Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!


Well this is something of a comparative micro-review of three of the Saturn's driving classics! Today marks the day when I first fully road tested my Saturn steering wheel peripheral, and put some serious time in with both my oldest and newest Saturn games!



But let's start at the beginning shall we? The games I'll be reviewing are Sega Rally, Daytona USA and Sega Touring Car Championship . I have to say that the review might not be completely objective. Sega Rally was the game that came bundled with my Saturn, is the most played of the bunch and holds a somewhat sentimental place in my heart... Daytona USA is a game I fell in love with at the arcades, and was sought out on eBay to add to my collection. Sega Touring Car is the one I've played least and therefore is something of unfamiliar territory. But still, time is short, so let's crack on shall we?

First of all, let's talk about the steering wheel. Oh dear... having again sought this particular item off eBay when I first discovered there was one, I was crushed to find my new peripheral didn't work. However, I tried again to purchase one and Gamestation came up with the goods, and I managed to secure one for a fiver (£5)... (I then sneakily returned the broken one to Gamestation and swapped it for some games... ;) A word to the wise, unless your a compulsive collector, avoid this particular peripheral... Unlike light guns, it doesn't enhance your driving experience or recreate the arcade feeling...

OK First Category: Steering Wheel Compatability

Sega Touring Car: Even using the options to tweak it's sensitivity, playing STC with the steering wheel leaves you crashing from one side of the track to the other. It's an unforgiveably "drifty" racer anyway and the car tends to slide all over the place, therefore, progress is nigh on impossible.

Daytona USA: Thanks to the generous choice of cars available, it's possible to select a car that has more road hold (at the expense of acceleration and speed). This actually allows for something of a counter-balance to the sensitivity of the steering wheel, and makes Daytona easily the most playable in this particular category!

Sega Rally: Equally if not more unplayable with the steering wheel, despite my familiarity with the layout of the track. Overall experience - pretty bad! Disappointing!
Category 2: Longevity

Sega Touring Car: With a limited amount of cars and tracks, STC holds the least appealing longevity. Coupled with the impossible drift, your quite likely to press the "off" button before you've even checked out what the game has to offer. The franchise is not due to be continued into the current gen of consoles.

Daytona USA: As previously stated a wide variety of cars and tracks mean that Daytona probably has the most lasting appeal. Plus the AI cars are probably the most forgiving, meaning that racers like myself will probably not throw the controller down in a hissy fit and give up on the game. The franchise actually made it as far as the last gen, with a graphically gorgeous version being released for the Dreamcast. Don't rule out a reincarnation at some time in the future!
Sega Rally: The outright winner, due to the fact that it continues to be part of my gaming life to this day, a good twelve years after I first played it. The game somehow encapsulates the driving experience, and unlike it's STC counterpart, the drift is actually useful to the rallying genre. A slightly biased winner there, but it's my review and therefore I'm allowed! It's third reincarnation is due out on the PS3 soon, and it looks like it's going to be well received!

Category 3: Graphics: There's not much between them really, compared to todays fayre, they look a tad blocky and pixellated. But they need to be judged within the context of the time they were produced, and on those terms they're all pretty good.

Sega Touring Car: Not to dissimilar to it's Rally cousin, however the mechanics that attend to you in the pits (which I keep annoyingly driving into by mistake) look like stick men drawn by a three year old. So it's losing some points on that front alone!

Daytona USA: Bright, bold and brash like it's Nascar reality. The cars look great and there are some nice touches like a cliff face with a Mount Rushmore like rock carving of Sonic in the distance on the first circuit.

Sega Rally: The first circuit will have you sucked in, with it's running zebras and hovering helicopters. For it's time it was pretty stunning. Again, I'm not sure whether my feelings for the game are romanticising my outlook, but I think this just pips Daytona in terms of visual appeal. Plus the sunset in the unlockable Lakeside circuit brings a tear to my eye... LOL!

Category 4: Wow Factor!

Sega Touring Car: Definitely a game which looks like it has more potential than it actually does. When I can play the other two, its unlikely that this game will be placed in the Saturn too often...

Still the Toyota Supra cabinet in it's arcade incarnation (see video below) is pretty impressive...

Daytona USA: The fact that you can tear arse through hordes of other cars in this game, plus its playability factor is pretty high. It says something for the game, that despite it's revamp for the Dreamcast, I'd still rather play the Saturn version. With a modicum of care, you can progress nicely through the Arcade mode. However, for the true Daytona experience, the arcade version is the only way to play....

