Long before the Need for Speed franchise launched the Need For Speed: Underground series, and well before the Midnight Club series was launched. There was a game; a game that played in 320×320, with 16 colours. This game was Street Rod II.
In Street Rod 2, you take on the role of the younger brother of the street racer, who in a past summer in Los Angeles, defeated the ‘King of the Road’. The character in the game, who doesn’t appear to be named, has saved up $1200 to put towards his car and potential upgrades, before taking to the open streets to find races. The player steps into the shoes of the unknown driver.
Considering when this game was first released in 1991, it does offer some very interesting aspects to it such as buying used cars and parts from newspapers. Like in real life, you may end up with a car that has been poorly treated and in need of a replacement engine and a fresh set of tires.
Now, the engine replacement ‘mini-game’ is very straight forward. It’s even more straight forward than the work required in Mekada’s Gearhead Garage. It’s simply a job of clicking twice on a bolt, and letting the part drop out, and clicking on the wiring to let the engine drop. Unfortunately, working on a real engine isn’t like this.
As is expected from the age of this release, the in game physics are not to the standards of today’s games. Yet, the physics does the job that is required of them. However, steering with a keyboard can be very complicated, and this applies to the mouse system too. This certainly makes itself known on the windy Mulholland Drive, and the debris filled Aqueduct Race.
While the graphics are from a 1991 game, they do actually correctly portray the cars available in the game through VGA graphics, and unlike the newer games on the market upgrades do not need to be unlocked. They can simply be purchased, brand new, from the used parts section of the in-game paper. The cars themselves do come with their own levels of wear and tear, that are hinted to in the used car section of the paper.
Taking a vast distance from most of the new games available, it is possible to blow a vehicle’s engine through over revving it, or dropping the transmission through an incorrect speed shifting techniques. Both of which require in-game time and money to be used in replacing the damaged parts. However, when a part is damaged, it is not possible to get the part reconditioned and the only alternative is to sell it for scrap.
Petrol also needs to be purchased in Street Rod II, with the player needing to send the car to the petrol station and needing to put the head of the fuel pump into the fuel tank. It is easy to see how much is being pumped in, and it is possible to stop the fuel at a certain price. There are also two types of fuel to purchase. Those being High Octane and ‘Regular’.
As mentioned earlier, the only way to purchase a car and car parts in the game, is through the Los Angeles News. Yet, there is a bit of atmosphere in the game, with the headlines constantly changing. These include headlines from the Cold War, to notices about murdered Judges and sabotaged pipelines. The vehicles in the game are the Dodge and Plymouth from Chrysler, the Ford, , Lincoln, Mercury and Shelby from Ford and the Buick, Chevy Oldsmobile and Pontiac from General motors.