SEGA Rally Online Arcade Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, May 25, 2011 05:29

SEGA Rally Online Arcade seems like a strange addition to the Xbox Live Arcade catalog. Its particular formula of arcade-style racing where realistic physics are ignored in favor of accessibility, combined with a $10/800 Microsoft Point price, puts it in direct competition with a lot of other games on the service. Its theme of off-road rally racing is unusual enough to stand out on its own, though combining it with good track design and controls is what really makes it worth picking up if you enjoy simpler racing games where each course is completed in just a few minutes. Serving as both a ’pick up and play’ game along with rewarding players for truly mastering their chosen car and track, this rally racer puts on a decent show throughout.

SEGA Rally Online ArcadeLike most games of its kind, SEGA Rally puts players in a third-person view of their car and has you race through various courses. The goal differs slightly depending on whether you’re playing a single track, time trial, or championship race but the overall idea is to go fast and pass other racers (in modes where they’re present). You’ll be making lots of wide, drifting turns along the way and it doesn’t matter too much if you crash into a wall at 100 MPH since your car will slow down for a moment but otherwise be fine. There are only a few cars and tracks to choose from, but they’re all well made and fun to play on. Due to this being a rally racing game you can’t always clearly see the course, but that’s intentional and brings your co-driver into the equation; he issues commands like "long easy right" or "hairpin left" so you have some idea of what turn to make.

The title indicates this is an online game, but it’s also acceptable as a single-player experience. Various offline modes, including a Championship race where you try to work your way up to first place over three courses, keep things interesting enough without Xbox Live. Nonetheless, online play does work most of the time; there are a few snags with match-making and I had trouble finding people to play with at various hours, but when a match was set up everything worked fine. Thus while it has ’Online’ in its name, playing over Xbox Live isn’t strictly necessary; it’s just a nice bonus on top of a decent single-player game.

My only meaningful complaint is a slight lack of content. There are just a handful of cars and courses to play on, and you’ll go through them quickly since each race lasts just a few minutes. This is unavoidable to a certain extent since SEGA Rally Online Arcade is based on a series known precisely for arcade-style racing, but it’s still a bit disappointing. Players looking to get the most out of this game will have to focus on truly mastering each course, enjoying making even tiny improvements to their previous best time. Anyone interested in that will definitely be well served here, in line with a quality over quantity approach.

While SEGA Rally Online Arcade faces plenty of competition in both genre and Xbox Live Arcade price point ($10 USD/800 Microsoft Points), it manages to hold its ground against those peers. It’s playable, easy to learn, has decent online functionality, and is a perfectly acceptable game of its kind. There are probably a few games on XBLA that are better, but there are also several that are much worse. Thus, I have no problem recommending this game to anyone who would enjoy a scaled down, arcade-style rally racing experience or is otherwise a fan of the arcade racing genre. Also, for those who may be concerned: The classic "Game Over, Yeah!" line is indeed present in this edition of SEGA Rally.

Demo Note: SEGA Rally Online Arcade is in competition with War World for ’worst demo on XBox Live Arcade.’ You’re asked to make a 1.2 gigabyte download, yet the demo’s main content is over in about a minute. While I can appreciate that a mix of ’good game, bad demo’ keeps my job as a reviewer relevant, it’s still weird. Players shouldn’t have to be told "No, it’s just a bad trial. The game is good. Trust me," because the developers inexplicably think sixty seconds is all one needs to evaluate the game.

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Our Rating for SEGA Rally Online Arcade Review (XBLA)
6.0 Replay
Most of the reason to come back is incremental mastery of each course; there is some fun to be had in posting a race time that is just that tiny bit better than your previous best. This may grow old after a while, but you should have had your $10 worth of fun by then.
7.5 Graphics
Each course has a distinct visual theme, ensuring good variety. They’re pretty to look at, though it’s sometimes hard to see where you need to turn. On the other hand, that is to be expected in rally racing and your co-driver will help guide you.
7.5 Sound
All the sounds of a car’s engine and drifting turns are satisfying, and they’re joined by an energetic soundtrack that really sets the mood. More importantly, the co-driver’s announcements of upcoming turns are clear and easy to understand.
8.0 Gameplay
Well made courses work with great controls to make a game that is accessible and fun. You’ll enjoy flying down the track with high speed, drifting turns.
7.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
Online and local split-screen play are supported. They have a few snags, but they are enjoyable once you get them working properly.
7.0 Overall
A good arcade-style racer that is a bit light on content, SEGA Rally Online Arcade is nonetheless worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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