Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX stresses the importance of policies like Steam refunds. As video games potentially move to a digital-only future, consumers need protection from the developers hawking their half-finished wares. In spite of the touchy AI and unwieldy vehicles, I wanted the best for Rock ‘N Racing. EnjoyUp Games unearths nostalgia for Super Off Road’s arcade and SNES glory days, but the developers would rather launch Off Road DX on other consoles than correct prevailing problems.
Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX began its life on the Wii U months ago. To this day, the controls show less finesse than a mobile game. All racing fans deal with ungainly vehicle handling from time to time, but Off Road DX deceives players with its dubious physics. If you want an apt analogy, smear a Porsche’s tires in grease and take it for a drift on ice. Maybe then you will understand how effortless it is to pull accidental 180s or get intimate with guardrails in Rock ‘N Racing. You don’t steer your micro-machines as much as you point them in a direction, tap the accelerator, and cross your fingers for a poll position better than last.
More competent racers have crawled out of the Xbox Live Indie cesspit. Never have I seen AI opponents drives backwards during a lap, but Off Road DX is full of surprises. I witnessed the following acts on a single course: a driver speeding in the reverse when the countdown timer reached zero; two opponents practicing their crash test dummy routine, ramming their vehicles against a wall for the rest of the heat; and a rival that – I swear – stopped giving a damn and parked his truck in the middle of the track for five straight laps. The whole exhibition left me flabbergasted.
EnjoyUp Games skimped on the QA testing evidently, just as the team skimped on the content. Tournament, time trial, multiplayer, and practice modes greet players at the title screen. $7.99 can’t even pay for an options menu, as if cumbersome controls didn’t bode ill already. But let’s build on the discontent. The tournaments – five cups, four courses each – recycle tracks. The developers name every variation, attempting to cover up the microscopic changes such as extra jumps (placed at the apex of a turn, typically) or flipping the direction players face when the competition begins.
If you don’t beg Microsoft for a refund and stick with Off Road DX, entering the tournaments awards points for those who finish a race, according to their positions. Snatching first overall unlocks the next vehicle and cup, yet the difficulty jostles between a joyride and death match without notice. Because of the AI’s endless flaws, most never see the checkered flag. Every tourney, half the roster wound up with zilch for points, no thanks (again) to half-assed vehicle physics. Hop in the buggy or monster truck and kiss the gold goodbye. The degree you must tilt the analog stick to slip, slide, and crash is the only vehicle distinction.
You could take the cars for a spin in time trials, too, which offer naught for reward. Besting the eight other suckers that purchased Off Road DX on the online leaderboards is scarcely worth bragging over. The same goes for the local multiplayer. Go outside, enrich your life. Don’t trick seven friends into bringing Xbox One controllers to your place to share the horrors of Rock ‘N Racing, unless you intend to torture them. Why choose this for an afternoon of laughs over the latest Call of Duty, Killer Instinct, or Lego games? Within agonizingly few minutes, Off Road DX burns friendly bridges.
It’s not an attractive game, that’s for sure. Given the shoddy lighting, I had a hard time spotting upcoming jumps and whether or not they would rocket me into the spectators’ stands. Among other problems, three, maybe four, polygons make up the cars and scenery. The wheels aren’t even attached to the vehicles, damn it. Super Off Road, an arcade machine from 1989, exceeds Rock ‘N Racing in all regards, going as far to introduce upgrades for its trophy trucks. No such improvements exist here – not even damage modeling. I don’t enjoy limited and broken game design with free apps, much less from games I purchased.
Perhaps that’s all that matters. Microsoft and/or EnjoyUp Games pocketed my money, and the thing I got in return whetted my nostalgia for my favorite arcade memories. Super Off Road is synonymous with my childhood trips to a Tully’s sports restaurant, where scents of succulent chicken tenders and fries wafted through the air, and the acute crack of people playing pool echoed in the periphery. I wasted untold tokens in that eatery’s arcade and don’t miss a dime, whereas every penny I spent on Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX still fills me with regret.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we purchased.
With its minimal content and cars that prove impossible to control, Rock 'N Racing Off Road DX butchers the arcade action that Super Off Road perfected in the ‘90s.