Well before the days of Gran Turismo, there were other video games that offered the thrills of racing poorly performing cars over and over again until you could eventually afford parts to make the game enjoyable. One of my personal favorites is a seemingly forgotten DOS series by the name of Street Rod. Although the series only lasted 2 games, there is (was) a fan made, 10 year long, attempt at reviving the series in a much more modern format.
Nowadays DOS games are impossible to play on Windows platforms without the help of an emulator such as DOSBox, which I happened to download recently and revive my interest in a load of classic DOS games. Also a lot of great DOS games are now considered abandonware and are readily available online for free, Street Rod was the first of which I downloaded and played. I downloaded both Street Rod 1 and 2, but I spent most of my time noodling around in the first.
Street Rod, by today’s standards, isn’t very pretty to look at, but the graphics get the job done, and the cars look like the cars they are representing. Street Rod allows you to buy cars and upgrade parts on them to make them faster. Once your car is fast enough you can take it to the streets and challenge locals to a road race or a drag race, that is if they accept.
Road races are long, windy races down a stretch of road, requiring minimal skill, but if you’re not careful you can blow your engine or crash, losing the race and the bet. Road races will allow you to race for a cash bet or pink slips, pending you win the race you take the cash or the other person’s car. Once you’ve won a pink slip, the other car is then added to your garage to do with as you please, be-it keep and build or sell off to build another project car.
Drag races are straight forward, quite literally, with a short jaunt between point A and point B. Drag races require even less skill, yet you can still crash, blow your engine or your transmission. Both styles of races will require a bit of good timing and focus to get the win.
Even after you’ve set up your car with the best parts, you’ll still need to adjust the timing to keep it running at it’s peak performance. Over time parts will wear too, slowly decreasing your top speed and eventually requiring replacement. You will also need to keep an eye on your gas gauge, as showing up to a race without fuel will void any potential competition and require a trip to the gas station for a fill up.
As you build you car(s), and upgrade them with all the best parts, you’ll soon notice rejection from potential competition, nobody likes to go into a race knowing they’re going to be beat. To avoid this early on yourself, you have the option of clicking of the competitor’s hood and seeing what power they have, although this will require a bit of familiarity with what the engine parts look like.
If you’re like me, your main goal will be to add as many high performing cars to your stable as possible, but the overall goal is to be accepted to a race by The King. The king drives a super high performance Chevy Corvette, which is almost impossible to beat without cheating, but once you’ve beaten him you’re handed the keys to his ride.
Even though by today’s standards this game isn’t very expansive, nor will it take you very long to beat, this game is still fun and possibly had a great influence on the many racing games we enjoy today. With the ability to change paint and parts, this game will keep you busy for a little while, but not too long. That is where Street Rod 2 comes in, which amps up the difficulty!