Since I spent most of 2020 with my N64 I decided 2021 would be the year I spent a little more time with my SNES. I initially embarked on an attempt to figure out where I had left off in Breath of Fire some 16 years ago, which ended up with me using the Game Genie to set earned EXP to max and grinding for levels without any real resolution to the original goal. After I gave the Donkey Kong Country series and Super Mario World + All Stars a fairly good run I realized I wanted a racing game. Which SNES racing classic would I choose? Would it be Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, Rock n Roll Racing, Stunt Racer FX, Top Gear 2, Super Chase HQ or maybe even Lamborghini American Challenge? Nope, it was Road Riot 4WD, and it was a mistake.
I had acquired this game almost 10 years ago in my SNES Jr. Score. I vaguely remember trying this game out after purchasing the lot, just to see if it worked, but I don’t remember actually sitting down and giving it a thorough playing. Or maybe my brain has repressed that memory. With my brain expecting something more akin to the aforementioned SNES race game classics, I was not in any way prepared for whatever the heck Road Riot 4WD is. Firstly the screen is always split, as if I had selected two player mode. I did not. Secondly the game lags so much I don’t see how this even passed quality control testing.
Road Riot 4WD was originally an arcade racing game developed by Atari in 1991, and later ported to the SNES. Players are tasked with controlling a weaponized dune buggy and competing against three other dune buggies, who are also weaponized, in various races from around the world. The game starts out with a very basic test track that, even with this game being a lagfest, is almost impossible to lose on. After that you will have the choice of picking from eleven additional tracks in order to win the championship. These locations include: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Baja Mexico, California, Iowa, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Ohio, Saudi Arabia and the Swiss Alps.
Races last three laps, with the exception of the beginning test race. Each track has a different layout and is filled to the brim with things to throw you off the pace, which can vary from your basic bumps, jumps and potholes to the many off-track hazards such as cows, boulders, trees, spectators and even pickup trucks parked half way onto the track itself. If it wasn’t already bad enough this game is severely laggy, the competition can shoot what look like paintballs at you that will slow you down and mess you up even further.
Now I know there are many SNES games that are far from perfect, but when it comes to Road Riot 4WD it takes me a little bit to adjust to the lag, and on some tracks I can not adjust at all, even on Rookie mode. For me this game isn’t very fun, although I guess it’s not a total waste, it’s just not as smooth as other SNES racing game can be. If the game wasn’t as laggy as it is maybe this could have been a great battle racer, but as it stands I really don’t know how this game ever made it to store shelves in this state.