Just like the generations before it, the 90s had its fair share of catchphrases. The Ninja Turtles brought surfer lingo into all of our young vocabularies with words such as “cowabunga” and “gnarly.” Other popular phrases included bodacious, tubular, rad, boss, and bitchin’. For those who aren’t aware, these all basically translate to being cool or awesome. Now I know what some of you are thinking, what does this have to do with video games? This isn’t a lesson in urban slang! Well, someone at Beam Software thought it would be a radical idea to take some slang and mix it with something most kids loved, dinosaurs. As a result we got yet another mediocre at best mascot platformer: Radical Rex.
Lets begin with the thrilling story, shall we? Rex’s girlfriend Rexanne got herself kidnapped and you have to rescue her. We have never heard this one before have we? There is a bit of a twist here though. The magician Sethron has turned the dinosaurs against each other in hopes of them killing off the species so mammals can take over the world. So that’s what happened! Everything they told you in school about dinosaurs was a lie. For some odd reason in the Genesis version Sethron was replaced by a gopher named Skriitch. The gameplay is what you would expect from a platformer. Rex has a couple abilities. He can breath fire, and he can let out a ferocious roar that kills all enemies on screen. There are two bars on the top of the screen that represent your roar and fire power. To raise these, you must collect the fire and voice wave icons scattered throughout the levels. The higher the bar, the stronger your attacks are.
The Genesis and Sega CD versions are identical to one another. The one thing the Sega CD version has over the Genesis is, of course, sound quality. The Sega CD version even has a sweet early 90s style rap that I dare say is… radical. If only for reminding us how bad 90s rap could be. Other than a loading screen and said rap, there were no differences at all. Both contained the same enemies and level layout. Oh I almost forgot! One reason why Rex is so radical is because he can skateboard! That’s right, nothing is more radical than a skateboarding dinosaur. You don’t have much control over Rex when he is on a skateboard though other than holding right for speed and you can jump. It’s a good thing I decided to try out the Super Nintendo version before I wrote this.
The Super Nintendo version is the best version of Radical Rex. Now I know that’s not saying much. I almost passed on trying this version as most games back then remained the same no matter what console it was on. Minus sound, of course. We all know the Super Nintendo has a rockin’ sound chip that blows the Genesis out of the water. The SNES version of Rex has better sound than the Genesis but not as good as the Sega CD. Close but no cigar. It also features different level layouts and even some new enemies. The in game sprites are much smaller than the Genesis which at least for me made the game look a lot better. There is much more focus on skateboarding in the SNES version too. Surprisingly, the SNES was rad enough to handle the rap on the title screen as well. Overall, animations looks better here too and so do the colors. If you want to play this game, I say go with the Super Nintendo version. You can tell they spent a little more time with it.
Radical Rex can stay in the past. There isn’t room for him today. It’s not the worst mascot game I’ve played but there are better options out there. The floaty jump physics and slow walking got old after a while as well. It still baffles me that games like this don’t have a run button! I mean come on, Super Mario Bros. defined the genre and had a run button and that was 1985! There’s no reason to not have one. Maybe I’m being too picky here but I’m glad I’m done with Rex and the next time I see him I hope it’s in the form of gasoline in my car’s gas tank.
Chris Carboni or, as he’s better known on Twitter, Retrocore_RCVGM is a retro gamer who loves almost anything to do with old games. He can find fun in games that most would consider to be bad but that’s just because he is a Bad Dude. Bad enough to both rescue the President and not be a tuna head at the same time.