Road Rash Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

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In 1991 Electronic Arts released Road Rash; an alternative and gritty racing game where you could punch, kick and club your way to victory!

This was exactly the kind of title Sega wanted in their library, offering a more shocking, controversial and therefore tempting experience for teenagers and strengthening their argument for “Genesis does what Nintendon’t”.

Road Rash is all about earning money and winning races through whatever means possible. You must avoid the police, take risks and knock your opponents off their bikes as you work your way through to the finish line. It was fun back then and it still holds up well today!

In terms of music there appears to be a few mixed opinions. Whilst the intro theme is generally considered to be fantastic, the soundtrack for each level has its ups and downs. There seems to be an emphasis on the use of an effect that I guess tries to mimic a guitar,but doesn’t do the best job in the world. Personally, I still enjoy a few of these because I’m incredibly nostalgic, but there is the option to turn it off if it don’t suit your tastes.

Graphically it doesn’t look quite as impressive as Super Hang-On which came out the year before, but I don’t think it needed to be. It’s not as fast and looks a little “choppy”, but it does the job well in its own style. Remember this game came out the same year as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and is meant to be gritty and alternative, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s a little rough around the edges. If anything it adds to the game and gives it character.

Road Rash is set in California and features five tracks to choose from which get progressively longer and more difficult as you progress through the main campaign. In each race you have 14 opponents to go up against, along with the odd police officer you must avoid from getting busted. Crashing into a car, tree or building near them will result in you having to pay a fine. Your bike can also only take a certain amount of damage before the race is over and you need to invest in repairs, so be careful out there!

Coming first or even in the top 3 for each race will earn you money which you can then invest in newer and faster bikes. You’ll need to do this to progress through the later stages and keep up with your opponents. Thankfully, there is a password system in place to save your progress.

Whilst there is technically a two-player mode, it basically consists of playing through the career mode one at a time, taking it in turns. They addressed this with a split-screen competitive mode in Road Rash 2, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in playing this version.

The original Road Rash for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive is an incredibly enjoyable racing game that is full of character and as playable today as it was back in 1991. For me it feels like an important part of gaming history, moving away from the more traditional and innocent racers and inspiring future franchises such as Carmageddon and Grand Theft Auto, pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in this form of media and how far we’ve come. Nowadays this game feels almost “cheeky” whereas back then it was quite shocking.

Even so, I believe you will have a lot of fun with this or Road Rash 2 and they definitely deserve to be played and added to your collection.

Road Rash Review Summary

B Recommended
Road Rash is an excellent racing game with attitude that is still as much fun to play now as it was back in 1991. For two-player fun, I recommend the sequel, but for those racing in 1 player mode, this is definitely a game worthy of anyone's Sega Genesis or Mega Drive collection.

Matt has been hooked on games since he received his first console (a SEGA Mega Drive) for his 7th birthday. He now spends most of his time on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS, but will use any excuse for a retro gaming night.


Posted on January 25, 2016 | Last modified: 2nd February 2016