ROAD RASH / Electronic Arts / Sega Genesis

Road Rash blends up the basic faux-3D racing style of Hang-On and Outrun with the cops and rear-view mirrors from Test Drive, and a bunch of punching, clubs and kicking. As it turns out this is a compelling mix, particularly because the scaling used to simulate 3D is better here by far than anything that came before it, and is even flexible enough to simulate hills and allow you to pull a wheelie and launch over them, gaining epic air time and sometimes resulting in lulzy crashes. There's also a pretty good amount of cars to dodge, and little details on the side of the road like cows, cheering onlookers and houses.

While the gameplay is solid and fun, the game also doesn't have a whole lot of meat to offer. There's only five courses, taking place on famous California highway stretches. Each race has you up against the same twelve yellow-suited clones, who get faster and fight more effectively as the levels go on, but otherwise are indistinguishable from each other except for their names. Placing in the top three in a race earns you some cash, otherwise you get nothing. You need to earn enough cash to buy new bikes to keep up with the speed of the racers on the later levels, but if you wipe out too many times or get busted by the cops (by losing a fight with one) you end up paying a fine or bike repairs. If you completely run out of cash with a broken bike, the game is over. I'm not sure if there's an actual ending to this one per se, I think you just keep racing the same tracks forever stockpiling epic amounts of loot. Anyway, you get through all the tracks pretty quickly, and since the game is never really all that difficult to begin with, it does get boring rather quickly.

Not to say it's a bad game, it was a technological leap forward when it came out and the gameplay is still solid enough to be fun. It just wears out its welcome too quickly. Later games in the series would go on to make improvements to the formula and offer more substantial gameplay and a less confusing and accident-prone menu system (as well as replacing the lengthy passwords needed to continue.)

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