Moto Roader MC
Classic 90s Racing Returns, 30 Years Later
The past weekend marked the beginning of 2022's "racing game rennassiance." Over the next month, various titles ranging from racing simulators like Assetto Corza Competitzione and Gran Turismo 7 to arcade kart racers like Chocobo GP will release on various platforms. In the midst of this racing extravaganza marks the return of an early 90s classic. A top-down racer that many outside of Japan may have missed due to its regional exclusivity. For the first time, thanks to Ratalaika Games, Moto Roader MC debuts on modern consoles three decades later.
Originally released in 1989, the first Moto Roader was released on the PC-Engine in Japan and the TurboGrafx-16 outside of Japan. The second and third games were released shortly after, the third being Moto Roader MC. All three games share a "neo-futuristic" environment with interesting car designs and an anime aesthetic. Up to five drivers can play at once as they race around intricate courses ranging from circuits and cities to the outright weird Special cup.
Moto Roader MC Is Just As Ambitious As It Is Unforgiving
Years before racing games would embrace 3D graphics, Moto Roader MC was released during the twilight of 2D racers. It's a simple title, with buttons to accelerate and brake. It also has some car combat elements as each car is equipped with a missle that shoots forward and an explosive tank that drops from behind. Both weapons are used to clear out the competition, but the AI will try to put you out of commission the same way. The races here are brutal. Players will spend most of their time trying to control their car in a straight line on top of getting rammed off the road and blown up.
Fortunately, there is no health or ammo to worry about. Players can fire liberally at the other drivers yet they can just as well get caught in the blast radius. Don't confuse Moto Roader MC with a kart racer, however. It's an arcade game through and through, but a sense of driving skill is needed. Braking is required during sharp corners and every race can't be accomplished in full throttle. Otherwise, expect players to bounce across the walls like a ping-pong ball and lose precious placements.
The Handling Is Wild For The AI To Handle As Well
The AI seems to struggle with the most technical courses as well, often bumping into walls and suffering as well. On simple tracks, without proper knowledge of the game's handling, the AI will lap you. The environments are simple and relevant to each of the locales. The neon lights illuminate the highways of the City courses. The speedways of the Circuit courses also mimic real life tracks. Even the monkeys and tall goddesses that make their appearance among the Special courses.
Yeah, things become weird once the Special courses are driven. In other games like Super Mario Kart, the Special Cup houses some of the most unique courses in the game. MC is no exception but it almost ends up being genre bending. One such course, titled "Dungeon," has multiple split paths that will deviate the player away from the course. It's an interesting concept but unless players memorize exactly where to go, it becomes a "house of mirrors."
There Are Many Modes But They Are All The Same
This makes little sense without explaining, but there are a total of four playable modes outside of Records and Options. There's a Race Mode, Time Attack, Omake, and an unlockable Batroader mode. The former is unlocked by clearing a series of races under Race mode. In conventional racing game terms, Race is the "Championship" mode. You select a location and race each of its five tracks in order. Whether you win the tournament or not, a small cutscene plays related to the Cup chosen. Time Attack is the same as Race except it doubles as a Single Race mode. Players can decide whether to have a grid or not, which having the former tends to defeat the purpose of a "Time Attack" mode. At the end, your recorded time is entered in the records.
Omake Mode (Not "oh-make" or "one make") is the "Extra" mode. There's a handful of arenas and the game turns into a soccer match. The object is to push the ball in the other player's goal, dating Rocket League by two decades. The unlockable "Batroader" mode is a Battle mode, where players try to push others off the stage within the time limit. The problem with these two modes is that these are local vs only. There's no way to play with the AI at all.
Modern Options Help Alleviate The Difficulty
As with most modern ports of classic titles, Moto Roader MC includes a Rewind function to redo player's mistakes. There are also Save States that are useful to use in the middle of a cup series. Graphic effects to make the game appear "retro" are also present including scanline shaders, "CRT" filters, and the works. The port itself is amazing although being an older 90s title, "resetting" the game is needed to return to the main menu.
With 25 race tracks, impressive sprite cutscenes for the time, as well as CD-quality music, Moto Roader MC is a great nostalgia trip. I would go so far as to recommend to invite a couple of friends and try to ruin each other's day by ramming and firing missiles at each other. It's a high octane racing classic, but the lack of modes for single player content is the elephant in the room. Once the player sees all the cutscenes from Race mode and try out all the courses, that's the end of the line. For the time, I'd recommend Moto Roader MC as a quick cheap racing game, so long as the player's mind is kept in the past.
We give Moto Roader MC a 7 out of 10. Moto Roader MC is available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One consoles. Once again, a huge thanks to Ratalaika Games for providing us with a review copy!