Once upon a time, this game was rare, I mean THE rarest, I of course am referring to the fallen angel that it Motorodeo. Once it sat at a kingly R10 on the AtariAge rarity scale, now it only at a modest R5, how the great have fallen. We can thank Venezuela for this influx of new old-stock, these days you can find almost all of the Atari Red Box/label games for a modest price brand new, as long as you can stomach the shipping times. Venezuela also has a large amount of Taiwan Cooper carts which make me hopeful that somebody will find a forgotten piece of paperwork and finally name the company responsible for producing them, but that likely will never happen. As you may have gathered Motorodeo is a Red Box game making it one of the final games released for the 2600, there is a bit of contention as to which game was released last in the U.S., it seems to be a toss-up between Motorodeo, Ikari Warriors, Radar Lock, Xenophobe, and Sentinel. Sentinel may have the largest CX number but they were all released in 1990 (Yes I know about KLAX!). But we’re not focusing on those other games today; today we’re looking at Motorodeo.
I know a lot of people rag on this game for how simple it looks especially when you look at its date of release, but I don’t think it looks too bad, especially when you consider the technical side of things. This is a split-screen horizontal racing game, and the fact that the programmers managed to get two separate tracks to move at different speeds whilst displaying two player controlled vehicles and all the different obstacles with only minimal flicker is a miracle of programming. Remember Xenophobe notoriously COULDN’T do split screen, but Motorodeo DID, so what if it looks rather simplistic it’s amazing! There are several nice touches that I can appreciate as well, when running into the brown (-ish) vertical car it gets deformed and crushed same thing goes for the other white car; they didn’t have to do that. The only flickering I could see was the tires/treads, but I think that only because of all the movement that takes place so they had to be displayed differently. Also this game has a handy menu where can select the car type, tread type, and select who controls what car the computer or a player, (it also has a preview of the track right on the main menu screen which is really cool) the second menu allows you to select the difficulty or practice over different obstacles to get the hang of the game
There isn’t much to this soundtrack you have a fairly awful tune that plays on the menu select screen, it’s probably something famous that I just don’t know or care about. Then all you really get in-game is the grumble and crunch of the engines and the little bloopy noises as you go over ramps and collect points. A nice touch I noticed was the subtle reaction of the engine to different circumstances, it will lower in pitch when in the air and will judder when rolling, again a nice touch.
This game is made by that split-screen multiplayer action simply being able to compete against a fairly competent computer is a breath of fresh air. The controls are a bit difficult to pick up, you press and hold the action button to accelerate, you use left and right to roll in mid-air, you hold down to wheelie, and you tap up to activate the nitro boost. By default most people will hold right despite not actually needing to, this makes it more difficult to wheelie. I would recommend using a controller with a large amount of travel on it, if you’re using something like the incredibly sensitive Amiga Power-Stick you’ll be accidentally using up all your nitro’s as soon as you get them. You collect nitro boosts along the course, they’ll usually be placed at the top of a jump arc so you better hit them just right, you will start with one as well. Nitro’s are easily wasted though, if you hit one of the ‘blockade’ jumps (the ones that change their angle and also change briefly into a solid wall and stop you dead in your tracks) the boost is just gone, same thing goes if you just nick the bottom of one of those floating platforms. Overall the action is smooth and the obstacles are somewhat varied, and even on easy the computer will be a challenging opponent, so all around good stuff.
This used to be a game for hardcore collectors only, and it seems that it might be leaning more towards that path again. When I purchased mine it was 20$ free shipping from Venezuela, but it seems prices are going up again, sealed copies are up to 30$ and some people are asking upwards of 100$ for sealed copies. Loose copies are not worth getting since they are far too expensive and seem to all be from Europe. If you have the disposable income I’d recommend that you get a copy of the game while there are still fairly inexpensive copies floating around, otherwise this game gets put into the Collector’s Zone.