Road Runner's Death Valley Rally
At a Glance: This game reminds me of the little bases I would draw in elementary school for some hopeless stick man to wander into. Rooms full of sharks, rooms full of laser beams, rooms full of swinging double bladed monkeys that had heat seeking eyeball rockets. The object of the game wasn't to allow the little stickman to win. The object was to ensure even the smallest molecule of the stickman would erupt in pencil blood. Death Valley Rally used this kind of level design to annihilate the joy in children (probably you) from 1992 onwards. Still got some beef against this game? Let's talk about it.
Platform: SNES (Download Emulator here)
Download: Download ROM here
Got a suggestion? Email me
Story: Warner Brothers Studios is an amazing case study for self-mutilation that spans decades. Their cartoons went through a bizarre reverse aging process that would start with funny shorts and nice animation, start coughing with cartoons that looked worse than those made in the 40s, and eventually catch the humor HIV with symptoms like Space Jam and Loonatics Unleashed. Two of the characters to come out before any noticeable health defects were Wiley E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.
The entire premise of these cartoons was a Sisyphus type encounter where Wiley E. Coyote would always lose, all of his attempts to catch the Road Runner would hopelessly fail, and he would always starve. Someone, somewhere, thought that this would make an excellent premise for a game.
In Death Valley Rally, there is apparently some kind of race that Road Runner is attempting to compete in. I say apparently because at the end of the game you cross a finish line. The real goal becomes apparent all too quickly as Wiley just tries to off you for five levels and fails constantly. You play the Road Runner. Wee.
Gameplay: A tiny spark of sympathy is glowing inside my heart for Sunsoft. Games that involve a very speedy hero are steamrollers for content, causing designers to produce an exponential amount of level for you to run straight through and never look at. My sympathy ends when I remember the kind of horribly long RPGs that came out for the SNES where I wish I could have run straight through them instead of reading a ten minute speech from the Elf King Loefyr'iye'nth, atop his throne made out of deer skulls, about how I need to find the magic tooty flutey.
Caring grinds to a halt when I play this game a few moments and see what kind of tactics the developers used to confront this obstacle. I'm going to come right out and say it: There is absolutely no way you could get past these levels without having them memorized from top to bottom. Enemies, stabby things, and forces of nature appear at random throughout the level with no warning. This is compounded by your controls that must have been designed for navigating an egg through a wind tunnel instead of controlling a creature that can switch directions instantly. The result? You slam right into anything and everything along the way. When you're not running at full speed just attempting to move a few feet is as painfully awkward and slow as this joke.
The game expects you to avoid objects three times your height or width when you can barely minor enemies like scorpions or the sinking realization of where your time and money is going. I could go into the mechanics that are put in place to try and help you overcome these obstacles, but it sort of seems like a blind kid a free pair of glasses.
Graphics: Cel-shading is a term that is constantly thrown around these days as more and more games use it to either enhance the look and feel of their games, or more often slap it over whatever junk they've put together in hopes of covering up their gaping shotgun wounds where a plot or gameplay should have gone. It's tragic that this kind of graphic technique was not around when this game was made. I use the word "tragic" like Alanis Morrisette used the term "ironic" (incorrectly).
Enemies: My initial description of how the enemies operated in this game sounded too similar to an Orwellian nightmare future where everyone knows your every move and has the ability to appear behind you to snap the back of your bra. Attempting to write another description reveals that I was pretty much right.
The people who developed this game seem to show a general rage towards the creation of new content, culminating in the final stage using every single past wily coyote version to hunt you down at once. Another example is the use of drills in this game. Magic drills that appear and disappear into heaven. There are no warning signs that drills will come up, will appear in the level, or will stop appearing.
Fun: After awhile the road signs that show you where to go disappear.
Defining Moment: Being thankful that this game didn't come to me in a cart or else I would have started biting the cartridge out of a blind rage that comes out of any human that's been pricked by tiny needles for hours.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).