Ranking in Sega Genesis Top 50: 27th
Brad: Super Off-Road is one of those “guilty pleasure” kind of titles – the video game equivalent of watching a marathon of Melrose Place reruns or going back and listening to pop music from when you were in Jr. High. It’s the sort of game you know in the back of your mind isn’t supposed to be very good, but you still find yourself enjoying it anyway while your brain screams out “screw you, better judgment!”
Fun fact: the conversion to the Genesis was so half-assed that they forgot to change the year and publisher on the title screen from the SNES, neither of which was correct for this version. Oops!
When we originally came up with the idea for doing this Top 50 list, the plan was that each game on the Top 50 would get a long, loving tribute talking about it’s history, it’s impact on gaming, and what made it better than at least 657 other Genesis games. But I think we’re going to end up cutting things a bit short for this one. I mean, what is there to say? This is an old coin-op game about dirt track racing. There’s no story to analyze, no innovative features to discuss, and the main character is a red pickup truck. It’s a simplistic, straightforward arcade game, and almost nothing was added to the home version to make it deeper or add variety.
Though to be fair, “trucks driving in mud” is kind of a hard concept to really expand on.
So how did a game like this end up not only getting onto our Top 50, but almost cracking the Top 25? Super Off-Road may not be sophisticated, but it delivers simple pleasures rather effectively. First of all, the game is flat-out fun to play – there might not be much to it, but it’s an enjoyable racing experience that anyone can pick up and play, and somehow stays challenging in the long term. It’s also one of the few overhead racing games that lets you see the entire track at once. This avoids one of the biggest frustrations of most games of this type – the tendency to suddenly throw an unexpected sharp turn at you without giving you a chance to prepare for it. Each race is only about 30 seconds long, which is kind of the ideal length of time for something like this. You do a race, upgrade your truck with the money you won, and head on to the next race to see what those upgrades did (spoiler: not much, just buy a bunch of nitros). Oh, and in between races you get to look at some girls in their swimsuits, so there’s that too.
Super Off-Road might be simple fun, but it’s still fun. It’s a really good way to kill a few minutes, or even and hour, and the sort of game you can come back to after a long break without feeling like you forgot something or lost some critical skills. Games like this went out of vogue a long time ago, but to be perfectly honest, I think the hobby loses a little something when there isn’t room in the marketplace for games like Super Off-Road.
Having said all that, this is still the kind of game that I take out of my Genesis and hide in a drawer any time I have company coming over.
Stryker: Rather than dig into the specifics of Super Off-Road, I wanted to just highlight one of the most significant changes between the Genesis version of the game, and the Super Nintendo. Here’s the awards screen you see after winning a race in the Super Nintendo version:
And here’s that same screen on the Genesis:
Oh I see, they made the girl on the right’s hair a lot redder.
I suppose this makes sense. The Super Nintendo had more powerful hardware, so it’s entirely possible that the Genesis was simply incapable of processing all those clothes without getting glitchy or having a massive slowdown. Then again, another explanation is that the designers were simply trying to distract us through the gratuitous use of breasts. Tough to say for sure what the motivation was, but I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. It’s just like Napoleon once said: “Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by boobs.”
Still, for what it’s worth, I actually just enjoyed this game for it’s hot racing action and dirty tracks featuring tight curves and voluptuous mounds.
Mr. Do!: The Genesis version of Super Off-Road came out 3 years after the SNES version, and the only real change was the bikini girls Stryker mentioned. That comes out to roughly one year per girl which, even for video game programmers, seems like an awful long time to get a woman to take her clothes off.
Availability: Super Off-Road is dirt cheap, but also sort of hard to find, so you’ll probably have to pick one up online. Not a bad value, if you don’t mind seeing “People who looked at this also looked at” banner ads featuring Larry the Cable Guy merchandise. Alternately, it’s also included in the Midway Arcade Treasures 3 anthology for PS2 or Xbox (it’s not Xbox 360 compatible, though), which is pretty inexpensive and also includes the long-lost arcade hit Badlands, a game that is basically Super Off-Road except with missiles and destructible scenery.