Death Rally (1996)

With Remedy Entertainment’s release of Death Rally (2011) for iOS and Android, perhaps it’s time to go back and see what made the original Death Rally (1996) such a good game, and a prime candidate for a mobile revival.

Death Rally, a top-down arcade style racer, is at its core, a greatest hits collection of emerging mid-90’s gaming conventions. Weaponized vehicles, killable bystanders, and upgradeable equipment are all here in mid-90’s DOS glory. Being an Apogee published game, there’s even a cameo by the one and only Duke Nukem. Remedy’s choice to resurrect this franchise for modern mobile devices was seemingly an easy one. The game is simple, and above all, it’s a ton of fun.

Beware the shady loanshark!

You begin the game by naming yourself, and selecting an appropriate avatar. You are then given $450, and a car that resembles a Volkswagen Beetle. From there, your goal is to race your way through the league, so that you may ultimately face off with, and defeat, the Adversary. Yes, the final boss is named, the Adversary. Chilling.

With each race, you gain both money, and points for your standings. Money is primarily used to repair, upgrade, and purchase better cars. However, the money can also be spent on the black market, where you can buy mines, spikes for your bumper, rocket fuel, and even pay to sabotage an opponent’s car. Points affect your standing in the league, and you must must gain more of them to face off against the aforementioned Adversary. Again, what a chilling villain.

Oh, this is no good. You’ve been lapped! – Announcer

Money and points are divided up within each race depending on various factors. Placing first, second, or third in a race results in points and money, first obviously getting the most. However, you can also finish the race in first by destroying all of your opponents. Additionally, cash bonuses are awarded if you destroy all opponents during a race, finish a race with under three percent damage, or go on a winning streak. Bonus “missions” also occur, in which you’ll be asked to destroy an enemy, or pick up drugs during the race. Completing these “missions” grants a hefty cash reward, while failing them will result in a loss of money. So choose carefully when considering these offers.

He seems to be on fire…

The game isn’t particularly long, and while initially challenging, it eventually breaks down into a formula where you try to score as many of those cash bonuses as you can to upgrade your car. However, the game is fun, the music is catchy, and the whole process is somewhat addictive in nature. The best part, you can download it free from Remedy’s Website. Yes, the multiplayer is missing in the freeware release, due to the fact they’d have to re-write the modem-era netcode, but you really should go and download it now. Best thing, the freeware version has been updated to work on modern Windows machines, so no DOSBox required.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go! Download it now!