The History of “Rally-X”, Classic Racing Game

Maybe you were too busy adding to your score on the local arcade’s Pac-man cocktail table to realize it, but a different arcade game released at the same time as the famed Pac-man was making arcade game history.

Rally-X was released in 1980, alongside the likes of Pac-man and Defender. Surprisingly enough, when Rally-X was showcased in 1980 next to Pac-man, Defender, and Battlezone, the prediction was that Rally-X would be the most successful out of the four.

As history shows, predictions fail many times, with this as a great example. Pac-man became the highest grossing video game ever. Defender also claims a spot as one of the greatest arcade successes, selling over 55,000 units.

So what was it about racing game Rally-X that failed to attract gamers?

“Rally-X”’s Legacy

Outside of Japan, the game did not receive much attention. However, it did have two defining characteristics that would live on in Namco games and titles by other developers forever. The first? Background music. Rally-X was the first title with continuous background music throughout game play.

The second contribution to future Namco games was the special yellow flag. In addition, Rally-X was the first game to offer a bonus round. It was also unique in that its score sheet never rolled over at 1,000,000.

“New Rally-X” in 1981

Common complaints about play on Rally-X were that it was too difficult, especially in the early levels. Namco tried to remedy this with a revised version of the game, New Rally-X, released a year later. They dropped the amount of enemy cars players had to dodge. While it garnered more attention than the previous title, it never caught on like its fellow gaming cabinets of the time period.

25 years after its release, Rally-X may be a distant memory, but it had an impact on the game design of many classic titles released afterwards.