You know what?
I don’t think I’ve actually ever reviewed a retro racing game for 1MoreCastle thusfar, which is weird because it’s not like I never played any! I always had a few racing games lying around for every console I owned back in the day and a lot of them I still remember having a ball playing.
Hell, I even recall playing OutRun in the Arcade and loving it!
Weirdly, one of the first racing games that comes to my mind when thinking back to some I played and enjoyed during my childhood is Street Racer for the Sega Genesis.
Originally released for the SNES, it took the go-karting formula of Mario Kart and did its own thing with it, giving you a decent choice of goofy characters, each with their own unique vehicle, and allowing you to bomb and attack your opponents during the races themselves.
Back then, I had never played Mario Kart so I was new to that specific style of racing game, though obviously I was aware of the aforementioned Nintendo classic. Street Racer didn’t really have a clear concept to speak of, it was all over the place. Instead going for an update on Wacky Races with weird characters that shouldn’t be racing in the same universe somehow competing regardless.
Man, those characters were odd…
Mostly you got to play as some sort of two-dimensional stereotype: a German dude called Helmut, Sumo-San, some cheesy-looking rich guy with a sports car, a Baywatch-style beach babe, a magic-carpet-flying old guy called Hodja, a tough-looking dude called Biff, and an African tribesman called Suzulu.
Oh and also…
Yeah, not sure how Frankenstein’s monster fits in with this bunch but hey, why not. Actually, I always thought he was meant to be more like Herman Munster from The Munsters. After all, this was more of a comedy setting anyway, right? Or maybe a distant cousin of Dr Franken‘s?
Whatever: as politically incorrect and/or random as they were, somehow the game made these characters fun and likeable. Mostly thanks to their vehicles’ unique capabilities. Some of these cars could turn into planes, some turned into magic carpets… Using these special abilities made every race about as chaotic as possible but also completely entertaining. Add to that the fact you could slap your opponents around mid-race, pick-up boosts and bombs and you’ve got yourself one crafty little racing game indeed.
Each colourful character also boasted colourful locations and the game offered some nifty modes to play including championships:
And cool versus modes like “Rumble” and, believe it or not, “Soccer” which… was exactly what it was: Soccer. You’re in your car, picking up footballs and trying to get past your enemies and score goals. Strange? Yes. But again: a lot of good old-fashioned ridiculous nonsense you’d have to be super-grumpy to dismiss and not enjoy on some level.
You could also unlock some rabbit character, something which I never even knew about for the longest time, probably because that was something you could mostly do in other versions of the game. Hell, he was even on the cover of this one:
Yeah, because THAT’s what Street Racer needed: more goofy characters.
Street Racer is a simple enough game with some good-looking visuals and several great ideas. Being a B-grade Mario Kart clone, the game really shouldn’t be as good and as enjoyable as it is but frankly, this is one of those underrated little Genesis gems that’s well worth trying out. The SNES version of the game is also worth playing though I don’t quite prefer it to the Genesis’ take. I’d probably give the Sega Saturn one a miss: it doesn’t look and feel like a Saturn game, it almost feels like a cheap conversion. Like if they took the Playstation version and made it slightly less capable somehow, by pouring milk over the disc or something…
Comparing the game to Mario Kart is inevitable but frankly, elements of Street Racer are actually slightly better than in the Nintendo classic. In Mario Kart, some of the graphics weren’t really that detailed, we mostly liked it because it was a decent, different Mario-themed game. As random and familiar as Street Racer is, its wacky world is original enough and it offers the gamer plenty of fun new features to explore.
Overall, definitely one to try out. It’ll feel like you played several games like it before but you’ll find yourself get sucked in by its charms pretty quickly regardless.
Race on, weirdos!