Review by friendlydude
"If only all racing games were this much fun."
I don't know what happened, but for whatever reason, Rad Racer II never got the recognition it deserved. One of the most exciting car racing games I've *ever* played went by without hardly anyone noticing its existence. I will hopefully encourage some readers out there to buy this excellent rare gem with a positive review.
While in todays world of video games we have mind-boggling "out of this world" realistic graphics and gameplay, playing video games was a whole different matter back in the late 80s. Back then gaming fans mostly only cared about having fun with the games the NES provided. If we had fun, we sat in front of our televisions all day and night playing our favorite games.
While no friends or family members in my life ever cared for the Rad Racer series, I was always a big fan of the sequel. Rad Racer II is not only a major improvement over the original in terms of overall satisfaction, it's also a MUCH faster game with a much smoother framerate. I was totally blown away that the car you control in this game is *really* one fast little machine. People like to pick on the NES console for all the slow action games and the below-average graphics, but Rad Racer II is an *unbelievably* fast game with pretty decent graphics as well. Your car drives *so* quickly that many times it's hard to even stay on the road!
This is a good thing. Let me tell you- I'm a sore loser when it comes to video games. If I keep losing at one particular spot over and over, I will eventually get tired of trying and just put the game away. Rad Racer II NEVER gave me that kind of frustration. Every time I lost a race, I wanted to come back to it again because I knew next time I'd have a better chance of completing it. Thanks to a code, there's a way to keep coming back to the same track every time you lose (similar to the Super Mario Bros. code where you can keep coming back to the same level and try again).
Rad Racer II is the kind of game where you have to memorize the twists and turns in all eight different tracks and make it to the checkpoints before time runs out. It's amazing how much fun this is. You don't have to worry about competing against the other cars you'll encounter on the road- your only concern is making it to the checkpoints and eventually the end of the track.
The race tracks in this game do NOT go in circles. They keep going in a straight line across different areas of the country (America). So they are actually just roads. You drive down eight different roads. The first road you drive on is pretty simple. You have your occasional sharp turns, and occasionally you are required to hit the brake button so you don't slide off the road and hit a tree (or whatever happens to be on the side of the road).
By the time you reach the final stage, you are facing some pretty challenging obstacles. In fact, in the final stage at first I thought the vehicles were going really slow, when it fact I pulled up next to one and found out they are actually just sitting there in the middle of the street! You are required to avoid these cars and advance to the checkpoints.
I also love the cars that mess with you. Cars where, when you try to pass them, they will deliberately turn into your lane, subsequently blocking any chance you might have of passing them. The trick here is to wait until your vehicle is *right* behind them, and *then* pass. That's how you do that. Most of the other cars are just driving along minding their own business.
Probably the biggest challenge in the game are all the frequent times you have to make sure you don't accidentally hit the cars that are just minding their business. Don't accidentally drive into them or you will pay the price by either crashing, or slowing down dramatically (which of course makes it even harder to reach those checkpoints in time). For the most part, every time you start the game up the cars will be driving in the same location on the road. Occasionally some cars won't be where they were the last time you played the game, though. This is *exciting* and probably the main reason I love this game. You have to memorize the roads in order to win.
You are required to memorize the roads and know exactly where the sharp curves are located in order to use your brake and gas buttons effectively. You are given signs ahead of time to warn you when a sharp turn is coming, just like in real life. ALWAYS make sure you pay attention to these important signs. When a sharp curve arrives in one of the later levels, you have to use your brake button in such a way where you'll slow down to make the turn without driving off the road, while also maintaining enough speed to reach the checkpoints. It sounds hard, but believe me, it's more fun than frustrating. I will promise you that. This game never gets frustrating. If you lose, you'll want to keep coming back until you reach all the checkpoints.
I think the most addicting thing to me personally about Rad Racer II is when the time runs out, and the music stops playing. You think to yourself "Oh no, I guess I lost the race", but wait! Your car continues to coast down the road after the time is done, so there's always a possibility you might reach one of the many checkpoints before your car stops moving for good. All you have to do is make sure you steer your vehicle down the street after time runs out. If you do this, there's always a chance you CAN in fact make it to a checkpoint and regain speed. It's amazing how you initially feel the hopelessness of losing, steer your dead car down the road hoping and praying for a checkpoint, and then suddenly you arrive to one and your back to driving full speed again. What a great, great feeling. It's never over until it's over. In fact, quite often in the game don't be surprised if you make it to a checkpoint after time runs out.
I remember playing this game as a child, and feeling the excitement when going over a steep hill and thinking to myself "This is how it's like in real life I bet". Well, it's not QUITE as fun in real life, but it's certainly exciting doing so in this game. The racing itself is very very fast. I'm really surprised the NES was capable of giving us such a fast-paced racing game back then. I never would've imagined it to be true. I think it blows the original Rad Racer out of the water. That game was boring compared to this.
I also really like the night levels. Just like in real life- when you drive at night for long periods of time, eventually your brain begins to think the road will never end, and you feel yourself slipping into a calm, relaxing state. The same thing happens in Rad Racer II with some of the night levels. They feel much longer than they really are. When I was younger I could have sworn the background city in one of the night levels was getting bigger the closer I got to it, but I don't think that's true. That would have really required the NES to be as powerful as, oh I don't know, the Playstation One. We can't expect everything.
So yeah, when it comes to just having fun racing down roads, feeling that rush in your stomach going over steep hills and utilizing the correct strategy for avoiding cars and making it past sharp curves, this is the most exciting racing game I've ever played. I will never get rid of this excellent game.
I don't care about flashy graphics, how many cars you can choose, or how many tracks a racing game has. I care about having fun driving down the road and avoiding other cars. The object of this game is so simple- reach the flags before time runs out, and then your car will pick up speed again. I've played this game a million times and love it every time. No other racing game even comes close to the amount of enjoyment this game has given me. Most other racing games are impossible to win any races which is another problem. Not this game. You're looking at a racing game that's totally awesome because of its simple objectives, and I wouldn't want it any other way. The reality is that it takes probably only an hour to complete all eight roads once you get good at the game, but what an exciting hour it is.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/07
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