Copyright/Publisher: US Gold Ltd/Atari Games Corporation, Conversion By:
Amazing Products, Programmed By: Martin Webb, Graphics By: Dennis Webb, Music & FX By:
David Whittaker, Release Year: 1988, Genre: Weird Racing, Number Of Players: 1
In the distant future, where the highways are hostile places, lined with gun turrets and
traversed by battle cars, you are put behind the wheel of a high performance armoured vehicle.
Impressive technical bit: it's a GWB 68 Turbo (2 door), with a 5942 cc engine, top speed of 222mph,
customised Road Blaster tyres, and a cost of a mere £243,000. So pull on your driving gloves and
polish up your helmet visor - the race checkpoints of many countries lie ahead.
At the start of the game, you select the diffculty level; Rookie (Bubble City), Veteran (
Forest Sector) or Expert (Desert Region). These respectively start the game at levels one, four
and seven. Further levels are multiloaded in groups of ten.
The standard race game view from above and behind the car is displayed, with the track stretching
over the distant horizon, incorporating twists 'n' turns and road-side obstacles (some of which can
be really nasty.) A chequered finishing line at the end of each level has to be reached before
running out of fuel, and collision with objects wastes this precious commodity.
The driving itself is only part of the action. Streamlined stinger cars, similar to your own vehicle,
also speed down the highway, along with armoured command cars, fast agile cycles, and unpredictable
rat jeeps. Collision with these should be avoided at all costs, and the best way to avoid them is
to turn them into piles of molten Kevlar with a couple of well-placed shots from your roof-mounted
Indestructible, hazards appear as play progresses. Cars drop spiked balls onto a track
already littered with explosive mines and puddles of corrosive liquid, while the trackside is lined
with hostile gun emplacements which fire across the road.
At regular intervals in the game, a jet passes overhead and drops a more powerful weapon which,
if caught, can be mounted on the roof of your car to augment the standard laser armement. Extras
available include unstoppable cruise missiles, rapid-fire UZ cannons, a nitro-injector for extra
speed (increases maximum to 298mph), and electronic shields to protect you from gun fire,
vehicle collisions, mines, and spikers. All of these can only be used for a limited time.
Your vehicle has a thirsty engine, but luckily additional fuel is available in the form of
collectable fuel-bearing red and green globes which lie on some sections of track, and extra fuel
is also awarded when the car crosses a bonus line.
It is essential to pick up as much fuel as possible at every opportunity, as when both the
main and reserve tanks run dry, the wheels on your Roadblaster car grind to a halt and the game
Coin-op conversions are generally a little disapointing, with a rare few of real quality.
Road Blasters lies somewhere in the middle ground: whilst it doesn't greatly resemble the
real thing, it's a viable alternative for race and shoot'em up fans.
Perspective and screen update are both iffy, and the cars, mines, and fuel globes approach at
erratic intervals. Your vehicle is the most pleasing thing in the game as you weave your way
down the track, though its tyres lack brilliant animation, and the car just bobs up, down and
sideways to simulate movement.
The add-on weapons are easy to access, and the nitro injector is very nice to use; it's quite
exhilarating to burn down the track at 298mph, barely in control of your mighty battle car!
As a conversion of the coin-op, this isn't brilliant, but as an interpretation of the game's
theme, Road Blasters does well.
When being critical of 3D racing games, there comes a reply crammed with excuses like 'the 64
can't cope with the graphics well enough'. This has been proved otherwise on many occasions, in
games such as Pitstop II, Super Cycle, Buggy Boy and to a certain extent, Revs.
original Road Blasters was noted for its fluid control, smooth playability and continuous blasting
action; the conversion captures virtually none of the atmosphere of the coin-op original, being
jerky, slow and difficult to handle.
The presentation has the same features (three skill levels,
score table, etc.) but none of the 'feel' - I can think of severla racing game I'd rather
play. Only check it out if you've got to have a version of Road Blasters in any form.
Apart from Buggy Boy, quality racing games have been lacking on the 64 these past two years,
so Road Blasters is a welcome release in that respect. As it also has shoot'em up facets and
is a conversion of a hot coin-op, my expectations were quite high.
Unfortunately, the expectations don't match up to the finished product, since the conversion
is pretty pale imitation of the original, though it's far from a total disaster. Whilst track
animation is passble, cars and gas capsules approach jerkily, as do roadside objects, which seem
to pass backwards along the landscape!
The sound is passable, although there isn't the depth and
power of the arcade... It's a reasonable racing game with shoot'em up overtones, but it's not
going to overly excite anyone, least of all lovers of the coin-op.