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From the developers of Cruis'n USA comes Off-Road Challenge, an off-road truck title emphasizing arcade-style action. As soon as the title screen appears, you can select a one-player game, two-player competition or fiddle with the options.
If you decide on the one-player game, you are given the choices to "Just Play," start a new Circuit, resume a saved Circuit, or view your best times for each course (you'll need a Controller Pak with at least eight pages free to save times and progress). The Circuit has you starting the game as a Rookie, and in order to advance to the next level, you'll need to finish all six courses in fourth place or better (out of eight drivers).
The object is to continue through the Novice (third place or better), Pro (second place or better) and Master (first place) circuits until you are finally crowned champion. If you don't want to enter a Circuit, choose "Just Play," pick your truck, any of the six courses and prepare to challenge seven computer-controlled drivers.
No matter which game mode you decide on, you'll initially be able to select from four vehicles set atop revolving platforms: Ivan Stewart's Toyota Trophy Truck, a Class 10 Heavy Metal, a Class 8 Mini-Metal and a Baja Buggy. If you find these rides too wimpy for your tastes, pressing the C buttons allows you to choose from four heavier trucks: the Toyota 4X4 Monster, The Crusher, Thunderbolt and The Punisher. All vehicles are rated in speed, power, handling, and weight, with the Baja Buggy being the fastest overall.
Once you are ready to race, steering is accomplished by using either the pad or analog stick. Holding the A button accelerates, pressing "B" brakes and "Z" activates one of your available nitros. In addition, one of three camera views can be selected during the race: a view inside the truck, close behind the truck and far behind the truck.
The game is played like any other racer (re: cross the finish line before everyone else), except there are obstacles to avoid and four types of bonus items you can run over and use. Banners are also found along the way, indicating checkpoints you need to reach in time to keep racing. Once you get to the end of the course, however, the race is over. There are no laps to run, so you won't have the opportunity to grab missed items after you pass them by.
Off-Road Challenge also allows players to customize their trucks with the money earned from finishing at least fourth or better, or by running over treasure boxes along the tracks. The Speed Shop will appear after each race showing your cash total and a list of current upgrades. If you're not satisfied with the way your truck is handling, for example, you can upgrade your tires. You don't really change the type of tires, just improve the overall rating in this area. Each of the five upgrade categories has ten slots to fill with every purchase.
So if your tires category is three bars full, you can add a maximum of seven bars to get the best possible handling. Of course this is going to cost you, and certain upgrades are pricier than others: Acceleration is worth $80,000; Shocks are $20,000; Nitros are $60,000; Speed is $100,000; and Tires will set you back $40,000 apiece. While as many as ten upgrades can be purchased for any category, certain items (shocks, tires, speed) will wear down after time. In addition, each nitro purchased is for a one-time use only,
Off-Road Challenge also features a total of six tracks with diverse scenery from across North America. These courses include Mojave, Pike's Peak, Las Vegas, El Paso, Baja and Ol' South, each offering terrain such as highways, snow, ice, dirt tracks, beaches, mud and rocks. There are also two hidden courses available to unlock during the course of play.
Players can adjust the level of music and sound effects, choose a "sky" type (random, blue, dusk or stormy gray), toggle Arcade AI on or off, and set the custom AI strength from one to five, with five being the most difficult. Users can also change the control configuration, the speedometer to read in KPH instead of MPH, or turn off the "Trophy Girls," who will appear to congratulate you on your performance whenever you finish first. ~ Brad Penniment, All Game Guide