Join RF Generation Playcast hosts, Rich (singlebanana), Shawn (GrayGhost81), Floyd (Fleach), and special guest, year-round playthrough participant, douglie007 as they discuss the games they played during the December racing competition, F-Zero, Road Rash II, and Burnout Revenge. The guys also discuss their five favorite playthroughs of 2016, as well as, their least favorite and a few other recommendations. This is a fun and light-hearted episode that even your Grandpa Jebediah will enjoy....as long as he's on at least his third brandy....oh, and his hearing aid is turned all the way down....and of course, you tell him it's football. Why does Shawn keep texting us photos of his meat and two veg? And why does he have a pet howler monkey? Be sure to listen to this episode of the RF Generation Playcast to find out!
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Continue reading Episode 33 - RF Generation Playcast
Some of you may instantly recognize the title of this post, others of you may be curiously scratching your heads. If you don't recognize the quote, those are the immortal words uttered by the in-game announcer at the start of every race in the very first Ridge Racer game for the Sony Playstation, one of the system's ten launch titles and one of its best known racers. Many things can and have been written about the Ridge Racer series of games published by Namco, but they are interesting for this blog because five of the eleven games in the series have been in a console launch lineup. The launch titles were:
This five part series of blog entries will look at each launch title in the Ridge Racer series and what, if anything, they did to showcase the new capabilities of each system.
Ridge Racer - Sony Playstation
The Playstation's U.S. launch in September of 1995 featured only one game that had also been released when the system premiered in Japan the prior December: Ridge Racer. In fact, Ridge Racer was the only launch game featured in all three major game markets (JPN/NA/EUR ). It seemed clear from the start that Sony was banking on Namco's arcade hit to help sell systems.
In the U.S., Ridge Racer was one of two racing games that new console buyers could choose from when entering their favorite game or electronics store on that Saturday morning in September. The other, ESPN Extreme Games, featured an assortment of X-Games events such as street luge and mountain biking. Only Ridge Racer provided a traditional automobile racing game. So, new buyers looking to take the arcade racing experience home were faced with little choice but to buy it on launch day. As it turns out, they couldn't have done much better: Ridge Racer is an absolute gem of a racing game that accomplished many technical feats fifteen years ago and holds up well to this day.
Arcades in the U.S. were still doing quite well in 1994 and 1995, and though the focus for many players had shifted from fighting games to racing games, there was a lot to choose from in coin-ops around the country in the mid-90s. Increasingly, the best arcade games were seeing high profile ports for home consoles. During the period of time that the Saturn, Playstation, and N64 were released (between May 1995 and September 1996) each console had a racing game associated with it, a game that promised to push the limits of the console. For Nintendo, that game was Cruisn' USA (though the game didn't make the N64 launch). For Sega, the game was Daytona USA. For Sony, it was Ridge Racer.
At the time, I was a die-hard Sega fan and insanely jealous of my friends who were able to enjoy their copies of Daytona USA at home. Sure, the Daytona USA port didn't look arcade perfect, but it seemed close and impressed me nonetheless. When I couldn't play on a friends' Saturn, I would still frequently pump quarters into the Daytona USA arcade machine as my home racing was limited to Virtua Racing for the Genesis for several more years (an excellent game in its own right). By the time I finally joined the 32-bit generation and picked up a Playstation in late 1996 (skipping the Saturn altogether!), I was anticipating the release of new racing games for the PS1 (most notably Gran Turismo) and passed on picking up Ridge Racer. I'd had my fill of racing with Daytona and Crusin' and decided to pick up games for other genres in the interim.
So, I only recently acquired the classic PS1 launch game, and now wish I had done so a decade ago.
Early PS1 games didn't feature many of the icons on the back indicating compatibility with memory cards, number of discs, etc.
As a launch title, the game is significant for several reasons:
The graphics. There's no denying that an important draw for purchasers on launch day is graphics horsepower. The graphics put out in the PS1 port of Ridge Racer are simply better than they were for the Saturn port of Daytona USA. The polygons are less blocky, the sense of speed is faster, and the scenery is more diverse. There are usually more things happening on the screen at any given time, and aside from the poorly designed menus, the interface is quite polished. Daytona may have been better in the arcades, but if these racing games were meant to show off what the system could do, Ridge Racer was an early harbinger of the doom of the Saturn. Ridge Racer's graphics are bright, pop in is quite good for a first-gen title, and the scale of the landscape surrounding the courses is impressive.
It allowed you to choose your own music. Once the game was loaded and a race started, you could swap out the Ridge Racer CD for your own favorite disc. The game would then randomly select tracks on your CD to play while you raced and navigated menus. Since Daytona USA was a frequent point of comparison at the time this game came out, I should note that I also prefer Ridge Racers original music over Daaaaay-tohhhhhhh-nah's ( especially given the "classic" nature of the latter's songs). That said, nothing beats choosing your own musical selection. In playing the game again for this post, I chose the era-appropriate Beck album "Mellow Gold." Hearing track 11 playing over the credits was a sweet bit of randomness. In an age where CD sales were really catching on, this was a nice way for the Playstation to showcase its versatility.
