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Off Road Challenge

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Reviewed by Raymond Almeda A few years ago, there was an online April Fool's joke called something like "Smell-O-Vision." It was supposed to be a device that would allow game developers to accompany scent with gameplay environments. A forested environment might smell like pine trees, for example. Games like Off-Road Challenge make me grateful that Smell-O-Vision was just a joke. You guessed it: this game really stinks. Off-Road Challenge follows in the proud tradition of the widely loathed Cruis'n USA. Gameplay may be accurately summarized as follows: (1) choose truck (2) steer left and right. That's about it. The racing occurs on a choice of six different tracks, each of which feature notably poor design. The game plays like a racer on rails. It's actually impossible to go "off-road" in any meaningful way, as every track has an impenetrable border on either side. Even worse, it's practically impossible to crash in this game. (?!) The trucks seem to plow over just about everything without significant damage, including steel beams. Even expansive bodies of water don't slow these babies down; it's possible to cruise right across large rivers. But perhaps the only entertaining portion of this game is the opportunity to ram over and through a variety of different objects. In the trite Ol' South level, for example, a race through a Civil War battlefield allows one to smash canons with the truck. This remains fun for approximately 15 seconds. Graphically, Off-Road Challenge also stinks. The frame rate is plodding, the detail low. The game has a dated look and feel; it's as if we've been transported back to 1989! Unsurprisingly, Off-Road Challenge is plagued by excessive graphic pop-in: entire mountains and large buildings just appear magically in front of your eyes. David Copperfield would be proud. Rounding out the experience is uninspired sound that's on a par with the dumb gameplay and graphics. The music is thankfully forgettable, and there are few audio clips worth mentioning. Midway, what were you thinking? Nintendo, who signed off on this? You call this "quality?" Off-Road Challenge is an unforgivably bad game. Don't even think about buying it. You don't need Smell-O-Vision to know that it stinks.

Overall 1.5 out of 10

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