Road Blaster is an animated Interactive Movie for the arcade that makes use of LaserDisc technology. It was developed for release in August of 1985 by Data East, while animation was provided by Toei Animation. This cooperation had produced Cobra Command only a year prior, and that game's Rail Shooter gameplay was adapted to Vehicular Combat gameplay for use in Road Blaster. Road Blaster is also known as Road Avenger and Road Prosecutor, which are the names of the original Western home console releases.
In 199X, the USA's been having a problem with vehicular gang violence. The unnamed protagonist is one of the top agents in the mission to take down the gangs. In response, the gangs unite and the leader organizes a hit on the protagonist. On his wedding day, when he's driving off with his now-wife, the gangs strike. The protagonist survives, yet his wife doesn't. Hellbent on revenge, the protagonist turns vigilante and goes after each gang member involved in the hit personally.
The action and aesthetic of the game take influence from the Mad Max series, and given the timing it's not out of the question that the female gang leader was inspired by Aunty Entity from (promotional material of) Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Said gang leader ranks among the first female main antagonists in video game history.
Road Blaster was released in arcades worldwide and made its home console debut in 1986 on MSX. In 1992 and 1993, Wolf Team brought the game to Sega CD in Japan, North America, Europe, and Brazil. For this release, a theme song performed by The Jaywalk in both Japanese and English was added. Pioneer LaserActive, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation followed in 1995, after which it was quiet until 2009 with the Sharp X68000 and Microsoft Windows releases. The last release for now is the 2011 iOS version. A curiosity of the many releases is that for almost each one the dashboard was redesigned for a total of six variations.
Road Blaster was adapted as a novel, called "The Road Avenger", by writer Mary Margaret Park in 2009.
Road Blaster is a Spiritual Successor to Cobra Command and in honor thereof the LX-3FX chopper makes a cameo in stages 2 and 5. The director of both games, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, went on to work on Double Dragon I. Repeating the vehicle cameo, the red car from Road Blaster is stationed in the garage of the Lee Brothers and has done so each game following.
Road Blaster exhibits the following tropes:
- Adaptation Name Change: S.T.O.P. is referred to as M.A.T.F. (Mobile Armoured Task Force) in the Western Mega CD adaptation's manual.
- Biker Babe: Not that they are easily spotted given how fast the game proceeds, but there are female gang members and all of them have good looks. They drive cars and motorcycles and are very violent. The leader herself is a subversion, because while it's as good as certain she could she doesn't drive herself.
- The Cameo: Several vehicles (and drivers) from previous work by Data East or Toei Animation's parent company Toei Company are present in the game.
- Just before hitting the beach in Stage 1, a car drives by that is modeled after the Pointer from Ultraseven.
- The LX-3FX chopper from Cobra Command makes an appearance in Stages 2 and 5.
- At the end of Stage 7, four motorcyclists ride in on and past the protagonist. The one on the left is modeled after the heroes from Kamen Rider.
- Cool Car: The protagonist's red car numbered 000 is modeled after the Firebird Trans Am. In the Japanese version, it's explained that this car of the LX-5 series is in use by the police specifically to stop vehicular gang activity. It's got several features to keep up with their tricks, most important of all a targeting system that means that any car locked on to can't escape the radar of the police car.
- Create Your Own Hero: The protagonist already was a huge thorn in the gang's side, but he was still a cop and still acting within the means of the law. Then they kill his wife while trying to kill him and that provokes him into picking up the basics of vigilante justice until they're all dead.
- Dead Hat Shot: The protagonist's wife's death is symbolized by the red hibiscus in her hair being blown away, which the camera follows.
- Dub Name Change: The heroic SCP (Special Car Police) becomes S.T.O.P. (Special Task Operations Police) in the Western releases and the villainous RRR (unknown) becomes S.C.U.M. (Secret Criminal Underground Movement). In Road Prosecutor, the SCP is renamed the SMP Team, while the RRR is called the Black Crows (AKA the Black Birds). The Western MegaCD version keeps the RRR name for the villains, but changes the SCP to MATF (Mobile Armoured Task Force).
- Dwindling Party: Each stage is about taking out another one of the protagonist's wife's murderers. There are nine stages, but the last one covers three gang members at once: the leader, her driver, and her bodyguard. The further in the game, the lower the gang's numbers.
- The Faceless: Downplayed. The protagonist's face never is properly in view, but the visual drama is not sacrificed for it. Therefor, glimpses of his face can be caught here and there. One can get a reasonable idea what he looks like by putting all the images together.
- Fanservice Extra: Early in Stage 5, four fanservice moments occur around the tank station. First there's a billboard depicting a topless woman lying on her front. Then there's a poster of a girl in a bikini on the windows of the tank station. A pantyshot occurs when a woman jumps out of the protagonist's car's path. The fourth moment is another bikini poster, this one being located inside the tank station.
- Finish Him!: The leader gives the thumbs-down gesture when he henchman has the protagonist at his mercy towards the end of Stage 9. The protagonist regains consciousness just in time not to get clobbered to death.
