South Peak Interactive's Rally Challenge 2000 is, at best, a marginal attempt to bring the excitement of off-road rally racing to the Nintendo 64. The developer, Imagineer, made an honest attempt with this game, but came up a little short of success. While the game offers a fair amount of options, the depth just isn't there, and only the most hard-core rally fans will have a lasting interest in it.
RC 2000 offers a total of nine different cars, all with varying levels of torque, speed, and steering. While it sounds like these different attributes would make the cars control differently, the vehicles ultimately end up being virtually the same in the arcade mode, with the only major difference between them being the body styles and decals. In terms of control, the layout is simple and effective, and it only takes a moment to get used to. The overall response time leaves a little bit to be desired and doesn't make you feel as though you're actually driving - the game is more akin to a kart racing game in this respect. Even gently nudging a wall or letting off the accelerator will bring you to a dead stop in seconds flat. Braking, for the most part, is not even needed to do well in the game. A feature that gets points for accuracy, but is rather annoying, is the announcer. In real rally events, the drivers' teammates call out upcoming turns to keep the drivers aware of what is coming. In RC 2000, the announcer provides this service. This feature is helpful for the first couple of times you race, but it gets very repetitive after you've become familiar with the tracks.
The game does have a decent number of play modes - arcade, championship, practice, and the party favorite, versus. Arcade mode lets you choose from any of the game's nine cars and runs you through a series of three tracks and three levels of difficulty. Unfortunately, there are no additional cars or tracks to unlock, so after you've finished the arcade mode, you've really seen all there is to offer. Championship mode is a little more in-depth and lets you adjust your car's suspension, gear ratios, tires, and steering. The goal of this mode is to amass the most points over the course of nine races. Being able to have some level of control over your vehicle's characteristics really gives you an advantage and adds to the replay value. Versus mode is by far the most entertaining feature of the game. In this mode, you can race up to four players simultaneously, much like Mario Kart 64, but in a slightly more realistic setting. Better still is the fact that the announcer is not present in this mode. As with a great deal of four-player games, the frame rate drops off considerably, but the drop doesn't really take away from the overall feel of the game.
In closing, RC 2000 is a decent arcade-style racing game, but the lack of additional cars and tracks to unlock, coupled with unrealistic controls, makes it hard for any gamer looking for an accurate simulation of rally racing to take this game seriously. Many will enjoy the four-player versus mode and take little notice of the cut in performance. Rally Challenge succeeds on some levels and fails on others, but on the whole, it does a good job of being a party game.