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
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
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.
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.
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
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!