Road Rash is the name of a motorcycle-racing video game series by Electronic Arts, in which the player participates in violent illegal street races. The game was originally released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, but was ported to several other systems. Six different games were released from 1991 to 1999, and a 2004 licensed port for the Game Boy Advance was released. Road Rash and two of its sequels later appeared on the EA Replay collection for the PSP.
The game's title is based on the slang term for the severe friction burns that can occur in a motorcycling fall where skin comes into contact with the ground at high speed.
Presented in a third-person view similar to Hang-On, the player competes in illegal road races and must finish in the top 3 places in every race in order to proceed to the next level. As levels progress, the opponents ride faster, fight harder and the tracks are longer and more dangerous. Placing in each race gives a certain amount of money which increases considerably as levels progress. This money allows the player to buy faster bikes which are needed to stay competitive. The game is over if the player can't pay for the repairs when their motorcycle is wrecked, or can't pay the fine for being arrested.
GameplayRoad Rash boasted a smoothly-rendered vertical element, which was uncommon on consoles at the time. In most traditional older racing games, the player's vehicle remained on the same horizontal plane, negotiating turns essentially by going right or left. In Road Rash, players had to contend with grade changes, and the physics, though rudimentary compared to today's games, reflected the act of going up or down a hill, as well as turning while climbing, etc. This resulted in the ability to launch one's motorcycle great distances, resulting in often amusing crash animations. Road Rash also introduced an interactive race environment, with street signs, trees, poles, and livestock, which could interact with the player's vehicle. This was also one of the earlier games to feature active traffic, which created a more immersive and realistic environment, as the player had to contend with slow moving station wagons and the like while racing against other bikers. Aside from high speed, big-air, and spectacular crashes, what separated Road Rash from other racing games was its combat element. The player could fight other bikers with a variety of hand weapons. The player would initially start off with just his or her hands and feet, but if the gamer timed a punch right, he or she could grab a weapon from another rider. The weapons themselves ranged from clubs, crowbars, nunchaku, and cattle prods. Fights between riders to knock each other off the bike would often go on at high speeds through traffic, pedestrians and roadside obstacles, with the victor gaining place and the loser sustaining bike damage and losing time.
The motorcycle police officers have dual antagonistic roles. They fight the player as another opponent, and they also serve as game play enforcers by policing the back of the pack and culling players who fall too far behind or choose to explore the world rather than race in it. The stakes are higher for losing a fight with a police officer than for losing to another player: Losing a fight with an officer or being caught by an officer while off one's motorcycle would cause the player to be "Busted" and the race would end.
There are five levels altogether, and five courses, all California locales: The City, The Peninsula, Pacific Coast Highway, Sierra Nevada, and Napa Valley. The roads themselves are multi-lane with brief divided road sections.
The player could choose a character to play as, which came with a specific cash amount and a personal motorcycle. Some of these characters' names come from combatants from the original Genesis releases, such as "Axle" and "Rhonda". The character also had status among his or her fellow bikers, which was accessible after the race. Depending on what the NPC preferred (some liked being hit, some didn't), the other racers would dynamically react to the player depending on how he or she was treated during the races.