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Showing posts with label Surf Rocket Racers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surf Rocket Racers. Show all posts

Retrospective: Surf Rocket Racers

Developed by CRI Middleware and released by Crave Entertainment in late 2000 in Europe and early 2001 in the rest of the world, Surf Rocket Racers picked up where Nintendo’s Wave Race 64 left off, and brought the world of jet skiing to the Sega Dreamcast. Confusingly, in Japan the game was published by CRI and released under the title Power Jet Racing 2001, meaning that in a tenuous way it could actually be considered a first party title (what with CRI, CSK and Sega's convoluted business relationship during that time).

Surf Rocket Racers is a lesser-known Dreamcast title that I stumbled upon recently as part of research for another project I’m currently working on, and it instantly appealed to me as a fine example of an arcade racer. If you’re bored of racing cars around street circuits, then this might just be the racing game you’ve been looking for.

Players must select one of the various characters on offer to start their jet skiing career. The usual suspects are on offer and you can decide if you want top acceleration, speed or handling whilst compromising the others. “Ryan” is the Super Mario of the group who has average stats in every category and thus a great starting point. Controlling your rider is about as simple as you could make it; with the right trigger being used to accelerate and the analogue stick being used to steer. A flick of the analogue stick in a direction will pull off a trick when jumping off a ramp, and that’s all there is to it.

I was slightly disappointed to discover that there aren’t too many tracks to race on, but there is enough variety across the different locations and routes here to keep you entertained. Racing takes place in venues such as the Bahamas, Manhattan, Rome and the Amazon. Each location has a short and medium route and each has a very unique and distinct colour palette and style. The background detail on each course is particularly impressive and as you ride past things like the Statue of Liberty or as dolphins jump out of the water in front of you, you can’t help but sit up and take notice.

Unconventional Ramblings

I went to Comic Con at the weekend. It was the first time I've actually been aware of such an event happening in my immediate vicinity, so naturally I jumped at the chance to attend...and I have to admit that it was a bit of a mixed bag. I don't really know what exactly I was expecting, but I'd seen various photos and tweets over the years about Comic Con events happening in other parts of the world so I was curious...but I wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be. Don't get me wrong - from the moment I arrived at the venue I was massively impressed by the number of other attendees who had put some fantastic amounts of effort into dressing up as characters from various comics, anime and games...but the actual event itself felt like little more than a massive table top sale where traders got to peddle their wares to the game and comic-loving public at inflated prices. I did see the guy who played Vaas Montenegro in Far Cry 3, and I also purchased this rather excellent squashy, handmade monitor from Sonic (which goes quite nicely with the early 90s plush toys that I have)...but I can't help but admit that I was a little underwhelmed by the whole experience.

Beats watching Big Brother I suppose
Maybe Play Expo in October will be more up my street, as I'm definitely more of a retrogaming nut than a comic reader. That being said, I still have to give kudos to all the guys and gals who dressed up in some frankly awesome cosplay outfits.

Moving back towards something vaguely related to the Dreamcast, last weekend I managed to pick up a used Nintendo Gamecube at a boot sale for a mere £5. What's that got to do with Dreamcasting? Well, I also got a copy of Wave Race Blue Storm...and what a lovely little game it is too. This got me thinking about the Dreamcast's only entry in the jet-ski racing genre, Surf Rocket Racers. So I knocked up a little comparison video:



I fully appreciate that Wave Race is a much better looking game than Surf Rocket Racers, and they both came out in the same year (which just demonstrates the technical gulf between the 'Cast and 'Cube)...but if you take out the water effects, Wave Race doesn't look that much better than SRR...right?! I mean, just look at the character models and the jet-skis themselves, and also the trackside details and you wouldn't really think that SRR is running on hardware that is vastly inferior to Nintendo's newer Gamecube. OK, this video doesn't really do much to fight the Dreamcast's corner, but I thought it'd be interesting to see how well our favourite Sega platform holds up against the last 'proper' Nintendo machine!

I finally got my hands on an S-VHS cable for my Dreamcast last week, and I'm very impressed with the image it kicks out on my CRT television. I do have a VGA box too, but both of the LCD televisions I have still give a fairly crappy image when I use the VGA adaptor (I'm guessing a contemporary CRT computer monitor would be the best thing to use with it). In the absence of such a display device in my abode, the S-VHS is probably the best option right now, and it has the added bonus of being compatible with all of the games I have in my collection. I did receive an email from a reader called Henrique regarding a Dreamcast VGA and Scanline Generator (thanks Henrique!), but as I haven't got one I can't really vouch for the quality of the thing. Reading the posts on that forum though, it seems pretty clear that the device is pretty nifty, so maybe I'll look into acquiring one in the future.

