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Hindsight : Hot Rod

Cart: Hot Rod
Cab: Arcade / C64 / Amiga
Coin: Sega

Hot Rod is a 4-player birds eye view racing game. It was originally released in 1988 for arcades and 1990 for consoles. I first encountered Hot Rod as a young child in an arcade that was located on the old Martello caravan park in Walton-on-the-Naze, England. The date must have been around the mid-90’s.

This particular arcade machine did not look like many others, as it had multiple steering wheels attached to a base while the game was displayed on a single screen. The version I played had four steering wheels attached, each with their own pedal. But there were versions which had two or three steering wheels. Sound strange? I bet it does. The concept was unique but it was one that worked well.

Hot Rod Arcade cabinet

Now the gameplay: all four opponents would start off with a certain amount of gas, which declined as the game went on. You were able to collect a flashing letter ‘G’ that would add an additional 20 gas to your total. If you ran out of gas before reaching the goal the game would end for that player, with the total carrying over to the next race for the others.

After the race had finished, you entered a shop where you were able to buy upgrades such as new engines, specialised tires such as spiked or speed, bumpers and so on. I think it was the first arcade racing game I played that allowed you to upgrade your car with money.

Hot Rod was not overly popular at my old arcade. It was housed right next to a Street Fighter 2 machine, which was the arcade’s biggest asset. It’s still a game that has been etched into my memory, even though I have never seen it anywhere outside of that particular arcade.

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It saddens me to think that the children of today will most likely never experience playing a game like this with three of their friends. All within a couple of meters of each other. Nowadays they are stuck inside their bedrooms interacting with each other via their headset.

Society may take our arcades, but it will never take our memories!

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Started gaming at the age of 4. I still hear the screams of our old Sinclair Spectrum's loading screen.

Latest posts by Sam Hewitt (see all)

11 Comments

  1. I gotta say, whoever is playing in that video was absolutely terrible at the game. Loved it back in the day, especially the music. I had a high score on one machine for 2 years until they reset it. It was possible to just keep going, once you knew the correct upgrade/gas upgrade path and the optimum route on each stage.

    • Simon Burns Hearing the music played in that video where you go to the shop almost brought a tear to my eye. You say you had a high score on one machine; does that mean you have been fortunate enough to see it in another arcade?

      • Sam Hewitt Simon Burns I had the high score on the one in Walton, but there was one in Clacton on Sea, although it wasn’t a four way tabletop one, but a three way like the one in that picture.

      • Late to this post… but I always liked Hot Rod. Especially where you had four people overlooking one screen on a tabletop!

        That shop music was also used on the Megadrive version of Super Hang On, and I believe is on one of the Fantasy Zone games too!

  2. Another fantastic post bro…  Yeah i remember this game very well.. because it was only 10p a go I played this loads.  Me and Sam were in a league of our own compared to the others kids who were only on holiday and new to the game… we were seasonal professional’s… lol well it seemed that way.   Most other games cost 20p, and it would only last a few mins. so our £1 evening pocket money lasted a little longer with the arcade game’s we knew best.

    • JonHewitt Ahh I remember you standing for hours watching me on Shinobi, and I was sitting in the Nemesis machine when you told me it was your last holiday there.

      • Yes.. all good things come to an end.  happy memories hey!

  3. This reminds me… I need to get round to writing a Hindsight piece on Championship Sprint 😀

  4. I have one of these, how can I find out the value?

  5. Not sure buddy, but you might try these guys as a starting point:

    http://www.libertygames.co.uk/store/video_arcade_machines/classic_arcade_machines/

  6. Thank you Luke!

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