Graveyard: Uniracers

Out back of the Hardcore Gamer office you’ll find our Graveyard, where countless long-dead classics lie. We come here to pay our respects, to reminisce, and to wonder aloud what a passing mad doctor might be able do with all these corpses and some high-definition lightning.

If I told you that racing Unicycles was fun, would you think I was crazy? Well your impression might not be all that far from the truth, but that doesn’t change the fact that Uniracers is an absolute blast to play. Yes it’s Unicyles. Yes its 2D. Yes it’s sidescrolling. Uniracers manages to use all that to its advantage and turn the SNES’ somewhat delayed response to a very well known blue hedgehog, into a wonderful experience all its own. It’s an absolute shame that production was severely limited and halted during its rise in popularity; more on that later.

In Uniracers, there is no story (well there is, but it’s not really in game). You pick a customizable unicycle, race, do stunts and win. It sounds simple, but just how Uniracers implements this simplicity is what makes it so fun. There are two types of competitions: races and stunt tracks. Races are always one on one with an antagonist unicycle whose color is determined by the level of difficulty the race is at. Bronze is bronze, silver is silver, gold is…well you get the idea. There are eight circuits with five courses per circuit. Completing a track within the circuit earns a checkmark, earning a checkmark on all courses earns you a medal for the circuit. Re-enetering the circuit after earning the medal bumps you up to compete for the next higher medal.

uniracers(race)

The action is fast and furious. With three different types of tracks to conquer, the strategies also widely vary. There are “races” which are one long run of a certain distance, “circuits” which are shorter tracks but are multiple laps, and stunt tracks, which feature different ways for your unicycle to catch air and do stunts while trying to top a predetermined score set by the difficulty level the track is being attempted at. Bronze is quite easy. Silver a bit harder, Gold harder still, and then there’s the anti-uni which can hinder you with random hax such as flipping the screen or causing your unicycle to bounce higher than normal.

The action is fast, but not unfair (well except for the anti-uni), as color codes on the track give you a general idea of what is coming up, giving you time to prepare. Performing stunts during races gives you temporary speed boosts, and are mandatory to win. Even to the point of some races coming down to whether you or the computer can jump and do forward rolls faster. Don’t worry, the game controls like a dream and inability to perform stunts will not be from lack of controller fidelity, but rather track setup, which this game drives you to memorize to maximize your speed.

Uniracersback

With a game as fun as Uniracers is, why did it not achieve a higher level of popularity? Unfortunately, that comes down to lawsuits. Apparently Pixar feels that computer rendered unicycles are their intellectual property, and a judge agreed with them, which meant that production of cartridges had to stop. It is a terrible fate for a game that could have done so well.  The carts are still floating around out there, so if you can snag one, Uniracers is definitely worth giving a shot.