Welcome to the 43rd issue of the GBAtemp Recommends Revival Project! This project is a weekly feature where we share our favorite games and applications with you. The things we recommend may be “old school” titles, a Homebrew, a ROM hack, sleeper hits, an application, etc, but one thing’s for certain, we think they are fantastic and deserve your attention!
This issue was written by GBAtemp member Hadrian.
Death Rally was released for the PC by Apogee in September 1996 and is one of my all time favorite racers. The game is a top-down vehicular combat game where you start off with a low armored car, that has slow speed, poor handling and no weapons. As you get to grips with the controls you race around the track picking up cash for spend on upgrades to your vehicle. It’s up to you to think of how to begin a race, do you go straight for first and risk being put into the firing line of others or do you hang back and try to cut your opponents down? Each method has its ups and downs; this is one of the reasons why I really enjoy this game. The game requires you to have patience, to work your way from the bottom to the top, and it is very satisfying when you win your first race. It will feel like an accomplishment as you complete a battle against AI, which for the time, was pretty damn excellent.
It’s not just racing that can get you to the top, in fact in the early stages that won’t get you anywhere! You must master vehicular combat to win the races, which is also extremely important in actually earning cash. You can also earn cash by making your spectators happy or by taking a loan from a loan shark at 100% interest. Money can be spent on upgrading your vehicle with weapons, armor, etc. You can also spend cash to sabotage the car of the highest ranking racer.
With most racers, once you’ve upgraded your car, you can pretty much win any race. Once you leave the easy tracks behind you will race against cars which are also upgraded. After fighting for the top, you will get to go up against an “Adversary” in the arena. One of which is none other than Duke Nukem himself! The adversary will drive an extremely upgraded Deliverator, a vehicle that you can not buy, with mean ass chain guns attached to it. This is quite a difficult race so some may want to skip it until they have a more powerful vehicle to race with.
The developers went for pre-rendered looks rather than sprites, which not only worked out very well but looked great back when the game was released. Nowadays, with our HD screens, it looks quite blocky and a little bland. The camera is locked onto your car and it’s never once harmed the way I have played. The courses are very well designed, have good lighting, and the looks fit the overall theme of the game with low down dirty gritty tracks to fancy well maintained tracks. Each of the ten tracks has their own attributes and they add great variety to the gameplay as your car may handle differently on each. Beware of spectators, if you kill one you’ll lose tire traction which could effect how you play. The “electro” soundtrack fits in well with the action and the sounds of the guns, engines, and car grinding all sound as well as they should.
Overall this is a timeless classic that still plays amazingly well. It still holds it’s own and provides a fun challenge.
This version of the game was released as freeware in 2009 and was also modified so that it would work on modern PC’s without the use of DOSBox. The main game was left completely intact, however, the multiplayer mode was cut out. Remedy stated that the reason for this was that it was built for the modem and IPX network era and would have needed a full rewrite. Being freeware, they didn’t want to put their resources into it.
Remedy didn’t make many games afterwards. However, what they did product was very noticeable, such as two Max Payne titles and two Alan Wake titles. They also brought back Death Rally for iOS & Android devices as a “free2play” title. It retained the same gameplay as before only with more modes. I recommend that version as well because you don’t need to buy upgrades with cash, you just play the game like you used to in the old days. This same version will come to the PC in August, though this time not as a “free2play” release.
As a side note, anyone who enjoyed this game might be interested in the very similar, and also really good GBA title, called Karnaaj Rally.
Genre: Top-Down Combat Racing
Release Year: 1996
Developed by: Remedy
Published by: Apogee
System: PC / MS-DOS
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