Beyond Co-op Review: Moto Roader MC
Review by: Paul Acevedo
The Turbografx-16 and its Japanese counterpart, the PC Engine, are some of the few consoles ever produced with only one controller port. To play with two players, gamers had to buy a multitap accessory. The multitap didn’t just let two players team up, though; it added five controller ports. Thus, Turbo/PCE games often supported five players, three more than competing Super NES and Genesis titles. Games like Masaya’s Moto Roader MC, a 5-player, top-down racing game were common on the PC Engine, but it’s surprising to see Ratalaika release such an obscure racer on modern consoles.
Moto Roader MC is actually the third game in the series of racers, but only the first Moto Roader has been released in English markets before. It might seem strange for Ratalaika to publish the third title before the others, but that probably comes down to gameplay styles. The first two Moto Roaders have a Micro Machines-style close-up camera view, upgrade systems, and a higher degree of challenge. MC, in contrast, ditches the upgrade system and uses a Super Sprint-like, highly zoomed-out camera, confining races to single-screen tracks. Thus, it makes sense to release the most approachable game before potentially progressing to the main series.
After a lovely cinematic intro, players can choose from Race, Time Attack, and Omake (bonus minigame) modes. Races support up to 5 simultaneous local players on Switch and up to four on Xbox and PlayStation, making Switch arguably the best version. If less than the full number of players is present, the rest will be played by AI racers. There is no option to adjust the difficulty of the AI racers, which can be annoying because they’re pretty aggressive. Still, after practicing for a while, I managed to win first place in a circuit.
Standard races consist of five circuits, each containing five different tracks. The five tiny competitors must all complete five laps around the screen, ending the race. During a race, cars can fire rockets forward or drop bombs behind them, but weapons aren’t vital to succeed. Since the race doesn’t end until all five racers finish, anyone who has completed the race gets to drive around as a ghost until the remaining competitors complete their laps. With the tracks confined to a single-screen, races only take about a minute, making this a great game for quick multiplayer sessions.
Anyone who has played the first two Grand Theft Autos knows that controls can be awkward in a top-down racing game. The default control scheme is definitely unintuitive here, with Up on the D-Pad or stick making the car go forward, and Left and Right in control of steering. Thankfully, players can press a button at any time to switch to an alternate control style in which holding Up moves the car up, Down moves it down, etc. This makes the game so much more playable. I only wish you could set a default control style instead of having to switch to the better style at the start of each game.
Ratalaika has ported a lot of classic console games like Cotton 100% to modern consoles in the last couple of years. These ports always have a handful of emulation frills like optional scanlines, but they never include widescreen borders, annoyingly. This time, however, the developers included an option (on by default) to play on a widescreen field. This simply stretches the screen horizontally. It doesn’t look bad or interfere with gameplay, but gamers can choose the original aspect ratio if they like.
Finally, we can’t discuss a Ratalaika game without mentioning Achievements. The Achievements/Trophies are awarded for racing on each track. With 25 tracks in total, that should take about half an hour. Ratalaika might be selling Moto Roader MC a bit short by omitting skill-based Achievements; this is not a shovelware title like some of their other games. That said, Moto Roader MC is a game meant for short multiplayer sessions, so practicing to perfect the circuits isn’t really the point. This game won’t be for everybody, but its status as a unique type of party game still makes it worth taking for a spin.
Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Co-Op Experience:
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.