Sunday, June 08, 2014

Wild Metal: The Vanishing Game?

This was originally going to be a review of Wild Metal, DMA/Rockstar's tank-based strategic shooter. I have played Wild Metal quite a bit, as I owned it for a while back when I had my first Dreamcast in 2000. I recall it being a pleasant little shooter that allowed you to trundle around sparsely populated alien landscapes in one of several oddly-designed armoured vehicles, popping off shots at marauding robotic enemies. It wasn't a system seller, but it was pleasant enough to while away a few quiet hours if there was nothing more important to do and the way you could change the angle of trajectory of your shots depending on how long you held the fire button down was quite interesting. So why am I not reviewing Wild Metal as originally intended then? It's because I can't play either of the two copies I own.

I bought my first copy (or rather, second - if you count the original one in 2000 as the first) of Wild Metal quite a while ago and and when I tried it in my system I had a real nightmare trying to get it to work. It loaded only occasionally - say 2 out of the 10 times I turned the system on and off - and on the rare occasions it did load up and allow me to play, the game world was full of black squares all over the terrain where the game hadn't loaded the textures properly. I didn't really give it a second thought and just assumed the disk was scratched or something, and just put the game to one side - I'd get another copy off eBay for a few pence when I could be bothered. Time passed and I totally forgot about my unplayable copy of Wild Metal...until a few weeks ago when I saw a boxed and mint condition copy on eBay selling for about a pound. I snapped it up, it arrived...and then it sat on the shelf until earlier today when I decided to finally put it in my Dreamcast, play it and review it here. Upon placing it in my Dreamcast, the rockstar logo sprang up, followed by the main menu screen. All was going well. I chose my tank, noted that the music was quite catchy and then got ready to play. And then the game began...and once again I was confronted with a game-world covered in black tiles where the textures had not loaded in properly. I could drive around and shoot enemies...but those untextured patches were everywhere and it looked a complete mess - I wasn't going to be taking screenshots of something that looked like that. I opened the GD drive and took out the disk, gave it a wipe (it was already spotless, by the way) and tried to start the game again. But this time, the game just would not load up at all - the console sounded like it was having real trouble reading the GD-Rom and after several self-initiated system restarts, I turned it off.






I went and dug out my older copy of Wild Metal and tried it...and it loaded up first time around with the same result - black squares and even some new glitching effects on the tank itself, and upon restarting the game (again after wiping to disk - this copy has a few light scratches), it too refused to load. And by that, I mean that both copies will display the Rockstar startup FMV and then it just goes to a black screen while the system shakes itself to bits trying to read the game.

Both copies are perfectly serviceable...

I find this whole affair really puzzling. Wild metal is a game that next to no-one has played and that next to no-one even wants to play - Rockstar even started giving the game away for free on the PC, but that's besides the point. The thing is, there is nothing anywhere on the internet about this issue and even if you take away the black textures glitch, I can't understand why the game loads up once, and then refuses to do so afterwards. It really is an odd one, this. Two copies of exactly the same game have exactly the same issues. It could be down to bit rot or data decay on the actual disks themselves...but just on Wild Metal? Hmmm. Also, I can't see how it would be an issue with the console itself as the Dreamcast I have plays every other game perfectly and in any case is a different machine to the one I had when I tried the first (second) copy a few years ago. I wonder if Rockstar printed a bad batch of GDs and I've randomly ended up with two from the same shipment...but that still doesn't explain why there is no mention whatsoever, anywhere on the whole of the internet of this kind of thing happening with any other copies of Wild Metal.

It's a chin scratcher for sure, but if you have experienced the same thing with your copy of Wild Metal, please let me know in the comments section. We may have discovered the first 'Lost' Dreamcast game here folks, where copies are randomly becoming unplayable due to some kind of physical degradation of the data on the GDs (and just watch the price of 'playable' copies skyrocket on eBay!). Then again, I might just have two duff disks.

10 comments:

OatBob said...

http://www.rfgeneration.com/news/Disc-Rot/An-important-note-to-Video-Game-Sellers-and-Buyers-1337.php

Check out this blog entry. Disc rot is famous to Laserdisc collectors, and has started appearing in Saturn collections too. My own personal experience is with SF III: 3rd Strike. It was the last game I needed for a full collection... so I had to dump another $30 into a second copy!!!

Tomleecee said...

That sucks! I'm not even sure that this is the issue with Wild Metal though, as I've spoken too a few other people on Twitter who have similar problems with their copies. Maybe I should email Rockstar...wonder if I'd even get a reply?!

Steve Sternberg said...

I ran into this issue. Sucks because the game is a fav of mine.

hman said...

I haven't had an issue with my NTSC copy it runs perfectly, though when I play it I'm not sure it is a good thing

Benjamin said...

bloody hell....I havent played mine since picking it up a couple months ago....hope mine will be ok.

On a similar note. I bought 2 copies of Vanishing Point after the first one wouldn't load and neither would the second? anyone else have a problem with that title?

Tomleecee said...

Never heard of this issue with Vanishing Point...but it'd be very apt if it did. Y'know, with it being called Vanishing Point and all...

nocarpayment said...

Hmmm i have not had this problem with any of my DC games. I recently found a stash of games that been sitting in the bathroom in this small closet for over 10 years. Do you have access to another Dreamcast"

Greg said...

It's so great to see this blog still going strong after so long!

Tomleecee said...

Thanks Greg - I'll be updating again shortly...never seem to have the time!

The GagaMan(n) said...

Crazy taxi has a fault where if the disc is scratched (or detected as damaged in any way) the scenery disappears leaving just the car and the people floating about. My modded Dreamcast doesn't seem to like my PAL copy of the game even though the disc is perfect and does this a lot.