Sunday, January 22, 2012

Get Your Motor Running


I watched the science fiction anime Redline from Madhouse Studios last night,and it got me thinking about the “crazy road race” genre. You know, things like Cannonball Run (1981), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Wacky Races. I think this sort of race set-up is rife with gaming potential.


The genre goes beyond mundane (well, not that cars with buzzsaw wheels are mundane to begin with) auto-racing. Redline puts the race in a sci-fi context as does Yogi’s Space Race (remember that one?). Thundarr gets into the game with the “Challenge of the Wizards” episode. Almost all the animated version of this trope have vehicles tricked out with weapons, and some live action one’s do, too--see the rally sequence of the criminall underrated live-action Speed Racer with it’s morning-star armed viking racers.

Obviously, Car Wars could do this sort of think. The ever prolific Matt Stater's Mutant Truckers would work, too. Fantasy systems aren’t out of the question, though (see Thundarr). And of course, you can do this sort of thing pre-automobile. A race to become leader of a kingdom or some such (similar to the tournaments for leadership in Mystara's Ierendi or the titular Empire of the Petal Throne) could use various sorts of fantastic mounts or maybe flying ships--or flying carpets. However you choose, just get those those charcter's on the road to adventure!

12 comments:

Brutorz Bill said...

I haven't seen Redline, may have to check it out.

richard said...

don't queen bees initiate a race among the drones to select a mate? I can see all sorts of possibilities. And then there's the two great Australian Outback races - the cross-Australia camel race (name not reliable) and the B to B Bash (now "Variety Bash") - maybe things only really get interesting when the goal is something other than simply getting to the end first.

Maybe my favourite feature of the genre is the way it makes rivals cooperate: treasure hunt or route-finding races encourage monitoring your competitors closely, laying false trails...

JimShelley said...

Yeah, I totally remember Yogi's Space Race. I've been waiting for that to appear on a legitimate DVD for a long time. (As well as Yogi's Ark.)

Trey said...

seaofstarsrpg emails we with a comment blogger won't let him post for some reason:

What about Death Race (the original rather more than the remake)? And the China clippers seeking to get the first tea of the year to London. I agree, it seems like there is much that can be done with this genre.

Trey said...

@Richard - Your right. So much can be (and has been) embedded within this sort of structure. Good thought on the bees, too!

@Seaofstarsrpg - The original Death Race is definitely a good example as are the China Clippers. There's also Around the World in Eighty Days.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

I was infatuated with Wacky Races growing up... ah, so much nostalgia.

Gavin said...

"Challenge of the Wizards" is one of favorite Thundarr episodes. I love that show so much!!! Roger Zelazny's "Damnation Alley" crossed with that episode would be totally freaking awesome.

Alexander Osias said...

"Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space!"

Your adventure / campaign idea got my mind gears cranking. It's a great multi-part trope that can be resurrected for almost any game and allows you to show off key parts of the setting very quickly (it's a race). Brilliant.

Trey said...

Nice to see the Steppenwolf reference appreciated. :)

Good points, the sort of fast intro to the setting is something I hadn't thought of, but it's definitely true.

garrisonjames said...

I'd add a recommendation for Paula Volsky's 'Grand Ellipse,' to this growing list. There's a decent review of Volsky's book here, and at Black Gate. The novel delivers an intriguing race between various different contestants, a lot of skullduggery, soercery, spies and saboteurs, political turmoil and complications--it really is quite well done.

Trey said...

@GJ - Interesting. That's a perfect recommendation!

Lee B said...

The competitors in Redline have courses on different planets, which flows right into a campaign set up. The movie shows what happens when the final track is on an unlucky world guarded by an empire of secretive cyber-warlords with mountain-vaporizing firepower! Does for car races what "Jubei Ninpucho" did for ninjas.