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Retro Review: Death Rally

Retro Review: Death Rally thumbnail

Death Rally is one of those games that appears to be simple, until you realize you have played it for hours. It is a racing game with a top down view and cars equipped with weapons used to destroy other racers. The player earns money for each completed race, and the more difficult the race is, more money the player gets. This way, an easy race pays a lot less than a hard race, although is difficult to survive til the end of a hard race with the first available cars. The game has also a global difficulty setting, if you feel it is too easy or too difficult. Money earned from the races can be used to fix your vehicle or upgrade it with engines, tires and better armor, or even buy a new car.

Death Rally - The Shop image

The Shop - the place to upgrade your car

It’s like Micro Machines meets Rock ‘n Roll Racing with a lot of gore. It all sounds too familiar, but why this game is so addicting? What makes it different? The crazy game events that happen before and after the races. For instance, if every race spectator is killed, you get a bonus. If you destroy every car in the race, you get a bonus from your sponsor (in this case, the Grim Reaper!):

Grim Reaper

In this game, the Grim Reaper is your sponsor.

It is possible to pay someone to sabotage a random racer or even get a request from a sponsor to destroy one specific opponent. Failure to complete special requests can get you into trouble, however it is up to the player to accept them. There are other events in the game, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. The player is really required to think where to spend the money before each race, since there are a lot of choices and variables to be considered. Saving the game before a race is highly recommended as it is easy to loose a series of races and end up without enough money to continue the game.

Now focusing more on the racing aspect of the game, each car handles differently and the upgrades really change how the cars react. The controls are simple and responsive. Tracks are well designed and varied with some power ups appearing on random locations, which are necessary to aid the player to win some difficult races.

Palm Side Track Image

Palm Side Track

The game has excellent graphics for the time it was released, with a very interesting blend of 2D and 3D elements. Some effects like tire tracks, holes where mines exploded, smoke coming out of tires and bullet collision effects really add up to the overall feeling of the game. Interfaces look good, even for today’s standards, and are very well designed. The only thing that looks pixelated are the races, but that isn’t a big deal, because it doesn’t take away the art direction. The sound effects are good and inline with the game, so is the music, that changes each track.

Complex Track image

The 'Complex' Track

Snake Alley Track image

Snake Alley Track

Death Rally is a unique racing experience with lots of options to the player inside and outside racing events. Everybody that likes an addicting fun racing game should try it.

The best thing is that you can download it for free at Remedy’s website. This version is a a Win32 port, meaning that you don’t have to emulate DOS to play the game.

UPDATE: This is a video that shows what happens if all opponents are destroyed:

3 Comments to “Retro Review: Death Rally”

  1. Motta says:

    That game is great! I only played the demo…but played it A MILLION times!

  2. Flat Eric says:

    Excellent review! I was looking into writing a own blogpost about because I love the game and played the demo through the hole night.

    I bought the retail game and I’m still playing it till today. Awesome game and the new remake from 2012 is not the same game anymore.

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