For the arcade game fan who plays arcade games at home, "MAMExpose" presents you with the many joys - and pitfalls - of emulation, specifically those found while using our favorite program in the universe: MAME.

by Rob "Flack" O'Hara

I like buggy games! No, not the ones with six-legs – the ones with four wheels! As a kid I desperately wanted a dune buggy, so much so that when I turned eighteen and moved out of my parents house, I bought one as my primary vehicle. It lasted a whole two months before it was stolen. These days, I get my dune buggy kicks from MAME games instead. Check out these four-wheelin’ ROMs!

Data East, 1986


In this side-scrolling rolling adventure, you’ll drive a metal-plated buggy head first into enemy territory. Not only can your buggy shoot, it can do an ollie as well! That’s the good news. The bad news is, your armor plating can’t stop even a single bullet. Some armor! Your buggy’s jumping distance and height depends on your speed, so you’ll want to put the pedal to the metal to get over some of those rock piles – of course, the faster you drive, the quicker you’ll meet those flame-throwing tanks as well. I used to have this game for my Commodore 64 as a kid. This version is much better.

The Speed Rumbler
Capcom, 1986


Although it doesn’t look much like a buggy in the game’s marquee, The Speed Rumbler is all about buggy action. Plus, you play a guy named “Super Joe”, so how bad can it be? In the introduction, enemy terrorists kidnap Super Joe’s family, and it’s up to you (yes you, Super Joe!) to rescue them. This game features another shooting buggy with crappy armor. It almost makes you wonder if a dune buggy may not in fact be the best vehicle to drive into battle with! The Speed Rumbler has a unique “escape” button which allows you to get out of your buggy and take on the enemy on foot. That usually gets me killed within seconds, and should serve as a reminder to us all that once you’ve entered a buggy you should keep your arms, legs and head inside the buggy at all times until the buggy has come to a complete stop. Even if it’s on fire. You will have to be quick on your toes (and wheels) to get far in this game.

Buggy Challenge
Taito, 1984


Nothing frustrates me in a game more than not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing or where I’m supposed to be going. Buggy Challenge is a sand dune race, but where the track exactly is confuses me! I see rocks, electrical power stations (yes, in the middle of the desert) and lots and lots of sand, but I’ll be damned if I can find any markers that show where the road is supposed to be! Every now and again the game throws up a neon arrow, telling me I’m too far off the track. When I see that I’ll change directions, until another arrow comes up telling me I’ve gone too far the other way. Pretty much I keep doing that, until I crash into a power station or get tired of watching other dune buggies pass me by. And speaking of passing things by, that’s my recommendation to you on this game.

Moon Patrol
Williams, 1982


Dune buggies, moon buggies, what’s the difference, right? No discussion of buggy games would be complete without this classic. If you haven’t played Moon Patrol recently (or, God forbid, ever!), you owe it to yourself to take this purple, six-wheeled buggy out for another spin. The goal of Moon Patrol is to get from A to Z, literally (the checkpoints are labeled with letters). Throughout your journey, you’ll have to deal with rocks in your way, craters in front of you, and enemy UFOs who don’t take too kind to your moon patrolling ways. Always addictive and always fun, Moon Patrol is as much fun and challenging as it was almost 25 years ago.

Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road
Leland, 1989


Simple. Fun. Addictive. What other compliments can be given to a videogame? For years I played the SNES version of Off-Road, but it’s too easy to keep winning and play forever. The original, played through MAME, is a bit more challenging and just as fun. In Super Off Road, you’ll power your truck (with a dune buggy suspension, so there!) through a series of dirt-based racetracks. Think of it as the manly version of Championship Sprint. You’ll encounter hay bales and little jumps as you make your way through the tracks – you’ll also encounter three other opponents, who are out to make you eat dust (literally). Like Championship Sprint, you’ll run across lots of money and other goodies that you can use in between races to spruce up your truck. You’ll also find tanks of Nitrous Oxide, good for a speed boost when the finish line is in site and you’ve got three trucks breathing down your neck.

I may not have my dune buggy any more, but I can relive my dreams through these games. Sadly, two of my favorite dune buggy games (Road Riot 4WD and Buggy Boy) cannot be properly emulated in MAME yet. Until they are, these will just have to do!

You've played plenty of bad games on game consoles, but what about bad arcade games? In the next MAMExpose, we'll look at a few titles that aren't worth a second look, let alone a second quarter.

A new "MAMExpose" can be found here bi-monthly!

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Last updated: Monday, July 04, 2005 10:03 PM