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Showing posts with label Preview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Preview. Show all posts

Preview: Arcade Racing Legends

Announced back in June 2019 and successfully Kickstarted a month later in July, Arcade Racing Legends is a brand new Dreamcast title originally due for release at the end of 2019, but was subsequently delayed until later this year. My Dreamcast Junkyard colleague Mike Phelan wrote a great article documenting the initial project and what it’s all about, so rather than regurgitate that information I’ll direct you here if you want to know the background story for JoshProd and PixelHeart's Arcade Racing Legends.

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of the racing genre, and nostalgic arcade racers have always been high on my list, so naturally I was quick to back the project in the hope it would turn into a reality. As a backer, one of the most recent perks offered was a downloadable demo, so I grabbed it and thought it would be a great opportunity to let you all know how the game is shaping up.
Graphically, Arcade Racing Legends ticks all the boxes. No, it isn’t a “realistic” setting like you might find in something like Tokyo Highway Challenge but the game screams 90’s arcade racer at you, which is literally the whole point of this release. A bold colourful palette, plenty of variety from one course to the next (there are three available in the demo: Arctic, Desert and Forest), and a lovely garage menu system meant I was very pleased with what my eyeballs were treated to. It certainly looks like a game that could’ve been released back in the day, and a beautiful one at that.

Handling-wise, I was pleasantly surprised. It was my most feared element of Arcade Racing Legends even when I originally backed the project. After watching a few videos of early footage, the car handling looked a bit suspect, but after getting some hands-on time with the demo I was thankful that your car doesn’t constantly feel like you’re driving on ice. It’s still a bit floaty, sure, but the developers seem to have found a good balance here and kept it feeling arcadey without it being too ridiculous. It's actually really enjoyable to play and - for me at least - feels better to play than some original arcade racers.
Available to try in the demo are Career and Time Trial modes. I headed straight to start my Career mode and was presented with a day by day set of challenges as you advance towards turning yourself into a “professional arcade racer”. The challenges do a great job of easing you into the game step by step. On day one, for example, you just have to drive to the goal without any time pressures, just to get a feeling for the car. Day two sees you tackle a different circuit, this time against the clock, in a race to the finish. Day three puts you in the daunting position of not being allowed to use your brake pedal and yet still complete the course within a set time, and so on. It's a nice way of building things up and adding a bit of variety.
Three different cars are available in the demo, all of which have basic tuning options affecting their overall performance on the track. Followers of the Kickstarter will know there are going to be a whole load of different cars in the full release, many of which are based on vehicles from classic Sega arcade driving games like Sega Rally and Crazy Taxi, which is one of my most anticipated things about playing the full version.
The one thing I think really hurts Arcade Racing Legends, from both a gameplay and visual perspective, is that the circuits are all blocked off on both sides by continuous rows of sponsor boards. It very much lessens the experience quite a bit as you’re never in a position where you can run wide, and a mistake is rarely punished as you can just ride along the walls with very little slowdown. It all feels, and looks, just a bit bland and very lazy.
Original screenshots from the Kickstarter showed a few tracks where these sponsor boards did not appear right next to the asphalt or racing surface itself, so I really hope the full release has some wider play areas - I’d go so far as to say it’s the most important thing that PixelHeart need to address between now and the final release. The game won’t have much replayability if it remains as-is, simply because the challenge of learning the layouts of the circuits just isn’t there with the current setup.

Despite this, I’m still really looking forward to the release of Arcade Racing Legends and getting stuck into the Career mode proper when the game does finally get released. The demo did a great job of easing my concerns about the handling, and I just hope they take feedback onboard around those pesky track barriers. If they do, this could be a genuinely enjoyable game to play frequently on Dreamcast in 2020.

For those who missed the original Kickstarter campaign, pre-orders are now available here.

How about you, are you going to pick this up? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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Preview: Xenocider

It was in June 2015 that we first learned of Retro Sumus' ambitious Dreamcast exclusive shooter Xenocider. Back then, we didn't really know much about what was to become something of a labour of love for lead programmer Chui and his team based over in Spain, but now, almost five years later were are very close to having the final product in our hands, and - most importantly - in our Dreamcast consoles. Xenocider has undergone several revisions over the years, but here we are privileged to share with you details of the latest beta build, and our overall impressions of what we have played so far.
What was initially pitched as a sort of homage to 'into the screen' shooters of yesteryear such as Space Harrier, Planet Harriers and Sin & Punishment, Xenocider places the player in control of Xara, a cybernetic heroine tasked with travelling from planet to planet, basically wiping out all life and ultimately causing said planet to self destruct. As you do.


If you'll allow me to be a bit wanky for a moment, this does actually bring up some questions of ethics for me. Why is Xara so hellbent on destroying these alien creatures and the very worlds they reside on? If she didn't come blazing through the atmosphere in her ship and then start marauding around the landscapes shooting everything and setting off nukes, surely these innocent lifeforms could just continue going about their daily routine of floating around and minding their own business? I'm sure the answers will be revealed in the final game's story mode, so we'll leave this aspect of Xenocider alone for now. Wanky mode: off.
The similarities with the aforementioned properties from Sega and Nintendo/Treasure are quite clear to see from a visual and gameplay standpoint, but Xenocider does have its own identity too. The aesthetic is very much one of a sort of corrupt artificial life form being directed by a mysterious commander via a communications codec. You travel to various worlds killing stuff, you collect upgrade points that can be spent on your health, armour, weapon strength etc. This is done via a rather excellent between-level hub section aboard Xara's ship - a ship you also get to control in one of the mid-stage bonus areas that reminded me a little of something like Soul Star on the Sega Mega CD, but is actually based on Galaxy Force.