Retro Coin Op Synopsis

It’s tempting to think of Rally-X as another Pac-Man clone with a little Defender thrown in for good measure. Tempting, but wrong, because these three games all happened to be contemporaries. In fact, of the group, Rally-X was supposedly the game to beat, the hot new title at the 1980 Amusement Machine Operators of America trade show. Obviously, the game was eventually overshadowed by its two unheralded rivals, but Rally-X’s speedy mix of maze navigating and traditional racing made it a sizeable hit of its own.

Like Pac-Man (another Namco-produced, Bally Midway-distributed game), Rally-X was set in a maze, with your player being chased by several destructive enemies. This maze, however, was mostly off-screen at any given time, forcing gamers to keep glancing at the handy course radar at the side of the screen (shades of Defender).

The game’s object was to collect 10 flags that were scattered at various points along the course, but limited fuel and a handful of player-hating red rival cars made this a tricky task. The radar showed the location of the remaining flags and every “chaser” car, letting players pick a course that would maximize fuel and minimize risk.

When chaser cars did threaten, your car could throw off a confusing smoke screen with the touch of a button, but that cost even more precious fuel. Scattered rocks also blocked some paths, forcing players to change course at a moment’s notice.

Once all flags were collected, the game moved on to a fresh course, regularly changing around the maze and adding more and more chaser cars. As a bit of a breather (but not much of one), “Challenging Stages” occasionally appeared, allowing your car to roam the maze without chaser interference for a limited time, trying to collect every flag before the fuel ran out.

Rally-X earned its own share of fans, and despite having to turn over the spotlight to fellow Namco star Pac-Man, the game did well enough to spark a sequel, New Rally-X, in 1981. The new edition made the game faster, while also throwing in fuel-adding “Lucky” flags. The game was a clear improvement in most players’ eyes, but once again, the Rally-X family had to play also-ran to the Pac-clan, as Ms. Pac-Man gobbled up the hearts and quarters of players worldwide.

Arcade Machine Release History

1980 - Rally-X
1981 - New Rally-X

Arcade Game Sub Categories


Machine Manufacturer

Namco, Bally Midway

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