Bring Back the Iron Man: Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - December 05, 2017
Bring Back the Iron Man: Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX Review

I usually don’t like to think of games as being defined by a singular flaw. It’s my outlook that video games are a complex form of art that encompasses a series of ups and downs, weaknesses and strengths within each individual piece of that art. It’s only recently that I’ve had to concede that with the wide variety of games out there in the current gaming landscape, there are games of all shapes, sizes, and ambitions that do dwell on that thin of a margin that one or two facets of their design or gameplay will make or break the game without being an overall failure of whatever it is that that game sets out to do.

Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX, recently released on the Switch, is a game that seems to define that phenomenon, in that while I admire what developer EnjoyUp Games set out to do with it and the way they understood the scope of their project, one fatal flaw regarding the physics engine ultimately spoils the racing far too much to faithfully recreate the same consistent level of excitement and accessibility as the retro hits it’s based on, and I know some other players might not mind it so much when it happens to them, but Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX is a simple albeit fun time, right up until somebody hits a wall, after which you may as well toss out the entire race, and stop having fun for the next two minutes or so.

You see, RNR is a racing game based off of games like Super Off Road and Super Sprint, top-down racing titles that essentially consist of a gas button and steering, either through a d-pad at home or some kind of arcade apparatus like a set of big steering wheels. Every race is short and sweet, and most importantly, incredibly easy to understand as a new player and make for some great, low-commitment multiplayer gaming. Rock ‘n’ Racing is all of those things as well, only to veer right off course the moment that your in-game vehicle does the same.

Perhaps for the sake of a more modern feel, Rock ‘n’ Racing boasts some slightly more realistic physics that require a more strategic use of acceleration and cornering, both of which work quite well and fulfill their duties of feeling like a more modern title. This same physics engine, however, also has a tendency to send your vehicle tumbling or spinning out at the slightest contact or sign of trouble. As many times as I tried to learn how to right myself after one of these incidents, the result, nine times out of ten, was always the same: it simply takes too much time, whether reversing away from a wall (usually right back out into traffic that will careen into you once more and ruin whatever you’re trying to fix) or trying to fix your direction and get back up to speed, to get back into the race and save a little face by regaining position at the front half of the field.

What’s actually really crazy about this is that I still don’t think it would be such a big deal that this happens, except that the slightly slower feel of the game as well as the longer tracks mean that RNR lacks the same flow and arcade-style pace that made similar situations in games like Super Off Road so much more bearable — between a four-person race (that makes you still feel like a competitor in any situation unlike RNR’s eight) and a much shorter time for each race, the classic games in this style manage to escape their potential to encounter the same problems just by having each race or each mistake carry less weight to it. Check out any video of Super Off Road or Championship Pro-Am on YouTube, and notice how even that dude in last place for the whole race only has to live with his mistake for maybe 45 seconds at the most, whereas RNR‘s races are twice as long and operate at a much slower pace overall, which just makes it feel like you’re missing out on a good race if you’re waiting for the next one to start.

It’s a real shame that this issue becomes so prevalent with this game, because otherwise, Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX would either be really solid, or at the very least, solid enough given its price tag of only $7.99 on the Switch (which may actually be cheaper than other consoles, it seems). There are enough tracks in the game to justify that price, although they aren’t quite as gimmicky (which can either mean “fun as hell” or “really dumb”) as some that you might see in the classic arcade titles. On the other hand, only five different cars in the game still seems pretty slim, especially while not even being able to select the color of them at will. Overall, the presentation is about what you should expect for a budget-friendly download title, and that includes the music selection, which is certainly some type of rock music, although it’s not Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing, no matter how hard it tries to imply as much.

There’s certainly some fun to be had with Rock ‘n’ Racing Off Road DX, particularly on the Switch where the Joy-Con setup was essentially made for this type of easy pick-up-and-play, local-multiplayer-friendly title. It’s just that it would be a lot more fun, if not downright addicting (especially in single player), had it not shot itself in the foot like it did. Given the price tag, however, I think it’s also fair to say that it’s worth taking a chance on for fans of the genre who could overlook or even outplay that issue, and have a bit of fun with their friends like they did standing in front of a big set of wheels playing Super Sprint in arcades.

This post was written by
He is a video game staff writer and dreamed of being a video game as a young boy. Then somebody told him that you can't really do that, so he compromised by doing a bunch of stuff related to that, playing video games, reading about video games, writing about video games, working at a video game store, and all those good nerdy things. Aside from video games, he's also a dork of all trades, with an interest in heavy metal music, wrestling, sports, and Magic the Gathering.
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