Place this in the CD drive to make Ridge Racer unplayable.
It featured a mini-game with a generous reward during the only loading screen. Popping Ridge Racer into a console usually meant a few resets until all the enemies in this one screen version of Galaxian were cleared. Clearing all the enemies in the limited time granted you access to three times the number of cars that would be available otherwise. Not only did you have more options, but many of these were better cars. Furthermore, the game only loads once at the very beginning, a welcome change from the frequent and frustrating waits experienced by owners of many other CD-based consoles at the time. The fact that the loading screen is a game itself was icing.
The game featured a hefty amount of unlocakbles. There were certainly games with unlockables in the previous generations, but Ridge Racer was one of the first CD-based games to offer multiple versions of tracks to unlock, cars that could be won, and other goodies for the devoted player to discover. The ease of saving data on a memory card (times, unlocked tracks, etc.) meant that you could take these unlocked items with you, one of the key selling points for Sony's console.
The back of the manual provided alternate cover art.
Taken as a package, it is easy to see why Sony pushed for Ridge Racer to see a release in every major region on launch day. Better racing games would eventually come, but compared to racers on other consoles that preceded Ridge Racer, Sony clearly had the upper hand and could better capitalize on the ongoing arcade craze. The game is far from perfect; it is single player, some of the drifting feels too loose, the various tracks are all variations of one main track, the announcer voice is annoying, and the difficulty ramps up considerably in later stages. However, the game is still worth playing today despite these weaknesses, if only to appreciate how different it was compared to what had come before. The game would go on to see huge sales and win numerous awards in the next year. It would also become Sony's first pack-in game.
Ridge Racer spawned over 10 sequels. We will revisit some of those games in future installments.
Next Up: an "end game"
Colin Mcrae Rally 04 (2003) is the fourth installment in the succesful Colin McRae Rally series. Whether the title alludes to the fact the game was released in 2004 in North America or simply to the fact it's the fourth game in the series, I'm not really sure. Looking at the titles of the series there certainly has been a lack of continuity on the developer front: 2.0, 3, 04, 2005 and DiRT; it's almost as if they couldn't make up there mind how to label their games. No matter though, because I'm here to pay homage to the great Colin Mcrae by reviewing this game, not complain about at the series' titles.
I'll start of with the main menu which is kept simply, easy to navigate and straightforward. There's the championship, quick-race, single race and single rally modes. In the option menu you can make graphics and sound adjustments aswell as select what controller you'd like to use. Next to the keyboard, you can use an analog controller or a driving wheel. The last obviously being the best choice for a realistic experience but since I don't own one nor a PC controller, I have to limit myself to my keyboard.
In the championship mode there are actually six championships that can be completed. One for each of the game's difficulties (normal and advanced) and each of the different vehicle categories (three). There's the standard 4WD category with cars like the Mitsubishi Lancer or the Subaru Impreza WRX, a 2WD category with smaller cars like the Citroen Saxo or Ford RallyeSport Puma and the "B-group" category which consists of high-powered older vehicles such as a Lancia 037 or Peugeot 205 T16.
B Group cars are forbidden in current-day rally because these faster, harder to control machines too often led to accidents. Luckily for us gamers, Codemasters has included these fun cars in Colin Mcrae Rally 04 for us to ride with as much as we want!
Every of these categories feel thoroughly different to drive with and even specific cars within a category handle differently. My favorite car is the 2WD Ford Puma because it is a nimble, lightweight car that can take consecutive corners rather fast. But no matter what car you choose to drive, it doesn't take long to get used to its handling and you'll be driving like a pro in no time. That's probably the most fun aspect of this game: the fact that it feels like realistic driving yet isn't too realistic so it doesn't become extremely difficult to control your car without smashing into the scenery.
The championship mode will take you to all of the game's locations which range from snowy Sweden to wet Brittain, or tropical Australia. All countries have a different dominant surface that you'll be faced with: tarmac in Spain, wet gravel in the UK, snow in Sweden, rough gravel in Greece, wet tarmac in Japan, fine gravel in the US, pea gravel in Australia and gravel in Finland. Plenty of variation in other words and just like with the cars, driving on different surfaces really feels differently.
The key to success in Colin Mcrae Rally 04 is: A. Carefully listening to your co-pilot and B. Selecting the right settings between stages. Although this might sound logical, paying attention to your co-driver's instructions really makes all the difference. Unless you'll play the game a lot, you won't be able to memorize what the different stages are like, so you're really up to his instructions. Especially in narrow sections, it's important not to get of track, because once you're between trees, it can easily cost you 10 seconds to get out again.
