Road Rash – Sega Genesis / Sega Megadrive
Release Date: 1991
Published By: Electronic Arts
Kick punch and club your opponents off the road at 150MPH!
Road Rash was one of those games for the sega Genesis that really hit upon a magic formula. The exciting combination of fighting and biking was truly amazing and led to some fierce, fast, action packed gaming sessions. I can remember becoming bitterly enraged whilst playing this game, usually due to another rider bonking me off my bike when I was in 1st position. I would then viscously pursue them, wanting nothing more than to see them fly off their bike into the pixelated trees in the foreground! Pretty intense, or worrying considering I was only seven years old at the time!
This game was fantastic! The basic gameplay mechanism involves 14 riders competing for the best spot whilst engaging in beat em up style action. You get to ride along californias windy highways at breakneck speeds and enjoy the sights. On that note the graphics are pretty impressive for an early sega Genesis release and still hold up today. The scrolling level design flows beautifully and I often remember going for a little jog to enjoy the scenery after being knocked off my bike.
Early Research and Development at Electronic Arts
Carl Mey was technical director at Electronic Arts in 1989. He was involved in several projects including Andretti Racing and Maniac Mansion. He had produced an innovative fast scaling algorithm and road effect that worked really well and decided to adapt this for the sega megadrive, a console which had the potential power to allow something great to be created. Another developer at EA, Edwin Reich contributed some 3D technology to make the scaling effect much less cpu intensive and the iconic 3d effect was born.
Enter Randall Breen
Randall Breen was the co-creator of road rash. Carl Mey introduced his code concepts to Randall. Randall suggested a licenced American Motorcycle Association game and Road Rash was born.
As the game progressed through the development stages it became apparent that Carl and Randall had very different visions for the game. Randall intended the game to be a pleasant riding game featuring the AMA which didn’t sit well with Carl. It didn’t amuse anyone else either as the game failed to impress at CES 1990.
On the strength of this failure, Carl petitioned bosses at EA to give him creative control of the project.
This is where all the violence and mayhem that we know and love as Road Rash, was finally injected into the project. The cops were now patrolling the highways, ready to bust you if you fell off your bike. The weapons were added and the fighting mechanics were coded in.
Unfortunately due to the added violence the American Motorcycle Association would not be involved in the project. However the team had its own ace up the sleeves. You see many of the developers including Carl Mey were avid bikers. They knew their stuff and were able to translate that into eight glorious bikes including the shuriken and diablo. My personal favourite is the Kamakaze, just for the name!
Music to Ride for
nother important element of Road Rash is the soundtrack. Carl Mey had valuable experience working on the unreleased Sega VR project. This taught him about the effect that the correct combination of gameplay and music can have on a players heart rate. This release of Adrenaline that all road rash players will have experienced combined with a pumping soundtrack made the game an epic experience. Although to todays audiences some of the tracks may seem a bit annoying or chirpy, they still have the same effect!
14 months later..
14 months. That was the entire development time for Road Rash. The game was made and so was history. Road Rash is fun down to this day which really says a lot more than this review ever could. If you’ve never experienced Road Rash then you’re in for a treat. Grab yourself an original cartridge, they are usually pretty cheap on ebay, and have several hours of shameless fun!