Games That Time Forgot: Road Avenger
I don’t know that I begged my parents for anything more than I did the Sega CD.
It was the Christmas of 1992 when they apparently caved, likely putting themselves back into credit card debt at the time, and I screamed in joy as I unwrapped the insanely unreasonably-sized Sega Genesis appendage.
Of course, once the 32x came out (32 bits!!!!!) it was an even more fun game of ensuring everything was not only hooked up correctly, but had a dedicated plug — which wasn’t easy with those giant AC adaptors.
Anyways, the point of this post isn’t to go over all the Sega Genesis accessories, it’s to remember a Sega CD game that never really got its due attention.
By all accounts, Road Avenger has been lost in the annals of video game history, languishing somewhere in between Kung Fu Heroes and the Journey-themed (yes, the band) Atari game.
Tell me more of Road Avenger
According to Wikipedia, Road Avenger was originally known as Road Blaster, and developed by Data East for Japanese arcades in the mid-80s.
For the elderly nerds amongst you (myself included), you may remember Data East as the producers of such classic games as BurgerTime, Bad Dudes and Karate Champ.
This was Data East’s foray into the cutting-edge world of 1980s interactive-movie arcade games.
The plot is simple: bad guys kill dude’s wife on their honeymoon, dude uses sports car to get revenge. Who hasn’t been there? Am I right?
Road Avenger is better than those other games
Here’s the thing: Dragon’s Lair sucks.
I remember seeing those games when I was a kid and just being blown away by the mere thought of playing a game that was also a cartoon and I got to control it. Holy hell!
Of course, then I actually did get to play it, and I wasted about $5 worth of quarters in 12 seconds, never getting past maybe one or two moves. After my older brother berated me for sucking at life, he couldn’t get much further.
Road Avengers does not suck. In fact, it’s awesome.
Unlike other interactive-story games of the times, the controls for Road Avenger feel smooth and responsive. And since you’re now thankfully playing on Sega CD or an emulator, instead of a quarter-eating arcade machine, you can keep playing no matter how many times you die.
It carries both a sense of fluidity but also that feeling of discovery as you barely make the right choice. The cut scenes are long enough to be entertaining, but short enough that it doesn’t interrupt the gameplay.
And that’s the key: There’s actual gameplay here. Like platformers of ye olden days, you get the sense that you were just about to get past that one part when you died. So you fire up another round, you get a little further, and you repeat until you beat the game.
An entire play-through only takes about 35 minutes — assuming you make it all the way through on one try. It’s not a huge time investment, but that also means once you beat it you won’t get that fire to get vengeance for your wife’s death back for a while.
But sooner or later your bloodlust will return. And when it does, Road Avenger will be there.
Where do I buy it?
You can find it on eBay and other used online retailers for about $30 on the low end, or splurge for more collectible versions.
You might also be able to find it on an emulator, if you’re into that kind of thing. We don’t currently have any specific recommendations for you.
Either way, we definitely recommend you give this forgotten bad boy another chance, or maybe a first chance. Here’s to avenging the road, or something.