Review: Rock & Roll Racing (SNES)

Are you ready to rock?

While Rock & Roll Racing began life as a direct sequel to their original RPM Racing release on the Super Nintendo console, the guys at Silicon & Synapse decided to amp things up a bit for their new racing title. They added in a classic hard rock soundtrack, some unique race announcing from Larry "Supermouth" Huffman, and a much more responsive and playable gameplay system to form a game that is considered to be one of the better racing titles available for the console. So how exactly does this game hold up 15 years later and is it still as much fun to play now as it was back in the day?

There are basically two modes of play to choose from when you start the game. You can choose to play the standard game that allows you to take on three other racers in an 8 racetrack free-for-all, or the VS Mode that allows you to go head-to-head with another racer. While the game can be played as a single-player experience, it's even more fun if you can round up another player to compete against.

You basically control your race car using the D-pad or the shoulder buttons on the Super Nintendo controller. Both work equally well, and once you get a feel for the unique RC-style of play control, you'll be blazing your way around the many tracks in the game with ease. Your goal is to finish each race in first place in order to earn the big bucks. While fancy driving plays a key role in accomplishing this objective, you'll also need to make use of your weapons in order to take out and slow down the opposing racers.

As you win races, you'll earn money that you can use to purchase better cars, car parts, and weaponry. You'll find this necessary in order to be competitive in many of the advanced racing classes. There are a wealth of different cars and parts to choose from, so there's always plenty of incentive to keep going back and winning races in order to buy better equipment.

The play control scheme itself might take a little getting used to, but it becomes very intuitive once you get a handle on it. The control in the game is very responsive and allows you to spend more time concentrating on the race itself and less time trying to fiddle with the controls. There are a large number of different tracks to take on, so there's never a lack of variety when it comes to the various races on the different planets. It's nice to see that the developers tightened up the sluggish play control of RPM Racing when they put this sequel together and it makes for a much more enjoyable racing experience this time around.

Visually Rock & Roll Racing is a fairly big step up from RPM Racing. There's a lot more detail in the various tracks, not to mention the cars and racers themselves. It's also nice to see that each planet also has its own unique backdrop and race track style. You'll almost never see the same race track theme repeated throughout the game which adds a nice layer of variety to the game's graphical presentation.

When it comes to hard rocking soundtracks, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than Rock & Roll Racing. Not only are the classic hard rock songs extremely well done in the game, but they're also some of the biggest hard rock hits ever crafted. You'll hear everything from Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" to "Born to Be Wild" from Steppenwolf. There's not a bad track in the entire game and when you toss in some absolutely amazing racing commentary from Larry "Supermouth" Huffman, what you have is one of the best audio productions ever heard in a 16-bit racing title.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that if you're a fan of the NES classic RC Pro Am, you're going to absolutely love the racing action in Rock & Roll Racing. Not only is the core gameplay idea still intact, but the unique hard rock soundtrack and impressive race announcing breathe new life into the game and make it truly stand out from the other racing titles available for the Super Nintendo system. If you're a fan of the isometric racing genre, you owe it to yourself to see why so many racing game fans hold this game in such high regard. It's not only one of the more enjoyable racing titles to come out of the 16-bit era, it's also one of the more unique as well.