Unicycles, high speeds, colorful tracks and a plethora of tricks have made this SNES title a classic for any collector. Tragically, the game is super rare due to a lawsuit, and only 300,000 copies were ever distributed.
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Welcome to my review of Uniracers. In some areas of the world, this game known as “Unirally“, I shall be using the american title, as that’s what I’ve always called it.
The game was designed by British developers known as “DMA Design Limited,” now known as “Rockstar North Limited“.
On the surface, Uniracers plays like any standard racing game. The goal is to come in first place, or pull off stunts to achieve points in order to pass the stage. The game is sometimes silly or completely absurd. When it comes down to the naming of the tracks or the trick, this all boils down to the game’s core goal.
Uniracers is all about plain stupid fun. Unabashedly wearing idiocy on its sleeve and not giving a rats ass about who that annoys. Unicycles ride on a bombastic 2D tracks, riderless, and with a tenacity that could only come from the most insane stunt rider.
You’re more likely going to be paying attention to the track rather than what your unicycle happens to be doing. This is by design, as stunts will be your key game-play mechanic. They can’t be readily ignored.
Performing stunts causes the unicycle to go faster during races, and certain stages require stunts in order to reach a point threshold.
Overall, the stunts that can be performed are generally easy to do. There is a very low barrier to entry on basic tricks. For one of the easiest, all you do is to get some air and mash a single button. By doing that your unicycle will twist around in the air. This is called a twist, or some variation of the name
None of the stunts are overly difficult on their own, but the tracks can make them exceptionally harder to pull off. The idea is to be able to perform these stunts quickly in tight situations, all while avoiding a “wipe out” that will slow you down.
There are a few types of stages, obviously called tracks. Race tracks, circuit tracks and stunt tracks are evenly spread across the entirety of the game. There are nine total tours with five tracks each. Each tour contains two race and circuit tracks, and one stunt track. Mastering each type is the only way to achieve gold medals.
There are two types of skill curves in this game. The racers you face and the tours you race in.
So, let’s talk tours first. As I said, there are nine tours. Each tour is named after an animal, complete with a goofy looking icon letting the player know exactly what they’re in for. Filling the early game you have Crawler, Shuffler and Walker respectively.
Frankly these are the tracks I like the best. I’m an average player, by far not the best. I flat out suck at some of the tours. I’ve beaten all the gold metal tours before as a child, and for the sake of this review, but that was only after months of playing.
I’m not great at this game, but I know it isn’t just me. This is a hard racing game to play to completion due to the style the game is played in. The tracks in every tour can be hard on the eyes due to the color splashes, and depending on the opponent it’s supposed to be completely unfair. More on that later.
Crawler acts as your starting tutorial. It is easy to play even on the bronze setting. It edges the player into the game fairly gently given that it is a high octane racing game.
Meanwhile Shuffler and Walker hone your newly discovered skills. You’re going to need them. The game isn’t unfair with it’s skill curve, but it’s certainly steeper in later tours on bronze and completely unforgiving on gold.
Hopper is your first step into intermediate tours and tracks. By this point in the game, you not only need to know tricks, you need to know when to best utilize them. On bronze it’s a clear ramp up, on gold it’ll eat an unprepared player alive.
Prior to this point, the need for tricks were fairly minimal, and most tracks could be won simply by paying attention to the course, or getting some air and just spinning around in circles.
In fighting games there are techniques known as “first order optimal strategies” or “FOO strategies”. This is a strategy that new players repeat on end because the attack is effective enough to serve their needs. They have no need to learn other stunts until the skill curve rises above the simple ones they’ve picked up. I use this this same analogy when it comes to Uniracers.
The easy tricks will carry you all the way to Hopper. Then you’re going to get slapped in the face by tracks that are no longer toying around. You’re not going to be able to pass the Hopper tour without knowing when to utilize your tricks.
Still, you don’t need to use many of them on the races. You just need to use them well. Jumper and Bounder continue this upward curve in skill steadily.
The next huge stretch in difficultly curve is Runner and Sprinter. These tours promise to make you eat dirt on your stunts, and demand that you’re able to follow the flow of tracks effectively.
I don’t have much to say on Runner or Sprinter because even though it’s a jump in difficulty, it’s an expected one. Let’s be honest, we all know what the worst set of tracks really are. We also know what unicycle is to blame for all of it.
Hunter is the final tour, and it’s as intense as the name sounds. All of your skills need to be utilized, and sometimes it comes down to good RNG.
There is very little room for error on the tracks, and the errors you do make can only be corrected with a combination of well placed stunts and pure luck. Even on bronze, Hunter is no joke. Now, you’ll also notice this is the only one showcasing a “gold” rating, and that’s because to see the final boss in all of his glory I had to get it.
