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Unlike conventional racing games, your view is always from the far edge of the miniature track, as if you were sitting next to the actual course. Consequently, it can be hard to judge curves on the far side. A championship mode challenges you to complete in fourteen races, and I found the controls to be touchy but effective. You can buy parts and upgrade your car between races, and that's important, because you won't get too far without making some dramatic improvements.
From the detailed car designs and sheer variety of parts, it's evident that many RC experts had a hand in the design of RC de Go. The realistic miniature tracks look almost photographic at times. Although set in various locations (including the roof of a building), there's not much to see in the background, so all the courses look pretty much the same.
RC's music is okay, but the mindless announcer repeats the exact same lines during every race. On the first lap, expect to hear, "It's still early in the race - you've still got time to turn things around" - even when you're winning! But a bigger flaw is the lack of a two-player split-screen mode, which could have been a lot of fun. As it is, only RC die-hards will really truly appreciate this game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The hub of the game is an overhead map where you guide what appears to be a little toy car between destinations. While trying to advance the story you'll frequently enter random street races which allow you to rack up experience points and earn car upgrades. Unfortunately you can't decline a street race challenge and they become tiresome after a while. The stylish cut-scenes feature a lot of spiky-hair tough guys in leather jackets. I had to page through plenty of Japanese text but still appreciate the artistry of the scenes.
Navigating menus can be a challenge, especially when faced with two options: "ok" and "end". Huh? I was able to see a few tracks but didn't advance very far. The racing is satisfying thanks to a smooth framerate and impressive lighting. The distant scenery looks fuzzy but that just adds atmosphere and mystery. The analog controls are a bit touchy; I prefer the digital which let you make minor adjustments. Turns can be hard to see coming, even with on-screen warning prompts.
In addition to the primary RPG mode there's also a battle mode that lets two players race via split-screen. Like most Japanese titles the manual is glossy and colorful. I'm bummed that Racing Lagoon was never released in the states. I can't quite grasp this game yet yearn to be a part of its world. Some nights I'll kick back with Racing Lagoon while sipping an adult beverage and just try to soak it all in the best I can. Note: I reviewed this import using a modified Playstation. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
That's okay because the track is fantastic! It twists and dips like a rollercoaster as you race through watery ruins, towering falls, San Francisco-style hills, and a bright Greek seaside village. New lighting effects add realism but make the scenery look a little gritty. I noticed a few unsightly seams here and there. The arcade controls are consistent with previous Ridge Racer titles, complete with the fishtail weirdness.
I found the jazzy music to be a huge upgrade over the previous games, as is the woman announcer who provides moral support. The sense of progression is terrific as you're constantly unlocking new features and upgrade options. There's a lot of pressure to finish each race in the top three because you only have five credits. Even after all these years Rage Racer stands as a testament to how much fun arcade-style racing can be. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
It plays similar to the previous Raiden games for systems like the NES and Turbografx, but this one is arcade perfect. Not only that, but you can completely configure the controls, display, difficulty, and even save your high scores. Playing this game is pure joy. As you weave across the screen spraying missiles at tanks and helicopters, you can even see cows grazing in the pastures below. Not many shooters can say they have cows.
Huge airships catch on fire as they incur damage, and the explosions are supremely satisfying. Holding down the fire button engages rapid-fire, and there's no shortage of power-ups. Your earth-shattering bombs act as shields in addition to unleashing widespread destruction. Each stage culminates with a giant mechanical boss, but these don't monopolize the game as in so many other shooters. Two players can blast away at the same time, and a pulsating soundtrack helps you get into the zone.
This disk actually includes both Raiden 1 and 2, although the second is more like a remake of the first. The graphics are slightly more detailed and there are some new weapons in Raiden 2, but the exciting twitch gameplay is exactly the same. There aren't many games like this for the Playstation, so shooter fans would be well-advised to track this one down. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The physics is best described as "bouncy", so hitting a bump at a bad angle can send you tumbling end over end. When you find yourself flipped over, you need to "rock" your vehicle by alternately pressing the shoulder buttons. To avoid this predicament get used to tapping the brakes around each curve to execute a controlled power slide.
