Road Rash (video game)

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Road Rash
Developer(s) Electronic Arts (Genesis, Amiga)
New Level Software (Sega CD)
Donkey Do (3DO)
Probe Entertainment (Game Gear, Master System)
EA Advanced Technology Group (PlayStation, Saturn, Windows)
The Code Monkeys (Game Boy)
3d6 Games (Game Boy Color)
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
US Gold (Game Gear, Master System)
Electronic Arts Studios (PlayStation, Saturn, Windows)
Ocean Software (Game Boy)
Designer(s) Randy Breen
Dan Geisler
Programmer(s) Dan Geisler
Walter Stein
Carl Mey
Composer(s) Michael Bartlow
Rob Hubbard
Series Road Rash
Platform(s) Genesis, Amiga, Sega CD, Master System, 3DO, Game Gear, PlayStation, Saturn, Windows, Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Genre(s) Vehicular combat, racing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Road Rash is a vehicular combat racing video game developed and published by Electronic Arts for the Sega Genesis in 1991. It was ported to a variety of contemporary systems and was followed by five sequels.


Screenshot of the original Road Rash

The basic gameplay is similar to Sega's Hang-On (1985) and Tatsumi's Cycle Warriors (1991).[3] The player competes in illegal road races and must finish in either 3rd or 4th place (depending on the version being played) and up in every race of a "level" in order to proceed to the next. As these levels progress, the opponents ride faster and fight harder, and the tracks are longer and more dangerous. Placing in each race gives a certain amount of money, with higher-level races offering higher payouts. This money allows the player to buy faster bikes and parts, which are needed to stay competitive, pay for repairs if the motorcycle is wrecked, or pay for fines if one is arrested by the police. The game is over if the player is unable to pay for these repairs or fines.

Road Rash requires that players contend with various grade changes. The physics reflect the act of going up or down a hill, as well as turning while climbing; this results in the ability to launch one's motorcycle great distances, resulting in crashes. Aside from this, Road Rash has a standard system of obstacles including street signs, trees, poles, and livestock.[4] There is also active traffic while racing against other bikers.

The player character can fight other bikers with a variety of hand weapons or simple punches and kicks. The player character can grab a weapon from another rider by timing a punch correctly. The list of weapons has grown with the games, starting from the clubs in the first Road Rash, and eventually including things like crowbars, nunchaku, and cattle prods. Whatever the weapon, successful attacks damage an opponent's stamina, and depleting this stamina will cause a biker to wipeout which can also damage the bike; this functions much like hitting a car or other major obstacle, and it all applies to you as much as to other racers (though in most of the games, you have more stamina than opponents).

The motorcycle police officers fight the player as another opponent and serve as gameplay enforcers by culling players who fall too far behind or choose to explore the world rather than race in it. Losing a fight with an officer or being caught by one while off one's motorcycle causes the player to be busted, ending the race.


Designer Randy Breen recounted, "Initially all we knew was that we wanted Road Rash to be more of an entertaining game than a pure driving simulation. I'd been into motorcycles for a long time, and we quickly realized bikes gave us lots of technical advantages. For instance, we could put more bikes than cars onscreen at once, and the bikers were more visible than car drivers, so they could be more expressive."[5] The fighting element of the game was inspired by the behavior of Grand Prix motorcyclists, who Breen noticed would sometimes shove and kick each other during races.[5]

It was announced that THQ would publish a Super NES version of Road Rash sometime in 1996,[6] but the release was later cancelled.


An updated version of the game was made for a CD-based platforms such as Sega CD, 3DO, PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows. It features a number of changes such as the ability to choose characters (with various starting cashpiles and bikes, some even have starting weapons) before playing, fleshed-out reputation and gossip systems and even full-motion video sequences to advance a plot. The updated version once again features all-California locales: The City, The Peninsula, Pacific Coast Highway, Sierra Nevada, and Napa Valley. The roads themselves now feature brief divided road sections.


The Sega CD, PC, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and 3DO game's soundtracks contained 14 music tracks from A&M Records artists Soundgarden, Paw, Hammerbox, Therapy?, Monster Magnet, and Swervedriver.[7][8] Months before Road Rash was even released, it received 3DO's 1994 "Soundtrack of the Year" award.[citation needed]

The Sega CD port is unique in the series in that it is the only one which plays the artists' soundtracks during racing, as well as throughout the game. The 3DO, PC, PlayStation and Sega Saturn ports reverted to using generic synthesized music while racing, and the artists' soundtracks within the menus and intros.


Aggregate score
GameRankings80% (SMD)[9]
72% (PC)[10]
55% (GB)[11]
Review scores
CVG91% (SMD)[1]
EGM84% (3DO)[12]
7 / 10 (PS)[13]
Famitsu27 / 40 (3DO)[14]
Mean Machines91% (SMD)[15]
MegaTech92% (SMD)[16]
Maximum2/5 stars (PS)[17]
Next Generation3/5 stars (SCD, PS)[18][19]
Power Play69% (SMD)[20]
Sega Saturn Magazine78% (SAT)[21]

MegaTech magazine said "Lots of races, lots of bikes, and plenty of thrills 'n' spills make this the best racer on the Megadrive!"[16] Computer and Video Games praised it for being like a "beat 'em up on motorbikes" and "Super Hang-On with fists and clubs thrown in".[1] Seven reviewers in Digital Press gave the Genesis version 7, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, and 10 (all out of 10).[22] The Mega Drive version received a very favorable review in Mean Machines magazine. It received a final score of 91% and was praised for its music, graphics and gameplay.[15] Mega placed the game at #8 on their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[23] Game Informer ranked it as the 88th best game ever made in their 100th issue in 2001. The staff praised its more violent take on motorcycle video games.[24]

The Commodore Amiga release of Road Rash received moderately high ratings, including 84% from Amiga Format[25] and 81% from CU Amiga.[26] The release received a lower score from Amiga Power, who rated the game a 70/100.[27] It won several awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly in their 1994 video game awards, including Best Driving Game, Best Music in a CD-Based Game, and Best 3DO Game of 1994.[28] The PC version was also a top-seller in its first year of release.