To get that gold rating, it took me several weeks of playing races over and over again to even get all the medals required. It wasn’t very fun because I hate gold level play, but there it is… stupid thing…
Though, as I said, there are two forms of difficulty in this game. The tracks are only half the battle.
Onto the racers then. Each track has a bronze, silver, and gold opponent to race against. That means each track needs to be completed three times to have a chance at completely clearing the game.
I won’t bother with screenshots for the first three opponents, since they’re all just different colored unicycles. It’s the last one you face that matters. If your persistent enough to get all the medals the final boss is a special kind of hell.
Bronze medal courses have you racing against Bronson. In the vast majority of my time playing the game as a child, I raced against him. For my casual style as an adult, bronze races suit me best when I’m trying to just relax.
In the early game, Bronson rarely performs stunts to gain speed, and to my experience doesn’t seem to take provided shortcuts. In later tours it’s the tracks that provide the upward difficulty curve, not Bronson himself. He is your baseline barrier to entry on every track, and beating him opens up the silver race.
Silver medal courses have you racing against Silvia, a much more skilled opponent. Silver races are where I find myself most commonly playing when I want a decent challenge. She’s not too difficult, but if you have mastery of the tracks, she’ll give you a good test.
Unlike Bronson, Silvia uses tricks often, and in the right places. She will occasionally use shortcuts as well. She’s difficult to play against if you aren’t using the track to your advantage. New players will be able to learn by observation. A skill that you’ll need in any gold medal race. If you have a track giving you problems, learn by following her.
In gold medal courses, you’re up against Goldwyn. The training wheels are off with this guy. He’ll put you to the test as early as Crawler for casual players and by the Hopper tour he means serious business for anyone that isn’t an expert in the game.
Completing every tour against Goldwyn unlocks the final boss of the game. This monstrosity is named “Anti Uni”, a black and red unicycle that plays dirty. It openly cheats and often ends up throwing attacks at you. Honestly, I hate this thing for all the right reasons.
“Anti Uni” will do everything in its power to screw you over. From making the screen wobble, forcing sections of the track to disappear, and just flat out slowing you down.
This jerk even goes so far as to cackle at you like a deranged chipmunk when it has gained the upper hand. With attacks such as “barf mode” and “screen flip” messing with you at every opportunity, this boss is the most aggriavating thing I’ve ever seen in a racing game.
I won’t lie, I couldn’t get a decent image of “barf mode” because I can’t really look at it for too long without it hurting my eyes. For me, it’s a bit blinding. Screen flip, which turns everything upside down, is by far bad enough.
“Anti Uni” only appears on the Hunter tour, and as an average player I’ll openly admit I’ve never beaten this stupid thing in a gold race.
That’s why I much prefer Bronze and Silver metal races and earlier tours. Playing beyond Silvia just doesn’t have appeal to me. The fact I can choose the skill curve I like best and still enjoy all of the tracks is why I love this racing game so much.
Now, to be fair I have seen my older brother win races against “Anti Uni” at his most difficult when we were kids several times, so I know it’s beatable. I was just never able to do it myself.
With all of that, said I come down to one simple conclusion. The sentiment at the start of this post bears repeating. Uniracers is plain, stupid fun.
At the best of times, the game is tenacious and bombastic in every aspect. Sentient unicycles speeding around on flashy track designs, with over the top rock music playing over them.
As a player you’re pulling stunts that have dumb names sometimes. The combination of gameplay is incredibly immature in some places, and just goofy in others. The game is better for it. In that way, Uniracers offers a high octane experience that’s just hard to match.
In the worst of times, the game is just flat out annoying and sometimes it even tries to be. It can also be very hard to play due to some of the tracks being hard to look at. One of Hunter’s tracks named “Neon” proves my point perfectly.
All that black background smashed against neon green and red? Yeah, that’s grounds for a bunch of not so very nice four letter words in my book. Especially when I need to redo the track for the umpteenth time.
To make that worse, the cocky and belligerent boss unicycle at the end of the game will absolutely screw with you. It has a laugh that inspires the sort of fury that can have you tossing your controller at your screen.
Then again, this game is from the same company that made the original “Grand Theft Auto“. I shouldn’t need to say any more than that. If you love racing games with that kind of devil may care attitude, you’ll love Uniracers.
It’s just that simple.
Maybe someday soon I’ll talk about the lawsuit that crippled Uniracers from being a common household name. However, that’s a complicated topic that requires a video all of it’s own, and that’ll be for another day.
Until then, everyone. This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”.
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