Unirally Review

Unirally Review

I thought this would be a great place to start as it highlights exactly the reason I am so interested in retro gaming now. I came across this game randomly in a video online a few years ago and decided that I needed to own it. I had never played or heard of it growing up despite having a SNES and the gameplay looked fun. However I could not find it anywhere! I tried to buy it online but could only find the ‘Uniracers’ version which would not work on my PAL console. It became a bit of an obsession and after a lot of trawling through sites I was eventually able to pick up a copy.

Plugging this game into play I was pretty excited, I had wanted it for some time. Playing it however I was mildly disappointed. The premise is simple. You are a unicycle bike competing in a number of courses, from drag racing (flat sprints) to looping course races or completing stunts for points. The courses are brightly coloured 2D courses with different obstacles, jumps and routes. You racer goes faster when you land successful tricks so the idea is to encourage you to complete stunts to give yourself a speed boost. The game play is fast which wasn’t a theme for many of the SNES games I owned, the unicycles are nicely designed and the music is passable at first, although grates after a while. The backgrounds clearly weren’t a focus for this game and after a while my eyes felt a little sore from the colours on the course contrasting to the background. I set the game down with a determination to come back later.

I would eventually realise my mistake with this game, it is surely not meant to be played alone. My friend coming round to play the new game that I had been talking about getting for so long revealed this games real charm. There is nothing like racing your friend and overtaking them right at a crucial moment because you landed an extravagant double backflip with a twist, or laughing as you watch their racer speed off in the wrong direction as they mistimed their jump. Even going back and forth on a half-pipe type course is hilarious as you curse your inability to land that perfect trick, or see your opponents score shoot up because they’ve landed something that you couldn’t.

The fact you could name your racer (mine is now forever called Bon Jovi, I will not race with any other racer!) and that it keeps your stats and records is a nice touch that gives you a reason to keep playing and improving, but really I loved that experience of two of us just giving it a go and seeing what stunts we could land. I have since introduced a few other people to this game, I find it a nice way to finish a night of drinking if you can stomach the bright lights as it guarantees you a few laughs. In fact the last person I had round playing it would not consider himself a gamer at all, however has asked me a few times since when he can come round and play ‘that unibike game’.

I am so pleased I was able to find this game. I won’t argue that it is a Nintendo Classic that everyone must own, but I believe it is absolutely worth a chance and a great addition to anyone’s collection. It is not the easiest game to get hold of, as a legal dispute ensured that production numbers were limited however if you are lucky enough to come across a copy I would recommend picking it up. It isn’t a game that you should take too seriously and as long as you approach it with the intention of having some tongue in cheek fun it is enjoyable. Just make sure you have a friend over to play with you.

5 thoughts on “Unirally Review

  1. This was one of those weird quirky games I first discovered during the early years of Super Nintendo emulation. Unirally is such a simple game on its surface, Barebone visuals, simple racing mechanics, and adequate rocking tunes. But it uses its simplicity so effectively.

    The simple presentation allows you to focus on the high-speed racing without any visual distraction. The physics are top-notch for a Super Nintendo game, impressively managing the various jumps, twists and turns you’ll find yourself doing throughout a race. And as you mentioned, the multiplayer is the real highlight of the game. What’s the point of beating your friends if you are not landing sick stunts? Unirally might not do much, but what it does, it does well.

    One interesting fact about Unirally is that the developer, DMA Design Limited, would go on to develop a little-known game called Grand Theft Auto. Yup, the British game studio who created Menace, Lemmings and Unirally would eventually become Rockstar North.

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    1. I agree and that the weird and quirky nature of the game is one of the things that sticks out to me. I used to love the strange ideas for games that developers came up with that just worked really well.

      It’s still a game I play, helped by the fact that my SNES is permanently set up ready to play!

      I did not know that the developers went on to become Rockstar! Thank you for sharing! Amazing to see how far they have come

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  2. My mate brought this round and we played it for a few hours. He was absolutely battering me at it, so I kinda got bored. He left it with me as his SNES is broke, but i’ve never got round to replaying it.

    I guess the fact he was so good means there is a depth to it beyond just pressing go. But I struggled with 2 player as he was too good to make it any fun for me.

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    1. I guess maybe that’s true, although I found that with a few of my SNES games (my brothers eventually refused to play me at Killer Instinct after I spent hours perfecting it!) no game is fun when it is completely one sided.
      The appeal for me was when my friend and I were both rubbish and picking it up at the same time. Hope you give it another go with someone who isn’t going to make it one sided!

      Liked by 1 person

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