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Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road – Arcade

Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road – Arcade

off road headerPlatform: Arcade

Developer: Leland Corporation

Publisher: Leland Corporation

Release Date (NA): 1989

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Off Road, Super Off Road, or Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road. No matter what name you apply to this classic arcade racing game, you are likely familiar with the simplistic yet effective gameplay and the famous indoor dirt tracks. Or if you’re like me, the leggy n’ busty blondes in bikinis presenting trophies keeps the memories alive for decades. But these are all ancillary aspects to a solid and true classic coin-op machine. Super Off Road has strong bones that hold up extremely well over time, more so on the arcade than in home.

*NOTE: In this article, I will occasionally be abbreviating the title to Super Off Road for simplicity’s sake. But this is not to be confused with the various other console ports that excluded the name “Ironman Ivan Stewart” from the title when they lost the licensing (or it just never carried over when ported) to the Ironman name.

Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road has a strong history spreading across almost 15 different platforms, but it all started with the famous 3-wheeled arcade cabinet. Featuring gas pedals and free-spinning wheels, Super Off Road was a moderately involved game, especially for 1989. And that’s just what’s on the outside of the game. After just one race, you are already working towards building a bigger better truck, but we’ll save those details for later. Approaching 30 years old, Super Off Road is surprisingly still a very fun game despite its obviously outdated characteristics. One things is for certain, though; the arcade version is definitely the best version.

off road track 2

The thing about the arcade version of Super Off Road that stands out to me is the overall experience. It’s more than just holding a controller and pressing a button. Instead you have to mash the gas pedal, drive with a steering wheel, upgrade your vehicle, and more. While not the first racing game (and definitely not the last) to feature steering wheels and gas pedals, it is one of the earliest games to have vehicle-upgrading features which is now commonplace in the racing genre and has been since the days of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. But this isn’t to say that Super Off Road is an extremely original game…

The similarities are pretty obvious

The similarities are pretty obvious

Atari’s Super Sprint was a very very similar game in so many ways. It was released in 1986 to very positive reviews from critics and fans alike. It featured an identical top-down aerial view, criss-crossing tracks, 3 wheel arcade cabinet (see picture), gas pedals, upgradable vehicles, and more. Although Super Sprint may have beat Super Off Road to the arcades by a few years, I firmly believe that Super Off Road was the true catalyst for the genre’s transformation, despite the obvious similarities. Porting to so many platforms probably didn’t hurt either, proving the strength behind marketing. Despite the quality publishing techniques by Leland Corporation and Virgin Games, Super Off Road is just a damn fun game and worthy of its fame.

The object of Super Off Road is simple. Collect as much money as possible and win as many races as possible. While I’m fairly versed in the game, I can’t seem to find more than 4 race tracks when I play it. Perhaps I haven’t invested enough quarters, but research tells me there are 8 tracks in total and you can race them all forwards and backwards. The track variety is decent with hills, water puddles, jumps, ramps, sharp turns and more. In some racing games the real challenge is traversing the track, but that’s not the case here. The real challenge in Super Off Road is trying to beat the white truck, aka Ironman Ivan Stewart himself. He gets faster and better with every race, and the only way to save your quarters or tokens is to beat him.

One of the upgraded cabinets they released with new tracks, music, and more.

While the game features 4 racers, only 3 of them are playable, and that’s yellow, red, and blue. The only computer that doesn’t sleep during the race is Ivan. That son of a bitch. He’s faster than the average bear… Wait, is that how the saying goes? But anyway, he’s good. If you get first place, you can continue racing without putting in more quarters. But anything other than first requires yet another quarter to keep playing. And trust me, you’ll want to keep playing. It’s a genius system, really. The vehicle upgrading systems makes you want to keep playing because why would you want to lose all of your progress?! And you get more money for continuing, so it’s hard to not keep playing.

off road upgrade screen

The upgrade screen. And some hotties. The brunette has a better body obviously.

During a race you can accumulate money by picking up the randomly placed cash bags, and you also win money by your finishing place. Obviously first place gets the most money. You use this money to upgrade things like shocks, tires, acceleration, top speed, etc, but you can also buy nitro or simply hold onto your money for later. The upgrades keep the game interesting in fun ways as they incentivize the races more than just points and a high score would. Nowadays you’d be hardpressed to find a racing game anywhere that doesn’t feature some sort of vehicle upgrading system using money earned in the races.

Before I wrap up this review, I want to talk about the controls. The cabinet features a very sturdy steering wheel and a gas pedal for each racer. The gas pedal doesn’t serve much of a function other than cosmetics and a more realistic driving experience, but the steering wheel is my absolute favorite part. The wheel does not feature a locking position as it will just spin and spin for as long as you want it to. The free-spinning design might cause some strife for newbies or longtime absentees, but you’ll pick it up quickly after just a few races. The biggest issue here is overspinning (causing you to turn too sharply or too much), so having a good grasp on how fast to turn the wheel and when to stop the spinning will result in better vehicle control. One thing is for sure, though… These steering wheels were built for abuse. They’re the sturdiest wheels I think I’ve ever encountered in an arcade. So, to sum up the controls, they can be a bit tricky at first, but mastering them isn’t too hard.

Overall, Super Off Road is a very fun game and highly enjoyable, even today. The cabinet radiates with excitementoff road 1 and fun due to the bright colors and those sturdy steering wheels sticking out. With graphics that are about average for the game’s time of release, the fun but somewhat forgettable music, and a damn hard white truck, I can’t claim Super Off Road to be a perfect game. But the track layouts and obstacles, vehicle upgrades, and leggy n’ busty beauties make the game fun and unforgettable. Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road has a strong legacy, and although many may have forgotten the excitement involved in the 3 player racer, we all remember the impact.

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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