To wrap up this spectacularly random DCJY post, here's another short(ish) Youtube video I uploaded the other day. It's just a little bit of footage from an odd version of Doom I have on a CD-R I probably mentioned ages ago: Doom Classic Collection. It's Doom 2, but with the weapon and enemy artwork from Doom64 grafted in, and the file is simply called 'Requiem.' Enjoy.

Bollocks and Diamonds

Saw that Cloverfield last week. Wasn’t expecting much, but this gamer was very impressed. So what if it’s full of cock ups, plot holes and clichés. It fucking rocks. Big time. What doesn’t rock are the fucking imagination vacuums who reckon it’s shit. Why? Why is it shit? Because it wasn’t written by Jane Austen? Because it’s not riddled with bewildering, contrived sub-plots? Because it’s not in black and white with Spanish subtitles? FUCK OFF! It’s a good old fashioned monster movie delivered with a breath of fresh air in the way its shot. Simple as that. And if you’ve still not seen it, go and watch it. Now. It fucking rocks.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

In other news, earlier today, whilst out spending hideous amounts of money on clothes manufactured in developing countries by starving people who earn less in a year than most of us do in a week, I spotted a rather curious looking book. No – it wasn’t a pristine copy of The Never Ending Story, and nor was it an original edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio. No, it was something far more remarkable – the Guinness Book of Records 2008: Gamer’s Edition.

Picking it up and flicking through it’s crisp and new-smelling pages, I was at first rather awed by the in-depth critiques of several of gaming’s biggest franchises – Halo, Tekken, Zelda et al. Then, after a sudden brainwave, I flicked to the index at the back to see if there were any entries dedicated to our favourite off-white cuboid of ecstasy – The Dreamcast! And there were…a whole two. TWO! The first was the slightest of mentions on a contents page timeline…and the second a measly paragraph squashed into a corner of a page that fleetingly honours the DC with being the first console of the ‘sixth generation.’ And that’s it, save for a few brief mentions when DC software is grudgingly given a look in when studying various genres. And, get this, there’s a sales figures section that features both the N64 and PSX, but neither the Saturn OR Dreamcast are mentioned. Furthermore, in the ‘Fighting Games’ chapter, there is NO MENTION WHATSOEVER OF SOUL CALIBUR!

Is Guinness yet another media entity that is trying to deny the existence of the Dreamcast under orders from Sony? Looks like it, people.

But fuck Guinness. And fuck their shit tome of LIES and DECIET. I’ve been buying more Dreamcast games off eBay. Lets have a looky…

Blue Stinger

One of the Dreamcast’s earlier releases, Blue Stinger is a 3D explore-and-shoot-things ‘em up much in the vein of Tomb Raider. But with a hint of Resident Evil thrown in. You play as either Elliot Balade or Dogs Bower and must travel to the heart of a mysterious island that has been overrun by mutants to basically find out what the fuck is going on. Along the way, you’ll get to meet various other characters, engage in unintentionally humourous conversations, kick the shit out of beasties (and steal their cash to buy ammo from vending machines (?!)), gasp at the swearing in the dialogue and marvel at the crispness of the garishly hued first-generation visuals. 

If you can’t tell from that diatribe, I really like Blue Stinger. It’s a quality, no-nonsense action game that features a super-cheesy story and has brilliant action sequences bursting out from around every corner. Brilliant stuff that puts a lot of later releases to shame. 8/10

Surf Rocket Racers

Taking the baton from the awesome Hydro Thunder and the not-so-awesome Aqua GT, Surf Rocket Racers is the third water based racing game on the ‘Cast. However, rather than having you race obscenely powerful speedboats (like in Hydro Thunder, that is. Aqua GT’s are more like pedalows), SRR squeezes your ass into a wetsuit and up onto a Jet Ski. Obvious comparisons to the N64’s seminal Wave Race can be made, but that’s just lazy. So I’ll leave that till later. So what does SRR offer? Well, loads of tracks, loads of playable racers to choose from (with the typical slow/good handling – fast/shit handling statistics), several championship modes and even a Crazy Box style challenge mode. So, you see – it already trumps Wave Race in that it has about a billion more play modes and tracks. 

