The first game came out in 1991. In it, you play a pair of explorers named Flint and Mary who manage to locate a priceless South American artifact. However, just as they get their hands on it, the floor collapses underneath them and they land in a minecart. The two of them get rolling, and eventually find themselves pursued by natives and rival treasure hunters.
The game was noticeable for being a motion ride, an arcade cabinet with a seat that bobbed and weaved with the action on screen. The game was played with two joysticks that controlled the cross-hairs on screen. Oddly, the game never used a life bar; instead, the cart and the indicator on the top of the screen showed the distance between your cart and the boss. Attacks damaged your card until it was rendered unusable, allowing your pursers to catch up and finish you off. The game included four stages, each with their own pursuers who served as the bosses.
Rail Chase 2 was released in 1994; it used the same motion ride seat as its predecessor, but swapped out the sprites for 3D graphics. The time around Flint & Mary have run afoul of the maniacal EKKL empire. They make their escape in a rail cart with the empire's army in hot pursuit. Besides the graphical update, the game allows you to switch tracks and take different paths, allowing some great replay value. Unlike the original, this game uses standard life bars.
The games have the following tropes:
- Art Shift: The first game begins with a cutscene drawn in a very sketchy, no color style similar to A Ha's "Take on Me" video. Then an earthquake happens and drops the two treasure hunters into the minecart, which shifts to the game proper.
- Cool Train: The one that chases you in the first and last level of the second game.
- Fake Difficulty: There's no way to get through this game without taking a hit due to the multiple enemies on screen.
- Have a Nice Death: In the first game, whenever your cart got too damaged to continue. You get a first person view of your pursuer catching up and delivering the killing blow.
- Life Meter: Averted in the first game as your cart and the indicator on top showed your distance from the boss. The more damage you took, the closer the cart would be pushed towards the boss. The second game plays it straight, however.
- Lighter and Softer: The second game has a brighter color palette.
- Minecart Madness: The entire point of the series. All the action takes place on a moving minecart, with many of your enemies following along in their own.
- More Dakka: You and your friend's only means to defend yourself.
- Multiple Endings: The second game has an Easter Egg ending that allows you to reactivate the crosshair and kill the protagonists.
- Putting on the Reich: The EKKL empire in the second game is pretty much the Third Reich in all but name and color. They use the same uniforms (although most of the goons wear bright blue uniforms), vehicles, and everything. Even the flyer◊ depicts a guy wearing a Nazi-esque uniform and helmet.
- The '30s: The second game is explicitly set in 1938. We're never told when the first game is set, but seeing as how Flint & Mary are the protagonists there too, it's likely sometime around then.
- To Be Continued: The sequel's normal ending has a "Flint & Mary Will Continue Their Adventure in RAIL CHASE 3" message, which naturally doesn't appear in the secret ending where the player kills them. No third game was ever made.
- Video Game 3D Leap: The second game had 3D graphics.