Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road was originally developed in 1989 by Leland Corporation as an arcade video game. A number of console versions soon followed, including NES, Atari, and Amiga. A PC version was also developed. Some of the home console versions were released by Tradewest, a subsidiary of the Leland corporation.
A separate version of the game, absent the celebrity endorsement but with a few extra features, was released as simply Super Off Road. This is the version found on most consoles, excepting the NES.
In the original arcade version, up to three players could race simultaneously. The arcade machine had actual steering wheels used to control the car. In the NES version up to four players could play simultaneously by using a 4-player adaptor such as the NES Four Score or the NES Satellite. The game controls and overall design were modeled after Super Sprint, a racing game produced by Atari Games.
During the course of the game, players would cycle through a set of eight different off-road tracks, racing with one of four coloured trucks (silver being supposedly driven by celebrity race truck driver Ivan Stewart himself). Although there were only eight different track designs, the game would rotate through them, increasing difficulty each time. In total, there were 99 races before completing the game.
Winning races allow the player to continue racing and gave the player money to spend on upgrading his or her truck. The winner was determined by the money accumulated at the end.
If the player lost races and got a game over, continues were available. In the NES version continuing meant losing all money that had been accumulated.
Super Off Road was innovative as it was one of the first racing games that allowed players the freedom to add customizable upgrades to their vehicle. This customization was a big part of the game and balancing the truck's abilities was necessary for success.
Available upgrades were Acceleration, Tires, Top Speed, Shocks, and Nitros.
- Acceleration: Increases the truck's acceleration
- Tires: Improves the truck's handling during turns
- Top Speed: Increases the trucks's maximum speed
- Shocks: Improves the truck's ability to recover after landing jumps
- Nitros: Temporary boost in speed
All upgrades except for nitros had a maximum of 5 levels of upgrade. Nitros were a non-permanent addition that could be consumed during races. An on-screen display informs the player how much nitros remains in the truck. Proper timing of nitros use was a key to victory.
Race truck drivers mentioned in the game were named after real people. However, only Ivan Stewart (silver truck) was an actual driver in real life. The drivers of the red, blue, and yellow trucks were named after developers that had worked on the game. These developers included "Madman"Sam Powell (red truck), "Hurricane" Earl Stratton (blue truck), and "Jammin" John Morgan (yellow truck). Sam was a music composer whereas Earl and John were programmers.
When the game was released as part of the compilation Midway Arcade Treasures 3, the Ivan Stewart licence was removed. In this version, the silver truck was instead driven by "Lightning" Kevin Lydy, another programmer that had worked on the game.
A track pack was added to the game as an add-on board available for arcade units. This upgrade included eight brand new tracks and a new vehicle option, the dune buggy, which handled differently from the original truck.