Graphically, it also manages to impress slightly. The trackside detail is commendable and the racers themselves are well modeled. It’s just that the water looks less like water and more like a mass of jelly. So Wave Race has better water effects, but for me Surf Rocket Racers is the better of the two just because the former has the longevity of the Hepatitis virus once it leaves the body. SRR on the other hand will have you playing for ages. Well, a good half an hour anyway, and that’s 23 minutes longer than Wave Race will hold the attention of any intelligent sentient being. 7/10

Pro Pinball Trilogy

Pinball games aren’t really something I usually go for, but Pro Pinball Trilogy caught my attention simply because I’ve recently been hammering the shit out of the little pinball game that comes integrated with Windows XP. Yes, I am that sad. It’s addictive as hell though, so I figured that a full blown pinball game for the Dreamcast, complete with all the 128-bit bells and whistles you could wish for would be like gaming nirvana. Erm, not exactly. Pro Pinball has ‘Trilogy’ tacked on the end because it has 3 different tables to play on, and the back of the box proudly rams this fact home with some kind of smug satisfaction. My response?

“THREE?! Is that meant to be good?”

Fuck me – Windows’ free pinball game has one table. Anyway, Pro Pinball Trilogy does exactly what it says on the tin (smug box). 

It’s a pinball game that lets you control the flippers at the bottom of the table with the L and R triggers and lets you nudge the table with the analogue stick. Rumours that you can actually jump onto the table and smash the glass with your steel toe-capped rigger boots by pressing X and Y together are unfounded. For the more anal pinball aficionado (of which I’m sure there are many), there’s the option to view pre-rendered images of each table and even chance to tinker with the table’s dot matrix score display in order to test the light bulbs in the flippers (no, really). If, however, you’d rather go to the pub and talk to real people – give Pro Pinball Trilogy a miss. And stick to the free pinball in Windows. 4/10

Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour (The Hunt For Curly’s Gold) (Part IV)

No, that’s not it’s real title – but fuck me! How long does the name have to be?! Anyway, I believe that several posts ago, in my study of Wacky Races, I claimed that that game was the Dreamcast’s answer to Mario Kart (hmm – more suspect Nintendo envy…). Well consider that comment well and truly rescinded. WDWQ: MRT is actually the Dreamcast’s true answer to Mario Kart. Obviously, it doesn’t quite measure up to Ninty’s powerhouse series (that doesn’t include Double Dash, by the way) because nothing can, but it goes a fair way to claim the crown as the Dreamcast’s most enjoyable ‘Kart’ game. 

Taking on the role of either Chip, Dale or one of the other strange Disney ‘characters’ that no-one’s ever heard of (where the frigging hell are Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy etc?!), it’s down to you to race around various Disney World themed circuits in order to win back parts of a firework machine that exploded because nuts were emptied into it. Naturally. Ignore the daft story and rather poo graphics though, and what you get with WDWQ: MRT is a genuinely fun little racer. It’s obviously – as with most games of this ilk – for kids, and this is reflected in the difficulty level, but it really is quite an enjoyable game. It all moves at a fairly slick pace and features some great weapons (check out the ‘teacup bomb’), and is a hoot in multiplayer. All in all, a nice karter. Not a patch on Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing, you understand, but fun nonetheless. 6/10

Caesar’s Palace 2000

I’ve only ever been in a Casino once, and that was only because a mate had a trial membership and all the other bars in town were closing. I didn’t actually play any games, you understand. My main focus was the bar, but this experience alone qualifies me to rate Caesar’s Palace 2000. And if the real Caesar’s Palace is even remotely like this game, I pity the fools who shell out a small fortune to go there. Casino Royale, this most certainly ain’t. 

The box gleefully announces that the game boasts “…the largest assortment of heart pounding 3D gambling games ever under one roof!”. Heart pounding? I almost had a fucking heart attack when I discovered this mess masquerading as a Dreamcast game. Put simply, Caesar’s Palace 2000 is a collection of card games, slot machines and roulette wheel games modeled in 3D. There is very little sound or music to speak of, and unless you have more than a passing interest in any of the shit that goes on inside a real casino, you’ll find very little of interest here. I really wanted to see Joe Pesci smash someone’s head in with a whisky glass, but alas it wasn’t to be. The game’s Poor. Very Poor.

See what I did there? (shotgun cocks) 2/10

So there we are! Another mixed bag of bollocks and diamonds. Not literally – that’d be slightly sick. Until next time…

Oh, and with regards to the Manchester derby on Sunday, Father Krishna: My prediction - United 7 City 0 :)