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Uniracers – Super Nintendo

Uniracers – Super Nintendo

Uniracers_boxartPlatform: Super Nintendo

Developer: DMA Design

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): December 1994

Genre: Racing Game

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Uniracers – it’s like something out of a mad fever dream from the mind of John Lasseter.

What can I say about Uniracers? Well, for one, I probably spent too much of my time with this game. What we have here is an interesting case where my opinion waffled a few times throughout the review process. Nailing down a proper assessment might be a feat better suited for somebody else.

But instead, you got me. So strap on your helmets and let’s spin those pedals!

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.47.12 PMUniracers is a Super Nintendo exclusive perfect for those on a tight budget. You may not have heard of it, or perhaps you’ve seen it multiple times, but shrugged it off due to the low price tag and lower position on the rarity scale. Whether or not that’s the case, I am here to help you decide if this oddity is worth the purchase.

One thing you may have wondered just from eyeing the wacky label: “Is the actual game as cute as the cover art?”

Well…

Yes, as a matter of fact.

I am a 27-year-old man – a hairy man, in fact – and mark my words… this game is cute as hell.Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.23.39 PM

As you race these little humanoid unicycles, you’ll notice they come alive with quirky personality. There’s a wide selection of unicycles to choose from, each with different names (tell me that isn’t adorable), and although they are all identical in their actions and mannerisms, they are just so lively. There are multiple gloating and moping animations, and when each racer turns its little seat/face, breaking the fourth wall as it passes the opponent, you’ll just melt. It’s that cute.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.31.08 PM

D’aww, it’s looking right at us!

So yes. That alone justifies owning Uniracers. Once you pop it in and see these adorable little cycles, you’ll never want to dispose of this cart. As for the rest of the game? Can I really give bad marks to a game this cute?

I can.

It’s definitely not a bad game though. I’d go so far as to say it’s good. In fact, I will. Uniracers is good. It’s a unique take on the racing genre.

Instead of focusing on a button for acceleration, precision turns, and avoiding hazards/other players, you are tasked with pulling off a series of stunts to build speed. Also, in the spirit of Excite Bike, your success depends greatly on your ability to navigate a course full of ramps and – unlike Excite Bike – loops. This is not a head-on race, but instead a side-scroller where you can control the angle of your Uniracer and its direction. This is crucial in preventing yourself from lagging behind.

Also somewhat critical to crossing the finish line first is your ability to successfully nail stunts. I say somewhat because, well, I’ll get to that.

There isn’t a wide variety of moves here. You can roll, twist, and flip. That’s about it. Regardless, you can do a lot with these few simple maneuvers, and pulling them off successfully requires some dexterity. It is far too easy to not land the trick properly, which at times will slow you down. Not always, though, which brings me to my first complaint.

Most of the negatives I have to say about Uniracers are fairly negligible, almost not even worth mentioning. But I will anyway.

Pulling off tricks gives you a speed boost, but it seems as though you still speed up even if you bail. Not that it matters too much, as Uniracers is certainly not an easy game. That said, different stunts amount to different levels of acceleration, so it’s really not a big deal, I’m just nitpicking.

It’s probably more a good thing because the difficulty curve here is steep.

The first set of races is far too easy. In fact, it was so easy I was ready to fault Uniracers for it. While I had to repeat some courses a few times, most were a breeze, making it almost pointless to land stunts perfectly. But that’s only the first wave – the bronze wave.

Now silver doesn’t fuck around. Got a little cocky during that first run? Well give the silver medal a go. You’ll be sorry you ever had even a whiff of arrogance. This wave puts you in your place.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 6.08.57 PM

The A.I. gets really aggressive in the silver cup

By the time you’ve reached the silver medal competition, your rivals become aggressive, pulling off flips every chance they get. Your thumb will be out of breath trying to keep up. After a while, you’ll sort of forget what you’re doing, and said appendage will slow down-

But no! Don’t slow down!

You neglect to do one flip or one twist and you’re left miles behind, dining on a fine platter of your enemy’s dust. Good luck!

And with tricky ramps, loops, and other crazy tracks constantly keeping you on your toes, your head will spin trying to keep up. Again…good luck!

Certain areas of the track will jettison you back if the timing of your jump isn’t right, but luckily, you can follow the color of the track to have some idea when it’s smart to jump and when you should wait.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.36.38 PM

This platform causes you to spiral along its length. But beware! If you jump and land on it, you’ll be sent all the way back to where it began, costing you crucial time on your run

I would have liked it if they dialed down the struggle factor just a tad and saved this level of frustration for the gold round. I mean, I seriously didn’t expect Uniracers to possess an ounce of difficulty after that pitiful bronze run. But, oh well, that’s where two-player mode comes in handy.

Controls are tight, smooth, fluid enough – no complaints here. Any trouble you have should be neutralized by proper mastery of the mechanics.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.45.07 PMThere’s a nice variety of layouts. Each series has four races and one stunt round, which requires you to reach a certain number of points before time is up.

Even though the layouts are different enough, the visuals are a little boring. Now I know I was just raving about how cute the cycles are, and I meant it. They are also nicely rendered – like something directly out of a Pixar short. The tracks and backdrops, however, are pretty bland and forgettable. They’re certainly unique enough, contributing to this odd world of living unicycles, but the background is always full of vague, uninteresting shapes and patterns. Does it detract from the experience? No, not really. Like I said before, most of my criticism here is nitpicking.

The music is not terrible. It’s barely worth mentioning, as it sort of falls back into the deepest recesses of your subconscious. You might as well have the game on mute since it doesn’t add anything to the experience. But again, it’s not bad. It’s just generic, intense, driving guitar riffs – very typical of the era.

Overall, this is a solid racing title that’ll serve as a good diversion from your typical racer. It’s nice to see a game break convention both in style and execution. There isn’t a whole lot wrong with Uniracers aside from a wacky difficulty curve, making the single-player experience a bit uneven. But regardless, this is a fun little quirky game worth picking up (especially for the price), and you’re sure to have some fun with friends.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.43.11 PM

Written by ZB

ZB

Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at zb@nerdbacon.com. I am happy to hear your feedback!

 
 

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