.

Don’t worry, kids! No one was harmed in this horrific accident.

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!

Personally, I would have preferred Careless Whisper though.

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!

Rob’s Rockin’ Retro Reviews: Super Mario Bros!

28 Aug

Hello, and welcome to Rob’s Rockin’ Retro Reviews! In association with the ruddy fantastic Retr0mance, I’m going to be playin’ and reviewin’ through my video game collection, from the NES era through to Xbox 360.

Let’s start with a real classic.

Super Mario Bros was the first game I ever played, and the first game a lot of my generation played. You know, we’re the old bastards who remember floppy disks and booting up DOS, recording songs off the radio onto cassette and having to rewind a VHS tape after we watched a film. Mario was our first look at the world of video games, and it taught us a lot of valuable lessons; that turtles are not to be trusted, that mushrooms are sometimes good and sometimes bad, and that you can survive being shot at by jumping on the bullet as it goes past you.

Neo ain’t got shit on Mario

Hell, without Super Mario Bros there probably wouldn’t be video games. After the video game crash, it picked up the industry, gave it a pat on the back and said “it’s all right, little one. There won’t be any more ET games. Here’s a fat Italian man committing acts of horrible animal cruelty”. And we loved it. I still love it. If it were possible, I would have sex with this game right now.

There are a few things I don’t understand though.

First up, those Goombas. The little evil mushrooms. Those guys apparently betrayed the other fungi sects in the Mushroom Kingdom. They teamed up with the Koopas to take down the princess and all those little brown-nosing mushroom dudes you see in the rest of the game. Toad ain’t called Toad after toadstool, people. He’s a bootlicker.

Anyway, what did they get out of it? Because as far as I can tell, they’re the grunt troops, told to walk in a straight line until they are crushed by a man in dungarees or fall off a cliff. They go at their job with such dogmatic fervour. What exactly did the Koopas promise them? Gold? Power? Fame? Little mushroom women? There are many unanswered questions.

Like these little guys:

Are they conjoined twins? Are they a little Goomba couple holding hands? I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want to ruin their day. For all I know they’re off to Barcelona for a romantic getaway, or finally having the operation so they can function separately.

Mario, though, is a huge part of my formative childhood. I don’t remember the first time I played it. I don’t remember the first time I found the secret 1-up in the first level. I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t know where all the Warp Zones were. Seriously. Like how I’ve always known the names of Star Wars characters when they’re not even mentioned in the bloody film.

Bossk is BOSS.

Anyway. As a kid, this game was hard. I’ll always remember getting stuck in the castles because of those goddamn rotating fire skewers of hot hot heat. You go back and play it at any other age though, say from eight and above, and you’ll probably wonder how you had such difficulty. Apart from me, though. I still suck. Damn turtles. Never trust them.

Point is, it was the first game we played. We were getting used to how video games even controlled. It was a long time before we got our mitts on Contra (or as I know, it Probotector – being a Brit is sometimes very silly), and a long, long time before we beat that game without using the Konami Code. Mario helped us adapt to a new form of entertainment, so even if it’s easy by the standards of the time, it’s good that it was easy. It helped bring a whole new mass market into gaming and for that I am eternally grateful.

I wouldn’t be the…erm…upstanding citizen I am today without video games.

Aside from that, what is there to say? The controls are nice and responsive, the game-play is fun, the graphics are iconic and the soundtrack is boss. You know all this already. It’s a great game, and a classic. The NES had a lot of duff games, but when it was good, it was great. Super Mario Bros set a very high benchmark to measure other games against, and for a long time it was unsurpassed in the platformer market. It’s incredible that a game from 1985, three whole years before I was bloody born, can still bring such joy. Super Mario Bros, you have my sword, my bow, and my axe. God speed.

Not only that, but this review is now available in video format!

Up next: some more horror movie-related guff. Until next time!