Lately on the Game Boy Advance, we've been flooded with a deluge of 16-bit era games. The Lost Vikings, for example, made its debut on the Game Boy Advance a few months ago. The same developers have taken Rock'n'Roll (RnR) Racing and turned it into a modern handheld title. RnR is a classic isometric arcade racer. In addition to racing, you can set defensive traps along the race course as well as initiate attacks with offensive weapons.
Technically, RnR's translation actually comes off better than The Lost
Vikings. It is helped by the fact that platform games are a dime a dozen on the Game Boy Advance. Racing titles in isometric fashion, on the other hand, are far and few in between on this platform. Most of them take place behind the car to mimic the action on the console's heftier cousins. While titles like Castlevania and Metroid have flashier graphics and riveting gameplay, these classics have riveting
gameplay, but not necessarily appealing graphics. Thus, in the absence of any competition, RnR continues to be acceptable.
RnR races pit you up against three other computer players. In multiplayer mode, you can race head to head, but only with one of your other friends, a pecuiliar deficiency considering the number of artificial opponents you can race with.
The best quality about RnR is not necessarily the racing. This is an arcade racer. Purists will scoff at the physics and the less than realistic handling. This is not a combat title. Action junkies will find the weapons familiar and not too exciting. Using the defensive weapons, you can set traps to try to slow down your opponents. Again, there's not much in terms of depth for strategy buffs. RnR is able to excel because of its ability to seamlessly combine these three elements of racing together. They dazzle not singulalry, but collectively.
Ergo, they're balanced. Not one element of the game overshadows another. In the early going, some smart racing and acute knowledge (for trial and error folks like me, substitute with memorization) of the track will land you in the winner's circle. But as the difficulty ramps up, it's your use of those three elements above in combination that will lead you into the victory lap.
Much has to be said about the sound effects and the soundtrack in the game. Yes, I'm talking about an ancient decade year old game's effects. The translation to the Game Boy Advance is decent. This is one of those racing games where sound cues aren't limited to the low and high gear whines of the engine. The musical tracks themselves are catchy. The actual titles are unbeknownst to me. I won't embarrass myself by showing my complete lack of knowledge of rock and roll music. But I'm sure rock and roll enthusiasts will be able to pick out more than a few of them.
Before we head into the home stretch and the concluding remarks, this is one of those titles where the lineage, the reputation, the hype (if indeed, there was any) and the screenshots don't do the game justice.
It reminds me of one of the earliest PC racing titles I touched. It was something along the lines of Iron Man, or Iron Racing, or Iron something. But that game was fun, because of its multiplayer support, because of the track design, but most importantly because it was able to balance the three elements I mentioned previously. RnR, like this PC racing game, the first VGA one I touched, is one part racing, one part action. It's not over the top like today's often difficult and challenging racers. It's not loud and asinine action like the Destruction Derbies of yesteryear.
This title is all about gameplay, which is magnificently presented on the Game Boy Advance. Above all, its raison d'etre is about fun and it succeeds admirably in delivering it.