- Flowers of Femininity: The protagonist's wife has a touch of color added to her white wedding outfit by wearing a red hibiscus in her hair. The flower comes to symbolize her after she's killed.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: With how fast-paced and intense the action is, you can see things and there's a lot of things, but you can't look at them. After a playthrough, one's left with impressions, but few things known to have occurred anywhere the action wasn't focused. The only way to truly appreciate what all is going on in the game (references, fan service, background events) is to watch a replay at half speed or slower.
- Fun with Acronyms: The localized name of the villains' organization is S.C.U.M. (Secret Criminal Underground Movement). The localized name of the heroes' organization is S.T.O.P. (Special Task Operations Police); as in "stop scum".
- Gory Discretion Shot: A lot of people die and/or get maimed in the desire for revenge, yet there's not a bloodied body anywhere in the game. Some violence is obscured by taking place in an explosion, while other carnage is hidden by virtue of driving on and not looking back.
- Guns Akimbo: The gang leader's wields two submachine guns. She takes aim from the roof of her car while her personal assistant drives.
- It's Personal: After the murder on his wife, the gloves come off. The protagonist used to go after the gangs because that was his job and maybe he also felt it was the right thing to do, but now it's because he wants revenge.
- Kick the Dog: On the moment of her introduction, the gang leader purposely crushes the bride's red hibiscus under her foot. This act communicates a number of things. For one, that the crash was planned murder and not an impulsive act of violence. For two, that the gang knowingly killed a woman on her wedding day as collateral damage and they don't care.
- Lost in the Maize: Stage 8 starts in a maize field (or another tall grain). There are proper roads and dirt roads, gang members driving motorcycles and farm equipment, and you can barely see in front of you. The only reason the protagonist can make his way through is because his car is locked on to the targeted gang member's vehicle.
- Market-Based Title: Road Blaster was published as Road Prosecutor on the Pioneer LaserActive, Road Avenger on the Sega CD, and Road Blaster FX in Japan, probably to avoid confusion with RoadBlasters by Atari. Releases after the 2000 all call it Road Blaster once more.
- Named by the Adaptation: There are no names in the game, but in the manuals of the Western releases the protagonist's wife is identified as Cindy.
- In Road Prosecutor, the cop is named John O'Hara, and the Black Crows' leader is named Suzie.
- Press X to Not Die: The game plays in the same manner as Dragon's Lair with quick time events making up the entirety of gameplay.
- Right-Hand Cat: The gang leader owns a dog, which she takes with her everywhere. It looks capable of maiming someone, but as the gang specializes in vehicular assault the dog isn't ever sicced on anyone.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The gang murdered the protagonist's wife in cold blood while gunning for him. He's deadset on personally getting revenge on every single individual member involved and in the process any other gang member in his way is also going down.
- Shout-Out: Stage 6 takes inspiration from James Bond films. The stage features two wooden ramps that lead into a barrel roll as in The Man with the Golden Gun and a boat jumps over the road as in Live and Let Die.
- Single Tear: The protagonist sheds a tear when clutching the red hibiscus in the opening.
- Tragic Keepsake: At the end of the game, when all of his wife's murderers are dead, the protagonist holds up his wife's wedding ring. He recalls the accident and the memory fades out with the ring overlaying the red hibiscus.
- V8 Engine Noises: Holding down the turbo button created these and was necessary for outrunning certain obstacles.
- Vehicular Assault: There's a lot of variety. The protagonist's sole weapon is his car and most of the gang members also drive cars. Bigger cars try to crush the protagonist and regular ones try to drive him off the road. In Stage 3, the gang lets oil spill from a moving oil truck and lights the trail on fire to destroy the protagonist driving behind them. Gang members without vehicles jump on the hood and try to break through the windshield. The gang leader doesn't drive herself, but dual-wields submachine guns from the roof.
- Vehicular Combat: During gameplay, the protagonist never leaves his car and it's effectively the car the player controls. There are a few gang members that are on foot, such as those being in the middle of stealing/smuggling or those being ready to jump on top of the hood to assault the protagonist through the windshield, but by far most are in all manner of vehicles. Such vehicles include, among others, fancy cars, motorcycles, car haulers, oil trucks, and combine harvesters. Except for the glimpses during the intro sequence, bosses aren't shown as people, but as the cars they drive. With the exception of the Final Boss, the player doesn't get to know who they're after, only what car they're after.
- Whole Costume Reference: The Player Character dresses in the same leathers as Max Rockatansky, specifically the MFP uniform from the first film that hasn't yet seen years of wear and tear in the wasteland.
- Whole Plot Reference: The basic premise of the game's plot is that of the entire Roaring Rampage of Revenge from the first Mad Max.
- Widowed at the Wedding: The protagonist is targeted for a hit when he is distracted by fresh marital bliss. He and his wife are run off the road while minutes into their honeymoon and even though she wasn't the target and he was, she dies and he lives.