Review by JPeeples

"The innocent, the helpless (players of the game) in the world of criminals who operate above the law (the developers of the game.)"

When I first picked up Knight Rider for the NES around a decade ago, I was excited. I had been watching the show for quite some time, and when I saw the game right in my hands, I couldn’t wait to put it into my NES, and give it a whirl. That was seemingly eons ago, and man oh man has this game not aged well. While this game did an okay job of capturing the spirit of the show due to the remarkably accurate recreation of KITT, it is a glorified piece of trash masquerading as a game. For those unfamiliar with the Knight Rider series, here is a little history lesson on the show. Michael Knight has a horrible accident and has permanent amnesia, he is found by Knight Industries (headed by a rich, elderly man named Devon, who, if he was real, would be Anna Nicole Smith’s next husband) and given the name Michael Knight and the ultra-cool, tricked-out Trans Am named KITT. Knight Rider (the game) places you in the role of Michael Knight, and in the cockpit of KITT. In this game, you will battle crime through 17 cities of all-out driving bliss. Acclaim (the developer and publisher of this bad-boy) made sure that KITT’s many gadgets and gizmos were recreated accurately for their game. Just like in the classic 80s action series, KITT can jump, use lasers, missiles, and even use a shield. Although Acclaim did kind of take creative license a bit far by allowing KITT to run out of gas, and run out of shield power, and thus die. Since KITT is damn-near invincible in the series, it is kind of a let-down.

The core gameplay involves you racing to go to the end of a given city, all the while battling evil and trying to avoid dying and/or running out of gas. Acclaim, being the kind souls that that are, gave gamers the ability to customize KITT before each and every city you go into. You can choose to give him more fuel, increase his shield, or give him more lasers and missiles. Of course, it would have been much better if you could recreate KITT perfectly by maxing out everything and making him invincible just like in the series, but that simply isn’t the case… Anyways, the gameplay is pretty fun all things considered. Blasting enemies with lasers and missiles is pretty fun for a while, and you can always mix things up a bit to keep things interesting. The ability to jump over things sure is helpful, especially since the enemy vehicles just love shooting missiles at you from their bumpers (mad realism here.) After you have vanquished your foes with an awesome barrage of lasers and missiles, and if you haven’t run out of fuel, you will reach the end of a given city. As a general rule, if you have played through one city in this game, you have played through them all. The only thing differentiating them is their cityscape, length, and number of ham-and-egger enemies you have to plow through to reach the end. If you are a die-hard fan of the show, like me, this kind of crap will more than suffice for excitement since it is just too cool to see KITT’s dashboard all tricked-out and such. When the THRILLING gameplay lets you down (and it will), just jump around for a few dozen miles and look at the dashboard, which, thanks to KITT’s little red light-strip thingy, and voice box (a vertical box with LOTS of little light-strip thingies), the game never gets old.

The control is about as good as could be expected. All of the ever-so-exciting in-game features of KITT can be done easily thanks to the responsive control. Jumping is a cinch, as is firing KITT’s VAST arsenal of weapons. It’s a good thing the controls are decent, or else this game would be in MORE trouble than it already is…

The graphics in the game are about as good as you’re going to get for a racing game on the NES. The scrolling effect used in the game to represent distance between you and your enemies does its job well, although it won’t wow you. The enemy vehicles are pretty bland for the most part since, apparently, all bad guys travel around in some sort of sedan (red, blue, whatever fits the city), the only time the enemies look semi-cool is when they’re in Vegas and given a nice neon glow, kind of like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons episode with Mulder and Scully. The weapon effects are nice, there’s a nice red line representing a laser, and a red and black ball representing a missile. The amount of red lines in this game is staggering; you’ve got the one used for lasers, the one representing the horizontal red line strip on the hood of the car (which is magically placed in the dashboard to represent your life), and the many red lines representing KITT’s speech, which, of course, is nowhere to be found.

The sound gets the job done, poorly. There are some wonderful generic blips and bloops representing lasers and missiles firing. Not to mention some GREAT music throughout the game that will have you reaching for the mute button your remote. At least there’s a semi-decent version of the show’s theme song on the title screen…

This game has WONDERFUL replay value if you are, say, recovering from heart surgery and need a nice, relaxing game to take your mind off of things. If you are under the influence of morphine, or any other mind-altering substance, the nice laser effects will keep you entertained for hours. Try to avoid using the jump function too much though, you might get a wee bit nauseous.

All in all, this is a pretty crappy game. While it does do the license justice (as most licensed games do), it just doesn’t make for a fun game (also, like most licensed games.) Acclaim (ever a trustworthy name for licensed games) REALLY disappointed fans of the series (they‘ve heard that many times since this game) by making this game. The sad thing is, as of now, this is the best Knight Rider game out there… DEAR LORD PLEASE LET THE UPCOMING PS2/GC GAME BE GOOD, and get a U.S. release.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 10/17/02, Updated 10/17/02


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