Victory Run may look like just another bland 16-bit racer. But once you dive into the game you begin to see that it's actually got a lot of depth and playability to it. Not only do you have to watch out for other racers, but you also have to spend a lot of time dealing with parts of your car going bad, ever-changing terrain, and the many twists and turns of the tracks themselves. Not many racing games from this era had quite this much going on at once, and it proves to be quite a challenge for even the most experienced racing game fan. Victory Run was way ahead of its time back in the 16-bit era, and made use of a lot of gameplay ideas that are being used in many of today's top racing games. But does this formula prove to be too taxing on the player or is it just the challenge needed to differentiate Victory Run from the rest of the pack?
Just like any other racing game, you'll be required to complete the current track your on in a set time limit. To do this you'll have to pass many other racers on the track, being careful not to collide with them. Much like a real race car, you have to learn when to shift gears up and down. You can even have parts of your car fail and you'll have to deal with that as well. In another twist, if you blow the top gear of your transmission, you'll be forced to finish the rest of the race in the next lowest gear. It's little things like this that make the game so playable and strategic. Victory Run is not a game that you can just go full out during the entire race. You have to pick your spots.
The control of the car is very smooth and responsive, so avoiding these obstacles isn't too difficult as long as you can see them in time. It does take a little getting used to shifting gears with the same control pad that you're using to steer your car with, but after awhile you'll begin to get the hang of it. It's not a perfect control system, but it works.
The visuals in the game aren't anything to write home about, but they're pretty good for the time period in which the game was originally released. The tracks all have a distinct and fresh look to them and there are many different types of racers around you that also show a nice amount of detail. One nice feature of the game is the way the game changes from day to night. It's not much, but it's a nice effect to keep things interesting during the long races. The draw distance isn't terribly great, so normally by the time a racer comes into view, you don't have a lot of time to move to avoid them, but this was a common problem during the 8 and 16-bit era with most racing games. Victory Run isn’t overly flashy but has it where it counts.
The music in Victory Run is not too bad considering this is an earlier Turbografx-16 title. It would have been nice to hear more variety in the musical tracks, but it's nothing you can't live without. The sound effects in the game are very substandard, and most don't come close to sounding anywhere near authentic. It's pretty typical of the MIDI type effects found in most games of this period, but the ones in Victory Run seem even a bit below average. Not a terribly solid sound experience, that's for sure.
Victory Run may not have the type of visual flash of today's racers, but given when it was originally released, the game shows a lot of originality. Clearly a game ahead of its time in some aspects, but the graphic quality is sure to turn off some modern racing fans. If you liked the game back in the day, then it's definitely one to grab, but you might want to try this one out at a friend's house before you buy it to see if this is your cup of tea. A good racer, but a game that's beginning to feel a little dated.