New Rally-X

New Rally-X

New Rally-X

New 26 years ago, anyway.

There are innumerable retro classics that instantly warrant a place on Xbox Live Arcade. Now and then we sit down over a few pints and get all dewy eyed about the past and reel off a giant list of all those all-time greats that we'd love to revisit. Never once has New Rally-X appeared on that list, and yet here it is, shining proudly as the latest ancient title to be dusted off for the Xbox Live Arcade treatment.

Released way back in the arcade boom years of 1981, its continual reappearance on the five billion Namco retro compilations put out over the past decade has been mystifying enough. Despite reportedly being a big hit in Japan and 'modestly' popular in the rest of the world, it certainly never featured in any of the bustling arcades I used to visit as a pre-teenager, if that tells you anything. But despite its charming simplicity, it just doesn't have the iconic, evocative charm which oozes out of the many classic arcade titles that Namco issued around that era, such as Galaga, Pac-Man, Xevious and Dig Dug.

And yet here we are in 2007 and most of us old-schoolers have managed to accumulate at least three copies of the flippin' thing by osmosis, and have probably acquired a MAME Rom to boot. Just to make extra, extra sure, Namco has somehow convinced Microsoft to slap it up on its expanding download service for the princely sum of 400 points - but you'll see all you need to see on the free trial download.

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New Rally-X on XBLA

Pac-Man learns to drive.

Rally driving doesn't wait for anybody, not even Jesus. So, while we were indulging in the Christmas festivities, retro-heads at Microsoft squeezed this 1981 classic online.