Video Review: Super Off Road (Arcade)

Andy takes a look at the seminal arcade interpretation of one of 1980’s America’s most beloved pastimes. Race big trucks through the mud indoors in Super Off Road! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Video transcript:

What you are seeing is Super Off Road from the arcades, being played here on the Xbox 360 via the Midway Arcade Origins compilation disc. And you might not actually recall this at first sight, by just the gameplay video, but I can almost guarantee that if you had stepped into an arcade in the 90s, you would recognize this by the cabinet. A signature multicolored, three-steering-wheel setup is one that I definitely remember from walking into pizza parlours and bowling alleys and whatever as a kid. And I didn’t remember the name really, until I played this collection and it kind of all just came back to me.

This game originally was called Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road. Obviously through the decades they lost the license to the name and likeness of Mr. Ivan Stewart. So instead of simply taking him out of the game, like most developers have done in this sort of situation, they simply added a moustache and some sunglasses and a toothpick to the title screen, which I actually think is way more awesome. I’d much rather play a game that’s endorsed by racecar-drivin’ Scott Hull than Ivan Stewart. Who the hell is Ivan Stewart? Who cares?

Anyways, to the game. You start the game, enter your name, and select your nationality. I chose United States of America, obviously, because what other country is insane enough to fill a stadium full of dirt and race trucks around in it?

So you race around a track in a fixed screen with an isometric viewpoint. Which… there were actually quite a few games, racing games like this back then, I remember, but this is probably the most memorable. And actually, I think it might control better with just a controller and emulation. Obviously it doesn’t totally create the sensation of having an actual wheel in your hands — which was sort of the fun — but an analog joystick does the trick in this instance.

The game does support up to three players, but it is still fun by yourself. The A.I. is competent enough to make things interesting and provide a bit of a challenge.

There are actually lots of really cool tracks in here. This one is called Huevos Grande, which roughly translates to “Large Eggs” in Spanish, so… I don’t know. But I do like most of the tracks. The figure-8-style tracks are probably my favorite, because you can sabotage your opponents like a complete jerk, which is always fun. My favorite would have to be Hurricane Gulch, with its steep banks and tight turns. That one is a lot of fun.

And the tracks are also raced in reverse in a lot of occasions, which kind of adds an added extra little bit of replay value, which I really enjoyed.

Yes! I won! Go ‘Merica! Screw you, Texas?

Anyways, I actually got hooked playing this. I kept going because you can actually upgrade your cars after the race. Obviously the better you place in the race, the more money you have to make these upgrades. You can upgrade things like your engine, your suspension, and your tires, and the effects of those are actually extremely noticeable once you jump back into the game.

This was sort of ruined when I realized you could kind of cheat, because in the arcade version, which this emulates, you could put in extra tokens to ad more money into your account so you could upgrade your car quicker. But on this, you just press the left bumper and it adds a quarter, quote unquote. So, you can pretty much just soup up your car immediately right away from the beginning, which maybe takes away from the fun of it, but it is pretty hilarious just to blow by your opponents with unlimited nitros and a fully upgraded car.

It can also cause some problems, like you know, launching yourself into the crowd and potentially endangering the lives of several spectators wearing sleeveless Molly Hatchet shirts and drinking cheap, watered-down beer. It’s unfortunate, but those are the risks of indoor off-road racing.

Super Off Road is still really enjoyable today, even beyond the nostalgic factor involved, especially if you have a few friends over. It can be found on many various compilations that have been released throughout the years. And of course, if you ever do come by an arcade cabinet out in the wild, make sure to grab a few quarters and give Super Off Road a try. It’s still just as it was back in the 90s.

Survey says: Racer Dale Earnhardt’s Super Off Road is just too sweet, mang.


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