I was recently approached by the PR team for Moto Roader MC to ask if I’d be willing to do a review. Seeing as I’m a fan of Ratalaika Games, I promptly agreed. The thing I love about Ratalaika Games is that they’re not only great for getting achievements, but they also introduce me to genres I wouldn’t typically seek out and play. I’ll admit I don’t tend to play retro games, however, I really enjoyed the release of Gleylancer that Ratalaika Games put out earlier this year. As such, I was willing to put aside my preferences and give this a go. I played on the Xbox Series X, but it’s also available for other consoles. What did I think of it? Find out in this Moto Roader MC review! I’ll also be doing a giveaway, and the details for that will be at the end.
Moto Roader MC features several different game modes, but obviously all of them revolve around racing. There’s no tutorial, so I dove straight in with the ‘Race’ option. You can enter your name one letter at a time, as that way you can see yourself on the leaderboard. There’s an option for other players to join you up to a total of 4 others. However, this is only possible through couch co-op rather than online. If you choose to play by yourself, then the other 4 slots are filled by CPU. Frustratingly, the CPU players are really good, and beating them is a real challenge. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to adjust the difficulty.
Once you’ve inputted your name and confirmed the number of players, you can pick a set of courses. Each set contains 5 courses within it, and you’ll play them in a row. The number of laps is usually around 9 or 10, which is considerably more than most racing games. However, given how small the tracks are, this does make sense. The course options are Circuit, City, Nature, Märchen, and Special. Personally, I found City to be the best set of tracks, as they had cool features like speed pads. I also liked the shape of the tracks, and found the Circuit ones to sometimes be difficult to navigate.
I have to admit, I was not a fan of the steering controls in this game. They were incredibly sensitive and counter-intuitive. The acceleration and reverse buttons are the opposite of where you’d expect them to be, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent the first couple of tracks racing in reverse because I assumed my car must have started backwards. It wasn’t until I paused the game and found the controls from the menu that I realised my mistake.
Because this game is top-down, it means that the steering happens from the perspective of the driver. So if you’re facing upwards and you steer left, you’ll go left. However, if you’re facing downwards and you steer left, you’ll go right. This was a nightmare for me as I really struggle with spatial awareness. I find it really hard to shift my perspective on orientation and steer from the perspective of the driver rather than what I’m seeing on the screen. This caused me to have a lot of crashes early on, and it took a long time for me to get the hang of it. I know that Moto Roader MC is based on a 1992 game of the same name, so I assume the steering is accurate to that, but I still think it could have been updated for a modern audience.
Racing is only one aspect of this game. Another prominent feature is the fact that all the cars can fire unlimited rockets at the press of a button. You don’t have to worry about conserving ammo, you can just mash the fire button as you zip around the track. Whenever a projectile connects with another car, it will cause them to spin out. There’s no armour or health bar, it’s literally one hit and that’s it. As you can imagine, that leads to a LOT of crashes. This is not the kind of racing game where you can easily make your way around the track. You are constantly being interrupted by other players attacking you. Of course, you can attack them right back, and the entire round is chaos.
I do think that this battling aspect adds an interesting layer of fun. However, when combined with the tricky steering mechanics, spinning out is really inconvenient. I’d have much preferred if projectiles exploded the cars instead. That way you could respawn and still be facing the right direction. The issue with spinning out is that gameplay moves so fast, and it takes so long to redirect yourself, that by the time you’re facing the right way, someone else has hit you, and the manoeuvre starts all over again. This game is incredibly hectic, and there’s always something happening with all the shooting and spinning out.
Each set of courses has its own theme, and the tracks are designed accordingly. As I mentioned earlier, Ratalaika Games are famous for having really easy achievements. In Moto Roader MC, you get an achievement for each track that you play, for a total of 25 different achievements. Interestingly, you don’t actually have to complete the tracks in order to progress. Each course ends once player 4 has crossed the line on the final lap. I know this because I never once actually completed a track as the CPU was just better than me. Theoretically, I wouldn’t have to play at all to get the achievement, I could just click ‘race’ for each new track, and sit there on the line waiting for the other players to finish.
Some parts of the tracks can be really annoying. For example, on the City set, there’s one track which has a gap in the barrier. I accidentally drove through the gap and ended up on the train track. The train blasted through, spinning my out, and moving me further away from the gap. By the time I’d righted myself so I could drive back out, the train came again. It respawned every few seconds, meaning there wasn’t enough time for me to get back onto the track, and my poor driver was just repeatedly pummelled by a train until the other players completed the race. I do think difficulty level was something they should’ve considered, and I’d have liked to see an Easy Mode.
Audio and Visuals
I’m not an expert on the terminology, but Moto Roader MC uses a pixellated style that I assume is 16 bit. I could be wrong, but either way, it’s got a very arcade feel to the graphics. It results in a very dated look, but really works for the retro vibe of the game. The cutscenes use the same art style as the menu, with simplistic drawings and characters. I’m actually a big fan of this, and I like that they’ve leaned into the aesthetic. They’re not trying too hard, they’re committing to the theme, and I approve. Speaking of the cutscenes, they make absolutely no sense. There’s no dialogue, spoken nor written, so we have basically no context. Having said that, they’re still enjoyable to watch, and I find it funny that I have no idea what’s going on.
Audio is a mixed bag. There’s no music at all on the start menu, but once you get into the main menu, there’s a delightfully cheerful theme tune that plays. It’s upbeat, melodic, and makes you want to get up and dance. I felt as though I were being transported back to the 90’s. The nostalgia factor there is superb, and I really wish they’d used this music during gameplay. Instead, we simply get the sound effects from the cars… Ugh. Remember that World Cup in South Africa with those infuriating vuvuzelas in the background? This is just like that. The cars produce an incessant buzzing noise that felt like it was going to drive me insane. I can only assume that it’s staying true to the original, but I still hated it. It’s a true shame, because the rest of the sound effects and music choices were excellent.
Overall, I have conflicted feelings about the game. I like the concept, and I think it really works as a blast from the past. However, there are aspects that definitely could’ve been improved. I’d really like to see Ratalaika Games update the sound in the future and use music during courses, or at least tone down the repetitive hum of the cars. I also think the game could’ve benefited from more intuitive steering controls. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to play multiplayer as I didn’t have a willing player 2 at home with me. Considering the game is available for modern consoles, I don’t understand why there was no online co-op. Either playing with friends or random match-ups would have been a lot more fun than competing against over-powered CPU drivers who were evidently a lot better at the game than I was.
Still, I do like that it’s an easy game for farming achievements. I also think that it will appeal to arcade fans. There’s certainly still a huge section of the gaming community that holds a flame for classic titles from their childhood, and Moto Roader MC definitely caters to that demographic. All in all, this is a fun little game, and for only £5.99, I think it’s worth the price.
If Moto Roader MC sounds like it could be up your street, then read on for a chance to win a free copy! You can choose which console you would like a code for as the game is available for Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch. There are multiple ways to earn an entry, but you don’t need to complete all of them. You’ll get one entry for each step that you follow on this list.
1. Follow the Screen Hype Twitter account. Then, check out the below tweet, and give it a like and retweet.
2. Tag a friend in the comments of the above tweet. You’ll get a bonus entry if they follow Screen Hype.
3. Join our Facebook community and comment on the giveaway post! I also host regular giveaways in the group that aren’t available anywhere else.
That’s it! Best of luck to all who enter! You have until 23:59 on 13/03/22 to enter, and I will announce the winner on 14/03/22.