Sunday, February 28, 2016

Road Blasters

I've recently been browsing through my own YouTube channel only to discover several games I've not played for far too long! One such title is Road Blasters, a conversion by US Gold from back in 1989 that attempts to recreate the speed and thrills of the arcade original.

Imagine a Bullrun Rally event played through 50 overcrowded highways where you must win each race in order to progress onto the next. What makes this game different is the combination of racer and shooter which means your gleaming red sports car has a mounted machine gun - I dare anyone to get in my way. However, ironically the other drivers love to do just that! The easiest targets are the yellow cars which are an easy kill but the motorbikes are a pest because of their tiny size. Occasionally several jeeps will swarm around you like something from a Mad Max movie which is hair-raising! Watch out for hazards like oil spills, roadside turrets, bullet-proof purple cars and those darn proximity mines. Fortunately, you do seem to have friends, a futuristic aircraft frequently flies by with power-ups: speed boost, extra weapons, shields, etc...

At your disposal is a limitless supply of replacement cars but they are all greedy in fuel consumption, so if you run dry then its game over. Luckily, fuel pods are available and can be collected by simply drive through them for an instant top-up. Your car is also equipped with a reserve fuel tank which should only be relied upon as a last resort, but it is replenished at the end of each race depending on your performance. Controls are dandy with sharp and responsive steering that retains the arcade experience as much as possible using a joystick. Sound effects are pretty much average and I'm sure more could have been done but they certainly work well enough. However, it's the graphics which are an absolute joy with beautiful arcade styles and a fast framerate for this mean-spirited event.

I really loved this old arcade speedster, it might not be perfect but at least it's nothing like that dreadful Outrun! I've spent several nights playing Road Blasters and it's certainly got the "just one more go" quality. A much-underrated game that deserves far more attention. It's fast, fun and your car has a gun - what more could you ever want?


 - My own video recording, it's almost a long-play for me!
 - AtariMania has it listed within their ST database website.
 - Good 'ol 8BitChip has made a hard drive installable version!
 - And for those which require floppy disk images, just see Old Games Finder.