Sega Roms Information

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Road Rash

Road Rash is the name of a motorcycle-racing/combat video game series by Electronic Arts, originally for the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis, in which the player participates in illegal street races, and later ported for several other systems. Six games/versions were released, the first in 1991 and the last in 1999, although a 2004 licensed port for the Game Boy Advance exists.

Presented in a third-person view similar to Hang-On (although bike and rider are proportionately smaller), the player competes in road races, and must finish in the top 3 places on every race to proceed to the next level, where the opponents ride faster and harder and the tracks are longer and more dangerous. Placing in each race gives a certain amount of money which increases considerably in each level which allows the player to buy faster bikes which is needed to stay competitive. The game is over if the player is arrested (a policeman knocks the player off their bike or the player is caught stopped or on foot near a police bike) and the player can't pay the fine, or if the bike suffers more damage than it can take and is wrecked.

Aside from the high speed, big-air and spectacular crashes, what separated Road Rash from other racing games was its combat element. The player could fight other bikers with a variety of handweapons. The player would initially start off with just a punch and kick, but if the gamer timed a punch right, they could grab a weapon from another rider. The weapons themselves ranged from clubs, crowbars, nunchakus, cattle prods and even police batons. Fights between riders to knock each other off the bike would often go on at high speeds through traffic, pedestrians and roadside obstacles, with the victor gaining place and the loser gaining bike damage and losing time.

The motorcycle police officers were never friendly and they have dual antagonistic roles. They fight the player as another, usually tougher, opponent and they also serve as gameplay enforcers by policing the back of the pack and culling players who fall too far behind or choose to explore the world rather than race in it. The stakes are higher for losing a fight with a police officer: the player would be busted and fined and the race would end. If there were insufficient funds to pay, the game would be over.

Even though knocking other racers and police officers from their bikes is a permissible means towards achieving victory in the game, and it initiated the genre of motorcycle-racing/combat games, Road Rash got little to no attention in the video game controversy of the '90s. Some of this may be attributed to the designers skewed, yet balanced rules of political correctness: Violence and rewards are divided up equally between ethnicity and sex and stereotypes are balanced by representing a cross-section of characters all behaving badly. The game consistently garnered a Teen rating from the ESRB with a modifier of animated violence.

The 32-bit versions of the game featured cutscenes professionally filmed in San Francisco and Los Altos Hills that were notable for a wry sense of humor. For example, if the player was arrested, then the game would show a brief movie clip of a motorcyclist being handcuffed to a police officer's motorcycle (which would then start moving), or a clip of the arrestee being placed in the trunk of a police cruiser. The actors were were both professional stuntmen and the games designers and featured the company bike- a red Ducati which is still on display at EA headquarters. The 16-bit versions featured animations as cut scenes. The possible game triggers for cut scenes in all the versions are: race win, level progression, game win, wreck and busted.

The game's title is based on the slang term for the severe friction burns that can occur in a motorcycling fall where skin comes into contact with the ground at high speed.


Sound
The original Genesis version featured a Rob Hubbard soundtrack, however later versions released on CD formats featured music tracks from bands such as Soundgarden, Swervedriver, and Therapy?. Months before Road Rash was even released for the 3DO it received 3DO's 1994 "Soundtrack of the Year" award. The last version featured garage and unsigned bands who got a chance to be in the game by sending in their tapes.


Releases
When Road Rash debuted on the 32-bit home game consoles they were initially ported from the 3DO version of the game. All of these games were called Road Rash despite being 4th in the series. Derivative works were reengineered up for Microsoft Windows and Nintendo 64 platforms or reengineered down to Sega Mega-CD and the handheld consoles. In 2000 due to a restructuring at EA the key design, technical and artistic forces behind the Road Rash series left EA. At the time of its demise, Road Rash was EAs 2nd most profitable series in which it didn't have to pay royalty or licensing fees. EA attempted to resurrect the series with a PlayStation 2 version but was unable to complete it.

Version History

V.1 - Road Rash 16-bit
All Races took place in California locales on progressively longer 2 lane roads.
V.2 - Road Rash II 16-bit
All Races took place in North America, 2 lane roads.
V.3 - Road Rash III 16-bit
All Races took place in 5 of 7 countries (Brazil, Germany, Kenya, UK, Italy, Japan and Australia) on 2 lane roads. 15 bikes, bike upgrades, night racing (in Japan), 7 Weapons including mace, taser.
V.4 - Road Rash 32-bit
All Races took place in California locales(The City, The peninsula, Pacific Coast Highway, Sierra Nevada, and Napa Valley) on multilane roads with brief divided road sections.
V.5 - Road Rash 3D 32-bit
All Races took place on routes laid out through a single interconnected road system- hence the title 3D.
V.6 - Road Rash: Jail Break 32-bit
An interconnected road system and 2 player cooperative play- with a sidecar.
Titles and release dates

Road Rash
V.1
Sega Genesis,1991 original
Atari ST, 1992 {Peakstar Software)
Amiga, 1992 {Peakstar Software)
Sega Master System, 1994 (ported by Probe, published by US Gold)
V.2
Game Boy, 1994
Game Gear, 1994
Internet- AOL Games Channel, 2001
V.4
3DO, original 1994
Sega Mega-CD, 1994
PlayStation, 1996
Sega Saturn, 1996
Microsoft Windows PC, 1996 (Papyrus Design Group)
Game Boy Color, 2000 (3d6 Games)
Road Rash II
V.2
Sega Genesis, 1992 original
Nintendo, never released
Road Rash 3: Tour De Force
V.3
Sega Genesis, 1995 original
Road Rash 3D
V.5
PlayStation, 1998 original
Road Rash 64
V.5
Nintendo 64, 1999 (THQ)
Road Rash: Jailbreak
V.6
PlayStation, 1999 original
Game Boy Advance, 2004 (Destination Software, Inc)

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