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Retro Game of the Day! Rad Racer

Retro Game of the Day is a daily look back at some of the games we loved (or, not so much) during the formative years. Today's entry is Rad Racer by Square.

Ron Alpert, Blogger

November 14, 2009

3 Min Read

Retro Game of the Day! Rad Racer



Rad Racer by Square - yes, this is one of their last famous "pre-Final Fantasy releases!" 1987 release on Nintendo Entertainment System.


Programmed by Iranian-born Nasir Gebelli (he has an interesting history with Square and Final Fantasy, check the link!), Rad Racer was obviously designed to compete with Sega's then-popular Ferrari Coastline racing title Outrun. There was quite a gulf between the two games, yet Rad Racer was still a fun experience - particularly considering there wasn't much competition for it on the platform, otherwise.


Rad's selling points were numerous - choose between a Ferrari or F1 racer (both perform identical), race in courses around the world, press "Select" at any time to enable 3-D mode (you'll need to wear the included red and blue glasses). This last pillar was purely a gimmick, and not a very satisfying one at that.


3-D notwithstanding, the game was enjoyable to play. For a system not designed with scaling graphics in mind, the engine did a believable enough job of presenting a first-person racer. Graphics were crisp and clean, and every city you raced through introduced different car makes as your opponents. You would not race for position (as is traditional), rather you needed to reach each checkpoint before time ran out. Crashing would be quite costly, eating up a lot of your time; suffer a couple of these and you had no hope of proceeding!


A sequel emerged a couple of years later, though I never picked it up (I kind of had my fill after the first affair - racing games were always hit-or-miss with me, especially when they were punishingly difficult!) Rad Racer will most likely be remembered from a scene in the movie the Wizard, otherwise just an odd footnote in the history of an otherwise-doomed company called Square (ever wonder why they called it "Final" Fantasy?)


In spite of its flaws, an able little racing game that put the NES through its paces, and an enjoyable title during the 8-Bit's heyday. Given the choice, I'd stick with Outrun, but a gamer could do much worse than revisiting this little game.


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