Speed Racer: My Most Dangerous Adventures
I have no idea what’s going on here. Spike wall? Car in Lava? None of this happens in the game anyway.
Speed Racer is a race car driver and he… races cars. With his trusty (and totally unfairly tooled up) vehicle, the Mach 5, he races because… that’s what he does. It’s in his name! He’s a racer with speed! What do you want from me!?
See! It’s in the title screen! Everything we need to know!
There’s a weird thing when it comes to old games that didn’t survive the test of time, it’s really hard to find information about their development. Either no one cared to record it in detail or someone swept this under the rug. That being said, Speed Racer MMDA was developed by Accolade in 1994. And that’s it. I can say that it was before the downturn of most Accolade titles but I’m really at a loss to say more about the development of the game. So I’m going to talk about the show instead.
Speed Racer was originally a Japanese manga/anime that was about Speed’s pursuits to win vehicle races and prevent things that might jeopardize his family or vehicle. It was localized in 1967 and required major dubbing and heavy rewrites for the story to make much sense. Most of the voice acting was performed by the producer of the project, Peter Fernandez. One of the larger issues facing the localization was trying to fit all the dialogue into the limited amount of lip movement leading to some ridiculously funny fast deliveries. Speed’s major rivals are the aptly named Captain Terror and Racer X. Racer X is actually Speed’s older brother that was thought to be dead but keeps an eye on his family. (Why does he hide his identity? That’s a very good question)
Speed Racer: My Most Dangerous Adventures was released in November 1994. It was up against Donkey Kong Country and King’s Quest VII: The Princeless Bride.
Pop Racer (on the far left) never appears in the game. And what is wrong with that monkey, looks spooky to me.
My exposure to the show was a single Racer X comic that my cousin owned. Racer X’s vehicle, The Shooting Star, is parked in a dusty old way station. Racer X is leaning against the vehicle holding a revolver looking all bad-ass. There wasn’t much racing, there was a lot of fighting and gun-play. This is what I was expecting from a Speed Racer game. This is not what I got. There was fighting, no gun-play. And a lot of racing in between me and the little combat I could find. My father loved racing games, F-Zero was one of his favorite titles. So I would ask him to play through the racing sections and I would play through the platforming and combat sections. I’m not sure which of us got the rawer deal.
This game was so hard. Unfair levels are hard. Everything was trying to kill Speed, mice, other drivers, toxic sewer waste, spear throwing tribal people (Only mildly racist), and snow. I eventually got stuck chasing Captain Terror up to the peak of Mt. Doom to save Speed’s girlfriend. I could barely see through the blizzard overlay. The controls were so slippery that I kept falling off of platforms, often to my immediate death, but sometimes just do heavy damage because Speed suffers from falling damage (Accolade likes their falling damage, first Bubsy now this). One night, when I was screwing around with the password screen, I sent the password to the Mt. Doom level and the usually cinematic was replaced with Racer X telling Speed, “I’ll take care of this.” I was so pumped. This time I would beat the level because I was fucking Racer X! No more of this dying shit, I’m too cool for that. I played for four hours and even considered leaving the system on overnight in order to keep playing as Racer X, who I believed gave me a considerable advantage. I was wrong however, as far as I can tell there’s no mechanical difference.
Despite the difficulty, I really liked this game. There was finally a game that my father and I could really play together. The music was made of pure ear-worms, tracks are still stuck in my head.
Check out these stunning visuals!
So, I tried playing through this game again a few days ago. The introduction is unskippable, so much for speed. The music doesn’t match up with it and the music overall hasn’t aged well. There’s only one track for the racing sections and it’s sort of lackluster. The whole racing section overall is really hastily done and just plain hard. It doesn’t look good and all too often Speed ends up in second because the first place driver can only be passed if the Mach 5 pops a turbo boost (At least I wasn’t able to).
I was able to finally scale Mt. Doom on this return to the game. The music for the platforming fighting stages is actually really good. Unfortunately the controls and the mechanics are awful. Speed literally slides after he finishes running which will more than likely cause him to fall off of platforms. His punch attack is so ridiculously slow that it’s impossible to hit enemies with it. His kick attack is so fast that it doesn’t even have frames of animation, his leg goes from at his side to straight out. That might sound powerful but Speed gets damaged by anything, enemies will sometimes just run into Speed and can drain all his health before he can throw a kick. To top this all off Speed makes the stupidest noise I’ve ever heard every time he gets hit.
I feel like such a chump because Mt Doom is the penultimate stage and I was so close to the end so many times. And at the very end Trixie is tied to a pole with a winter hat on and says, “Just in time Speed, I was starting to get cold up here.” This brought to mind how impractical it is for Speed to be climbing the mountain with nothing but a blazer.
I gave the final race a shot. The first time I tried to play it the game glitched so hard that there were just vehicles driving around in black space. I had no idea where I was or what was going on. The second time I played through it Captain Terror got passed by one of his own henchmen. That’s what a final boss does, lose to his underlings. The race seemed really unfair. There are all these very small jumps that prevent the Mach 5 from turning so it will often careen off the track with very little ability to return to course.
There are 4 colors on this game over screen. Whatever, It’ll get seen a lot.
This game is worse than I remember. There are so many obstacles in the driving and the platforming, that come out of nowhere and can’t be avoided. They have to be memorized and that’s just unfair to the player. The visuals aren’t compelling or interesting most of the time and the whole presentation is just unimpressive (I’m looking at you unsynced introduction).
Next Week: Super Mario World