Rush 2049 (3)

Genre: Racing
Year: 1999
Developed by: Atari Games
Published by: Midway
Platforms: Arcade, Dreamcast, N64, Game Boy, Playstation
Feeling Like: What a Rush!

Innovation always has victims and sadly, arcades are one of them. You’ll still find a few bastions here and there, but smaller motherboards and massive increases in console processing power negated the need for overly large cabinets. It’s a shame, but you can’t stop progress.

Stuck in hospice mode, our local theater tried to pay homage to Johnny Zee’s death (press F to pay respects) by having their own, smaller version. I would give an “A” for effort, but it was too depressing. Half the floor was filled with attractions that belonged at a carnival instead of a traditional video game arcade. Redeem tickets to get poorly made prizes, try to get some kind of ball in some kind of hole and listen to inane sound effects that are better suited for a drunken Dumbo’s hallucination.

The one redeeming factor was San Francisco Rush 2049. The other saving grace was that it was directly on my walk home from Neverblue. My friend/manager Steve used to park outside my house, so we often walked to and from work together. He/we usually insisted we stop for a session of Rush after work. It made waiting for 5pm that much harder.

Upon starting, you’re immediately asked to type in your pin number on the phone-like keypad. Why, I have no idea. I never saw any statistics from my profile and I’m still not convinced it did anything. Aside from that confusion, the game provided a great, brief thrill. The graphics were beyond dated in 2011, but all the fun was in finding the secret shortcuts and flying through the air. The genius was that the game’s design let you do so virtually without punishment.

Rush 2049 (4)
Good thing I’ve got insurance!

Say you’re driving along. You see a path off to the right that nobody is taking. Hmm, could be a shortcut. Worth a shot, let’s pull over and see if we can make that work. Then you remember you’re Henry Skey and you have the driving capability of a Morgan Freeman-less Miss Daisy. All too quickly, the road becomes a wall and your car erupts into digital flames. The chances of winning the race just went from slim to none. Or did they?

San Francisco Rush 2049’s best idea comes in the form of a graceful return to action; with the press of a button, the racing gods pick up your vehicle and place it back on track, good as new. They even give you a little bit of momentum. This encourages you to try wild jump, crazy turns and fighting off your competitors to go up the impossibly designed ramp without the fear of falling behind.

We only really played the first few levels. They had wide enough tracks that our dexterity wasn’t tested too harshly. The routes were clearly marked and the AI behavior wasn’t overly aggressive. Our attempts to try the later stages resulted in constantly pushing the mercy option and never even contemplating finishing in first.

Other than that, it’s a bit pedestrian. It’s a spectacle to sit in the chair and hear the speakers lodged right next to your head exclaim “RUSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” but the fun starts and ends with the crazy jumps. And being able to play video games with your boss every day after work.

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