Rally Cross was one of the first racers to include a split-screen mode for four players, and my friends and I played the hell out of it. Despite its degraded visuals and choppy frame-rate the contests were consistently fun and exciting. There's nothing better than T-boning a friend or simply plowing straight into a traffic jam. There's no damage modeling but the track designs provide ample opportunity for devastating collisions. I also like how the pixilated water and mud splashes as you slice through it.
Rally Cross does have a few annoyances. When using automatic transmissions you'll still need to manually place your car into first gear to begin the race. Usually you forget and just sit there revving your engine as everyone else darts out ahead. It's also necessary to manually shift gears when you need to reverse, which is a pain. The camera doesn't behave well in tight places, and if you wind up facing the wrong way inside a cave, you're really screwed.
The mine and jungle tracks are terrific but the garden and snow tracks are too long and dull. The fantastic sound effects include creaking suspensions and crunching metal, but the generic guitar music is a bit grating. You might expect a game like Rally Cross to have aged poorly, but it has not. The pixelation in its graphics adds charm, and that crazy physics just adds to the challenge. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Like so many sequels, this one takes several steps forward but a few steps back. First off, the whole manual gear-shift issue has been resolved, so the control scheme is simpler. Analog steering and vibration feedback is supported. The default steering is ultra-sensitive, but you can adjust that in the option menus. Although it's still pretty easy to roll your car, the physics is definitely less bouncy. Cars not only get dirty as they drive through mud but also model damage to a modest degree.
The first three tracks wind through a construction site, forest, and rail yard. They are tricky to navigate despite the constant arrow prompts. The remaining tracks can be unlocked via the season mode, and it's a pretty time-consuming process. The main problem is that the tracks are super long, and at five laps each, it's too much. Still, I will admit it's really exciting when you're trying to maintain a lead in the final lap with other racers right on your bumper! I actually worked up a sweat playing this!
The extra tracks are definitely worth unlocking. Rocky Pass is a snowy winter track and County Air is bursting with fall colors. The scenery in Rally Cross 2 is more refined and interesting than the first game, although the vehicles look slightly less detailed. I like how cars leave skid marks during slides, and the marks remain visible in subsequent laps. The forest stage features excellent thunder and lightning effects which are a bit startling.
Rally Cross 2's rich season mode gives you the ability to make adjustments to your car between races to match the conditions of the upcoming course. There's a make-your-own-track editor that's remarkably intuitive to use, but it hardly makes up for the lack of a four-player mode. Rally Cross 2 is a quality racer, but when you compare it pound-for-pound to the original, it's basically a wash. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The camera angle is more tilted than overhead, emphasizing the lack of detail and dreadful pixelation of the characters. Platforms are of different elevations, and some are only accessible via ramps or elevators. Apparently somebody thought this was a good idea, but it has a really detrimental effect on the game's speed. Your character moves slowly in general, and when shooting he moves like a snail! It's so bad that you'll actually avoid shooting whenever possible! What kind of a shooting game makes you not want to shoot? A really bad one!
Reloaded's stages are more reasonable in size than the previous game, but their nebulous objectives make them less satisfying. The new mapping display is counterintuitive, and the music consists of weak, generic beats. By rushing this ill-conceived sequel out the door, Gremlin effectively killed the promising series. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Crooked camera angles are used for dramatic effect, and beautifully-illustrated graphics boast amazing detail. Giant spiders scuttle convincingly and zombies stagger with amazing, motion-captured realism. The game is violent and gory by nature, with plenty of gratuitous blood and flying body parts. But what makes RE truly great is how it effectively builds atmosphere and tension. The scene with dogs bursting through the windows has got to rank up there as one of the greatest scares in video game history.
Despite the high quality presentation however, RE's poorly-translated dialogue is laughable, and the stilted voice acting has a "so bad it's good" quality. Although deliberately paced, the gameplay is fun and engaging despite its stiff controls. Turning around is slow, and your limited carrying capacity is aggravating.
RE also features a "live action" video intro which is largely an artifact of the early 90's gaming scene. It doesn't mesh with the game's polygon graphics at all, and looks completely out of place. Interestingly, this footage was censored to omit a shot of a severed arm (included in the Japanese version), much to the consternation of American gamers. Resident Evil remains a landmark game, and horror fans owe it to themselves to play through this at least once. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Despite a strong sense of deja vu, it's hard to beat the tried-and-true Resident Evil gameplay, with its awesome pre-rendered scenery, interesting puzzles, and jump-out-of-your-seat scares. The main character, Jill Valentine, looks seriously hot running around in her boots and miniskirt. But the real star of the game is a hulking boss named "Nemesis" who keeps coming back much like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. He's pretty scary, especially when you're limping around with that ugly bastard hot on your heels. Since Nemesis loves to sneak up on you and can crash the party at any moment, the intensity level is always high.
