Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Smooth Operator: Funky Old 90's Racing Games


Woo, just looking at random videos and I see this OutRunners game which I admit I've never played before in my life.  I only saw it once at a Chuck E. Cheese's way, way back.  I do admit it looks fascinating.  Just something about the two-dimensional sprites and the parallax scrolling gets me.  Outstanding how they were able to convey this sense of speed.  Sega is brilliant like that.  Also, all the courses in this game are based off countries of the world so that makes it a less sucky version of Cruis'n World, lol.

The reason the car is so jerky here is because it's MAME emulator footage.  At least I think so.  When you use the keyboard, the car can only turn 100% to the left or right (digital control).  Maybe you can fire this game up on MAME too though I think it would be very annoying to set up.  My laptop sucks anyway--it can't even run Half-Life 2 or any other sources games even at the very lowest settings...how sad.

This game came out for arcades in 1993 (maybe '92 I'm not sure) and also has a Genesis port.  Although I've never played the Genesis version either, it doesn't look nearly as good as the arcade version.

Now this video isn't good but it's the only one that shows the Smooth Operator, the white Honda NSX.  I love that name--Smooth Operator.  So badass.  And lol at the Japanese couple.  Sporty lady with the red hat driving, nerdy guy with the road map.  This game is crazy.  There's more crazy characters like this.  Vastly underrated game.  It also has multiplayer which I'm sure is crazy enough as it is.

I just realized something weird about this game--all the cars have steering wheels on the left.  Now in real life, cars not from the US have steering wheels are the right.  Bear in mind that Sega is from Japan so they must've screwed up or something.  Oh yeah, same thing with the original OutRun, Turbo OutRun, and OutRun 2.  I guess they were catering to the Western audiences.  Too bad everyone here is obsessed with Fast and the Furious and Burnout, therefore Sega aimed for the wrong audience.  My brain exploded.

See, LOOK!!  NSX interior.


And F40 on the OutRun Online Arcade tipped me off to this game...  It's called Screamer, a 1995 PC game.  You need to run it in DOSBox.  I assume the game is abandonware.  Now I'm delightfully surprised by this game cause it resembles Scud Race.  Remember that Scud Race came out in '96, a year after Screamer.

I think this one's worth a look.  Love these little rugged racing games where it's pick a car, track, & transmission and let it rip.  See Indy 500 for arcades, another Sega arcade gem that never saw a home release.  Just love the aggressive powerslides going on here and the way the car's weight shifts left and right on the turns.  I think that weight shift is one of the most subliminal aspects of a great racing game...you get a better grasp of the car's momentum.

I went back and updated my "Why Sega Racers Are So Good" page.  I love the weight shifting bit.  FYI, Screamer also came out the same year as the original Need For Speed.  Wow, racing games have their heritage, do they...


One more game and I'm pretty sure everyone's heard of this.  It's Stunt Race FX for the Super Nintendo.  This one came out in 1994.  Now I really like the quirky cartoon cars and music.  It uses the Super FX chip from Star Fox to display polygons which was a big f'n deal at the time, being one of the first widespread 3-d home console games.  Hard Drivin receives the honor of being the first 3-d racer though, an arcade game released in 1989.  Though that was an arcade game which is basically cheating cause arcade game graphics were vastly superior to home consoles up until the Dreamcast era.

Now this game's not bad--the music is quirky and the graphics are nice and colorful.  It has the token Scud Race underwater tunnel and night-time highway track.  You have three main cars--a 4WD truck (easy car), a coupe (medium), and an F1 racer (hard).  There's also a two-wheel bike and an 18 wheeler as well.  You can do standard single or tournament races or a stunt mode where you try to collect as many items in an arena before time runs out.  There's also a two-player split-screen mode as well.  Be careful because the car can explode from too much damage or flying off the track which results in a DNF.

Check out 3:00 in the video, the way the truck's eyes roll cracks me up every time.

From looking at the game footage, I have one big complaint--DAMN does this game lag or what.  I think it lags even in an emulator.  Crap FPS really gets in the way of the gameplay.  Combine that with digital controls (just the d-pad, remember) and the car is jerking all over the place.  Cut the lag out and it would be a great game.

Maybe there's a chance Nintendo could remake this game, but so what, Nintendo doesn't care about cool stuff like this anymore.  Just pimp out Mario Kart, maybe F-Zero and call it a day.  Now you know why I say Sega racers are far superior.


And because we were talking about 90's racing games, it's only appropriate we play Running In The Nineties...oh yeah, feel that Eurobeat music.  Initial D is OFF THE HOOK, ya herd...


Oh, and today is my birthday.  More on that LATER...

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