Review: Super Off Road (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we hit the nitro in the Sega Genesis game Super Off Road. We find out if this racing game is worth playing.

This game was released in 1994. It is a port from an arcade game. It is also released after several other ports were released as well.

For the record, I have played the SNES version of this before playing this version. While I have not reviewed the SNES version yet, I will make the odd note here and there about the differences between the two versions while I go through the game.

This game is generally a four player game. While it’s theoretically possible to play this game with four players, whoever isn’t a human player becomes a computer player. The player’s are as follows: player 1 is the red truck, player 2 is the blue truck, player 3 is the yellow truck, and player 4 is the silver truck. You need a minimum of 1 human player to play this game.

When you start, you need to enter your initials. After this, records you break will feature your initials. This appears to be the sole purpose of this. If you played the SNES version, your name will also appear in a hall of fame – a feature weirdly not found in this game.

After this, you’ll find yourself in the speed shop. You start with $100,000 to spend as you see fit. While this sounds like a lot of money, a lot of what is in this shop is initially quite expensive. In fact, increasing the top speed of your vehicle once will soak up all of your cash because that costs “100K”. The prices, fortunately, do go down from there. Acceleration upgrades are “80K”, shocks are “60K”, and tires are “40K”. Each of these can be levelled up all the way to level 6.

This leaves nitros. Each nitro is worth 10K each. While the shop display will have you believe that you can only carry 6 nitros at a time, the real maximum is 99. The only way to know this, of course, is to enter the race and find out how many you actually have. Once you reach 99 nitros, the game stops you from buying any more.

When you are ready to race, you simply select the race start option in the shop.

In every race, all four coloured trucks are present. While I don’t know what the red truck difficulty is, the general breakdown is pretty straight forward. The yellow truck is the slowest truck. The blue truck has a medium skill level. Finally, the silver truck is the toughest opponent to beat. While this is the general breakdown in difficulty, that doesn’t mean that this is the order your opponents will finish. In fact, it is more than possible for the yellow truck to win a race while the silver truck can lose. This speaks to how unpredictable some races can really be.

In the race itself, you are faced with a top down perspective. You’ll be able to see the whole track itself, so there is no scrolling involved. The goal is to complete 5 laps on the track. Unfortunately, only 1 truck will ever complete the 5th lap. This is because the race ends when the first truck completes all 5 laps. After that, the game detects your trucks location and determines the rankings from there.

Along the way, players will encounter various bonuses along the way. If a player runs over a money bag, the player will be awarded a cash bonus. If the player runs over a nitro, an additional nitro will be awarded to the player (for a maximum of 99 nitros of course). As items get collected, the value of these bonuses increases until the end of the race. The first money bag that is collected is worth $10,000. If you get the second money bag, that is worth $20,000. A third money bag is worth $30,000. If you manage to get the fourth and final money bag, it is worth a massive $40,000.

The same idea goes for nitros as well. The first nitro adds one nitro to your collection. A second nitro gives you two nitros. The third grants you three nitros. A fourth and final nitro will net you a sizable four nitros.

As you race on the various tracks, players will find that certain strategies will increase the chances of success. One strategy is to avoid grinding your truck along walls. This slow you down a lot. Pools of water will also slow trucks down considerably. Another strategy is to avoid collisions with other trucks. It is actually possible to get turned around during particularly messy collisions. While not something that happens often, it can occur and may even cause you to lose the race.

Another reason to avoid collisions is because if you are travelling at a certain rate of speed, that speed will get transferred to your opponent. This includes moments where you use a nitro. If you use a nitro and rear end your opponent, the opponent will be able to benefit from the speed boost. Not really helpful for you.

Still, collisions can actually be beneficial to you in very limited circumstances. If you are ahead and enter a very narrow passage on the track, opponents can actually make you go faster if they happen to catch up. This is a rare occurrence in the game, but does hint at the benefits of being a road hog when out in front.

Nitros can very easily help you win more races – if used wisely. Using them in straightaways will give you the maximum benefit of the speed boost they provide. In turns, the extra speed disappears much more quickly.

Another strategy in this game is to try and execute the race in the most efficient manner possible. The tighter you can take corners, the better. The more puddles you can avoid, the better. If you can execute some particularly efficient racing, sometimes, you can win races without even using a single nitro. Something to keep in mind if you are trying to save up cash for your next upgrade.