Once every two stages you can set up your car in the service station for the next two stages. You get a little map which shows you the course layout and gives you a stats table that shows how much of a type of surface you may expect. It's important to check what surface type appears most in the next two stages combined and choose tires accordingly. Besides tire types you can also adjust your brake bias, steering speed, gear ratio, ride height, spring tension and anti-roll.
Second function of the service station is to repair damage done to your car in previous stages. Depending on how big the damage on, say, your turbo might be, it'll take anywhere from only a few minutes to almost half an hour of repair time. You get a maximum of 60 minutes at every service station so it's best not to trash your car on the way there. Besides visual damage there's also alot of internal damage that can seriously affect your car's performance. You have the option to set the car damage on "normal" or "hard" depending on your skill level. At the normal setting the occasional jump in the scenary doesn't mean catastrophy but at the hard setting it's vital to avoid crashes at all costs.
In the championship mode you'll have to drive a series of normal stages in each country and end with a special "face-off" stage where you have to drive faster than another driver in an arena-track. Between rallies, you'll be able to attempt to win new/upgraded car parts in constructor challenge mini-games. This can range from sliding enough to wear down tires on a selected course to staying within a small RPM-range while switching gears.
Goal of the championship mode is to win each individual rally (obviously) aswell as having your manufacturer win the overal championship. After finishing one of the championships, you unlock a few cars.
The PC version of the game features online or LAN multiplayer for 2-8 players. Despite all players driving at the same time, you can only see ghosts of your opponents' cars instead of the actual cars. I haven't had the chance to check the multiplayer out just yet, so I can't really say anything about it.
Visually, Colin Mcrae Rally 04 is great. The PC version has improved graphics over the original Xbox version, with more detailed and sharper looking cars, roads and foliage, aswell as improved weather conditions. The game was always smooth to play, with a minimum of framedrops and glitches. Textures are generally good but some foliage and trees are rather low-res; this is especially apparent when you go of-course. the damage model looks pretty realistic with broken windows, loose bumpers and parts that completely fall of your vehicle. Colin Mcrae Rally 04 doesn't have the DX10 graphics of DiRT, but that's only natural considering the game's age.
There is no music in the game except for the random techno tune of the menus, but that doesn't mean Colin Mcrae Rally 04 sounds bad. In fact, this game sounds as realistic as I can imagine rally sounding like. Engines roar, gearboxes rattle, exhausts scream, windows shatter, ... it's all there. Derek Ringer does an excellent job as co-pilot and never bored or annoyed me at any time. Every sound gets a extra dimension when switching to the cockpit view where everything looks and sounds just a bit more dramatic. I never made much use of this view though, because it limits your view greatly.
If you happen to see Colin Mcrae Rally 04 somewhere and it isn't too expensive, get it. It's pretty much everything a good rally game should be and I had a great time playing this game. 8.0/10
Gran Turismo. One of the names most associated with the Playstation-brand whose popularity is met by only a couple other franchises out there. In 1998, with the release of the original Gran Turismo came the DualShock, probably the most recognizable modern-day game pad there is and something that shows how big an impact this series has had.
Gran Turismo 3: A-spec (2001) was the first racer Polyphony Digital released to the world to show what the Playstation 2 was capable of. With Gran Turismo 4 (2005), Polyphony Digital tried to realise what they couldn't with part 3.
Let's start out with what is new. Immediate eyecatcher is the highly needed, slick new menu layout. Every screen in the game feels like it's part of a bigger whole and the same fonts, colors and icons are used throughout. This gives GT4 a much more streamlined feel, aswell as provide easier mobility while navigating through the game's massive options.
As usual, there's an Arcade Mode where you can do single races, time trials or go up against others in a 2-player splitscreen or LAN. The not-so-interesting Replay Theatre is back aswell, but most important still is the Gran Turismo mode, the place where you'll spend 98% of your time.
Here, you'll immediately notice the difference in layout, with much more icons than in the past. In the classic home screen, the garage has become much more flexible for searching through your collection of cars with listing categories like country, power-to-weight ratio and so on. You'll also notice your "diary" which is nothing more than a log of your purchases and race results.
In GT4, races are devided into much more categories than before. The beginner, professional and expert races make a return, but new are the country- and manufacturer-specific races. There are, for example, Japanese, American and European events, while you have to go to the manufacturers to see if there are model-specific races available.
One thing in which GT4 excels is content: There's over 700 cars and 50 tracks in the game, making it a much bigger game than GT3. The same however was true for GT2 compared to GT1, probably because the developer has more time for their second release on each console. New this time are all the classic cars from the 50ies and beyond, aswell as some crazy concept cars and some of the first cars ever made. To make things easier in the beginning of the game, you can buy used cars of all ages. However, there's so many races to do and cars to collect in this game, it'll take you weeks (or even months) to finish it.
