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Road Blaster

is a 1985 interactive movie video game produced by Data East for the arcades.

Gameplay

As with other laserdisc-based arcade games from the same time, the gameplay consists of on-screen instructions overlaid over pre-recorded full motion video animated footage of high-speed chases and vehicular combat. The player controls the cross-hair to steer their car toward the correct directions according to the green arrows flashing and beeping beside it, while controlling the gas pedal, brake and booster whenever they light up.

The game has nine stages. Upon successfully completing a level, the player is graded on the reaction time. Different difficulty levels can be selected. In Normal Mode, pop-up icons and audio tones signal when to turn left or right, brake, hit turbo, or hit other cars. In Hard Mode, there are no on-screen icons to guide the player.

Plot

The story of Road Blaster is inspired by revenge thriller films such as Mad Max, and takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the late 1990s United States (in the future at the time of the game's release). The player assumes the role of a vigilante who drives a customized sports car in order to get revenge on a biker gang responsible for his wife's death on their honeymoon. After recovering from his own injuries, he upgrades his car and goes on a rampage through nine areas. His goal is to seek out the gang's female boss and complete his vengeance.

Development

Road Blaster uses animation provided by the anime studio Toei Animation. It was animated under the guidance of Yoshinobu Inano, who also directed or key-animated such films such as Gundam: Char's Counter Attack, Macross: Do You Remember Love?, and The Transformers: The Movie. It was animated using 15,000 hand-painted cels to produce over 30 minutes of animation. Game director Yoshihisa Kishimoto, who previously worked on Cobra Command, later directed the arcade version of Double Dragon, where the car from Road Blaster can be seen inside the Lee brothers' garage at the start of the game.

Releases

Road Blaster was originally released in 1985 as a laserdisc-based arcade game. Various ports were released throughout, including versions for the MSX, X1 (both in VHD format), Mega CD/Sega CD, LaserActive (in Mega LD format), Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (prototyped as Turbo Blaster). However, only the Sega CD and Mega LD versions were released outside Japan, under the titles Road Avenger and Road Prosecutor, respectively. The titles were possibly changed to avoid confusion with the similarly titled arcade game RoadBlasters by Atari Games, which was ported to the Mega Drive around the same time. Road Blaster was also released for the Sharp X68000 and for and Windows in 2011, exclusively in Japan. Cobra Command and Road Blaster were ported to iOS by Revolutionary Concepts in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Other variations included one-shot reproductions for VHS cassette players such as Takara's Video Challenger which was a limited interactive port of the Road Blaster arcade game. The Sega Saturn and PlayStation ports were compilations of Road Blaster and another laserdisc arcade game developed by the same team titled Thunder Storm (known outside Japan as Cobra Command). An unofficial Super NES port was also released in 2011. However, the game relies heavily on the MSU1 Media Enhancement Chip, a somewhat new chip which allows 4GB of additional storage space, full motion video playback and stereo PCM audio. In early 2018, another unofficial port was released for the Commodore Amiga, with an OCS and an AGA versions released, both based on the Mega CD version.

Reception

Dragon reviewers gave the Sega CD version of the game 4 out of 5 stars in 1993. GameFan noted it has greater interaction compared to Time Gal and Thunderstorm, and praised the "non-stop control of the vehicle," graphics, smooth animation, and "andrenaline rush" experience. GamePro praised the highly detailed animation and stereo CD sound, and called it a "masterpiece" that is "like participating in an intense, action-packed, animated movie."

On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Sega Saturn version a 25 out of 40, and the PlayStation version a 23 out of 40. Famitsu would later give the Mega CD version a score of 32 out of 40, while MEGA rated it at 86%. The iOS port was released to generally favourable reviews, including the scores of 8 out of 10 from IGN and 7 out of 10 from Pocket Gamer.

Novelization

A novelization of the game was announced in 2009. The project was officially authorized by G-Mode of Japan (the rights holder to most of Data East's catalog) to be written by Mary Margaret Park.