Promotional flyer, showcasing the arcade cabinets used for the title
Developer(s) Namco
Composer(s) Nobuyuki Ohnogi
Platform(s) Arcade, Various
Release date(s)
  • JP: November 1980
  • NA: January 1981(manual)
Genre(s) Maze, Driving
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer
Cabinet Upright, cabaret, and cocktail
Arcade system Rally-X
CPU 1x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
Sound 1x Namco WSG (3-channel mono) @ 3.072 MHz, Discrete
Display Horizontal orientation, Raster, 288 x 224 resolution

Rally-X (ラリーX Rarī-Ekkusu) is a driving game set in an overhead, scrolling maze, released in arcades by Namco, and licensed in 1980 to Midway Games for US manufacture and distribution in 1981. It was the first game with background music, and the first game to feature a bonus round. It was Namco's first game with "special flags", to become a recurring object in later games, and the first of only three Namco games of its time period whose score display did not roll over at 1,000,000.

The object of the game is to collect all of the flags scattered around the maze before the red cars catch it. A radar shows the locations of the flags, but not the maze walls.[1]


The player drives a blue car around a multi-directional, scrolling maze. The car automatically moves in whichever direction the joystick is pushed, but if it runs into a wall, it will turn and continue. In every round, ten flags are scattered around the maze. The player must collect all of them to clear the round and move on to the next round. The flags increase in value as they are collected: the first is 100 points, the second is 200, the third is 300, and so on. There are also special flags (indicated by the letter "S") — if the player collects one of them, the value earned from flags doubles for the rest of the round.[2] If the player dies, however, the next flag value is set back to 100 and the double bonus is lost. By collecting the special as the first flag with all 10 flags in one run, the maximum points the player can obtain from each round is 11000. The player will also obtain a fuel bonus after the round is complete, and it varies depending on how much fuel is remaining according to the fuel gauge.

This the first Namco game to have a soundtrack of background music. This is also the first Namco game to have a bonus round.

Several red cars chase the blue one around the maze, and contact with any of them results in losing a life when hit. The number of these cars begins at three and increases in number throughout each normal round to eight. The first five appear at the bottom of the maze, and the next three will appear at the top of the maze. However, the player has a smoke screen, to use against the red cars. If a red car runs into a cloud of smokescreen, it will be momentarily stunned (but will still kill the player on contact). The amount of time stunned decreases with each level, but will still always cause the red car to chase the blue car using an alternate route. Using the smokescreen uses a small amount of fuel, and using it more than once every 30 seconds will almost ensure that it runs out before the round finishes.

The car has a limited amount of fuel which is consumed with time, though it is normally sufficient to last until all ten flags have been collected. When fuel runs out, the car moves very slowly and the smoke screen no longer works, so it very quickly falls victim to the red cars. If the player should clear any round without any fuel remaining (a rare occurrence), he will not receive a fuel bonus as a result.

There are also stationary rocks that the player must avoid. The rocks are randomly distributed throughout the maze, increasing in number as the game progresses. Unlike the cars and flags, their positions are not shown on the radar, so the player has to be careful for them. The rocks will also kill the player on contact, so the player has to be careful not to get trapped between rocks and the red cars. If this happens there is no escape.

On the third stage and every fourth stage after that, a bonus stage ("CHALLENGING STAGE") will start. The player must collect flags in the normal way, but the red cars (the maximum normal number of red cars, which is eight), are unable to move. If the player runs out of fuel, the red cars will start moving. If a player hits a red car or a rock, the challenging stage ends but the player will not lose a life. Once the player has run out of lives, the game will be over; if he or she had the highest score of the day, the game will tell them so.


In 1980, Battlezone, Defender, and Pac-Man were shown alongside Rally-X at a trade show sponsored by the Amusement Machine Operators of America. It was believed that Rally-X would be the top money-earner. Defender went on to sell more than 60,000 units — more than disproving these projections — and cemented its place in video game history.[3] Meanwhile, Pac-Man went on to sell more than 350,000 arcade units,[4][5] and it became the highest-grossing video game of all time.[6]


Rally-X was ported to the Japanese MSX home computer, on March 30, 1984. It was later included in Namco Museum Volume 1 for the Sony PlayStation in 1995, Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection in 2005, and the Pac-Man's Arcade Party 30th Anniversary compilation arcade game in 2010. A carbon copy of this game (along with one of New Rally-X) was also included in the compilation title Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2 in 1996.

Jakks Pacific ported Rally-X to its Namco Collection TV game, which also includes Galaxian, Pac-Man, Bosconian and Dig Dug.


Title(s) Platform(s) Release date(s) Developer Publisher(s) Notes
Auto Chase VTech CreatiVision 1981 VTech VTech
Radar Rat Race Commodore VIC-20
Commodore 64
1981 HAL Laboratory Commodore Cars are replaced with mice, flags with cheese, boulders with cats, and smoke screens with "star screens".
Driver Oric-1
Oric Atmos
1984 François Lionet Dialog Informatique Added in this version the speed limit signs.[7]
Mí Hún Chē / BB Car NES 1988 (Mí Hún Chē)
1991 (BB Car)
Hwang Shinwei Chi Chi Toy Co. (Mí Hún Chē)
RCM Group / JY Company (BB Car)
Released on Famicom multicarts, was added an initial option for the choice of a level to start. From Stage 2 (Level 1), the smoke screens is replicated by "shape screens".
Jovial Race NES 1989 Joy Van Joy Van
Milmar (Brazil only)
Added in this version the ? symbol, food, and other items that give the random scores.


The game's sequel, New Rally-X (released in 1981), offers a slightly different color scheme and easier gameplay (the special flag now flashes on the radar, and there are fewer red cars). A new flag called the "Lucky Flag" was also added, which awards the player bonus points for the amount of fuel remaining when collected, after which the car is refueled,[2] and the round continues if there are still flags remaining. New Rally-X was manufactured in greater numbers and became more popular (at least in Japan) than the original game.

The compilation arcade game Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2 (released in 1996), includes a version of the game with enhanced graphics and gameplay called Rally-X Arrangement (but it did not have multiplayer capability). Namco Museum Remix, which was released on October 23, 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, also features a revamped version of the game, known as Rally-X Remix, with was also included in Namco Museum Megamix.

Another revamped sequel, Rally-X Rumble, was released on Apple's iOS platform on August 17, 2011.


  1. Rally-X at the Killer List of Videogames
  2. 1 2 Except if that is the last flag collected in a certain round.
  3. Source: Midway Arcade Treasures bonus material.
  4. Marlene Targ Brill (2009), America in the 1980s, Twenty-First Century Books, p. 120, ISBN 0-8225-7602-3, retrieved May 1, 2011
  5. Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen (2001). "Game of the Week: Pac-Man". GameSpy. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  6. Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond: the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world, Prima, p. 143, ISBN 0-7615-3643-4, retrieved May 1, 2011, Despite the success of his game, Iwatani never received much attention. Rumors emerged that the unknown creator of Pac-Man had left the industry when he received only a $3500 bonus for creating the highest-grossing video game of all time.
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