Available now on PS4, PS5 Switch and Xbox consoles
I hadn’t heard of the original Moto Roader MC (or indeed, any of the other games in the Moto Roader series), but that’s not entirely surprising – these titles originated on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16, which is a console I have very limited experience with. Now 30 years old, the game is back and riding a wave of retro gaming nostalgia – but without a huge amount of brand recognition, for many players it’ll need to sell itself on its gameplay, rather than the rose-tinted spectacles that come with nostalgia.
A top-down racer that instantly feels like Atari classic Super Sprint – albeit with some very pretty, nicely colourful pixel art that far exceeds that particularly ancient arcade racer, as well as lots more gameplay features and modes – Moto Roader MC supports up to four players (with a fifth computer player joining in, or more AI racers if you have less than four humans to take part). There are 25 tracks, which can be raced on individually or in groups of five in a fast and furious Grand Prix fashion.
The control scheme is a bit weird, with accelerate and decelerate set to face buttons and weapons on the triggers – a double tap of either accelerate or decelerate fires a weapon too – with mines and rockets being available and seemingly limited. Thankfully, controls can be remapped, but they don’t take a great deal of getting used to either.
One thing that does take a bit of getting used to is the ruthless AI; be warned, if you’re playing single player you are very likely to get absolutely demolished in your first game and likely beyond too, with mines and rockets flying all over the place, coming from AI racers that get caught in explosions just as you do but recover and point themselves in the right direction an awful lot quicker than us poor humans can. The difficulty is pitched frustratingly high in that regard, given the impossibly good skills of the AI drivers – and how easy it is to completely lose track of who you are, right off the bat in any given race and be set back without a hope of winning almost immediately – but if you can play with human players outweighing the AI cars that are present, it’s an awful lot of chaotic, addictive fun.
To add to the standard racing, there’s also Time Attack modes and a sort of proto-Rocket Arena style mode, in which two players can try and push – or shoot – a ball into their opponent’s goal in a set of pinball-esque stages.
It’s a fun game with plenty of tracks to try and master – and full props to Ratalaika Games for bringing the game out of obscurity to give it a much better chance of finding an audience – but it’s a seriously hardcore challenge for single players, that doesn’t feel like it plays fair. If you’ve got family or friends to race with, it’s definitely a game that I’d recommend, however: there’s a huge amount of variation and inventive track features amongst the 25 tracks on offer, as well as the ‘Omake’ soccer-style mode too – and it’s reasonably priced at $6.99/£5.99 (with a launch discount available at the time of writing too, making it even more value for money).
The audio and visuals have an appealing early 90s feel, so even if you don’t remember this game first-hand, it does have the ability to bring you that warm sense of nostalgia – as long as you can get over the annoyance of those superhuman AI drivers of course.
Many thanks to PR Hound for providing me with a Moto Roaders MC code for review purposes.
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