Retro Review: Road Rash

Road Rash

Platform: Sega Saturn

Released: 1996

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Electronic Arts

For my next series of retro reviews, I’m going to show some love to a console that was much maligned and ultimately beaten into submission by the Sony PlayStation. So, strap yourself in and get ready for some Sega Saturn goodness and feast your eyes on the video below.

I’ve always been a fan of the Road Rash series from when I first played it on the Sega Megadrive. If you’ve never played or heard of Road Rash, imagine the Isle of Man TT where the racers are armed with weapons whilst being chased by the police!

I think the reason I liked Road Rash so much, despite not being a huge fan of racing games, is because you could smack your opponents over the head with a huge club! This helped to even the playing field a little bit meaning that if you were struggling to win a race, you could always resort to a little bit of violence to get ahead.

As you would imagine the difference between the Megadrive and Saturn version is that the visuals are updated and now feature “realistic” digitised looking graphics. A lot of games went for this look in the 90’s as companies were getting to grips with CD based technology, and as a result they wanted to try and make everything look as real as possible. The presentation throughout is superb as each race is set up with some excellent full motion video (FMV). Come first and you get to ride off with the girl, come last and you end up in the trash or locked up by the police.

The controls in Road Rash have never been particularly precise but for me the racing was never the primary focus of the game. I always saw the Road Rash series as a bit of racing with the chance to smack the shit out of your fellow racers, which meant that I never really minded if I didn’t win.

Special mention has to go to the excellent soundtrack featured in the game which includes Hammerbox, Monster Magnet, Paw, Soundgarden, Swervedriver and Therapy? Playing Road Rash put me on the road (pun very much intended) to becoming a big fan of these bands, in particular Soundgarden.

The Road Rash licence has been dormant for many years, so there has inevitably been a lot of discussion from fans about a comeback or reimagined for the current generation of consoles. Road Redemption is an unofficial spiritual successor to Road Rash which was released on PC in 2017 and came out to lukewarm reviews. The game is scheduled to come out on consoles in 2018 so I guess people will be able to make up their own minds, but for me Road Rash is definitely a game of its time.

I originally played the updated version of Road Rash on the 3DO console and recall it being great fun, so I was curious to see how it played on the Sega Saturn as I’d never played that version until now. I’m pleased to say that it is as good as I remember and the game is generally an excellent update of what was a really fun game on the Sega Megadrive.

Graphics – The visuals aren’t anything amazing but do feel like a decent update of the original Road Rash. The FMV helps to create a fantastic presentation also. 7

Sound – Any soundtrack that features Therapy? and Soundgarden gets an instant 10 out of 10 from me! 10

Playability – In all honesty the game feels and plays just like the Megadrive version which is no bad thing in my book. 7

Re-Playability – I had a lot of fun playing the Sega Saturn version of the game and I can see myself playing it again in the near future. 8

Overall – To my surprise I really enjoyed this version of Road Rash! The game feels like Road Rash on the Megadrive albeit with updated visuals and an amazing soundtrack. If you’re a fan of the Road Rash series I definitely recommend you get on your bike and check it out. 8

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)