Last year, Pixelglass Games (through their ReImagine Games label) released an Amiga CD32 port of Taito's classic LaserDisc game, Time Gal. I did a little write-up about it here, and now to follow up with that release, ReImagine has recently released another classic Japanese LaserDisc game to our beloved platform: Data East's 1985 classic, Road Avenger!
Originally released in arcades worldwide in August of 1985, and under the title Road Blaster (which had to be changed for home releases to prevent confusion with Atari's own RoadBlasters), Road Avenger was the brainchild of video game designer Yoshihisa Kishimoto, who also created another LaserDisc arcade game for Data East; the helicopter shoot-em-up Cobra Command, before leaving Data East to work for Technos Japan, where he created the River City Ransom series, as well as Double Dragon. As homage to his work for Data East, the car from Road Avenger has a cameo in Double Dragon (in the Lee brother's garage), and the chopper from Cobra Command has a cameo in Double Dragon II (right in the heliport at the start)!
Road Avenger starts with an attract sequence showing the plot: violent road gangs are terrorizing the city, and they attack the protagonist and his newlywed bride as they're driving by the seaside. Leaving the protagonist for dead, the gang's leader, a nameless, purple haired lady, crushes his bride's corsage underfoot and leaves. Little did she know that the protagonist, a former police officer, has decided that he will wipe out the gang and stop their crime wave for good. So after healing from his wounds and souping up his sports car to turn it into a lethal weapon, the protagonist must go through 9 waves of fast, furious Mad Max-like car chases and battles.
Like many other FMV games, Road Avenger is played by simply inputting the right direction at any given moment. There are four actions that can be done: steer left, steer right, brake, or turbo boost. Unlike most other FMV games of the day, however, you will have moments where you have to input one action and immediately follow up with a second; as an example, while running across a ship dock, you may have to brake to slow yourself before going over the edge, and then immediately turn left to continue across the dock. Pressing all the correct actions allows the action on screen to continue; slip up and you're treated to a spectacular (and brutal!) crash scene.
The animation of the original arcade game was produced by Toei Animation, a large and famous Japanese animation studio that has produced a great number of anime series known the world over (ex: Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Fist of the North Star). Toei also produced the animation for Time Gal for Taito, and like that game, Road Avenger's animation is excellent, with plenty of cool action sequences, fluid motions, and plenty of cool 80s aesthetic. The music is nothing super spectacular but fits well with the action, with plenty of cool guitars and horns, and the sounds of screeching tires, roaring engines, and innocent spectators screaming bring the frantic racing action home nicely! The port features two opening songs in the attract sequence: one is the original instrumental piece from the arcade version, and the other is the opening song of the Sega CD version, which was exclusive to that port only until now. The Sega CD opening is driving yet cheesy 80s metal that's just too perfect for the action; seriously, listen to its awesomeness!
As for the ports themselves, ReImagine went above and beyond even what they did for their Time Gal port! There are two versions of the game: one for OCS Amigas and the CD32, and one for AGA Amigas. The OCS release has decent FMV, but as it's tailored to the lower palette of that chipset, you're still going to get compression artifacts and sometimes muddy color. The AGA release uses HAM8 video and looks significantly better, with less color banding and muddling. However, because of the higher video bandwidth, the AGA version cannot be played on a stock Amiga CD32 (since it only has a 2X drive; the AGA port requires a 4X drive), but if you have a TF328 expansion board and a CF card in your CD32, the HDD installation version of the port will happily run on it! Yup, like Time Gal before it, ReImagine put out both ISOs and HDD install versions of the game, in both OCS and AGA flavors, for all Amiga fans to enjoy!
Think you have what it takes to take back the streets and stop the violent gangs from terrorizing the city? Download Road Avenger and find out!