Retro Game of the Day! RC Pro-AmRC Pro-Am was a very early Rare effort on the NES, released in 1988. I am not sure, might have been their 2nd or 3rd title for the hardware perhaps? I believe the first was a skiing game called Slalom - anyway, RCP was definitely their first particularly notable NES title!
I remember seeing preview screens for this game back in the heyday of the Nintendo Fun Club magazine (precursor to the more modern, long-running Nintendo Power). What's this, some kind of racing game with - remote control cars? Okay, whatever. Just show me more pics of Zelda II, that's what I really want!
Well, Zelda II turned out to be an inexplicably protracted wait, so other things had to suck up some attention and this game was certainly one of them. After the showing it got in the mags, I definitely took a chance and picked it up - and upon loading the game up, I was impressed! This game was one of the forebears of modern kart racers, in that you had your typical race going on and you could zoom over zip pads for short bursts of speed, and (more importantly) you could pick up a small arsenal of armaments to get a little leg up on the competition. Mostly, this consisted of rockets you could launch at cars ahead of you, or bombs you could set for those poor suckers chasing your tailpipe. Enemies would never "die," they'd just crash and momentarily be out of commission. That's all it takes to lose critical placement in an RC race, though!
In addition there were other track hazards (oil slicks, water puddles, etc) and a bevy of twisty course designs, all of them thoughtfully laid out. You were locked in competition with 3 comptuer-controlled rivals, all vying for first place (but so long as you weren't last, you'd usually be around for future races, if my memory is correct). You could pick up enhancements to your vehicle (left around the track) to basically sweeten your ride's abilities over time - stickier tires, faster boost, etc. The big jewel was collecting the letters to spell "Nintendo," a letter would appear 1 to a track. Get them all and you'd receive a full-car upgrade to a more advanced, more powerful model. This was not easy to do - I seldom got the second model, and the third only ONE TIME. But man. Let me tell you - that was a nice ride.
In all, RC Pro-Am was a wonderful little game, just another quality title in Nintendo's stable which assured them they were top dog for some time! Revisions came out years later (Game Boy and NES, and then even Sega Genesis) most of these supporting multiplayer play - but for me, I only spent real time with the first, and it was plenty for me (in a good way). Cheers to this game and I'd love to find one like it on XBLA or something..!