Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road series

Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road series

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Many kids hadn’t heard of “Ironman” Ivan Stewart before 1985, but within a matter of months, the racing legend was one of the most famous faces in the video game community. Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road gave eager young mudbuggers a chance to compete against the Ironman himself in an off-road race for fortune and glory.

Super Off Road was about as simple as racing games get. Four trucks sped through four laps of an off-road course, seen from a near-overhead perspective. Ivan Stewart ran the grey truck, while the red, blue and yellow could either be operated by a player or by the computer. The controls consisted of a steering wheel, one pedal and a button for a blast of nitro-fueled speed. If you beat the computer-controlled trucks, you played on; if not, you didn’t. These were racing game basics, established since the early days, but the real genius of Super Off Road was in the details.

Each of the eight separate tracks offered realistic challenges and obstacles. Trucks dove through muddy pools of water, rumbled over moguls, ramped over jumps both big and small, and if you weren’t careful, they smashed into walls, flagpoles and other trucks. The physics were fairly realistic, and perhaps most importantly, the trucks were modifiable.

After each race, dollar amounts were awarded to each player, from $100,000 for a 1st place finish to $70,000 for 4th. That cash came in handy at the Ironman’s Speed Shop, where customized accessories took your truck to the next level of competition. For $100,000, you could increase your vehicle’s Top Speed. $80,000 Accelerator upgrades made your truck quicker off the line and after crashes. Shocks, at $60,000 a pop, kept you from bouncing around so much on the course hazards. For $40,000, new Tires helped you corner more tightly. And for $1,000 apiece, you could replenish your supply of Nitro boosts.

Winning races wasn’t the only way to outfit your rig. At various points during the race, moneybags would appear out of nowhere, offering a bonus of $10,000 to $50,000 to the driver who captured it (bonus Nitros were also sometimes available). And if you had plenty of quarters but zero patience, you could plunk in a little extra real cash for a lot of extra game cash.

It wasn’t easy to master Super Off Road. Not only did the other drivers keep getting quicker and smarter, the courses would pull the old switcheroo themselves. Each of the eight tracks—Fandango, Sidewinder, Blaster, Wipeout, Cliffhanger, Huevos Grande, Big Dukes and Hurricane Gulch—would often pop up as backwards courses, forcing even experienced racers to relearn the course map.

It may not have been easy, but there was a clever incentive to keep players coming back for more. At the start of each game, you entered your initials, birthdate and a sponsoring country. When you came back for another game, the machine knew your stats—current salary, number of races run, average times on each track and personal bests. If you wanted to get on the big board of big-money winners, you had to earn it by playing the game until you mastered it.

Super Off Road was a huge hit, spawning several home system versions and a pair of arcade sequels. In 1990, Leland released Ironman Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road Track Pak, a collection of eight brand new courses. In addition, players could now choose to drive the original trucks or bound around in dune buggies.

The latest Super Off Road variant came in 1997. Off Road Challenge had a much different look than its two predecessors. Players now had their own screens, racing from a behind-the-truck perspective. The controls added a 4-speed shifter and clutch, and the trucks now competed in cross-country rallies. Despite the changes, two things hadn’t changed: the thrill of racing through muddy, rugged terrain and the endorsement of “Ironman” Ivan Stewart, a name now known to gamers worldwide.

Arcade Machine Release History

1989 - Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road
1990 - Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road Track Pak
1997 - Off Road Challenge

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