Published on July 31st, 2013 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
TRUTHRant: Where the Hell is Road Rash Hiding?
Many years ago, Electronic Arts was a weird company. It made some weird, yet fun, games, ranging from heavy strategy titles like Power Monger to quirky releases such as Haunting Starring Polterguy. EA wasn’t the boring, money hungry industry enemy, but a company that was just trying to find its stride with its games.
While the 16-bit platforms did start featuring the sports games that EA is known for now, it also created a series called Road Rash. And it was badass and everyone should want it back.
Road Rash had a simple premise, but it worked so well. You hop on a motorcycle, race other people and try to beat the snot out of them on the way to the finish line. You could upgrade your bike, and courses became more difficult as the game progressed.
The series saw three releases on the Sega Genesis. They were all pretty good, with Road Rash 3 sporting the best graphics, but the crown jewel of the early Road Rash franchise was on a system that only the rich kids had: The 3D0. Road Rash 3Do had better graphics than what the Sega Genesis version could boast, but it also featured licensed music for the first time ever in a video game.
While hearing your favorite bands is a common-place thing now days, at the time this was huge to be flying down the road on a motorcycle, listening to Soundgarden while using a chain to beat the crap out of someone.
After being ported to Saturn and PlayStation, Road Rash had a new entry called Road Rash 3D. It sucked. Road Rash 3D put more focus on racing which I don’t think many people played Road Rash for, so it was just boring. Another entry was made, Road Rash 64, but that wasn’t even handled by EA. After one more disappointing release for the PlayStation (which was later ported to GameBoy Advance), that was it.
Like a rainbow in the dark (anytime I can make a Dio reference I will), Road Rash was gone.
So I sit back and think to myself, “Where the hell is Road Rash?” At first, I thought it may be an issue of “getting with the times,” so to speak. Road Rash wasn’t a super deep game, and that could be an issue. Then I’m reminded of similar games like Twisted Metal, which still manages to be fun and relevant.
The multiplayer aspect of Twisted Metal has allowed it to still feel fun and fresh, even though initially it wasn’t a deep game.
However, I feel that’s not the reason, because Road Rash could easily be brought into the modern gaming era. Customization would be an easy thing, along with different types of bikes, more advanced combat or a large environment to explore. The multiplayer would be amazing — just think of all the online carnage you can have, all the destruction you can cause, all the body damage you can obtain from flying off a motorcycle at a high rate of speed. It’d be so much damn fun.
Now I’m just left with wonder. The game would be fun enough for the old-school fans to enjoy it, and it could easily become relevant for today’s younger gamers. I guess what it all boils down to is that EA has changed. It seems like it doesn’t want to take too many chances or think outside the box. Maybe EA is happy with microtransactioning the hell out of everything, maybe it would rather make disappointing war and sports games.
Luckily, there is a slight glimer of hope. An independent studio named DarkSeas Games is attempting to resurrect the feeling you get when smacking someone on a speeding motorcycle with a club with a spiritual successor, called Road Redemption. Darkseas’ Kickstarter met its goal, and the gameplay looks promising. I suppose it will have to do, because we many never see a proper Road Rash again.