Monday, 23 September 2013

SNES Road Riot 4WD



With many games you realise what they're aiming for and how they went about trying to achieve it. Sometimes you realise that there were key issues in creating such things and that due to overwhelming restrictions, they tried their best with what they had at the time. Some games come through as being gems with potential that maybe the next generation of console would have been better overall for their intentions.

And some games should have been terminated at inception, with the proposer, the designer, the programmers, testers and marketing departments. Games so terrible and horrible that their very existence is a blight on humanity's soul. The type of games that you would never give someone even as a joke unlike any Barbie game, which just is a big playful slap to the face. These types of games however you give to someone on the understanding this person will, or already, hates you.

These kinds of games are the ones that earn people street beatings, in public, with their family and kids around.

I defy anyone to actually get this game and play it AND like it. A bold statement, I know, but this is one of THOSE games.

Sometimes with games you realise that they're trying to jump in the bandwagon and make a name for themselves. Mario and Sonic ruled the platformers series in the 2D days and while chars like Bubsy, Bug, Zool and such all took a shot at the platform crown, these two have seen off all attackers, staunchly. Likewise the king of carting games pretty much is the Mario kart series with occasional attempts over the years from the Kongs, Crash Bandicoot, Konami's random people (love the Pyramid Head racer guys!) Sonic even trying to grab a slice of the pie on the cart racing though Nintendo seems to have gotten this one down to such a fine art that there's few decent competitors for the title. Not those other games are bad, but the Mario Kart series is just so well developed now, that even good games are over looked.

This game though... I'm not which game they were trying to replicate but they fucked up in all recognisable ways and likely others I've never seen before in all my years of gaming.

As far back as I can remember, split-screen racing has been a staple of a lot of games over the years. From the C64 I can remember Pole Position, Kick Start 2 (already reviewed, thanks), Top Gear, Mario Kart, Gran Tourismo, various World Rally Championship games, and so on to name but a few that stick out in my mind. The Super Nintendo version of Mario kart being one of the most played games I've had on the console in my youth, but in acquiring THIS GAME I was sadly exposed to one of the uglier undersides of the gaming library.

This game tries to be a racing game. A split-screen off-road buggy racer that competes you and possibly a (soon-to-be-no-longer) friend, against each other and multiple AI racers on dirt tracks against each other. You've your standard, steering, optional gears (never played with gears in any arcade racer, I leave that to my actual car where it's FUN to use them), and an optional gun that shoots out to hit other racers to slow them down.

That's the idea anyway.

Let's take a look at the history. Myself and my cousin, hired this game from a shop going on the blurb on the back, looking for a racing game of sorts and this offered 2 player action, shooting the other racers and seemed to be presented fairly well. I should note this was back before the internet was available and people could readily access reviews and such websites. If they were available I'd have gone straight online and sought the names and addresses of all the people involved and tortured them badly with a whole assortment of things from my garden shed. Most likely the spiders.

This is also likely why the internet wasn't invented sooner, to wait for me to stop wanting these people gone.

So we took this game and paid our rental (I know, renting SNES games, those were the days) and ended up heading home to slap the game into the console and booting it up. Already the cracks were starting to show. The game's presentation was very weak, nothing really being done within the game to showcase what it could do or what it offered. The music was an assault upon the ears and we opted to play the game with the sound down on our little TV. A first for gaming.

Then we started playing it and that's probably where my inspiration came to actually review games, sadly one I realised only recently but better late than never.

The game sets up, gets ready to play and looks like the usual split screen affair of games at the time like Top Gear and Mario kart and that's really where the game differs. The frame rate stutters along like a backfiring scrap heap of a car. The refresh rate is so slow that by the time someone has been seen they're already processed as have over taken you and gone into the distance, your only time to see someone is when you fly past them, they fly past you, or you're level with them very briefly. Shooting at them is beyond a joke, you can't aim accurately with the limited frames of animation of your vehicle and with slow refresh and lowered frame rate, and your bullet is there for a second and gone. Even successfully hitting someone slows them down so slightly that it barely seems to have done anything and when you stop shooting them, they speed right back up to what they were before the change. So the one extra function in a racing game to help you overtake; lets you pull level at the MOST effective it can be.

This game was clearly rushed.

The levels and races are bland and repetitive, backgrounds and the tracks themselves are indistinct from each other and the music grates heavily upon the brain with its awful synths best left to crappy old Midi libraries labelled under "What the fuck were we thinking".

As I mentioned earlier in the review, sometimes you realise that games were made with a lack of firepower and strength that later generations of consoles could manage. Sometimes you play a game realise that split screen tends to be slower and missing something that full screen has. In some games a full screen, single player mode, has a remarkably better refresh rate than the split screen and usually more detail. This games HAS NO SINGLE PLAYER SCREEN. The single player mode is just the fucking multiplayer mode while the bottom half follows one particular AI racer.

There was never any attempt to overcome the trials and tribulations of the hardware limitations, it's a shitty, hastily made, mash up of code that likely was hacked together and slashed out as a means of simply putting out SOMETHING that had racing in it to try and get in on the fat cow of kart racing that was being used. I'm hugely grateful that the £1 I spent hiring the game would have gone to the lovely people who ran the shop rather than the spluttering shit-fest of a company that published this dross.

My sympathies go to those that spent a full £30 or £40 on this pile of dogshit. If anyone has a copy of this game, please send me vids of you destroying it for the good of future generations.