Being a ten year-old with a newly acquired NES was probably one of the highlights of my life (fuck you, it was). I was on cloud nine with my new NES, and the two games I was able to purchase for it. And while those two games served me well (yes, even you, Top Gun), it eventually got to the point where I was bored with them. But being a ten year-old, I usually had just enough money on me to buy a bag of Big League Chew, and that was on a good day. Simply put, the idea of buying a fifty dollar game was on the same level as me having the money to purchase an aircraft carrier. It just wasn’t gonna happen. Occasionally though, my step-mom’s mother would find a used NES game somewhere, and buy it for me. And while she may have been responsible for some of the worst games I ever played (Ghostbusters damn near killed me), she would get it right every now and again. And this one time, she hit gold.
Admittedly, I had no idea what to think of RC Pro-Am the first time I saw it. I had never even thought of why I would want a racing game, let alone actually play one. I mean, besides the cool allure of awesome RC cars, I couldn’t give a damn about racing them around a track. Even when I received a RC car in real life, the first thing I wanted to do was drive it off a cliff with firecrackers and GI Joes taped to it. Not race the fucking thing. Who would think that was fun? Thankfully though, after a few brief moments playing RC Pro-Am, I understood why.
To this day, that opening music still gets me excited.
Made by a then pretty much unknown developer called Rare, RC Pro-Am was played from a ¾ top down perspective. The general idea was simple: Race your little RC car around tracks, while trying to out run and out gun the three other guys trying to beat you. Driving your RC car seemed simple enough at first, but once higher speeds/levels are reached, you suddenly had to learn how to power-slide that fucker around every corner. I’m pretty sure this may have been the first game that used power-sliding as an actual game mechanic, and it was awesome. It was so satisfying to pull off a picture perfect slide around a hairpin corner, passing the guy in front of you in the process. I got an erection just thinking about it just now.
And it wasn’t just the racing that made the game so great. You also had weapon pickups and obstacles littered around the track as well. Missiles and turbo pads would become your best friends in a hurry, while those fucking oil spills became the first thing in a video game that caused me to throw my controller at the TV. In the later levels, you had to actually strategize a bit, since the AI was mostly made up of rubber-banding assholes that would somehow steal first out from under you, even if you were miles ahead. It always helped to stay back a bit, then in the last corner hit a turbo engine to boost you around everyone in a blaze of glory no ten year-old at the time could fathom. There were more than a few first place wins that caused me to scream like someone that just won ten new cars, and jump backwards onto my head in celebration. I’m pretty sure I had Tourettes or something. But damn it felt awesome to win a race after getting torn apart in it a dozen or more times.
To this day, RC Pro-Am is still a game I can pick up and play, and immediately have fun with it. It’s still just as fun to play as it was then, and has aged shockingly well thanks to its reliance on power-slides and power-ups. It would go on to inspire just about every top down racer made to this day. From Rock N’ Roll Racing, all the way up to currently awesome games like Death Race on IOS. This game is the real deal, and probably one of my top five games of all time. And to think, I would have probably never even given it a second look if it hadn’t been bought for me by a clueless relative.
It almost even makes up for Ghostbusters.
Jeremy is a quiet, steadily mortified man hailing from Indianapolis.
Contact him this way: email@example.com (hint: it’s email)