Death Race is a surprising 8-bit combination of Twisted Metal and Grand Theft Auto. Obviously, this is an unlicensed game, as the big guns over at Nintendo would never release this slice of red meat, but no matter. Once you wrestle with the controls a bit (you move by pressing “Up” on the D-Pad) and get the hang of your vehicle, you’ll wonder why you’ve never raced to the death before.
Each level is a famous American city, like San Diego, New York, or Raleigh. The goal is to destroy as many 8-bit citizens and helicopters and cars as you can before one of them – most likely the helicopter – makes you explode.
Use the money Death Race provides in the beginning to upgrade your car’s speed, and strap some guns and missiles to it for good measure. The more collateral damage, the more money you get, the more death your vehicle can bring. Nothing else matters in this game. If it moves, kill it.
It’s surprising how influential this game appears to be, and yet, its status as an unlicensed game means few have heard of it. Death Race is no masterpiece, but for better and for worse, we wouldn’t have disgusting games of the present without it.
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: American Game Cartridges GENRE: Action
RELEASE DATE: 1991 – (US)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: Atari 8-bit