Also new are the B-spec and Photo mode. In B-spec mode you don't drive yourself but assist an AI driver by giving him/her directions (accelerate, break, etc...) for what to do next. Photo mode is (as the name indicates) a mode in which you can take pictures of your favorite cars, put them on a USB stick and print them out if you want.
Now for the actual driving. (This is where opinions will clash the most concerning GT4) Depending from what you, the gamer, expect from a racing-game, you'll either love GT4 or you won't. If you're looking for adrenaline-pumping, faster-than-lightning races with brutal competition, chances are big you won't like GT4. If, however, you're looking for a realistic (and therefor sometimes a bit boring) driving simulator, you'll find GT4 (almost) everything you're longing for.
When it comes to simply simulating driving, GT4 is fan-tas-tic. Especially when turning off electronic aids you'll be able to really show what you're made of. Couple this with the rich content and you can already justify buying GT4. However, there's some bad sides to the game aswell, quite a few actually...
For starters, there's no online play. This'll surely dissapoint alot of people wanting to test their skills against others online, who don't have a racing friend nearby.
Secondly, the AI is as dumb as ever. The other cars (still only 5) always drive in the perfect racing line, almost never miss a turn and stay together as a group unless there are major differences in the cars' performances. A third complaint is the fact that you can still use cars ahead of you as airbags for taking sharp corners aswell as ride off-track on several courses. (Apricot Hill, anyone?)
A penalty system has been introduced in the Dirt & Snow events, making you drive 50km/h for 5 seconds if you hit the other car, however, sometimes you get a penalty for the other car hitting you! These Dirt & Snow events are another thing that bothers me in GT4. Instead of them being realistic (like, say: Colin Mcrae) you feel like you're trying to manoeuvre a bar of soap on a wet plastic surface, constantly sliding towards the sides unless you break like mad. Although the B-spec mode sounds like a nice new feature at first, it's boring as hell and I really don't see the fun of not driving yourself.
Lastly, there's still no damage model, but it depends on what you expect from a driving simulator if that's a bad thing or not.
On the bright side, both graphics and sound are perfect in GT4, with beautiful cars and circuits aswell as realistic engine sounds. The soundtrack is elaborate although I'm not sure it'll appeal to all with mostly rock songs. Luckily, you can customize it in the "jukebox" so you only have to listen to the songs you like. Especially graphically, you can see the improvements made since GT3 with nicer cars, reflections and lighting. Especially the clouds seem to have been improved, showing much more detail than before. The addition of a new over-the-hood view of your car is very welcome, bring the best of the other 2 views together.
Scoring GT4 is difficult because it really depends on what you expect from it. I'd personally give it a 8.8 or maybe even a 9.0 out of 10 but considering the many faults this game has I'll give it a more diplomatic 8.2/10.
This week we're shifting gears and cutting into the fast lane.
OutRun 2019 takes the lead this week as our featured game. Easily one of the fastest racing games on the Sega Genesis, it still plays like the other games from the outrun series. Of course, with these fast speeds come big crashes. If you like any of the F-Zero or Burnout games, you'ld certainly get some fun out of this one.
The featured image this week is a real bargain bin gem, but don't let the cover fool you. R: Racing Evolution looks to be another Ridge Racer game as it was made by Namco and features a shiny car and young Japanese female on the cover. At least thats what I thought when I picked it up. It turns out to be a racing simulation (that isn't Ridge Racer) with more simplified tuning options and a storyline. This game features a lot of real cars with upgrade options where all can be obtained in a reasonable time period. Stock cars, F1, offroad circuit, and drag racing are all represented here. My favorite cars here are the DeLorean (yeah it was really intended to be a luxury sports car) and the Hummer. The Xbox version of this game has a special Hummer with an Xbox paint job, adding in a touch of humor due to its ridiculous size, unplayable slow acceleration and speed. This game is fun to play, and the variety of races keep it fresh. The other drivers taunts are a little corny though, so try and keep the lead so you don't have to hear them as much.
The Gran Turismo 3 PlayStation 2 console bundle closes the gap for hardware. The Gran Turismo series has always been the leading car simulation with high attention to detail and realism. GT3 also helped give the early PS2 the big push for which Sony was hoping, contributing to the largest juggernaut in gaming history. While there are millions and millions of PS2s out there, this bundle proves to have some collector's value as its the only real box variant or bundle for the early model PlayStation 2.
Speeding his way to higher collection numbers is Reps911. He claims to have rekindled his collection habit after meeting his (approving) significant other. Over the past couple years he's shown a fast accumulation of games and systems, and shows no signs of slowing down.
So next time you're rounding the channel circuit, don't forget to stop by channel 3.