Off Road Challenge

a game by Avalanche Software

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Racing

Call the Trades Descriptions Act people! Off Road Challenge contains two lies in three words. You can't go off the road, and there isn't any challenge.

That last isn't strictly true. The challenge is to prevent yourself from vomiting copiously into the N64 cartridge slot, although a machine full of vomit and a machine full of Off Road Challenge aren't that far removed.

Off Road Challenge is a conversion of an arcade machine, one which was apparently based on the Cruis'n USA engine. That should set the alarms screaming like banshees before you even start playing! The N64 version also appears to rely heavily on the Cruis'n USA engine - there's the same jerky screen update, the same bland graphics, the same cheesy spinning crash animation, the same scenic pop-up that couldn't be any more obvious if a flashing sign appeared on the screen saying 'Hey, everyone! Check out the pop-up!'

The game is based on the sport of cross-country racing, where overpowered trucks with massive suspensions try to get across inhospitable terrain as fast as possible.

In the arcade, where you've got a steering wheel, linked cabinets for racing against other people and huge speakers blasting V8 engine sounds into your head, Off Road Challenge is a reasonable time-passer. After all, you might blow a couple of quid, but that's all.

When you're spending £60, on the other hand, you expect something more than a no-skill zone on wheels for your hard-earned. Unfortunately, Off Road Challenge is exactly that.

Dune Buggy Attack

In a race, the first thing you notice is the fact that you're tightly restricted to the track, with invisible walls forcing the issue if you try to move off the road. Even if your truck has been thrown high into the air, a shower of sparks (well, it looks more like a runny fried egg explosion) caused by absolutely nothing, shoves Off Road Challenge has soma very dodgy collision detection - that other track's miles away! Off Hoad Challenge is almost physica you back in line. You can just about get onto the hard shoulder, but that's all.

There are six tracks to race over, with another three secret tracks accessible if you finish well enough in the championship races. The secret tracks are a massive con, though - they're practically identical to the regular tracks, but with the obstacles in a slightly different order and a few extra jumps. Well worth struggling through the tedium of the other tracks to find.

Control of your truck is very much arcade-style, with no room for skilful driving at all. All you need to do is mash the stick left or right as appropriate, and you'll sail around the corners. Even if you don't, the invisible walls will helpfully guide you back onto the road again.

Let's Off Road!

Sitting and watching someone else play the game starts to give you motion sickness, which is actually not uncommon with racing games. The only problem is you start feeling queasy while you're actually playing the game as well! Everything is jerky even in the one-player game, but the two-player game (that's all you get - no four-player amusement here) is an absolute travesty. You could probably draw each frame faster by hand!

Off Road Challenge is almost physically painful - each burst of lameness is like a kick to the crotch.

After you've endured the blotchy, undetailed graphics, the squealing 'rawk' music, the wooden controls, the boring tracks, the stroboscopic two-player game and the sheer repetitiveness of the whole thing, you'll probably never be able to have kids.

Which is the worst N64 racer; Off Road Challenge or Cruis'n USA? It's like being forced to make a choice between having your teeth drilled out by the evil Nazi dentist from Marathon Man, or having Begbie from Trainspotting cave them in with a claw hammer and gouge out the stumps with his broken pint glass. Cruis'n is ultimately worse, but not by much, and it has the excuse of being one of the N64 oldest games. Off Road Challenge doesn't even have that luxury. Avoid like David Mellor's y-fronts!

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Off Road Challenge Downloads

Nintendo 64 Off Road Challenge download
  • Manufacturer: LELAND

Just like the title implies, it's a hard-driving, bone-jarring driving game. Feel the wind in your face as you barrel over dunes and hills.

reggie posted a review

If you want to waste your money, you could invest in a dodgy pyramid scheme... or you could buy this deeply nasty racing game.

reggie posted a review

A racing game hovering very close around the borders of unplayability. Worse looking than Cruis'n USA, as badly designed as Aero Gauge and less fun than zipping up too quickly and getting your bits caught. Smelly.

reggie posted a review
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