Sunday, 10 February 2019

Masked Rider Club Battle Race (Arcade)

I've actually been avoiding writing about this game for a long time now, not for any reason actually to do with the game itself, but for some reason I thought I'd already covered it years ago. But I finallt went back and cheacked and found no such post. So anyway, Masked Rider Club Battle Race is a game I actually got to play as a kid, in an arcade at a holiday camp in Cleethorpes. This was long before I'd ever head of Kamen Rider, and possibly before I'd even seen Saban's Masked Rider or the Power Rangers episodes that introduced him.

Anyway, it's one of those games that only I seem to love: a top-down, vertically-scrolling psuedo-racing game where the aim is to get to the end of each stage as quickly as possible while avoiding obstacles, and in which you have a fuel meter that acts as a combination time limit and health bar. There's got to be a snappier name for these things! There's also an actual time limit this time round, too, though it's so generous that you're never likely to run it down, and it's really only there for providing a time bonus at the end of each stage. The controls are interesting, though the game's controlled with two buttons and a digital joystick, you still have a fair amount of control over your speed. Obviously, once of the buttons is the accelerator, which you'll be holding the whole time, and you can let go of it to slow down and stop. But also, holding up on the joystick lets you go faster, and holding down lets you reduce your speed.

It's tempting to storm through the stages at top speed, holding up the entire time, but unless you both memorise the location of every obstacle and have the dexterity to avoid them at high speed, it's a bad move. In terms of survival and scoring, it's better to just go through the stages at normal speed: you're more likely to survive, and the end-of-stage fuel bonus is likely to be higher if you aren't constantly crashing into stuff. On top of that, you're more likely to pick up more of the points items littered about the stages if you aren't zooming past them, too. On the other hand, top speed is really fast, so it's a lot more thrilling to play tht way.

All the TV Kamen Riders who had appeared up to that point are playable characters, with the main difference between them being the direction and range of their attacks (in my opinion, Kamen Rider ZX is probably the best pick, with his straightfoward straight-ahead attack), and everything's in a colourful super deformed style, which I guess was the fashion at the time, considering there was also a Kamen Rider SD anime released in the same year, along with another SD Kamen Rider appearing in Banpresto's Great Battle series of Super Famicom games. Even if you're, for some reason, not a fan of Kamen Rider or tokusatsu in general, I'd still say Kamen Rider Club Battle Race is worth playing. It's a great example of the genre, with more sophistication than earlier entries. (In fact, it might even be the last game of its kind to ever appear in arcades, as the world had mostly moved on by 1993).

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