R.C. Pro-Am II
In this, the final review within the franchise of Rare's R.C. Pro-Am, it is finally time to confront the actual name of the game. "R.C.", is clear enough, you are controlling an Remote Control car, in a top-down isometric manner, venturing from one course to the next while collecting upgrades for your vehicle, dodging hazards and picking up much needed weaponry. As for the Pro-Am portion of the title this is left for fan-fiction and fanciful wanderings of the players mind. Are we an amatuer RC racer, daring to enter the foray of the professional RC racing scene? The mind races with visions of what an elite and lucrative world this professional league of remote controlled racers be. Listen to the hushed and exicted voices in the crowd, "is that... is that... George Clooney, and his Red Bull pit-crew at the stand-by?"
Which brings to mind another aspect of the R.C. Pro-Am series. As with Rocket League there is never an overt reference to the fact that you are controlling a remote control car, as opposed to a person pretending to control a race car. Which makes this the ultimate meta-game of the '90's. Are you someone simulating the control of a miniture replicant of an actual racing vehicle, or someone simulating the the control of a racing vehicle? Or worse yet, (as is the case), both.
Setting aside this conundrum, what most players of RC Pro-Am will notice is that the NES game has added some slight sense of verticality. It is now possible to jump over very geometric ramps, now replete with a basic shadow appearing on the ground below you. Also the ease of play will be just as jarring, what was once a Kokodo-like trail challenge is now a stroll in the park. Without really trying you can place in the first six tracks easily.
This ease of difficulty does not dull the pleasure of play however and feels, for the NES, very modern in approach. Rather than being easier for the sake of ease the game now feels realisitic in its expectation of the player.
RC Pro-Am 2 is also more entertaining. Biplanes (or bi-questioning planes in this 21st century) are now included, bombing you from above. it really seems as though Rare was wanting to entertain all ideas of play, since the challenge of engine-building had already been succumbed. Other improvements include a fleshed out marketplace for upgrades that you earn from placing, and those that you collect as you drive. In all ways this is the culmination of the series, Rare seems to know and enjoy it.
As with so may other Rare games, the time for a reboot is long overdue. use of both analog sticks, as first seen in a remote control vehicle in Sony's Ape Escape, has long been left dormant, with scant references, most noticeably seen in GTA III: San Andreas. The orginal idea was solid, and can now be realised with modern controls, but likely it would have to be a downloadable only afterthought, like much of games from the era. In today's world, the best a reboot could expect is a smartphone re-imagining, which sadly and triumphantly, would likely lead to better sales than the original frachise enjoyed. Pro-Am.
- Phil Fogg