Dirt Racer is a racing game for the Super Nintendo that uses the Super FX chip to render the 3D graphics, and it has the distinction of being by far the worst game to use Argonaut‘s famous co-processor. The game was developed by Motivetime and published by Elite Systems in 1995.
In Dirt Racer you take control of a four-wheeled buggy and must race around a variety of tracks. Actually, “take control” is not the right description… because keeping your car on the track is pretty challenging, and any attempt to go faster is usually penalised with a spin, a crash, or a roll. The best way to actually win a race is to go slowly and carefully, which doesn’t make Dirt Racer much of a racing game…
Knowing where you’re supposed to be going is difficult (there are arrows on-screen that tell you to turn left or right if you’re going the wrong way, but there are few landmarks actually denoting the course you’re supposed to be following, and the pop-up is horrendous), and hitting trees or barrels or other obstacles usually results in your buggy exploding. Even the explosion is poor (it’s a pattern of circles, rather than an animated explosion, which is a cop-out).
The AI of the opponent racers is questionable too. I’d often see the opponent car just sitting there, doing nothing, allowing me to overtake it with ease, and I would sometimes win races where I’d crashed every thirty seconds. Other times I thought I was doing well and suddenly it was game over… I can only guess that Dirt Racer‘s AI is either unfinished, or it is the ultimate in “catch-up” rubber-banding (or both)…
Up to eight players can participate in League, Cup, and practise races, but there’s no split-screen simultaneous racing, everyone has to take it in turns. There are also three different buggies to drive initially and I’m guessing that more cars are unlockable, but I didn’t play the game for long enough to find out.
It doesn’t take long to realise that Dirt Racer is a bit of a travesty of a game and you have to wonder how the hell it ever made it through Nintendo‘s strict quality control process. The only real reason to play this is to see all the Super FX games – because there were so few of them made for the SNES – and to see which are best and which are the worst. Believe me: Dirt Racer is the worst. By far. If you want to play a decent Super FX racing game, try Stunt Race FX instead.
More: Dirt Racer on Wikipedia