Off Road Challenge

a game by Avalanche Software
Genre: Racing
Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64
Editor Rating: 4.9/10, based on 5 reviews
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Off Road Challenge
Off Road Challenge
Off Road Challenge
Off Road Challenge

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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Game Reviews

People say:

5.5

Off-Road Challenge brings the delights of mindless arcade racing to the N64. And while that may sound harsh, it's not that far off base. As an arcade port, unfortunately, I don't think this one will enjoy the same success Hang Time or SF Rush has achieved. For one thing the level of gameplay is something akin to Cruis'n USA (rumor is they use the same engine), only on the dirt, of course. What that amounts to is a lot of sloppy driving in "zany" conditions in which UFOs, biplanes and the occasional wild animal are common components. The standard dash for the finish line includes nitro icon grabbing and flawless driving to actually win a race. Sounds harmless, right? Perhaps even fun... well not quite. While Off-Road Challenge may be entertaining to play at the arcades for a few minutes, it doesn't have the kind of depth and gameplay needed to keep it afloat as a home console game. The only real incentive to win a race comes from the wanton desire to upgrade vehicles--hoping to increase the excitement of the contest. Of course, if you liked Cruis'n USA, then by all means you'll probably enjoy Off-Road. Just don't expect anything near as good as Sony's Rally Cross 2 or the awesome Sega Rally. This is strictly an arcade offering best suited for young'uns with short attention spans.

3.0

Oh dear. Oh deary, deary, DREARY me. What a load of old rubbish. Choppy frame rates, completely unbalanced gameplay and dodgy-looking visuals. Why is no one capable of producing a good off-road game? As a one-player game ORC is slow, choppy and unforgiving while the two-player game suffers from stupid camera problems, appalling gameplay balance (once you lose once you're stuffed) and even slower frame rates. Awful.

4.0

At first Off-Road seemed like a decent little racer, but extended play has made me realize that it isn't so good. Although the action seems speedy, the frame rate turns out to be choppy most of the time. In addition, the one-player game is ridiculously hard, and the graphics are average at best. You'd think the two-player game would be redeeming but even that gets old fast, thanks to poor camera angles and unbalanced play.

5.0

A shoddy port of a ho-hum arcade game, Off-Road Challenge delivers mindless racing fun and little more. The persistently cheap Al is a major culprit here. Even with the game set to easy and Al tweaked to Arcade Mode, the computer cars rarely give you a break. Your truck controls fairly well, at least until the occasional awkward camera angle ruins your view of the road. Two-player Mode is a horribly choppy waste of time.

  • 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.

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

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.

Snapshots and Media

Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

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