When Rally-X first debuted alongside Pac-Man, no one expected the winner would the iconic yellow dot. Arcade owners pegged Rally-X as the next big thing and when that fell through, they quickly shifted their focus to Namco’s then new franchise. Less than a year later, Namco pushed out a quick update called New Rally-X with few differences, and the game fell into obscurity.
The game is obscure for a reason. It’s somewhat dull, lacking in enhancements, and borrows every aspect of the original. There’s nothing new to see.
There are some minor graphical changes that will be missed by most, and the enemy cars lack the aggressive edge from the original to make it more accessible. It falls well short of being considered a sequel, and in many cases would seem like a firmware update more than anything.
Rally-X is classic in its simplicity. It’s a matter of collecting flags around a course while avoiding a few minor hazards and roving vehicles. Your offense consists of a smoke screen, the only means of evasion. Certain flags can refuel your car (which is how the game keeps players moving constantly towards their goal) and another adds points to your total.
Since the game is mostly vertical scrolling, the map is not completely on screen. You’ll need to rely on a map to your right to see where the threats are coming from. It’s a critical flaw that separated this from Pac-Man when it came time for gamers to deposit their coins. It’s an artificial crutch to sap in cash, not to enhance game play.
It’s worth noting that when the Xbox 360 launched, so did Ridge Racer 6. While initially seeming out of place when discussing Rally-X, it so happens that the next-gen 3-D racer came with a free copy of Rally-X that could be played during the brief load times (or in full once unlocked). On the Live Arcade, Namco is asking $5 for a game they apparently felt was a decent inclusion as a free add-on.
With achievements that can be can be completed in a day, complete lack of enhancements, and no online multi-player of any kind, this is a dubious Live Arcade release. It’s nothing against New Rally-X which by itself is an enjoyable time waster. It’s when you’re paying extra for a game you already own (on the same platform) that Namco goes wrong.
New Rally-X is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB