Feelings of joy and nostalgia flowed through my body when I first saw the screenshots for Enjoy Up’s Rock ‘N Racing Off Road. As a huge fan of games like Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road, Rock ‘N Racing Off Road looked like a fantastic throwback to that style of racing games with modern graphics. I was sure to get some enjoyment out of the game due to what it was trying to emulate.
Rock ‘N Racing Off Road doesn’t give a great first impression. Upon starting the game, you enter a menu selection screen that features the core game modes: Championship (the meat of the game), Time Trial, Multiplayer, and Training. What’s this?! No options menu?! No, this game does not have an options menu.
Want to adjust anything? Turn off the music? Too bad, you aren’t doing that in this game. Something as simple and basic as an options menu should not be a luxury in a game released in 2015. The only way to even learn the controls is to go into the Training area, unless you just want to try it out on your own. The lack of an options menu kind of forebodes how the rest of the game is.
Diving into Championship mode, you are asked to choose the cup you want to enter: America, Europe, Asia, and World Cup. Each consists of 4 races. Select the cup that is unlocked (America to start) and you are off to the races!
Wait. what’s this? No vehicle selection? That’s right folks. Not only is there no vehicle selection, but there isn’t any customizing of the vehicles either. No paint jobs, no upgrades, nothing. I hate to hark back to it, but Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road on the NES was released in 1991 and it had vehicle upgrades. That’s what made the game fun. Sure, sometimes you wouldn’t notice something like the engine upgrade in Super Off Road, but it still gave you incentive to keep playing. You unlock vehicles by completing cups, but you still never choose which one to use; you are just defaulted to using the new vehicle in the next cup.
The races themselves aren’t terrible. The control is a little loose at times, and sometimes I find myself losing control of my vehicle for no apparent reason. But for the most part, it works. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of your vehicle on the course because there is no indicator who you are from the top-down view of the race. Vehicles are assigned a color, and it can bea chore to figure out who you are on the course. Also, the A.I. in the game is either really good or really bad: either dominating a race, or occasionally just quitting in the middle of the race.
After completing a cup, you move onto the next one. Problem is, it’s pretty much exactly what you just did, with a different starting point. This didn’t bother me since much. I’m familiar with the game’s source material and knew what to expect.. but I can see people not familiar with Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road being put off by this. Once you complete all 4 Cups, you are pretty much done with the Championship mode.
Time Trials is a nice addition to the game because of one thing: Online Leaderboards. Jockeying for position for the fastest lap against your friends list and a global ranking scale does enhance the games value beyond the Championship mode. Multiplayer is also included in the game. With 4 Wii Motes and 1 Wii U Game Pad, up to 5 people can play. It’s a nice diversion and fun with the appropriate amount of friends, but the lack of any online multiplayer does hamper the experience.
Graphically speaking the game is solid. The top down view is nice. There are little variations in the courses and effects and the courses themselves are acceptable. The music is a homage of 80’s Rock music, which is inline with the theme of the game. Some tracks stand out more than others. There aren’t many songs in the game to begin with, but it’s another serviceable aspect of the game.
My biggest gripe with the game is the fact that everything is just mediocre. This could have been a fantastic experience for older and younger gamers to play a fun racing game in the vein ofclassic racers of the late 80’s and early 90’s. But there is a problem when the modern game lacks the features that those had. The game isn’t terrible. It isn’t good. It’s just there. Fans of Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road may like this little trip down memory lane for $5.99. but be warned: it will be a short one, and you will find yourself going back to the NES classic.