Road Rash (Sniper)
Genre: Racing
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: U.S. Gold

The Genesis original has the superscalar-esque thing going on, and while the effect looks good, the framerate struggles. So there is no way a Z80 with 24K of RAM could possibly run such an engine, right? Not only did programming guru Gary Priest get the engine going, but via some design changes and sheer wizardry, it runs silky smooth compared to its big brother, and looks very nearly as good! The menus too have been replicated, and look unbelievably sharp on the Game Gear's diminutive screen.

When one thinks of PSG music, Matt Furniss is probably not one of the names that readily comes to mind. But why not? He programmed the music for fewer than thirty Master System and Game Gear games, and it's universally outstanding-- compare his Marble Madness Game Gear music to the Atari ST version's, for instance. The case is true in this Road Rash port, with the PSG adaptations of Rob Hubbard's original work sounding better here than in the Genesis release!

All five courses, all five difficulty levels, all of the bikes, all of the AI opponents, the ability to punch and kick... this is a more-than-complete port of the original title-- "more than", because the higher framerate makes it just that much more playable! The lack of a brake button seems like it'd be a deal breaker, but the balance was tweaked so that it is never an issue. And the infernal extra slippery "Redwood Forest" has been toned down here as well!

Road Rash is one of those rare, bizarre examples of a game getting ported to a far less powerful platform, and somehow winding up better for the conversion; the re-done menus, the significantly higher framerates, and the superior PSG music combine for one of the Game Gear's very best titles. Even things like the character portraits before races look sharper on the handheld's small screen! Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

Sniper's verdict: