Monday, 30 March 2020

Road Fighter (MSX review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1985

Road Fighter is a racing game that was also released in the Arcades (1984) and NES (1992).


It consists of six stages and the goal in each is to reach the checkpoint before your car runs out of fuel. Gas can be topped up by collecting icons scattered across the road, but care must be taken to dodge fellow drivers and hazards (such as oil slicks), as crashing causes your vehicle to explode and precious fuel is wasted until you're placed back on the track. While the scrolling is choppy when you begin accelerating, things improve promptly thanks to the incredible gameplay speed; it's fast and furious, and a great test of your reaction times as vehicles scream towards you. These vehicles have different characteristics depending on their colour to keep you on your toes, with standouts being the huge tankers that take up a ton of space, and the pink cars that zig-zag across the road; it's especially fun trying to duke the latter out by faking in one direction and then quickly swerving back the other way! The difficulty progression is perfect too, with hazards being slowly introduced to mix things up, as well as the roads gradually narrowing with heavier traffic. The collision detection is spot-on and every time you crash it's completely down to poor play. The graphical assets do repeat quite often in each stage, but I do like how the game's six locations offer completely different environments to make you feel like you're on an epic journey. Another neat feature is the map screen that shows your progress at the end of each stage; here you can see what's waiting up ahead, acting as further incentive to keep playing. To top things off, this version includes all six stages, unlike the paltry four in the NES port.

Road Fighter is undoubtedly a simplistic racing game, but everything about it is so well executed that it remains infinity playable. The action is fast-paced and the controls are responsive, while the varied locales offer plenty of visual stimulation to round up an excellent port that's convincingly faithful to the Arcade original.



Random trivia: While the NES port wasn't available until 1992, the Nintendo Famicom version was released seven years earlier in 1985!

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