Everyone loves an established video game franchise. After all, some of gaming’s best loved characters have been going on adventure after adventure for years, prompting players to line up to reserve the next installment of Super Mario, Link, Samus Aran, or Sonic the Hedgehog. Over the years, however, some games just haven’t struck gold; they’ve been overshadowed by more popular fare that shares the store shelf or are even passed over due to something as petty as unimpressive box art or an unusual premise. They deserve to be remembered and revived, but instead they are The Forgotten.
Developed by Nintendo / DMA Design
Released for Super NES (1994)
It's not often that there's a video game starring unicycles that do amazing stunts, but for one brief moment in 1994 Uniracers attempted to rectify that wrong. Set in a colorful 2D world, unicycles race one another across a series of colored bars that serve as the track, almost like Excitebike, but without the four lanes to navigate. The track often leads to large ramps to launch the unicycles to the next portion of the raceway, while other times it's covered in pink slime that acts as a velocity killer. Then there are the traditional boosters that provide a quick burst of speed or sudden U-turns that seemingly come from nowhere. In the middle of all of the speed and track navigation comes Uniracers's unique claim to fame: tricks.
While it's certainly possible to run a clean race consisting of keeping the tire glued to the track, the idea behind Uniracers is to perform a series of flips, turns, and twirls while racing. Correctly performing a trick rewards players with a quick boost of speed, while flubbing one results in a complete stop. Tricks can be stacked and combined for a greater boost as well. Later tracks even require the use of these tricks if one hopes to beat the CPU-controlled unicycle. Mastering these tricks and learning all of the little shortcuts on the track is the key to completing Uniracers, although many fans of the game cared only for the 2-player mode in which buddies could outrace and outstunt one another. Words don't quite do this game justice; it must be seen in action to understand it fully.
While Nintendo has a popular collection of 3D racing games (F-Zero and Mario Kart come to mind), 2D racing hasn't been done well in a long time. A Uniracers port would soar on the Game Boy Advance, but a 2D racer done up in 3D on the Nintendo DS would be even better. Imagine using the touchscreen to perform stunts while steering the unicycle with the control pad. Online multiplayer through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Experience would be an added bonus, one on which fans of the original game would probably insist. A new Uniracers title should remain in just 2D, as that is where much of the original game's charm lies. There's a lot left to be explored in just two dimensions, particularly in the racing genre. Uniracers may just be the game to do it.
Thanks to PTB reader BGNG for the Uniracers video clip.