Road Rash: Jailbreak Review

Road Rash: Jailbreak is fun and sometimes challenging, and you don't have to think too hard to enjoy it.

For many years now, TBS Superstation has billed itself as the TV network that shows movies for guys who like movies. That's a clever way of saying that you're more likely to see gunfights, sucker punches, and explosions when you tune in on a Saturday night, rather than something plot-heavy like Beaches or One Fine Day. It's in this sense that Road Rash: Jailbreak is a game for guys who like games. The story is so light you could fit it onto a Post-it note, and the action is not broken by silly things like missions or cash runs. You're a convict with a motorcycle, and your only goal is to reach the end of each stage ahead of everyone else. Along the way, you can kick your fellow riders to the curb, take swings at them with a lead pipe, or make their lives difficult with the napalm and oil items scattered along the highway. Road Rash: Jailbreak is enjoyable in the same way that a popcorn movie is enjoyable. It's fun (and sometimes challenging), but you don't have to think too hard in order to play it.

When you pull up close to other riders, you can take a swing at them with a length of chain.
When you pull up close to other riders, you can take a swing at them with a length of chain.

Unlike in most racing games, the stages in Road Rash: Jailbreak aren't laps. Rather, they're segments set between a starting line and a finish line. Whoever is in first place at the end of the stage wins. Since you don't have the benefit of multiple laps to help you regain ground when you make a mistake, there's a palpable sense of tension whenever you see a car up ahead or brush too close to the trees at the side of the road. Visually, there isn't much variety to the terrain--the same trees, shacks, onlookers, and passenger cars are merely laid out differently in each stage--but the sense of speed is so exhilarating that you can't help but feel your heart pounding as you avoid obstacle after obstacle on your way to the finish line. The graphics engine also does a fine job of mixing dips and steep hills in among the standard assortment of muddy and flooded road sections that you've seen in other so-called Mode-7 games.

Half the fun is deciding how you'll deal with the CPU-controlled convicts that are racing against you. Every rider has a health meter that decreases whenever damage is taken. When it's empty, that rider is knocked out of the race. There are a few ways to cause damage to opponents. You can bump them into the trees at the side of the road or pull up alongside them and take a swing with your melee weapon, which is usually a lead pipe or length of chain. Trash bins placed in the middle of the road contain napalm and oil canisters that you can unleash on the riders behind you, as well as health and invincibility items to make things easier down the stretch. As you can see, there aren't that many weapons in the game. They get the job done, however. In addition to the other convicts, you also need to watch out for highway cops. The police motorcycle is faster and can endure more damage than any other bike in the game, and, like your opponents, the cops can take swings at you using their billy clubs or make use of the weapons contained within trash bins.

Even though Jailbreak is the kind of game a person can just pick up and have fun with, it's not without its flaws. The controls are smooth and responsive, for the most part, except when you're trying to get back onto the highway from the roadside. Usually, if you skid into a tree or speed-limit sign, you'll end up hitting three more just trying to get back onto the road. You probably won't mind it much, since most riders can endure sick amounts of punishment, but it's still frustrating on those occasions when you blow out a bike because another rider nudged you into a grove of cactus plants--and you had no choice but to bump into five of them on your way back to the highway. Another complaint some players will have is that the cops tend to bully human riders much more than they do the CPU riders. Marshall Lee will take a swing or two at your computer-controlled competitors and then drop back to spend the remainder of the race flailing away at you and trying to force your bike off the road. While these complaints are worth keeping in mind, they really don't affect the game's fun factor all that much.

Like the other riders, the police will also try to knock you off your bike.
Like the other riders, the police will also try to knock you off your bike.

For how simple the game is, Road Rash: Jailbreak doesn't skimp on play options. The wild race mode is a championship competition of sorts, where you're trying to take first place in all nine of the game's courses. There are seven different riders to choose from. For every race you win, you'll earn money that you can use to upgrade the rider you picked. Next up is the cop patrol mode, which is similar to wild race, except that it puts you into the role of the police officer. In order to make it to the next stage, you need to put all four convicts out of commission before they reach the finish line. The other two single-player modes are time attack and survival. Time attack is pretty self-explanatory, but the survival mode is somewhat unique, in that there aren't any opponents, and you have to finish the course without taking a lick of damage. If you're lucky enough to know someone else who has a copy of the game, you can link up and race against each other and two CPU opponents. About the only significant drawback with respect to the game's features is the password-based save system. It's great that all of the passwords are small and easy to remember, but we've been happily spoiled of late by all of the games that use mindless battery saves.

There isn't much to say about the game's audio, for the simple reason that there isn't much of it. The rock-and-roll music in the menus is OK. Likewise, the digitized samples used for the various bike engines, grunts, and groans aren't spectacular, but they do infuse a touch of cartoon attitude to the atmosphere.

Overall, if you were a fan of the Road Rash series on the Genesis or PlayStation, or have been looking for a straightforward racing game with loads of action, you'll enjoy Road Rash: Jailbreak for the Game Boy Advance.

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Road Rash: Jailbreak More Info

  • First Released Feb 1, 2000
    • Game Boy Advance
    • PlayStation
    Road Rash: Jailbreak puts the fun back into the Road Rash series, reemphasizing the fighting while still maintaining a good racing experience.
    Average Rating220 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Magic Pockets, EA Redwood Shores
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Driving/Racing, Arcade
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.