Great Old Gaming Gems – San Francisco Rush 2049 (N64)

If you ever found yourself in a video arcade in the late 1990s the Rush series of games were, undoubtedly, a hell of a lot of fun to play. They were just sheer adrenaline rush racers and they pinnacled with San Francisco Rush 2049. A game with deceptive depth. As is often inevitable they were adapted for home consoles and Rush 2049 came to the N64 (which is where I originally played it) and The Sega Dreamcast (remember that?)

In the game you had a variety of cars that you obviously had to win the race with. However where as most racing games would penalise you for taking crafty short cuts, Rush made them it’s forte, and finding every one became a quest in and of itself.

Some of them were very hard to find as each of the cars had a unique gimmick. That gimmick? They all had fully deployable wings that would allow you to glide, barrel role, and perform many other stunts giving you just enough control to land the car safely on its wheel. It was admittedly a lot harder than it sounds but that added to the fun.

The actual racing controls felt nice and responsive. I’d put this, solely as a race, the third best one on the N64 behind Mario Kart and F1-World Championship. But it was also so much more than that and like many N64 games it came alive in multiplayer.

Multiplayer came in three varieties. Firstly you could have standard four player splitscreen races which were a heck of a lot of fun. Secondly was Death Match mode which was basically a take on Mario Kart’s battle mode. But it was soo much more fun than that pesky plumber. You had a large variety of weapons that could be picked up and used to try and eliminate your opponents. Machine guns, rockets, missiles, EMPs that would temporarily disable their cars, all good fun. But you also had The Nuke. A big weapon that, if close enough when deployed, would destroy your opposition in a beautiful explosion.

The most insane, and fun, multiplayer mode was Stunt. If you imagine a really fun racing game, mixed with elements of a flight sim, and a stunt system for points ala the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games you’d be close. It was just almost magical to play. You were given a set time (usually five or ten minutes) to rack up as many points as possible. Did you try to do as many safe stunts as possible to slowly steadily build up your score? Hell no! You tried to find the right ramp, the right booster, the right angle, all to perform the most insane stunt imaginable. There was a high chance you’d land it wrong and explode but if you got it right, and sooner or later mostly likely by sheer fluke you’d get it right, you were rewarded with some truly insane points.

There was about a dozen different stunt arenas all with different settings. My favourite was a warehouse setting. You had to hit the turbos, go up a half pipe, do a barrel role, land upside down, do two more barrel roles, then hit the turbos, and get some big air to do as many flips and spins as you could. If you landed that? It was game over for the opposition as you were the points king.

It was such a very fun game to play and one that, I’m glad to say, really holds up well today.

Next week, as part of Great Old Gaming Fails, we’ll also be looking at San Franciso Rush 2049. The Gameboy Color version that is. It’s safe to say something went VERY wrong in the conversion process