Retro Review: Enduro Racer

Enduro Racer is a top-down dirt bike racing game for the Sega Master System. The game has a diagonal perspective and is largely focused on keeping your momentum despite various obstacles. It’s a little like Excitebike in some ways, but significantly deeper in gameplay.

Enduro Racer is a short game, with only five courses. During the game each is repeated twice, the second time through with twice as many opponents to deal with. Opponents are essentially just obstacles, as you are racing the clock rather than them. The main mechanic that makes Enduro Racer interesting is that you earn points for each opponent passed during a race, and these points can be saved up to buy various single-race upgrades. These upgrades are quite significant, though they are lost if you crash (and don’t carry over to future races).

The racing is quite fun, but Enduro Racer does lack for much replay value. There’s just the one, ten-race mode, and nothing to do except try to beat your best time. It can be fun to experiment with which of the half-dozen available upgrades works the best on each race, planning out the best possible setup for the full set of 10. All the upgrades essentially let you go faster, which means you can pass more opponents and earn more points for more upgrades. The prices are such that you’re not likely to actually come out ahead, but you can certainly plan out efficient upgrades.

If Enduro Racer were more substantial, it may have been a classic. As it is, it’s a short game that likely won’t keep your attention for that long, but it’s nonetheless pretty fun for its era. I’d recommend tracking it down on the Virtual Console, for no other reason than because the original Master System controller is awful in any game that needs precise controls.

Review Score: C+

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