Mach Rider was one of Nintendo’s 18 launch releases to coincide with the 1985 release of the NES in America. The game has never spawned a sequel and doesn’t even have a satisfying ending (kind of like Stuart Little, the book, not the movie). But, nonetheless, Mach Rider is now available for download onto your Wii.
Story (4 out of 5)
The year is 2112. Earth’s environment has been destroyed by a race of alien invaders. You play as a lone man on a motorcycle named only “Mach Rider”. His mission: locate the alien’s hidden base and destroy any aliens he meets along the way. For some reason, the aliens that have brought humanity to the brink of extinction ride ATV’s. Who knew?
Intriguing, right? Well, it would be if the plot was wrapped up. It’s not (sorry for the spoilers). Even if you finish the game you’ll never find out if Mach finds the alien’s base or not, as the game just restarts from the beginning with different tracks to ride.
Unfortunately, I think the story is probably the best part of the whole game.
Gameplay (2 out of 5)
Mach Rider is a driving game, though it is not really a true racing game (you don’t really race anyone). Mach must drive along tracks avoiding obstacles like rocks and oil slicks while looking out for aliens to attack from behind, causing his motorcycle to blow up. There is a handy little “hey look behind me!” camera in the upper right hand corner of the screen, but it is hard to pay attention to it while you are trying to control Mach and avoid running into things while moving so fast.
Yeah, you can get pretty fast in Mach Rider, which is a surprise for an NES game, especially one of the first US releases. The Wiimote acts as a classic controller. With the D-pad you can swerve left and right while the up and down buttons control a range of four different speeds. The 1 and 2 buttons control your machine guns and acceleration. That is a lot of controls for an NES game!
There are four different modes available for Mach Rider. Fighting Course is the one that follows the plot. The Endurance Course is a time trial with enemies while the Solo Course is a time trial without the enemies. Design Mode is what it sounds like. It allows players to design their own courses for Mach to ride. The Wii version even allows players to save their courses (unlike the original NES version).
While there is a lot to do, the gameplay is difficult due to some control problems and the slow frame rate. It is nearly impossible to avoid the enemies coming up behind Mach or the obstacles that litter the road when the frame rate is that bad.
One of the coolest things is when you crash (or are crashed into), but instantly come back together and continue. It is nice not to have to start the level over, but this will only happen as long as you have enough energy left to come back. Also, annoyingly, if you run out of energy you will simply lose. Even if you haven’t crashed!
Graphics and Sound (2 out of 5)
For one of the first NES releases, Mach Rider doesn’t look that bad. The frame rate is a problem while in motion, but the stills look okay. It’s nothing to write home about, as all of the colors are very simple and the graphics are pixilated. Mach hardly looks like a dude on a motorcycle sometimes.
Sound wise it is pretty forgettable. There are few sound effects and the music isn’t catchy. It is just sort of there, and I’m no sure what to think about it. Meh.
Fun (2 out of 5)
Not really. Mach Rider was interesting at first, but quickly becomes old and annoying. The developers were really onto something, but I don’t think the NES could handle what they wanted to accomplish. If Nintendo had tried to fix some of the basic design flaws this game might have stood out. As it is, there isn’t much here to entertain anyone.
Overall (2 out of 5)
It’s always sad to see a good idea go to waste. Maybe Nintendo will revive Mach Rider and give it the closer it deserves. Until that happens, I suggest you spend your 500 Wii points on a different game. Maybe Bubble Bobble?