Posts Tagged ‘racing’

Hooters Road Trip Review

Hooters Road Trip Featured

Hooters Road Trip Box Art

Developer: Hoplite Research
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation, PC

The PlayStation was the start of something amazing for console gamers. This system brought about fan-favorite franchises which continue to this day such Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and many others. Of course, tons of shovelware came alongside the classics. Enter Hooters Road Trip.

Hooters Road Trip is supposedly about traveling between various Hooters restaurants across the United States for no good reason. This manifests as an OutRun-style racing game. As such, the different courses link together, meaning that each race brings with it different state-themed backdrops. It’s rather blurry, though, and the draw distance on the PS1 version leaves much to be desired.

Hooters Road Trip Featured

The racing itself is miserable. Until you unlock the final vehicles (or cheat your way to them), the controls are outrageously slippery. Instead of racing you’ll be careening across the road like a pinball. Suffice it to say this doesn’t work well with aiming for first place. You can’t even do the full road trip right off the bat! Instead, players must run partial trips five times beforehand because the developers wanted to artificially extend their awful gameplay or something.

It’s not all bad. Apparently, Hooters Road Trip launched at $9.99 making it bargain bin trash from the get go. The only enjoyment comes from watching the FMV sequences with Hooters waitresses who all seem to slyly be making fun of the camera person/player. Here’s hoping Hooters never lends their brand to a game again.


Score: 11 out of 5 alpacas


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Spectra Review

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spectralogo

Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Steam, Xbox One

Back in 2014, I came across a game by the name of Goscurry. It was a racing-style arcade game in which players navigated a single spaceship along a never-ending road suspended in space. It was incredibly challenging, but a ton of fun. This year, I discovered Spectra and couldn’t help but become intrigued because of the game’s similar nature.

In Spectra, you control a spaceship along a long, winding galactic highway. You collect blocks, dodge obstacles, and (hopefully) make it through to the end with a high score. The gameplay is simple enough as most of the time you’re only weaving left or right to stay safe on the road. Things get more challenging as you progress through each of the ten stages, but not as much as you might expect.

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This is the main contrast between Goscurry and Spectra: Difficulty. You failed in Goscurry by making one wrong move. Here, you’re given a lot more freedom. Crash into a barrier? You’ll still likely be fine as long as you don’t panic. I even came across a glitch where the ship would warp back up from underneath the road to inadvertently save your run. Despite being an easier game overall, it still offers a lot of challenge and two difficulty settings to keep players on their toes.

Chances are I would have enjoyed Spectra much more if I had not previously played Goscurry. The graphics are nice and vector-like, but less artful than I would have hoped. Similarly, the music by Chipzel is good, but apparently chiptunes of this sort are not to my personal taste. I’m the odd man out! Of course, Spectra still provides a nice way to pass the time with quick play sessions and arcade sensibilities.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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16 Bit Rally Review

16 Bit Rally Featured

16 Bit Rally Logo

Developer: Proton Creations
Publisher: Proton Creations
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – itch.io

So, maybe this is abnormal, but I have a serious reverence for arcade-style racing games. Cruisin’ World and Daytona USA are some of my favorites, although there are others on the list as well. 16 Bit Rally doesn’t quite pull from the same deck (it’s pixelated rather than polygonal) but it enthralled in much the same ways.

The best aspect of 16 Bit Rally is the sense of speed and movement it provides. Thanks to a super cool “3D” effect going on with the ground it really feels like you’re moving through the world. This sense of speed is only increased as you continue to play and upgrade car stats. Eventually, vehicles seem impossibly fast but still remain controllable.

16 Bit Rally Featured

Racing against 20 other cars typically means you won’t get last place. Of course, netting a top three result is best as you’ll nab the most points and cash. Points simply tally toward an overall leaderboard while money is used to upgrade or buy new cars. I would have liked to see a few more cars, as the third and final is great until all your teammates finally purchase one as well.

For as fun as 16 Bit Rally is there are a few iffy bits. When you’re in the lead there’s no way to tell how far (or close) opponents are! There’s also a lack of controller support which is a tad annoying but not a game breaker. In any case, I was immensely surprised by how much fun the title was. I worked to complete most of the world racing rally in one multi-hour sitting and that’s saying something when my average gameplay session is an hour or less.


