NES Review – Rad Racer


Console driving games never really took off until the SNES – prior to that most racing games focused on a single-player arcade experience like Outrun! Since I haven’t reviewed many racing games from the NES era I thought I would give Rad Racer a try – knowing full well that it probably wasn’t going to be that good of a game.


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This game is a 3rd person racing game. When the game begins – you don’t select a car to drive or a track to race on. The game displays a track and then the game begins. In terms of gameplay, it is quite limited with one button accelerating while the other brakes. The D-pad controls which direction your car drives (left or right). The goal of the game is to complete a series of races under a predetermined time limit – similar to Outrun. Each race has numerous checkpoints which provide extra time to complete the race. While racing you must dodge other cars on the road and slow down so that you don’t fly off the course around tight turns.

The main issue with the game is that it just isn’t very fun to play because it feels so barebone. There are no power ups or obstacles to dodge apart from what was mentioned above. The game is also extremely difficulty which prevented me from getting further than the 2nd race (after repeated attempts) which made the game feel frustrating. On the plus side, the game utilizes 3D graphics (if you still have a pair of those red/blue 3D glasses that came with the game like 30 years ago).


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In terms of tracks, I am not sure how many actually exist (I got to the second race), but they seem to follow a general formula. Each race has multiple parts, with later parts getting progressively harder. Difficulty is modified with the inclusion of more cars on the road to avoid and more turns in each section. The races in general progress in this fashion as well with later races having more cars and more turns. Later races also seem to have less time to reach checkpoints. Apart from aesthetic changes, the races don’t really change much race to race.


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In terms of graphics, the game looks very bland (especially the background of the first race – which is called Sunset Coastline but just looks like a desert). The cars looks like 8-bit cars but nothing exceptional. Later stages actually have slightly more interesting backgrounds but still below average. The game does employ the 3D effects if you have 3D glasses (which I do not) so I did not get to appreciate that aspect of the game, but I don’t image that it added much to the overall presentation. In terms of music, it is almost non-existent. The sound effects are also quite unimpresseive and basically just sound like a broken down lawmower for engine sounds. Overall unimpressive.


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This is a NES racing game that is not recommended. It’s very boaring with poor controls and gameplay, below-average graphics and sound, and frustratingly hard. While it is cheap (likely less than 10 dollars), I don’t recommend that people pick it up – there are way too more fun racing games to play on the NES (RC Pro-AM comes to mind). Overall I give this game a 4/10 – its playable but don’t expect more than that.

Final Score: 4/10

8 thoughts on “NES Review – Rad Racer

  1. I loved this at the time (I didn’t have much to play) and found it so difficult. I think there were 5 different races but I’m not sure on that. I remember getting to one in a city and not being able to get any further.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haha same here, I couldn’t get past the 2nd level either! Didn’t this game have some kind of radio with 3 songs on it? I thought it was such a cool feature if i’m thinking of the right game


  3. Main thing I remember is the 3D glasses – back in the eighties, cardboard 3D glasses with red/blue lenses were a big selling point! I’m not convinced they really worked though…

    Game itself seemed dull when I played it in the mid nineties, don’t think I played it much once I got bored of the glasses.


  4. this is by FAR my favorite driving/racing game of all time. i really loved playing this in 1989 and 1990 in junior high school after school. i was able to beat it easily as i just happened to be good at it. the greatest features i loved about this game were:

    -tight controls (rad racer 2 was a total DISASTER as it loosened up the steering)
    -amazing music
    -stage select option allows you to experience and enjoy each track
    -the turbo feature (press and hold up)
    -REAL (but fake) supercars racing along side you on each stage such as the Lamborghini Countach and Porsche 911
    -stage 3, grand canyon straight-away is amazing where you can go full-blast 255 km/h for many seconds!


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