Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Virtua Racing (Saturn) Review...




Well this has to be the shittiest time of the year for me. Being a big fan of Christmas and the sentimentality/excesses associated with the time, I find this period of returning to work (tomorrow), realising that I need to curb my drinking/smoking/over-eating, and try to get healthy - even taking down the decorations- all thoroughly fucking depressing.




So what better way to stave off those post Christmas blues, than a trip down to that hallowed retail outlet, Gamestation. and what treasures were there to be found! Number one, a Dreamcast title that I have been after for some time... Toy Commander!




Next, a Saturn title I'd perused and seen left sitting on the shelves over visits stretching back to November... Virtua Racing.

Anything with the prefix "Virtua" has usually floated this particular gamers boat. Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop and so on... Perfect!! So why should Virtua Racing be any less excellent?
I was about to find out...





Apart from anything else, it's weighty £7.99 price tag suggested it was either a classic or a rarity... and as a collector of games rather than just a player of games this had to be a good thing either way...

So as part of the 'Buy One Get One Free' deal (or Bogoff! as it's known to Gamestation's regular customers) I got my Toy Commander and VR for less tahn £8 for the pair... Not too shabby...

On getting the afforementioned bundle home it was Virtua Racer that I decided to explore first...


Produced by Yu Suzuki's AM2 team (responsible for arcade classics Out Run, Super Hang On, Space Harrier and the best game of all time... Shenmue) Surely we were on to a winner?

The graphics were utterly shite! Pixellated, blocky, overly simplistic - even for a fan of retro gaming this was hard to swallow. The tyres of the cars looked like octagonal lumps. The mechanics who attended to the car were faceless automatons. Scenery was awful... Pine trees represented by green triangles and so on...




Onto the gameplay... Thank God! Playing the arcade level you start last, in the familiar pole position. Having to beat sixteen cars to get to the front, the player has to surpass his oponents, whilst travelling through a series of time limited stages. Passing each stage within the allocated time provides a varying time bonus... Standard for most racing games. The car handles really nicely, with a nice low centre of gravity, reminiscent of go-karting with mates!!

The Grand Prix stages, whilst considerably longer (10 laps), also allow the novice to find his feet and get to know the wide variety of tracks. Three camera angles allow the driver to view the race from a tiny car, wide perspective, birds eye view, to a 'camera-on-the-back-spoiler-see- everything-right-before-you hit-it point of view'.




The obligatory speedo, lap counter and 'impossible to interpret' course map are all presented in your peripheral vision, and are not much use one and all...

Sound? Poor! The car sounds a little like my hoover, when you move up a gear it sounds like something has blocked in the hoover pipe! OOER!

Some good music, but it sounds like the guys who 'rock out' on Sega Rally, stopped by on the hoof... Rather than providing a soundtrack to the whole experience, they just do a little riff, when you pass a time stage, and then fuck off for a beer and a cig...

But if you look at this in it's proper revisionist history, this baby is a fore-runner to the mighty Sega Rally, something of an elderly, but influential uncle. It originally rocked 'em in the arcades...



A revolutionary gaming system including an extra processor made this a heavy weight back in the day. To buy it's original incarnation for the Megadrive/Genesis would have cost you a princely $100!



Perhap's the real villains of the piece are publishers Time Warner who commissioned a sloppy port of the original game for the Saturn, in the hope of making a fast buck off the back of an established favourite, on a 'new' console... Ho Hum!

All in all not a total loss overall. For more information look here. For a better review look here.
And for a piss poor video of some little French brats playing against each other on a Saturday morning TV show, look here...

Good night children, wherever you are...

9 comments:

J said...

The texture mapping looks awesome. A real showcase for the Saturn's graphical capabilities. *giggles*

fatherkrishna said...

*Cough!* if this blog is meant to be an advert for my favourite console, I think I need firing!
*LOL!*

The Elderly said...

everyones entitled to a deviation... erm side posts...... and retail therapy works........

gnome said...

Awww come on everyone... I've wasted countless hours playing an emulated 32X Virtua Racing rom and tons of drachmas playing this n the arcades(RIP)... It is the best racing game ever. It has sleek and deliberately simple graphics. A cute bum. It's blody perfect!

An excellent post Father! Here, have a ciggie. Now, quit the bloody job and drink to overcome the fact!

racketboy said...

Nice to see a new Saturn blog!
Keep up the great work!

fatherkrishna said...

Wow! Who'd of believed it back in the day that four of my blogging heroes would appear on the comments post of my latest post on the Saturn Junkyard?

Warmest of welcomes to you all!

Gnome thanks for the advice! I'll take it!

J sorry if I caused you any concern about former bad habits last night!

Elderly! Thanks for the support, but I feel I'm bowing under pressure from Gnome!

Racketboy! Honoured to have you drop in! Thanks for the encouragement!

gnome said...

:)

Ah.. nice!

The GagaMan(n) said...

I've had he Mega Drive version of Virtua Racing as a kid, so I wonder how much my mum forked out for it..

And what's really odd is it's actually better hen the Saturn version! I wish I had a 32X though, as that had the best version of the lot, if not a lot else.

Swandi said...

wow, I am very interested in the game console racing and hopes to have it at home