Moto Roader MC (Xbox Series S) Review

How strong is your nostalgia?
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Moto Roader MC – from Shinyuden, Masaya, and Ratalaika Games – is a (lightly) remastered re-release of the 30-year-old isometric racer – originally released back in 1992 in Japan as a TurboGrafx-CD game. It should come as no surprise, given the period it was first released in, that it’s a simple pick-up-play title designed for short local coop sessions. Whether that timeless design still makes it a worthwhile purchase is going to depend entirely on your own nostalgia and whether you have friends or family to play with.

As was common in the era, Moto Roader MC has some flashy cover art, with loads of different characters, and even some stylish and lightly-animated “cutscenes” between race events. In reality, this simply equates to players picking different driver and vehicle skins to differentiate themselves on the track. Every vehicle functions identically: moving at the same speed, with the same handling, the same hitbox size, and the same weapon abilities.

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What you get is what you see. The simple control scheme and visual design make it easy for anyone to pick up and play.

Now that’s not to say there’s no diversity on offer. Moto Roader MC is all about the vast selection of tracks (25 in total), a bit of player skill, and a whole lot of praying to the RNG gods during chaotic pile-ups. As an isometric racer, the entire track occupies a single screen, with a defined loop you need to follow to register a lap, but there are shortcuts, boost pads, teleports, and hazards to spice things up. Getting around is a simple matter of holding accelerate and navigating corners (brake/reverse is only really useful for getting unstuck). With the press of a button, you can toggle between the thumbstick steering left and right or simply moving your vehicle in the direction it’s pressed – my suggested method.

Of course, Moto Roader MC is also a “combat” racer so you can fire slow-moving rockets from the front of your car and drop mines from the back. Given there are five cars on each tiny track, with sharp corners and chokepoints, this leads to nonstop chaos that removes skill from the equation. Cars go spinning out, end up facing the wrong direction, and it’s not uncommon to take several seconds to reorient yourself – by which time your opponents will probably have lapped you. There are times you can pull ahead and maintain a good line to keep you clear of the AI, but local coop allows for far more tactical and vindictive strategies to prevent anyone from keeping their lead.

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There are 25 tracks in total, lumped into 5 themed categories. For achievement or trophy hunters, you can unlock all 25 on offer simply by racing on each track once.

Multiplayer is something I’d consider essential if you want to enjoy Moto Roader MC, seeing as not all game modes support solo play and you’ll quickly learn to exploit AI behaviours once you’re used to the track layouts. The modes on offer include a standard “Race” format that functions as a mini-championship with a points log; a “Time Trial” mode on a single track with 8 laps to set the fastest time; and a 1-vs-1 “Omake” mode (the mode with no AI players) that’s a mix between football and bumper cars. It’s a nice selection and perfect for short play sessions when you’ve got friends and family on hand. Played solo, it soon feels like you’re going through the same motions on different backdrops.

Talking of backdrops, the visuals are authentically old-school. You’ve got the 16-bit-era pixel-art style, vibrant colours, and small animated features around the track. The soundtrack walks a fine line between catchy and ear-grating – though I suspect the longer I play, the more my opinion will veer towards the latter. Weirdly, the entire game is presented in an emulator wrapper – which even allows you to create and load “save states” at any time – but you can only load into Moto Roader MC. Maybe it’ll be used for other revival projects?

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The emulation is solid, even if features like “save states” in a short-format racing game feel pointless.

Overall, I’ve got mixed feelings about Moto Roader MC. On one hand, it’s a well-emulated title at budget pricing. An opportunity to preserve a classic, multiplayer-focused racing experience that’ll entertain for a few hours. On the other hand, there have been no mechanical changes so it still feels like a 30-year-old game – dated, light on content, and boring when played solo. If you’ve got a strong nostalgia for early 1990’s isometric racers and some friends to play with, it’s worth the low cost. For everyone else, you’re probably better off looking for a modern indie racer inspired by that period of games.

A review code for Moto Roader MC was provided to gameblur by the publisher.

Moto Roader MC (Xbox Series S) Review

Moto Roader MC (Xbox Series S) Review
5 10 0 1
5/10
Total Score
  • Gameplay
    5/10 Neutral
    Simple and easy to pick up for local multiplayer, but there's limited complexity and it's a bland experience when playing solo.
  • Longevity
    5/10 Neutral
    While there are plenty of tracks, there's not enough that differentiates them outside of the visual design and you'll see them all in an afternoon.
  • Visuals
    6/10 Normal
    Authentic and cleanly emulated but they're a product of their time.
  • Audio
    5/10 Neutral
    Catchy at first but the more you play, the more they shift towards ear-grating.

The Good

  • Solid emulation with authentic visuals and soundtrack
  • Perfect for brisk, chaotic, multiplayer sessions on the couch
  • Videogame preservation on a budget

The Bad

  • A bland experience played solo
  • You can see everything on offer in a single sitting
Total
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