Rad Racer

aka: High Way Star, Highway Star, Speed Racer
Arcade Specs [ all ]
Buy on Arcade
Buy on NES
$9.94 used at eBay
(prices updated 9/24 6:50 PM )

Description official descriptions

Rad Racer is an arcade style 3-D racing game. The object of the game is to race to the goal within the given time limit. Along each course are several checkpoints which will increase the amount of time you have to reach the final destination. There are eight different stages with increasingly difficult roads, changing weather conditions, and a variety of opponents who tend to get in the way. Included with the game is an optional pair of red-blue 3-D glasses which can be used to give the game an even more 3-D appearance.


  • ハイウェイスター - Japanese spelling

Groups +


Credits (NES version)

4 People

Executive Producer (uncredited)
C 1987
Sound Composer (uncredited)
Sound Programmer (uncredited)



Average score: 77% (based on 18 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 50 ratings with 3 reviews)

Classic racer by ... Squaresoft ?

The Good
Well, if you don't know what's Squaresoft (also called Square Co, Ltd), I don't know where you do come from. Anyway, it's the company that developed Rad Racer. Anyone who know Squaresoft knows Final Fantasy (except if you player only Rad Racer, heh, in that case, read first my Final Fantasy review ;-) and anyone who knows Final Fantasy know that little rumor about the release of the very first Final Fantasy on the NES (this is also the very first Final Fantasy trivia on Moby Games). Squaresoft was in trouble, they released only bad games and were gonna to shut down, when they decided to make a big effort to make one great game, and that game was Final Fantasy, the game that did all the popularity and all the greatness of Square. Everyone know this, but nobody care about the bad games that put Square in trouble. What's that exactly ? Believe it or not, this is the only reason while I've player Rad Racer. I wanted to see the games that Square released before Final Fantasy, just for curiosity, and I've been really curious to see if they were that bad. Yeah, Rad Racer has been released by Square before Final Fantasy, but I don't think the game is that bad. First of all, I'm not interested in racers at all. I just hate cars. I prefer listen the nice sing of the birds. This is one of the only racers I've played with some other NES racers (yes, I play all NES games I can regardless of their genre), I remember another one called Spy Hunter that was totally different than Rad Racer. So I can't compare Rad Racer with others racing games stuff, I'll simply say what I think about the game.

The 3d-Road track effect is very impressive. Really, it looks great for a 8-bit system. Square didn't totally have this idea, because another racing game was released by Nintendo in the very early NES years (called F1-race or something), it also comes with 3d perspective, but it was badly done and very far of what is Rad Racer. Not only the track has turns, but the road isn't flat, it has hills and this render a very great 3d-effect. All others stuff, enemy cars, tree, panels, come in various sizes in function of the distance between you and them, to make a pseudo-3d effect. I guess this give an even better effect with red/blue 3d glasses. I tried, but it didn't work at all (maybe because those glasses didn't come with the game package). Nasir, the programmer, seems to be definitely very good at maths stuff with all those graphical effects. In a technical viewpoint, this game is one of the greatest of all the NES history because of all maths stuff that should be behind those 3d effects (this isn't the only time I noted that in an early Squaresoft game).

I liked pretty much how the game plays. You just have to accelerate as much as possible, take turns right, avoid getting squashed by enemy cars, and avoid trees, panels, stones, etc.. that are sometimes on the side of the track. If you hit any of them, your car will do a mega-crash, and you'll lose a lot of time. If you don't complete a part of the track until an amount of time, the game's over and you have to redo the track from the beginning. Pretty interesting, but become too much tough in the later stages (5 - 8) because the amount of time is too much short (accident once and the thing is over).

You can choose between 3 musics or not music at all by pressing the down button at any time. If no music is selected, you'll hear the motor of enemy cars. I liked the music 1 and 3, but I didn't liked much the second one. I know the one who composed these music is the same one who did the whole Final Fantasy series, and he's done MUCH better, but this is still okay.

Last thing, it's the first game by Squaresoft that was released in Europe, and the last one until Secret of Mana.... I've preferred have no Rad Racer release and a Final Fantasy release instead.... but it's still better than nothing.

The Bad
I hate hearing the noise of your motor. This is incredibly scaring. Sometimes I just want to crash to have some seconds of silent. Well, if I had the choose to select a silent Rolls Royce car instead of a F1, I would be happy. Actually, this problem also comes with every other racing games I tried, it was even worse on others, so I won't complain.

Also, the game is too much repetitive. Yeah, you race in different places with different circuits, different backgrounds, against different cars.... but the game is still to much repetitive. If you completed the first track, you can see to yourself than the 7 others are exactly the same with different background and harder. That's all.