Bacon of GamePro gave the 3DO version a perfect score in all four categories (graphics, sound, control, and FunFactor), citing improvements such as the five new tracks, six lane roads, branching routes, digitized backgrounds, humorous full motion video sequences, and new rock soundtrack. He concluded that "This souped-up Road Rash will knock the socks off experienced rashers and new racers alike." His one criticism was the lack of a multiplayer option.[29] Digital Press gave the 3DO version their maximum score of 10.[30] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the 3DO version scores of 83% and 85%, declaring it a vast improvement over the Genesis Road Rash games due to the advanced graphics, high playability, and "the coolest music in gaming". However, one of them also criticized that the gameplay eventually becomes repetitive.[12] In her review of the Saturn version, Sam Hickman of Sega Saturn Magazine said the 3DO version was "one of the best games of its time on any system ... Still the best version, even one year or so on."[21] Bacon gave the Sega CD version a mostly positive review, remarking that though it is a major letdown compared to the 3DO version, it is impressive compared to other Genesis/Sega CD racers.[31] A reviewer for Next Generation also remarked that the Sega CD version is a major step down, and that while most of the downgrades are forgivable due to the Sega CD being a much less powerful system than the 3DO, the sparse scenery and low frame rate do not hold up even to games on the same system. He concluded it to be decent but less than what gamers would expect from the by-then established Road Rash series.[18]

The PlayStation version was somewhat less well-received than previous versions. Reviewers for Electronic Gaming Monthly, Next Generation, and Maximum all criticized it for being a port of the 3DO version with only minor enhancements to the graphics and sound, with no changes to the gameplay which had become outdated and outclassed by more recent racing games in the four years since Road Rash was first released.[13][17][19] GamePro's Air Hendrix, however, felt that the gameplay remained exciting, and though he remarked that the controls are stiffer than on previous versions, he gave the PlayStation version a wholehearted recommendation.[32]

Air Hendrix and Sam Hickman both commented that the Saturn version, while good fun on its own terms, offers nothing not already seen in the 3DO and PlayStation versions, and falls short of those versions in some technical aspects, making it rather outdated for the time of its release.[21][33]


  1. ^ a b c "Computer and Video Games Magazine Issue 118". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  2. ^ "Road Rash 1993 Electronic Arts - Probe - U.S. Gold". Internet Archive. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "40 Years of Arcade Games - Part 2(1990-2012)". Arcade Heroes. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  4. ^ Road Rash Sega Game Gear Manual. U.S. Gold. 1991. p. 12. 
  5. ^ a b "The GameMakers: The Designer". GamePro. No. 90. IDG. March 1996. pp. 34–36. 
  6. ^ "Cart Queries". GamePro. IDG (91): 12. April 1996. 
  7. ^ Brown, Matt. "Road Rash: Review by Matt Brown". ibiblio. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  8. ^ "Electronic Arts and Atlantic Records Sign Licensing Agreement for Road Rash 3D". Business Wire. 1998-03-10. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  9. ^ "Road Rash for Genesis". GameRankings. 1992-11-19. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  10. ^ "Road Rash for PC". GameRankings. 1996-09-30. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Road Rash for Game Boy". GameRankings. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  12. ^ a b "Team EGM: Road Rash". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 63. Sendai Publishing. October 1994. p. 158. 
  13. ^ a b "Box Score: Road Rash". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 80. Sendai Publishing. March 1996. p. 118. 
  14. ^ 3DO GAMES CROSS REVIEW: ロードラッシュ. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.330. Pg.77. 14 April 1995.
  15. ^ a b Rignall, Julian (September 1991), "Road Rash Review from Mean Machines", Mean Machines, EMAP 
  16. ^ a b MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, May 1992
  17. ^ a b "Road Rash: A Huge Disappointment on PlayStation". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 4. Emap International Limited. 1996. p. 153. 
  18. ^ a b "Road Rash". Next Generation. No. 6. Imagine Media. June 1995. p. 110. 
  19. ^ a b "Road Rash". Next Generation. No. 16. Imagine Media. April 1996. pp. 85–86. 
  20. ^ "Road Rash (Mega Drive) - N.i.n.Retro (New is not Retro) v3". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  21. ^ a b c Hickman, Sam (August 1996). "Review: Road Rash". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 10. Emap International Limited. pp. 74–75. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
  24. ^ Cork, Jeff (2009-11-16). "Game Informer's Top 100 Games of All Time (Circa Issue 100)". Game Informer. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  25. ^ Jackson, Neil (December 1992), "Road Rash Review from Amiga Format", Amiga Format, Future Publishing 
  26. ^ "Road Rash Review from CU Amiga", CU Amiga, EMAP, November 1992 
  27. ^ Campbell, Stuart (July 1992), "Road Rash review from Amiga Power", Amiga Power 
  28. ^ "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". 1995. 
  29. ^ "ProReview: Road Rash". GamePro. No. 74. IDG. November 1994. p. 172. 
  30. ^ Santulli, Joe (September 1994). "Random Reviews". Digital Press. p. 14. 
  31. ^ "ProReview: Road Rash". GamePro. No. 80. IDG. May 1995. p. 54. 
  32. ^ "ProReview: Road Rash". GamePro. No. 91. IDG. April 1996. p. 72. 
  33. ^ "ProReview: Road Rash". GamePro. No. 96. IDG. September 1996. p. 72.