In case you are wondering about obstacles, this version doesn’t have any. Other versions will have bails of hay to make the race more difficult as you go along, but this version simply doesn’t have this feature.

After the race is over, the game figures out if a record is broken. If so, the time will flash and the game will erase the old time and insert the new time at the top of the screen.

In terms of general placement winnings, first place will reward you with a huge $150,000 in cash. Second place will net you a very decent $100,000. Third place will still grant you a decent $50,000. Any cash bonuses you collect during the race will be added to your take home pay in the “+” row.

The one thing you want to avoid is losing a race. If you do that, you’ll lose two levels for every upgrade you added to your vehicle. If you lose all of your upgrades and lose again, it’ll be game over. It is only vehicle upgrades that grant you continues. You’ll get $100,000 in cash, but you’ll find yourself digging out of a hole. This is because you’ll be racing against more difficult opponents with inferior stats on your truck. It is certainly possible to accomplish this, but it does leave little margin for error depending on how long you’ve been playing.

After you finish a few races in the top 3, more upgrades become accessible. Some players go for the vehicle upgrades while others grab as many nitros as possible. Technically, both strategies work quite well. The vehicle upgrades allows player to have continues. It also makes racing generally easier.

Nitros is a viable strategy in the beginning because it allows players to get ahead early on in the race. The first few seconds can really set the tone for the rest of the race. If opponents start to catch up, it’s easier to defend your position if you have a few extra nitros sitting in the tank ready to go. Strategies really depend on the player’s racing style in the end. I personally chose the former strategy while guides online suggest nitros first. Take your pick.

As for beating the game, well, there really doesn’t seem to be any way to really “beat” the game. You can win several races. You can obtain completely unbeatable race records. Still, even though there are 16 tracks that randomly plays throughout the game, there doesn’t seem to be an end. Some versions of this game suggest that there are 99 races in this game, but this version seemingly doesn’t have this. You basically play until you get bored and quit (or you lose enough races that you end up having the “game over” screen). I personally played until everything was upgraded, I got 99 nitros, and I had over $5,000,000 in the bank extra. After that, I just gave up racing after trying several different race strategies.

While endless gameplay may seem appealing at first, it gives the game a sense of unfulfillment. Do I really want to play a game I can never “win”? There are circumstances I feel like this is certainly acceptable. This is mainly in games that offer a specific mode that is endless. In this case, there is no note about how this is an endless game. Instead, you are simply left guessing because there simply is no indication of progress in any way shape or form.

Still, what I do like is the kind of gameplay it offers. The races are short and to the point. The game offers a sense of unpredictability. This alone increases the replay value considerably. I found myself playing this game for hours before boredom ultimately set in. At that point, while being bored with the game decided for me that I should stop, I did get a lot of entertainment value out of the game. So, I am quite satisfied with how well this game performed in the end.

Generally speaking, this game offers upgrade abilities. The goals are clear enough. There’s also a sense of unpredictability that will keep me coming back for more. While I have played the SNES version, this version certainly holds up well even if it was released a few years later. Despite no real “end” or goal to the game itself outside of the individual races, this game still has plenty to offer gamers.

Graphically speaking, this game is decent enough. The effects of the water and the detailed tracks are certainly eye-candy considering the tracks are all dirt roads. The camera flashes in the podium scene is a nice graphical touch. Even though all the drivers look the same save for the outfit colour, it works quite well. While not amazing, it’s certainly decent enough.

The audio is OK. The music does have some interesting melodies, but is rather muted. The sound effects are interesting. This is because the different trucks have their own sound effects whenever a bonus is collected. The downside is that half the sound effects otherwise seem to be various hi-hat effects. Still, I’ll call it a passable effort.

Overall this game is a great game. Even though it was released years after other versions, there is still plenty of great gameplay to be had. The general race mechanics work quite well. General concepts are easy to understand. The unpredictability really gives the game more replay value. The only complaint I have with this one is a lack of any real long term goal or ending. I think the graphics are decent enough, though the audio is little more than possible. Still, a great game to play all around.

Furthest point in game: Fully upgraded truck with over $5,000,000 in cash extra. Got bored shortly after that.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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