RPM Racing is most notable for being the first game by one of the most successful video game developers to date: Blizzard Entertainment.
And that’s all the positives out of the way. Especially considering what followed after. In short the game just does hit the mark, but the ideas are there.
One of the principle items hidden in the cart is the existence of a robust track editor with six slots to save custom tracks. It’s quite slick; everything is grid-based and there are sliders to determine the height of the pieces. It’s legitimately impressive for a console game in 1991, especially given we’d only just started to separate from passcodes, and whats more is it’s intuitive! allowing even the less technically minded to put something together to play within a few mins.
RPM Racing’s progression system is done in a unique way. For placing in the top two, you’re rewarded with cash. Cash can be used to purchase upgrades for your car, but more importantly, you can pay money to advance to harder races with bigger payouts. These races also have a fee to race. This presents an interesting dilemma while playing; do you upgrade your car and have an easier time in lower-level races, or spend your money to advance to higher-paying races but have a more difficult time placing. The risk/reward is a neat twist in an otherwise standard game.
RPM Racing runs in a higher resolution than most other Super Nintendo games, but it looks like there’s a strange dithering effect over everything except the car models. The cars display a rather large amount of ghosting at times, so even they aren’t immune from looking bad. It also uses a split-screen display even in single player, which is really irritating. And, most disappointingly for a racing game, there’s no sense of speed. The cars feel awfully slow.
RPM Racing isn’t really a bad game, it’s just knowing the superior Rock and Roll Racing was produced by the team a mere 18 months later just feels like the one you should go for. Still a game for collecting, even if it feels like the first performance run of what was coming next.