Score: 3.5
3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Race the Sun Review

Race the Sun Featured

Race the Sun Boxart

Developer: Flippfly
Publisher: Flippfly
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*

Although I enjoy racing games, it’s pretty safe to say that the genre is usually pretty stagnant. Instead of innovation, the focus tends to be on continually improving graphics. That’s why Race the Sun is such a refreshing experience. At its core it is a racer, but an incredibly unique one.

Race the Sun has players controlling a sleek, solar-powered craft. It has wings, which allows you to glide at times, and a lot of possible upgrades. The goal is to race as long as possible before the sun goes down. Of course, this is an inevitability, so the real fun comes in trying to prolong the light a little more each race. This is accomplished via pickups on the playing field, which can reverse the sun’s descent, speed you up, and the like.

There are no other players to race against in the main mode, although there is asynchronous co-op and leaderboards to place on.  Basically, it’s just your craft alone in a host of procedurally generated levels. Getting used to the specifics of each level is exciting, and you’ll never be able to master them, as main stages change every day. Featured user levels also switch out regularly.

Race the Sun Featured

Playing is a very simplistic but entertaining experience as you glide your craft gracefully (or not) through obstacles. At full charge, you’ll be speeding along and hoping that your skills are enough to avoid crashes. The visuals and soundtrack help make Race the Sun less stressful, as well. It looks futuristic, which appeals to me. Then there is the music which is quite soothing. With these elements combined, it is more enticing to continue coming back into a stage for one more try.

Of course, this compulsion is also aided by a checklist of tasks to complete. Do well, and new levels and items are unlocked. This manages to be one of the best and most cumbersome design choices for the game. While some tasks are easy to complete, others will remain locked on your screen a while because of their difficulty. Not completing them keeps new features hidden, and that is annoying.

While Race the Sun excels at simplicity, it is this minimalist tone that may be viewed as a “lack of content” to some. However, that’s absolutely the wrong way to approach it. Sure, there are not hundreds of levels to choose from right out of the gate. But there are infinitely many stages available since they are updated daily. There is a devoted fanbase already involved with the game, and there will only be more once this Greenlight success finally launches on Steam.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Review

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Featured

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Boxart

Developer: Stainless Software
Publisher: Sales Curve Interactive
Platform: PC – GOG*

Oh, Carmageddon… Alongside other hyper violent games such as Mortal Kombat, video games were becoming an incredibly divisive past time. Some parents got up in arms about the violence their children were exposed to and this of course led to the ESRB. By the time Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now came out, it received a definitive M for Mature. Instead of fearing government or parents, Stainless Software thumbed their noses at opposition and created one of the bloodiest games of the year.

Looking over reviews of the game in 1998 it seems that gamble was for the best. Reviewers seem to have nothing but praise for the lavish depictions of blood and gore. And it certainly contains copious amounts of it. But does that make Carmageddon 2 worth playing? The rest of the experience is, unfortunately, not nearly as memorable.

There are a great deal of races to participate in, but they must all be unlocked. This is done by completing at least one race in a specific group, then doing the correlated “mission” afterward. After a mission is completed the player can move onto the next grouping of races. Three difficulty settings exist although even the easiest becomes harder later on. For players who don’t want to slick the streets with human blood, there are also options to tone gore down or completely off.

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Screenshot

Races in Carmageddon 2 follow the same clear conditions of the original. You can either race the normal way (do a certain number of laps in time), demolish all competing racers’ cars, or kill every pedestrian on the stage. The last option might sound fun to some but is actually incredibly difficult considering they often number in the hundreds. Also, stages are fairly open-ended meaning there’s a lot to explore beyond the exact track path. To be fair, open worlds were very unusual to see in any racers of the time and only now do we really see it coming back into favor.

Controls are where any racing game must show competence and it just doesn’t feel that way here. Cars are kind of tough to control and this is only increased by the fact that players can’t easily tweak their key bindings. Well, they can, but you’ll find that it doesn’t allow you to re-bind keys to WASD. The best solution to this problem is available in the GOG forums but is definitely an extra, annoying step. At least there are a variety of wacky looking cars to drive. You just have to demolish them in a race first to unlock one.

At this point, it seems that Carmageddon 2 best serves as a memory of when game developers pushed the edge with violence. Back then, it was a scary proposition. Today, we see so much gore in games that it has totally lost that edge over most players. But just viewed as a racing game, Carmageddon 2 offers cool concepts but unrefined execution.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Truck Racer Review

Truck Racer Featured

Truck Racer Boxart

Developer: Big Ben Interactive
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam, PS3, Xbox 360

Truck racing in video games has a rather sordid past. Even though there have been multiple attempts at creating fun titles, they all end up falling under the horrible shadow of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. This well-known atrocity of a game has long since controlled the talk of truck racing games, but maybe recently released Truck Racer can show that it is possible to make a good game with tractor units.

