In the late 80s and early 90s, Monster Trucks were as cool as it got. It was only a matter of time before someone made a Monster Truck video game which developer Realtime Associates and publisher INTV Corp did in 1991 when they released Monster Truck Rally for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m on a quest to find the ultimate Monster Truck game, would I find it with Monster Truck Rally? Hint: I would not, this is to date my worst scored game for reviews.
There’s not a story to Monster Truck Rally, so let me share my childhood love and secret obsession with Monster Trucks. I had a VHS tape when I was a kid that I would watch once a week at least. It was called “Return of the Monster Trucks” and it featured my all-time favorite truck “Big Foot”. He was blue, (my favorite color) and he won almost all the events. There was nothing color than watching the power of Monster Trucks, and I was hooked.
Fast forward about twenty years and I hadn’t watched the VHS since I was a young kid. I found it on YouTube, and oh boy did that open up a wormhole. I was watching Monster Trucks Rallies from the 80s and early 90s. I learned all the truck names like Equalizer, No Problem, Carolina Crusher, Jersey Outlaw, SnakeBite, Thunder Chicken, USA 1, and of course Grave Digger. I couldn’t stop watching these rallies and it made me crave the perfect Monster Truck video game. I had a Monster Truck game for the PlayStation 2 from my middle school days and while I liked it as a kid, it’s absolute garbage during my review session. So my hunt begins at the earliest Monster Truck game that I know of, Monster Truck Rally for the NES.
The cover art for Monster Truck Rally looks great. It shows a blue monster truck (Probably Big Foot) jumping over cars. If I was a kid, it totally would have drawn me in. The box art is unfortunately the last compliment I will give Monster Truck Rally. It’s a terrible game, let me tell you why.
Starting the game up you’ll be greeted with an ugly menu of a Monster Truck with flat tires jumping. When you hit start you’ll see a long list of options on the menu. Monster Truck Rally is very customizable, you’ll be able to choose the color of your truck, you can select the difficulty of the computer trucks, the direction of the laps, how many laps, and even a course builder. It gives you plenty of options but it all goes to waste once the actual gameplay starts.
There are tons of events to choose from but they all suck. I tried them all to see if there were any that stood out but none of them did. The first event I did was the “Hill Climb”, this was before I had played any of the game and had plenty of enthusiasm. I remember hill climbs from the 80s, where Monster Trucks would go down a hill and race back up a giant hill to see if they could make it to the top. A lot of them would fail so I thought the event might be a button masher to see how high my truck could go. Instead, it was me and three other trucks who “raced” a course that just had some hills on it. The race was way too long taking almost ten minutes and the other trucks blew me away within ten seconds so I was basically racing against myself the entire time. The trucks look nothing like “Monster Trucks” and could be confused for ordinary trucks, they lacked the signature huge tires and generally looked bad. Good luck winning in any event as I had the difficulty on a “1” which I think was the easiest but I lost every event except one which I’ll get to in a second.
I tried the “Drag Race” next and it was just a straight shot. I had hoped that it would be a quick race over some cars like they do at the rallies but it was just a flat dirt track and like the first event the computer blew me out. Next was the “Bog” race where the hills were replaced with bodies of water. It didn’t matter if you jumped over the bog or not, the race wasn’t fun, and driving through the bog just slowed me down like driving up the hills in the course. I understand there should be some slowdown but my truck was going 5 mph and took forever to drive six inches on the screen.
My last chance for excitement was the “car crush” event. It’s my favorite part of rallies. I love watching them race over cars crushing them and destroying them. Yes, I was able to run over cars, but the cars had almost no damage and just acted like a ramp. The other trucks did very little damage to the cars, but my truck didn’t do anything. I turned around and went over them again and again since I was so far behind in the “race” but the cars didn’t change. What a joke!
There’s a “tug of war” where a rope is tied behind two trucks. I tried this and mushed the button but thankfully the other truck pulled mine and beat me within six seconds. Whatever, this game sucks. Sled Pull is up next and I mashed the button to pull the sled as the weight increased. This was about as close to “realistic” as the game was. It was boring but I appreciated the event as early events in the 80s had these. The last two events were “Drawbridge” where you race on a course with ramps that go up and down. (Just as terrible as the other races) and a donut challenge that I actually won. It’s a tiny circular course where you just go around against another truck. There was no skill or no donuts to be done. Thank God the events were over.
Thankfully I have none or else my love for Monster Trucks might be ruined.
Monster Truck Rally has ever ideal event you’d want to see at a Monster Truck Rally but wastes every single opportunity to be realistic or fun. The courses are repetitive, dull, and lack any excitement. The trucks look ordinary, and the “car crushing” is a joke. Any fun against the computer will be impossible to find but if you want to play a terrible game with your friends, Monster Truck Rally offers a four-player mode. My search for the perfect Monster Truck game continues as this is one of the worst games I’ve ever played in general.
Monster Truck Rally scores a 3.5 out of 10.
Do you remember when Monster Truck Rally first came out? Were there any events that you were good at? Was your love for Monster Trucks ruined by this game? Did your childhood judgment make you think this game was fun? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Monster Truck Rally, you can purchase a used copy of it for the NES for $16 on eBay.