The objective of the game is to complete races across eight different courses around the world. Each course is broken up into four segments, or legs. In order to complete a course, you must drive the length of each leg within the designated amount of time. When you begin a race, you start with a certain number of seconds to complete the first leg. When you complete the first leg, you are awarded more seconds to complete the second leg. Any time that you have left over from the previous leg is added to your time to complete the next leg. If you run out of time before crossing the checkpoint or finish line that marks the end of the current leg, the gas pedal will disengage. Your car will begin to coast and slowly lose speed. During this time, it is still possible for you to cross a check point and be awarded more time for the achievement. However, if your car's speed is reduced to 0 before you cross a check point, you game will be over. At that time, you will be shown the map of the course, along with dots that indicate just how far you traveled.
Throughout the race, you must strive to stay on the road. Failing to stay on the road will result in you sliding off into the shoulder where various signposts and objects are situated. If you hit any of these objects in the shoulder, your car will crash. It is also possible to crash by driving at a very high speed and rear-ending a very slow moving car. Such slow moving cars will appear to advance up the road to you very quickly due to the difference in your speeds. Always be on the lookout for such slow moving cars.
Crashing will cause your car to flip up in the air and bounce along the ground before coming to rest. Once you car stops moving, it will be slowly brought back to the exact center of the road. You will only be permitted to begin driving again when you car is situated in the center. This process is slow and costly since the timer continues to count down at all times. The farther from the center you land, the longer it takes to get started again. If, however, you manage to crash in such as way that your last bounce lands the car closer to the center of the road, you will be permitted to drive again sooner.
The most important strategy throughout Rad Racer is to stay inside the boundary of the road. It is far more important to stay off the sides of the road than it is to move as fast as possible. Moving fast is good, but if you drive too fast to stay on the road and crash into something, you will lose more time than if you had just slowed down to avoid slipping off the road. Therefore, a good driver should understand the best times to accelerate, the best times to use Turbo, and even the best times to use the brakes.
When to accelerate
In general, it is safe to assume that you should accelerate most of the time, but there are conditions when you should not accelerate. If you are moving around 220 km/h and over, you may wish to stop accelerating, especially when you are traveling uphill, and your view down the road is limited. At such high speeds, crashing into the back of a much slower moving car will not bump you back, it will flip you over costing you valuable seconds. It is less common to encounter such slow moving cars on early courses, but they appear with increasing frequency as you progress. It is also unwise to accelerate if you are moving around a sharp turn, and you are having significant difficulty remaining in one particular lane. Only accelerate when your car is under control and you want to overcome any loss of speed around the turn.
When to Turbo
There are two general occasions to use Turbo. If your speed is between 90 and around 170 km/h, you should always use Turbo, depending on the sharpness of the turn you're on. For very sharp turns, you may wish to stay off Turbo above 150 km/h. The second occasion to use Turbo is when you are on straightaways and very slight turns. During these times, you can take advantage of the fact that you don't have to worry about sliding off the road, and drive as fast as possible to improve how much remaining time you have. However, you must still be careful over speeds of 220 km/h for the reason explained above; very slow moving cars can cause you to crash at high speeds.
When to brake
Rad Racer is not the kind of game where you can afford to ignore the brakes. They are instrumental for keeping your car on the road and preventing you from losing valuable time. Always remember, it's much better to drive slow through a turn and stay on the road than to drive really fast and crash. When taking a turn, pay attention to the amount of grip your tires lose on the road, and the amount of squealing that occurs. The tighter the turn, and the faster you drive, the more these two things will occur. If they become great enough, you will begin to slip off the road. When you start losing that much control, tap the brakes to slow yourself back down and at least stay in the outside lane. If a car is occupying the lane that you're about to slide into, it's a good idea to tap the brakes then as well. Hitting another car on the corner or from the side will cause you to lose more control of your car than bumping into it from behind.
Knowing how to be an effective driver is only one part of the game. If there were no other cars on the road, you wouldn't have much to worry about. Knowing how to deal with traffic is just as important as knowing how to deal with turns. Fortunately, the computer controlled drivers of Rad Racer follow some rules that you can take advantage of.
- No two cars can occupy the same lane.
- When you look down the road ahead of you, you will always see three lanes of traffic throughout the game. These lanes can only ever be occupied by one opponent car at a time, no matter how far apart they are. Therefore, if you see three cars ahead of you, it is a guarantee that none of them will change lanes, and you are free to maneuver around them without fear until one of them disappears behind you, or off in the distance.
- Cars never change speed (unless you hit them).
- The speed that you see a car driving at is the speed it will remain at as you approach it. This will not change unless you collide into the back of it. If that happens, a little of your momentum (but not much) will transfer into the vehicle ahead of you, and you will slow down quite a bit. By hitting a car squarely from behind, you can instantly slow yourself down faster than braking, which can be advantageous in some situations. If you have to hit a car, it is far better to hit them directly from behind than to hit them on the corner or from the side. If you hit the corners or the sides, you will be bounced around far more forcefully and lose control of the car.
These two rules should help you understand what to expect when driving down the road. If there is only one or two cars in the lane ahead of you, they will be free to move in and out of any unoccupied lanes. As you complete courses, their tendency to pull into the lane directly in front of you will increase, and they will do so at greater speeds. In this case, you must move into an open lane, and use Turbo to quickly accelerate ahead of them before they have a chance to follow you into the new lane.
One situation to watch out for is getting "boxed" in the outside lane of a turn. If you are driving around a turn, and there is a nearby car in the center lane, your tendency will be to pull into the outside lane of the turn to get around it. However, if there is a slower moving car further ahead in the outside lane, you can become boxed in that lane, unable to pull back into the center lane, and unable to avoid crashing into the car ahead of you. This is a dangerous situation, and should be avoided at all costs. If you see this situation, slow down, and try to stay behind the center car until you pass the car in the outside lane, or until the turn straightens out, and you are able to slip around the center car in the open lane.