In this game, you can engage in a ton of championships, simply practice on courses, or test out a timed trial mode or elimination race. In most ways, it’s like other standard racing games except for the fact that you’re racing really heavy trucks around the track. They feel like it too. Although you can get up to 90 mph pretty easily, turns are far tougher to execute carefully. Much of the early game is spent slowly making huge drifts into walls.

If you can’t quite get a hang of your ride, then head to the garage and get it spruced up. There are tons of upgrades available which can increase speed, traction, braking, paint job, and more for your preferred vehicle. However, in order to go on a spending spree the player must have acquired points by participating in championships. Even those who don’t get the coveted first three places will still receive points, just much less. Unlocking new championships also requires points so make sure to not spend them all on upgrades!

Truck Racer Featured

Races themselves are pretty exciting, in part because you’re stuck handling a massive machine on the fairly small track lanes. Ramming into other trucks to get by is satisfying, especially when parts start breaking off and littering the track. Players can utilize boost, which is increased as a player drifts or drives recklessly. The boost is integral to passing because these trucks can only go so fast otherwise.

As fun as it is to bang into other trucks there were also issues with this mechanic. On multiple occasions I found my truck stuck to the other one somehow, which caused precious seconds to be wasted waiting for the two vehicles to separate. Perhaps this is realistic but really destroys the otherwise fun arcade style that Truck Racer presents. It’s also unfortunate that, so near after its release, that there were no online games to be found. It seems the best course of action is to buy the game with a friend or two if you intend to have regular online matches. Other than these issues, there were a couple of occasions where the game also crashed on me.

Looking past the technical troubles, Truck Racer is still a lot of fun. It certainly looks fantastic, far better than any other truck-based racing games have before. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just some ridiculous game. Truck racing championships occur in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and likely other places as well. If you can’t get yourself to a real race, then Truck Racer serves as an almost suitable replacement.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Re-Volt Review

Re-Volt Featured

Re-Volt Boxart

Developer: Acclaim Studios Teesside
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment, H2 Interactive
Platform: Android, Dreamcast, iOS, Nintendo 64, PC – GOG* (Reviewed), PlayStation 1

Over the years there have been copious amount of racing games across consoles and arcades. And yet, we’ve only rarely seen ones that put players in control of RC cars. The two biggest names to have done so are Re-Volt and the Micro Machines series, both of which have been absent from the most recent console generation. Unlike the latter, Re-Volt only ever got one game but it still managed to develop a following. It was important enough that fans even created a patch to make sure the game would continue to run on modern PCs. But is the game really that deserving of praise?

Despite having only just played this game from 1999 in 2013, it still manages to be a lot of fun. A large part of the fun comes from the fact that you’re racing RC cars. They look just like they should and are tiny against the stage. Instead of racing on well-known race tracks, these cars simply tear it up around the suburbs, market, museum, and the like. This helps Re-Volt have a very unique appearance against its contemporaries.

Cars themselves handle semi-finicky and are downright speedy. This precise control becomes more of an issue if you choose to play with a gamepad, unfortunately. If you encounter too much trouble racing with one then definitely shift to the keyboard. This was my issue because the controller made me over steer and lose races whereas the keyboard was far more manageable. Those who prefer can enable options to change the maximum speed of cars or how they react to crashes to make it an easier or harder racer.

Re-Volt Featured

If you like Mario Kart’s item system then you might even be more interested in this game. Items are scattered across the course and signified by lightning bolts. Once you drive over one, an item is revealed to you and ready for action. You can get bowling balls, oil slicks, firecrackers, and even bombs. It may be aping off an established concept but is utilized well. Thankfully, there are no blue shell analogues!

Even though Re-Volt is over 10 years old now it still looks lively and cute. Many early polygonal games look rough but it still looks just fine to me. This is helped in part by the fact that a fan patch (included with GOG copies) allows the game to run at modern resolutions and look great doing so. This is the main way in which the PC version shines over consoles since they’re locked at much smaller resolutions. In any case, it seems that the game would be wholly enjoyable however you access it.

Re-Volt is a pretty tough racer but it also has a lot of spirit. Check it out if you’re willing to lose your fair share of times before finally getting a hang of your favorite RC car. After racing a while, try your hand at designing some tracks or playing against a friend in multiplayer.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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