Championship Pro-Am, Megadrive/Genesis

Championship Pro-Am is an “enhanced” remake of the classic NES racing game R.C. Pro-Am. It was developed by Rare and published on the Megadrive/Genesis by Tradewest in 1992.

I’m emphasising the word “enhanced” here out of pure sarcasm, because – when you look at the game closely – there is very little that is actually enhanced over the original, other than the graphics. In fact: it is a very bare bones port and the Megadrive deserved better from Rare.

Championship Pro-Am is a single-player isometric racing game where you control a radio controlled (R.C.) car that races around a series of tracks against AI-controlled opponents. The aim is to finish in the top three in each race. If you drop below that then the word “out” appears over your car, which means that it’ll be ‘game over’ if you finish the race in that position. Climbing back up the order is not easy, unless you can manage to weave past opponent cars by driving over a booster pad, or by taking out other cars by using offensive power-ups that can be picked up as you drive around.

The pace of the game is fast and gets faster as you progress, mostly because your car’s top speed increases as you collect more parts that are strewn on the road as you race. Unfortunately you can’t see much of the track on-screen at the same time, though, so actually being able to see corners coming up is a problem, which is why there are arrows on the track to direct you. This does make Championship Pro-Am something of a ‘twitch’ racer, requiring very quick reactions to play. There is a track overview at the bottom of the screen, but the game moves so quickly that you don’t really have time to look at it. Better to glance at it before the race starts and to try to memorise it.

The biggest issue I have with Championship Pro-Am is the fact that it’s not much of an ‘enhancement’ over the original NES game. The game lacks play modes; it has no multiplayer; it doesn’t use passwords or a save system (so you can continue a game later), and doesn’t have much variety in terms of graphics or colour, which makes Championship Pro-Am a bit boring in my book. I was surprised that the colours don’t evolve as you progress – every track just uses the same green grass, and the same graphics, on each level.

While Championship Pro-Am is a competently-produced game and is reasonably playable, it is disappointing overall. The developers should have added more play modes, more variety, and should have at least varied the graphics a bit more as you progressed.

Give me Rock N’ Roll Racing or Racing Destruction Set over this, any day.

More: R.C. Pro-Am on Wikipedia

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