The Bottom Line
Rad Racer is definitely a NES classic, thanks to Nintendo that helped Square to produce the game, etc... It was even more popular that Final Fantasy at this time. The problem is that there is no Square logo on the box at all, the name of "Square" is just written once very small behind the box... This isn't nice for Square, remember that they had trouble back at that time, and Nintendo just stole the few great things they made.

Altogether, that game is interesting, and if you like action you may give it a try.

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2005

Warning: Imagination Required!

The Good
See my "description to others" below.

The Bad
I guess if I have to pick one thing, it's that it doesn't have more levels on it.

The Bottom Line
So this game doesn't have all the bells and whistles (and the 1 trillion-bit technology of PS2 or X-Box), but that's what makes this game awesome. It's beauty is in it's simplicity; it harkens back to a simpler time when the world was not about keeping up with the Joneses, but rather having a good time with what you had. This game, hands down, is the best racing game of all time. I remember staying up all night with a (late) buddy of mine and his little brother playing this game with Motley Crue playing on the stereo (a CASSETTE/radio stereo, no CD player anywhere around), and it was, quite frankly, one of my fondest memories. My girlfriend still has a Nintendo system, and guess what game I bought this past Christmas? Yep, Rad Racer. It still holds me in its grip the same as it did on that night all those years ago. And that, fellow gamers, is what makes a classic.

NES · by Kevin Scott (1) · 2003

Not the best the NES has to offer.

The Good
The controls are very responsive and fluent which few other games can play, unlike R.C. Pro-Am you don't shift between pre-set directions, but you are just driving a car as if you were playing it on an arcade. I don't know any other game on our 8-bit friend that does this which makes it rather special. I am especially fond of the turns because they require a great execution or you'll fly off the track.

You aren't really racing against opponents as much as you are trying to make it to the end of the stage. The fact that you are racing against opponents who all know the game better than you do always gives me second though about racing games, so it's nice to see this game takes a different approach. Making it to the end of a stage is also made harder by a very strict time limit, so there is still a lot of challenge to be found here.

Graphically it looks pretty good even though you can see that most of it is just a flat backdrop and the actual game consists only of a handful of obstacles and scenery that are repeated over and over again, it becomes even more impressive when you put on your 3D-glasses, look like an idiot and hit that select button because that is when the game's main selling point is shown. The 3D is even advertised on the box as one of the main features and it doesn't disappoint.

If you fail to make it to the end of the stage, you get to see a map showing how far you got. A very nice touch because it often turned out I was just a few inches away from the next checkpoint or even the finish line which gave me an urge to try again and do it better this time.

The Bad
It's pretty annoying that whenever you hit an obstacle you are launched into the air and have to wait a tedious seven seconds before you are back on the stage again, especially because the timer keeps running. It also makes no sense that when you hit another car, you aren't just slowed down, but you bounce off him like all the vehicles are made from rubber. It's also wonderful when both these problems come together and instantly lose you the entire match.

There are only two cars to choose from which is a little lacking even by NES standards. You get a red one and a white one, none of which are particularly well designed and they just make you wish you were playing something with a little more variety.

The Bottom Line
Rad Racer is pretty good, but unless you are truly interested in the concept of a 3D racing game on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, I would stick to R.C. Pro-Am which truly is the better racer. There is nothing really wrong in terms of graphics, but it just lacks the polish and design that made most NES games so great.

If there is room for more than one racer in your collection then Rad Racer is still worth getting, die-hard NES collectors practically have to own this game because of the 3D graphics, but otherwise don't bother, 2 1/4 stars.

NES · by Asinine (957) · 2011


F1 Machine

The F1 Machine was a Honda powered Lotus 99T, which was driven by Ayrton Senna, and Satoru Nakajima. With the help of Senna, the car won two Grands Prix, and six other podium finishes in 1987. The Lotus was sponsored by Camel cigarettes, which did not appear in the game to not much surprise.

Power Glove

Rad Racer is also compatible with the Power Glove! To see in action, see the movie The Wizard.


For those who are fans of Homestar Runner, the level 1 theme music in this game (when you're winning) is the theme music given to "Stinkoman", also known as the anime Strong Bad.


In Rad Racer the top speed any car can attain is 255 km/h. In the sequel, the top speed is 255 mph. So technically, the car can go around 100 miles faster in the sequel. Also note on the game's US cover that the picture depicts mph while the game features km/h.


The name Rad Racer was used in North America. In Japan, the game is called Highway Star, a name already used by the music band Deep Purple, and Square could not get Deep Purple's permission to use the name of the game. In the US version when choosing the car you want to use, there is still an HS next to the car that you want to pick.

Information also contributed by Alaka, DOS Boot, Scott G, and Robbb

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Rad Racer II
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Identifiers +


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Arcade added by Michael Cassidy.

Additional contributors: Shoddyan, chirinea, Alaka, Freeman, Bregalad.

Game added November 17th, 2002. Last modified September 2nd, 2023.