Review by Celtic Forest
Mmm baby, I'm cruisin' the freeway in my cool vehicle...Oh no! The time limit has run out! Gaah!
Ah, Knight Rider! Yes, this was a famous TV-show back in the '80:s, and it was a damn good one too! Our beloved hero Michael Knight (played by our beloved hero David Hasselhoff) and his super-techno vehicle Kitt fought against the evil criminals. Not surprisingly, the popular TV-show spawned a lot of merchandise, and one piece was the inevitable video game. So here we go! Knight Rider for the NES!
To begin with, we can ask the question: how do you transfer the TV-phenomenon into a video game? Answer: By making it a racing game, of course! Knight Rider for the NES is a typical driving simulator with the windshield view, but contains a higher amount of action with less focus on thrilling lap records than most games in the genre. There are two types of gameplay: "Mission" and "Drive". The two modes are very similar, but there are a few minor differences. "Mission" focuses more on a plotline and fighting against the bad guys, "Drive" is simply a race against time to complete the levels as fast as possible, with no enemies included. In mission mode, you can also get access to passwords that allow you to continue where you left off, and Bonnie's spare parts shop where you can upgrade Kitt with various devices (in drive mode, all Kitt's gauges are maxed out from the beginning).
No matter what mode you choose, you are going to race on the same roads. You drive on the paved road on twelve different levels, with a different city backdrop on them all. On your way, you will meet cars in different colours. The blue ones are civilians, so don't harm them. The red ones mean to kill you, so destroy them. There are also green cars and black trucks that can provide you with bonus gadgets if you treat them right. On all stages, your objective is to reach the goal of the stage before the time is up, and before you run out of gas and/or shield power. At the end, a boss awaits you (unless you play the drive mode, where you will just finish the stage).
As the previous paragraph told you, there are plenty of ways to fail in your quest. Kitt was the invincible monster car in the series, but here, he seems to be reduced to a standard scrap metal vehicle. In the series, he had a bullet proof metal cover. In the game, he can only take a few gunshots and he goes down in flames. In the series, he could do super high jumps without losing power. In the game, his gas gauge will run out very fast if you attempt to jump. This makes the whole deal with Kitt and the show a bit pointless. The coolest thing with Knight Rider was to see how invincible Kitt was against the foes. In this game, he seems to be rusty. Of course I understand that they had to input something to give the gamer a challenge, but it still feels a bit off. The time limit is the worst of all the tools of challenge. You begin most of the stages with merely a minute to go before your vehicle shuts off completely, and unless you hold down the gas button directly from the start without letting it go, you won't make it until the end.
Still, Acclaim should get some credit for trying to implement many of the aspects from the series. Kitt can do his super jump, he can drive very fast, and he can also fire missiles and laser beams. The game takes you all around the United States, and some of the backdrops were actually quite nice, like the violet coloured dawn of Toronto and the nice night view of New York. But Knight Rider is still cut short on most of its areas. The layout and ideas on the levels are almost always the same. There is no real feeling of being fast or furious, and the game can be very frustrating with all its restrictions, such as the time limit. The controls are okay, but can often be a bit stiff in high tempo situations. Even if you are a diehard fan of the series, you won't get much out of Knight Rider. It has some nice things, but mostly, you will just race that recycled, poorly programmed, illogical road over and over again. Many players will probably never grasp the concept and fail over and over again on the first levels. Those who do grasp the concept will find the entertainment to last only a short time. Despite the fact that you get twelve levels, they are all similar, and once you have learned to master one of them, you will conquer them all in no time.
Acclaim deserves good words for trying real hard to make a fitting Knight Rider game, but with the lack of power in important sections such as controls, creativity and feeling of speed, Knight Rider doesn't make it very high on the grade list. Unless you are a very crazy fan of the series or racing games in general, you won't enjoy this game.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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