Codex Gamicus

Death Rally is a top-down perspective racing video game developed by Remedy, published by Apogee and distributed by GT Interactive. It was released on September 6, 1996. In the game, the player starts with $495 and a lowly car named Vagabond (based on the VW Beetle), and must compete in deadly races where all cars are armed (game without guns is an option), and win money by finishing top, collecting money bonus or fulfilling missions. The final goal is defeating the Adversary, the undisputed king of Death Rally. This game was updated for modern operating systems and re-released as freeware by Remedy Entertainment in 2009.[1]


Each car can fit a number of upgrades that increase defense capacities (armor), handling (tires) and top speed (engine). While the chain gun can't be upgraded, as each one is part of each car, it's possible to acquire temporary upgrades at a costlier price. These include bumper spikes, land mines and rocket fuel (which increases speed greatly, but its use damages not only the player car but also any car too close behind). Before each race the player can also ask for a loan and/or bribe a mechanic to tamper with the most powerful opposing car in the race (with the exception of the Adversary's car).

  • Vagabond (based on the Volkswagen Beetle): This is the car players start with. Can handle one engine upgrade, two tire upgrades, and one armor upgrade. Armed with a single small gun.
  • Dervish (a pickup truck): Can handle up to two of every upgrade. Until you get this car, the loan shark won't give you a second look. Armed with a slightly better gun.
  • Sentinel (a sedan): The best car available in the shareware version. Can handle up to two engine upgrades, three tire upgrades, and two armor upgrades. Armed with a large gun.
  • Shrieker (based on the Chevy Camaro): Can handle up to three of every upgrade. Armed with machine guns.
  • Wraith (based on the Porsche 911): Just under the Deliverator in power. Can handle up to three engine upgrades, four tire upgrades, and three armor upgrades. Armed with two large machine guns.
  • Deliverator (based on Mach 5 from Speed Racer): As put by the game, "Prince of the Race". Can be fully upgraded. Armed with deadly chainguns.

Tracks and divisions[]

Each race day has three races divisions open to any driver (to a maximum of 4) regardless of their score, although the game suggests not entering medium races without a Sentinel and hard races without a Wraith. While it might seem tempting to run in more advanced levels (since they award more money and points to the winners), no bonuses or points are awarded if the player is destroyed or finishes the race in last place or more than a full lap behind the leader.

Though a total of 19 tracks exist, half the tracks are duplicates of other tracks, rotated 180 degrees. Certain tracks are only available in certain levels of competition:

  • Suburbia/West End (Easy)
  • Holocaust/Toxic Dump (Easy)
  • Oasis/Palm Side (Easy-Medium)
  • Rock Zone/Hell Mountain (Easy-Medium)
  • Snake Alley/Desert Run (Easy-Medium)
  • Utopia/Complex (Medium-Hard)
  • Bogota/Borneo (Medium-Hard)
  • Downtown/Newark (Medium-Hard)
  • Velodrome/Eidolon (Hard)
  • The Arena (Final Race Only)

All tracks except The Arena are available to all racers in multiplayer.

The player can also gain money through achieving extra objectives, such as destroying all opponents or finishing with 2% damage to the car or less (applies to game with guns only) or winning three races in a row. Prior to a race, the player can also be asked to perform a specific job, either collecting Steroids along the track (and win the race), or eliminating a certain opponent. A successful mission gives the player a significant amount of money, while a failure results in the opposite. Knowing the opposition, the player can either accept or decline the job, if it seems too difficult.


Each character starts with different points, from 100 (the top drivers: Duke Nukem, Jane Honda or Sam Speed) to 0 (the player), and with different cars. The player selects an avatar, and the driver whom he selects will not appear as an opponent. This is an effective way of removing Duke Nukem, as he carries extra protection that makes him very difficult to eliminate.

  • Vagabond drivers: Bogus Bill and Farmer Ted
  • Dervish drivers: Liz Arden, Diesel Joe and Mic Dair
  • Sentinel drivers: Mori Sato, Suzy Stock, Iron John and Cher Stone
  • Shrieker drivers: Lee Vice, Dark Ryder and Greg Peck
  • Wraith drivers: Mad Mac, Motor Mary, Matt Miler and Clint West
  • Deliverator drivers: Jane Honda, Sam Speed, Duke Nukem and Nasty Nick 

Depending on which face is selected, Liz Arden may be driving a Vagabond, Cher Stone a Dervish, Greg Peck a Sentinel, Clint West a Shrieker, or Nasty Nick a Wraith, to keep the number of drivers of each type of car consistent.

Although most of them will stick to their closest divisions, they occasionally race in other divisions, which gives room for some tactics. If the player driving an upgraded Sentinel sees one Deliverator driver in medium, and two Wraith drivers and a Shrieker, it might be worth it to take a shot in the Hard race.

When the player finally makes it to the top spot, he is challenged to face the Adversary. The Adversary drives a souped-up Deliverator that's not available for normal play with prominent chainguns and a rocket engine. Because "no one touches the Adversary's vehicle and lives" according to the Underground Market staff, Sabotage is not available against the Adversary. The final race takes place at The Arena, a slightly oval-shaped circuit. If the player does not want to race the Adversary yet, he has to sit until he drops out of the first spot. Computer drivers can compete in regular races even if they are on the top spot.

Freeware re-release[]

In May 2009 programmer Jari Komppa got in contact with Remedy, volunteering to prepare an open-source release of Death Rally. While releasing the game as open-source could not be agreed upon, Komppa instead started working on porting the game to modern Microsoft Windows systems.[2] In consequence of his work, Remedy released Death Rally as freeware on 20 October 2009.[1]

An article chronicling Komppa's work was printed in an April, 2010 issue of Game Developer Magazine and later posted online.[2]


External links[]

fr:Death Rally