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Video Game: Road Rash
Road Rash was a series of motorcycle racing games from Electronic Arts, starting life on the Sega Genesis in 1991, but appearing on several other systems over the next 10 years. In-universe, the races were illegal, forcing you to contend with police... as well as other riders, who usually had no problem attacking you with clubs, pipes, chains or cattle prods. Each game had several track locations, which became longer and more difficult for each level you achieved. You leveled up by getting at least 3rd or 4th place in each location, depending on the game. The goal was to amass money to buy better bikes and also be able to pay off hospital fees, repair bills and police fines. If you ever ran out of money, it was game over.

Road Rash 1 was notable for bringing the Z-axis and rudimentary physics to bear to both challenge and amuse the player, at a time when most other racing games barely bothered with such things. Going up hills slowed you down, while going down would cause you to accelerate... or, if you had enough speed, you'd soar through the air. In addition to the competitors and police, the player also had to watch out for oncoming traffic, animals crossing the road, and other realistic hazards. It was one of the earlier second-generation games to reward the player for doing something illegal.

While there was no plot to speak of, the games did have characters. Many of the AI were given profiles and would often give you advice or trash-talk you before or after a race.


This series contains examples of...

  • A.I. Breaker: Sort of. In Road Rash 64, some of the later tracks spike in difficulty, to the point that a majority of the AI racers are fairly likely to fail to cross the finish line at all. Race 4-3 (Beat Down) is an example where if you just avoid everyone else, all the AI will almost always get Busted by cops, while on 5-8 (Marathon, the final race) it's pretty common to have a majority of the 11 racers turn up Wrecked, presumably because of the length of the course and how bad the traffic is.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: So you've been speeding, running people over, hitting cars and assaulting police officers. You get busted for... failing to signal.
  • Assumed Win: The AI will sometimes start doing their victory pose before they cross the finish line... making it all the more sweeter if you pass them at the last second and take first place away from them....
  • Bad with the Bone: Sergio's portrait in Road Rash 3 shows him wielding a rather large bone.
  • Biker Babe: Natasha, most notably.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Clubs are probably the most common weapons in the Genesis trilogy, and the only one available in Road Rash 1 outside of your own fists. The police also have 'em and use 'em.
  • Chain Pain: In Road Rash 2, the most dangerous weapon. Also could be swung over your head for no practical reason.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: In the Genesis titles. Everyone is dressed in the same color... except you. The color of everyone else also tells you what level you're on.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the Genesis trilogy, the other racers are capable of taking very difficult turns at full speed, and the cops would only ever come after you, regardless of if other racers are easier to catch.
    • Just how does Lucky Luc stay just ahead of you no matter how fast you're going, anyway?
    • On the other hand, the racer's position largely depends upon your own. If you're far ahead in first place, the top racers' times are just seconds behind yours even if you're on the Wild Thing 2000, and if you're far behind in last place, you're likely to catch up to the slowest racers eventually, even if the race should long be over.
  • Cool Bike: Road Rash 2 and 3 have the "Wild Thing 2000", a cheat-only bike that runs up to 200 mph (220 nitro) in 2 and up to 250 mph nitrous in 3.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Road Rash 3.
  • Enemy Chatter: A few of your rival racers (and even cops) would start a race by giving you some pointers or just talking smack. Natasha, in particular, would either be friendly or antagonistic depending on if you attacked her previously.
  • Endless Game: When you beat Level 5 on the original Road Rash game on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, you get to play Level 5 again! And again... and again... forever. The same goes for Road Rash III: Tour de Force. Road Rash II actually has an ending after level 5, which is a race against some cops... and then the game crashes.
  • Everything Breaks: If you crash into something in Road Rash 1 and 2, the item survives intact, probably making a sound. In 3, most small objects have a "damaged" sprite... however, items switch to the damage sprite no matter how fast you're moving. Even if you're walking into it.
  • Face Plant: Happens to you if you fall off your bike when going just the right speed
  • Fighting with Chucks: Madame X and Belladonna in Road Rash 3. Also the most dangerous weapon in the game.
  • Hammer Space: A cutscene in one of the later games has a cop searching you, finding iron knuckles... a chain... a club... and a SHOTGUN which would have been impossible for you to carry. This is of course down to Rule of Funny.
  • Hard Mode Filler: Completing an initial circuit of races pushes you up to the next competition level, using the same locations but driving further down the course.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: With "Player A/B" as the default.
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy: In Road Rash 3, police cars simply move to the left or the right while driving in order to block your way. And... they completely forget the fact that doing so can lead them into oncoming traffic.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Cops have health gauges, but no amount of attacking will hurt them or knock them off of their rides.
    • Averted in Road Rash II, but played straight in 3.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The game has cutscenes not just for completing the race, but for wrecking your bike or getting busted. Some classics include paramedics retrieving your bike while leaving you injured on the side of the road, getting chased down by police dogs, stumbling onto the road in the path of a semi, and getting tossed in the trunk of a police cruiser.
  • Nintendo Hard: Road Rash 1 had very curvy tracks; lots of traffic (though only two cars are allowed on-screen every five seconds, but this was utilized to full effect); and cops who would ram into you very hard, almost guaranteeing you being knocked off your bike and getting arrested if they connect. Additionally, nitrous boost hadn't been introduced yet, and the lead bikers, especially Helldog, were exceptionally skilled. Aiming for first place in Level 5? Good luck.
  • Nitro Boost: Introduced in Road Rash 2 and 3 for the more expensive bikes.
  • Oil Slick: While not a feature of the bike itself, in Road Rash 3, Lucky Luc's primary weapon is... an oil can. He stays just ahead of you, spilling oil on the road in hopes of making you spin out.
  • Password Save: In the first three Genesis games, provided at the end of each race. The password saved your race placements and your cash.
    • Road Rash 1's passwords were 20 characters long and included alphanumeric characters (numbers and letters) and symbols. This password was also given immediately after the race, but before being promoted to the next level - if you use that password, you have to redo any of the races before advancing, but you can still use that to get extra money.
    • Road Rash 2 and 3's passwords were eight characters long and reduced to only alphanumeric characters. The promotion to the next level was done immediately after winning the race in a qualifying position, indicated by the post-race cutscene. Passwords were given on the Options screen of the main menu.
    • Even though Road Rash 3 introduced the ability to save weapons between races and even accumulate them, the password did not account for this. One using a password to resume was reduced to his/her fists upon starting.
  • Ramp Jump: Extremely common in the Genesis games.
    • Ramprovisation: ...but only Road Rash 3 has actual ramps. Most of the time, one has to use rocks, bushes, or even cows as ramps. One could even get pretty good air by running over fallen bikers. Even some hills alone count—one in particular in the "Hawaii" track of Road Rash 2 is especially memorable.
  • Regenerating Health: Life bars usually start filling up immediately after taking damage. If the player is knocked off the bike in 2 or 3', the life bar is automatically filled once the bike is touched.
  • Road Block: One of the many reasons for Ramprovisation.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Averted, since you only need to place 4th or better on each track.
    • In Road Rash 2 and 3, you needed to place at least third place to advance.
  • Spiritual Successor: Hopefully finds one in the recently Kickstarted and Steam-Greenlit Road Redemption by DarkSeas Games.
  • Theme Naming: The cops in 1 have names which start with "O'" — O'Leary, O'Rourke, O'Shea, and O'Connor. And then there's Flynn.
  • Vehicular Assault: In Road Rash 3, the police cars and the police helicopters.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Some characters can be your friend and give you advice if you wouldn't try to beat them during the races. Most notably, this would be Natasha.
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