Wow, do I have a treat for you for this week. I was out game hunting the other day and came across a Sega CD game I had never seen before, Road Avenger. Since I had just reviewed Road Rash last week, I still had a taste for battle driving video games so, I picked it up. I’m glad I did because this game blew me away, not because it’s all that good, but because it’s so over the top insane.
Alright, follow along closely because the history of this game gets a little messy. Road Avenger for the Sega CD was released back in 1993. It was developed by Wolf Team and published by Renovation. However, the game didn’t debut on the Sega CD. It was originally released in the arcades back in 1985 by Data East. Back then, it was known as Road Blaster. When the game was eventually ported to the home consoles, the name was changed often to avoid confusion with another battle driving game out in the arcades at the time, Atari’s “RoadBlasters”. I can see how that would be confusing.
As far as I can tell, the Sega CD version is the only version with the name “Road Avenger”. Versions on other game consoles were called “Road Prosecutor”, “Thunder Storm”, “Cobra Command”, Road Blaster FX, and the base name, “Road Blaster”. There was even an interactive VHS tape made of this game called “Video Challenger”. When I was a kid, I had something similar to the VHS version of this game called Video Driver, oh the memories.
Road Avenger is an FMV (Full Motion Video) animated adventure game similar in game play to Dragons Lair or Revenge of the Ninja. Actually, the game play of Road Avenger is exactly the same as Revenge of the Ninja. They were both published by the same publisher, Renovation, so that probably explains the similarity between the two. The game follows the story of a young man seeking revenge on a biker gang that killed his wife. He does this by chasing them down in his muscle car and running them over, one by one.
Just to prepare you, this is just the intro for Road Avenger. When you see an intro like this, you know you’ve found a special game.
Playing this game is simple since all you have to do is pay attention and push the buttons that the game prompts you to push. The game plays out on it’s own and all it needs you to do is push the right button at the right time to keep the action going. For example, if you’re driving down the road and a car is coming at you, an arrow will flash on the screen telling you to push right on the D-pad. When you push right, the next sequence will play showing you turning right to avoid the oncoming traffic.
The entire game is played out like this with the only control variations being that sometimes you have to press the “A” button to fire your turbo booster or, press the “B” button to apply the brakes. Since you’re in a car, you can only turn left and right so you don’t even have to worry about pressing up or down. It sounds like boring game play but it sucks you in since you have to be quick on the controller with your button presses. If you slack even a millisecond on the controller, all you’ll see is crash sequence after crash sequence.
Are you ready? Here it is, Road Avenger game play.
Now that you’ve seen the game, you can see what I was talking about when I said this game is over the top insane. I get the story and I get the car chases but these chases had to be confusing even for the animators to figure out. Seriously, there were multiple times where I caught myself saying out loud “Am I seriously driving through a building right now?” and my favorite “Did I just drive up a flight of stairs?!” Normally, when a game makes me say things like that, I end up hating it but, after each ridiculous scene I also caught myself saying “This game is awesome!”
This game easily earns my seal of approval just for going all the way with it’s insanity. It doesn’t hide anything or try to cut corners, it simply says “This is the kind of game I am. If you’re cool with that then press start and lets do this.” The honesty of this game helps to easily overlook its faults like insanely short amounts of time to react to screen prompts and it’s overall limited game play.
I love the look of this game. It’s classic 80’s action cartoon animation similar to Transformers or G.I. Joe. It’s also displayed in full screen instead of a small video window like most other FMV Sega CD games. Sure, the video is grainy but, at the same time, seems less grainy because this is cartoon animation and not live action video where the grainyness really sticks out.
Well, if you watched the videos above then you heard everything in this game. Lots of generic 80’s rock guitar riffs mixed with some screeching tires and car crashes makes up the entire soundtrack. The downside, yes, I consider this and not the previous stuff the downside, is that the sound isn’t very clear. Even for a CD based game, the music and sound effects are raspy and distorted to the point where you can’t make out some of the sounds or even the deeply heart felt lyrics of the intro music. Clearly, this game should’ve had a companion music CD included with it so one could truly the enjoy the music in all it’s glory.
Collectibility – Very Sought After
If you’re a game collector, why wouldn’t you want this game in your collection? I only just discovered this game a few days ago and I consider it one of the best Sega CD games I’ve ever played. Forget the simple game play and controls and just take this game in for what it is. This game belongs to a generation of games that were just discovering and exploring the novelty of controlling what’s basically a movie on your TV. If you see this game, buy it!
Average Value – $10 loose, $30 complete in box, $50 new in box as of 1/30/13
Rarity – Very sought after with a 53% rating on RarityGuide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting
Follow Pat’s Retro Video Game Reviews on Twitter @PatsGameReviews or you can hear me on the Play On! Podcast right here on Planet Arbitrary or on iTunes!