Sega Rally: Quite possibly THE best driving game ever made, this game is worth buying a Saturn for in it's own right. From the moment, you press the start button and hear the car ignition, till you drive off into the sunset on the unlockable Lakeside Circuit, this game is a clear winner. As fresh today as it was in 1995, the attention to detail was so good that the Sega development team actually sampled the actual car engine noises for use in the game, and spent many an hour bumping round real rally circuits in real cars to ensure their virtual counterparts were accurate reflections. Plus Sega Rally had online functions... In 1995!

Category 5: Soundtracks

They are all cheesy AND brilliant. Fluctuating between rock and techno, the soundtracks to each game fit like a glove. Too close to call!

Category 6: Price

Sega Touring Car: £2.99 (plus free game as part of the BOGOF deal at Gamestation)

Daytona USA: £2.99 (plus free game as part of the BOGOf deal at Gamestation)

Sega Rally: I once picked up a copy for 20p! Beat that!

OK, so after that very unobjective and unscientific analysis, I'll just add up the secret points on my magic calculator...

And the unsurprising winner is... SEGA RALLY! Hurrah! (Whistles and Cheers!)

For great reviews of each game look here , here and here

This is FK, for Sky Sports, saying "Keep your eyes on the road and both feet on the wheel..." Goodnight!

15 comments:

NebachadnezzaR said...

Great article, father!

Although i'm really disapointed about the racing wheel. Is it really that bad? I was already turned off by it since i saw one at 25€ (yes! twenty fucking five euros! Take my advice, never buy videogames or acessories in Portugal, you'll likely get robbed...) but now i just think that it's better if i just waste that money in more games (as of now my collection isn't that impressive, but give me time, maybe one day i'll take some photos and show it to the world).

Anyway, i kinda agree with you in everything you said. Well, that's not so surprising since i've played the games in the same order as you.
First came sega rally with my first saturn (oh noes, i hear voices in my head saying "game over, yeah!!!"), then daytona and finally STC, a really disappointing game since i was expecting the same quality of the others in a different setting (back then it was not so common to see games with touring cars and racing tracks instead of luxury cars driving around in exotic courses).

By the way, i really can't get over the racing wheel thing. Isn't there any kind of unnoficial/alternative wheel? Damn, i really want to play with one of those things!

But i divage, so i better end my post here.

Thanks for another great piece of information Father. Goodnight, wherever you are... ;)

NebachadnezzaR said...

I knew i was forgeting something. now i remember. Did you played the sega rally ps2 port that came with sega rally 2006? Well, probably you didn't, since it was a japan/korea only release and all, but i did, so i thought it would be nice of me to tell you about it.

It's really a great port since the core game is the same and the graphics are pretty much the same too, except for the resolution that is way higher (you can see everything with more detail) and for the speed that i think (i'm not really sure, it's just a feeling) is some frames higher, so the game runs smoother.

The great thing about this is that the textures and everything are the same, so the "feeling" of the original game wasn't lost.

fatherkrishna said...

Thanks for the kind words Nebachadnezzar! your support for the Junkyards is very much appreciated!

Thanks for the heads up about the PS2 version of Sega Rally! I didn't know about it at all. think I might have to hunt it down off ebay!

It's a shame about the steering wheel. It could be just my lack of skills, but I found using it really difficult and went straight back to using the controller. £5 isn't too much to lose out but 25Euros seems to be a little rediculous!

Glad you are enjoying the blogs and thank you for your comments!
Take care my friend!

"Game over... yeahhhhhh!"

gnome said...

the mother of all Saturn posts... wow... Bravo Father!

fatherkrishna said...

why thankyou dear Gnome!

J said...

I loved this game in the arcades and still do to this day. Timeless classic.

fatherkrishna said...

I take it your referring to Sega Rally? It's simply the best!

(Daytona USA is a doozy too!)

Tomleecee said...

great post there - I thought Sega Touring Car was the biggest bag of shit I'd ever clapped eyes on when I first got it. Disappointment is not the word!

fatherkrishna said...

Cheers Tom! But it's the remix I wanted you to look at... Any thoughts?

The Elderly said...

Now i can well understand the fascination... quite excellent post FK, definitive even...

fatherkrishna said...

Thankyou dear Elderly!

If only you had a Saturn and could be part of the team... I think that would make my life complete...

The Elderly said...

already i have a slew of games i can't get round to playing... but once or if i catch up a shiny saturn is a must... after wii....

(slightly worried elderly looks up at FK with pleading eyes....)...can i be in the cult?....

fatherkrishna said...

Can you be in the Cult? Dammit man, you're second in command!

The Elderly said...

..second in command....?

THUD!.....

fatherkrishna said...

Elderly... Elderly? Here... *waves febreeze under Elderly's nose* Thank Segata San! He's coming round...