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Rock 'N Roll Racing: What Did Critics Say Back in 1993?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 25, 2014   |   Episode 73 (Show Archive)  


Rock 'N Roll Racing (Super NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Get your motor runnin' and head out on the highway, because if you're looking for adventure in whatever comes your way, today's episode of Review Crew is for you. Long before they cornered the market with World of WarCraft, Blizzard created Rock 'N Roll Racing for the Super NES and Sega Genesis. It's a fast-paced racing game with a soundtrack that emulates some of the biggest classic rock hits of the 1970s. Did critics embrace this alien racing game, or did it crash and burn? We dig through old issues of Die Hard Game Fan, SNES Force, Super Play, Electronic Gaming Monthly and Nintendo Power to find the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Rock 'N Roll Racing
[ Company: Interplay | Console: Super NES ]

94% out of 100%

"Man, I have gone ballistic over this one. Rock & Roll is one of the best driving games I have played and definitely one of the best 2 player games I've ever had the pleasure of booting up. Interplay has gone over the top to create one of the best titles of 1993." -Sgt. Gamer

90% out of 100%

"No matter what music people listen to, put on some rock classics and they'll tap their feet. I'd rather drive a mini than listen to Black Sabbath, but when the 'Paranoid' intro starts you can't help nodding along. The music is only part of the appeal -- the rest of the game is something else. Quite simply, Rock 'N Roll Racing is the best head-to-head racer to date, transforming pacifist folk musicians into raging engine friends -- cool!" -Chris

88% out of 100%

"A perfect blend of racing thrills, explosions and bouncy cars with huge shock absorbers, and just the right level of silliness thrown in for good measure. The only down side is that in the two-player split-screen mode, it's very hard to anticipate corners since the playing area's so small, but with these lush and gorgeous graphics, and a sound-track to match, I'll forgive this small defect. Only this once, mind." -Cam Winstanley

88% out of 100%

"Awesome! That's probably the best word to describe the game. After the unplayable RPM Racing, I was skeptical of Rock N Roll. Oh, man, what a difference! RR has some of the best tunes and voice around. The game play is near perfect with great control, cool power-ups and fast two player action." -Tom Slick

GAMEPRO (September 1993)
4 out of 5

"High-speed combat, colorful graphics, and rollicking music -- hey, what else do you want from a racing game? Interplay makes sure you get your money's worth by even adding some extra surprises (see if you can figure out how to get one of the Lost Vikings to drive your car!). Rock 'N Roll Racing's gonna drive you wild." -Captain Squideo

GAME PLAYERS (February 1994)
80% out of 100%

"If you like hot, futuristic racing action mixed with heavy-duty firepower and topped off with a kickin' soundtrack, you're gonna love this one. Lots o' replay."

8 out of 10

"Music makes all the difference with this smash-and-destroy racing game. The two-player mode is a real blast to play! The several tracks and alien planets on which you can race add the variety the game needs to stand out. So crank up the stereo, grab the controller, and get ready!" -Major Mike

NINTENDO POWER (September 1993)
3.7 out of 5

"PLUS: The best rock soundtrack available on the Super NES adds energy and fun to the game. Good car control, cool cars, some interesting track variations and plenty of customizing options. An excellent two-player, split screen game. MINUS: Only five songs in the game, which can get old after awhile. More track variety and A.I. for computer drivers would give the game more depth."
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 85% - Even in an age of Super Mario Kart and F-Zero, the critics were still impressed with an overhead racing game. But while they seemed to like the gameplay, it was the rock 'n roll tunes that put them over the edge. SNES Force argued that it's impossible to hate Black Sabbath, and Die Hard Game Fan noted that Rock 'N Roll Racing "has some of the best tunes and voice around." EGM agrees, suggesting that the "music makes all the difference with this smash-and-destroy racing game."

So much emphasis is played on the soundtrack that it left me wondering if the scores would have changed had the music been supplied by, say, Yanni or John Tesh. Is it possible that the same game would have earned a lower score with a standard chiptunes soundtrack? We'll never know for sure, but some of these reviews make an argument that the game is about more than great music. Die Hard Game Fan makes a strong case for the gameplay: "Rock & Roll is one of the best driving games I have played and definitely one of the best 2 player games I've ever had the pleasure of booting up."

Regardless of whether they liked it for the soundtrack or the gameplay, it's safe to say that critics were into Rock 'N Roll Racing. The lowest score comes from Nintendo Power, who still had a great time with the cart. When we average the scores together, we're left with an impressive 85%.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: Next week we're tackling one of the most requested series of all time -- Streets of Rage! Ever since posting a full week of Final Fight episodes, Sega fans have written in demanding we give Streets of Rage equal time. Starting Monday, we will go through all three Streets of Rage games and determine once and for all which brawler critics preferred. It all starts on Monday's episode of Review Crew. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!




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