Mach Rider

Everyone knows this game is based on the book, “To Kill A Mach Rider.”

Review Date: February 5, 2021

Release Date: October 18, 1985

Platform: NES

Developer: Nintendo

Genre: Racing/Creation Hybrid

Anecdotes: That fateful visit to Toys R Us (which is now a giant pile of rubble) to pick up a Nintendo (now referred to as the NES) also meant getting a game to go with SMB. I got to pick any launch game, and for reasons I don’t remember, I chose Mach Rider. There were 17 choices because Super Mario Brothers was the pack in game. It dropped to 12 because we didn’t have the robot or the light gun yet. As an 8 year old boy, my younger brothers wouldn’t let me pick Clu Clu Land. Mach Rider it was. And with the exception of Tennis, we would eventually play and/or own everything else later on.

Ignore that nonsense at the top; just pick a course.

Description: YOU ARE MACH RIDER! There are four modes of play:

  1. Fighting Course: The object here is to complete courses. This mode is played for points, which are obtained by shooting objects or cars off the track. Upon a crash, a life is used up; the game ends when there are no lives left.
  2. Endurance Course: Each course starts has a distance requirement and a time limit. The course continues until time runs out, even if the required distance has been surpassed. The scoring system is the same as the Fighting Course.
  3. Solo Course: The objectives are the same as the Endurance Course, but free of other cars.
  4. Design Mode: A course can be created to be played in any mode. Courses can not be saved, though.
The game summarizes the scoring after each course. I’m not sure how anyone could get six digit scores on one track, but there it is.

Positives: The controls are very simple. B shoots straight forward. A accelerates or keeps speed. Up and down shift gears; left and right steer. The challenges escalates at the perfect pace; on the Endurance courses, I can clear the first two courses with ease, the third and fourth with only seconds to spare, and barely, if at all, on the fifth. Being able to shoot barrels and cars out of the way sure helps, though. There is a mirror in the upper right hand corner, but even though I never found it useful, another player might.

This is the fifth course of the endurance course. The cars can be shot, but the number of hits needed to destroy it varies by the color of the car. The rocks can not be removed, so I’ll have to steer around them.

Negatives: As shown above, some things can be very difficult to see. The rocks blend in on the green road. The side barrels are the same blue as the “grass.” Icy conditions and physics show up suddenly and without warning.

This is what the icy segments look like. Luckily, I’m on a straightaway here. The curves are nasty on ice, making downshifting a good idea.

In the icy shot above, the trees in the background turn white. That same background appeared palette swapped in quite a few levels. I only saw two background templates used on all courses.

Does that background look familiar?

The last big problem with the game is the Design mode. There’s nothing really wrong with the design, as the game grays out any piece that can’t be used. Unfortunately, obstacles can’t be chosen. The game fills them in automatically. Then, the screen has save and load options, but they’re just teases as neither option actually works. Courses can’t be saved once the power is shut off and if I attempt to save, the screen just says “Now Saving” and I’m forced to reset, losing the course.

This is the course design system, but it only controls the curves on the course and nothing else.

More Screenshots:

I fell to pieces.
Someone needs to clean the streets around here.

Grade: C

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