Title: Mach Rider
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Dates: 1985 (North America), 11/21/85 (Japan), 3/15/87 (Europe) (dates from www.GameFAQs.com)
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)/Famicom
ESRB Rating: N/A

Mach Rider

Mach Rider is the story of a lone, nameless warrior traversing the desolate landscape of Earth on a souped-up combat motorcycle in the midst of an alien invasion. While his goal in the storyline is to traverse the various sectors of Earth and rescue human survivors, in reality, he travels along the highway blasting and bumping evil death ATVs while dodging rocks and oil in his path.

Less Yappin', More Zappin'

Mach Rider's (as he shall be known for the rest of this writeup) main enemies are the previously mentioned evil death ATVs. They come in six colors (in order from weakest to strongest): Pink, Green, Red, Blue, Purple, and Black. Mach Rider can destroy them either by shooting them (once for Pink all the way up to six times for Black) or ramming them into drums along the side of the road (the preferred method, because it gives more points and gives Mach Rider extra ammunition.) If an enemy hits a rock or cannonball (more on those later) on the road, the reward is the same as if Mach Rider had rammed the enemy into a drum.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road!

The game would not be very difficult if Mach Rider only had to contend with his enemies. His path, however, is littered with dangerous obstacles. Water, oil, and tacks(?) will all cause Mach Rider to slide out of control, though steering quickly in the opposite direction of the slip will let Mach Rider regain control. If the road turns white, then the road has become icy, and Mach Rider will slide all over the place.

Rocks, oil drums, and cannonballs will also appear on the road, and these obstacles will destroy Mach Rider, but he can shoot the cannonballs for points.

Come on, Let's Fight!

Mach Rider features several (similar) game modes:

Fighting Course: The Fighting Course follows the "storyline" of Mach Rider. Mach Rider must race through ten courses, and before each course he is given the choice of two different tracks. He gets four lives for the first course, and four lives for the rest of the game after that.

Endurance Course: The Endurance Course is similar to the Fighting Course, except that Mach Rider loses when he runs out of time instead of lives. He gets unlimited lives, but he loses several seconds each time he dies. Every time Mach Rider completes a course, the next course becomes harder and longer.

Solo Course: The Solo Course is the same as the Endurance Course, except that there are no enemies and the courses are longer (the obstacles still appear, however.)

Your Path of Destruction

Mach Rider was one of Nintendo's "Programmable Series" (other entries included Excitebike and Wrecking Crew). Players can create their own track and then race it in any of the three race modes. The menu includes Save and Load features, but Mach Rider has no battery backup, and these options merely freeze the game.

Where Can I Find This Wonderful Game?

Mach Rider was a relatively common early NES game, though it wasn't terribly popular, so eBay may turn up a copy or two. Most emulators will play it without difficulty.

Final Thoughts

Mach Rider was not hugely popular in the NES's heyday, and a few minutes of playing the game demonstrate why. It is fun, but the racing gameplay quickly becomes repetitive. In addition, the blinding speed with which obstacles come upon the player and the all too-frequent appearance of the ice on the road make for a frustrating gameplay experience. Even the Design Mode cannot raise this game above the level of mediocrity. It is by no means a stinker in the NES's early lineup, but the NES boasted far better games even back in 1985.

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