The improved control scheme offers a quick turn-around move, a dodge, and a nice auto-aim mechanism. Other new features include the ability to manufacture different types of ammo (about as fun as "mixing plants"), and new "decision points" that can slightly alter the branch of the story. Resident Evil 3 feels awfully familiar, but those who can't get enough of the series will appreciate this well-designed third chapter. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Survivor's 3D-rendered graphics are extremely blocky and pixelated, and the scenery is marred by unsightly seams and glitches. The audio is completely recycled from past RE games, but it's the control that really drags Survivor down. You can't strafe, and turning is painfully slow.
Targeting zombies involves moving a clumsy crosshair around the screen, and you can't even tilt down far enough to hit creatures chomping on your legs! The need to explore is eliminated by the "quick search" button which automatically zooms in on any useful objects in a room. Likewise, objects in your possession are automatically used when needed, eliminating the need to think.
Survivor is a linear experience with a lot of "find the key, open the door" puzzles. All that's left is constant shooting at monsters, which is surprisingly lame. Adding insult to injury, the load screens are frequent and you can't even save your progress! Clearly, Survivor was ill-advised and should have never seen the light of day. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
The overhead 3D graphics look great, and effective scaling is used to zoom the camera in automatically. The explosions are satisfying, and it's great fun to "squish" screaming soldiers with your tanks. A wide selection of battlefields are available, and they become more sprawling as you progress. Return Fire has a quirky sense of humor, incorporating classical music and old film clips. But there's more style than substance.
The problem is, you can only use one vehicle at a time! This severely limits your strategic options, and it's a colossal pain in the ass having to return to base just to switch vehicles. Hell, you're better off sacrificing your vehicle than enduring that time-consuming return trip! Return Fire seems like the perfect head-to-head game on paper, but none of my friends ever wanted to play it for long.
Fortunately there's also a single-player mode that challenges you to complete missions in the shortest possible time. It's nothing to write home about, but it's something. Lacking the playability of an arcade title and the depth of a strategy game, Return Fire falls squarely into "no-man's land" of gaming. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Ridge Racer features bright graphics, simple controls, and non-stop action. Ultra-modern skyscrapers with animated billboards soar into the bright blue sky. Hot babes introduce each race, helicopters buzz the track, and jumbo jets take off from a nearby airport. You'll drive up mountain sides, race through tunnels, and cruise past scenic beach resorts. As day turns to night, stars come out and the buildings light up.
The fact that the road is granular in appearance really helps convey the illusion of speed. You'd expect the third-person viewing option to be easier, but the collision detection seems far more forgiving in the first-person view. The digital controls take some getting used to, requiring you to rapidly "tap" the directional pad around turns. Hitting the brake sends your car into a power slide that feels more like a fishtail. While it seems clumsy at first, it's effective when mastered.
Initially you're limited to four cars, and I prefer the yellow model due to its high speed and acceleration. There's only a single course but it's one of the best tracks I've ever played. On medium and hard difficulties the track is extended by a section that snakes through a construction zone. The CPU drivers leave little room for error, and trying to edge out an opponent at the finish is so intense, you might forget to blink! The game saves best trial times and unlocking extra cars and mirrored tracks is addictive.
If Ridge Racer has an Achilles heel, it's the audio. The soundtrack is a nonsensical mishmash of high-pitched voices singing over chaotic electronic beats. The snarky commentator is obnoxious but does toss out some oddly amusing lines ("Hey that was a great counter! You must be one genius of a driver! You gotta teach me!"). The game's fun arcade spirit is the reason Ridge Racer stands the test of time. There's no tedium here - just thrills and excitement. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The quality of the graphics is the same as the first game, which is not a bad thing. The new course has three variations, but the general layout seems suspiciously similar to the original. Still, I like driving past those lighted tiki huts at night and racing through the tunnel carved into the side of the mountain. The controls haven't changed but the tracks tend to be more narrow, making it harder to maintain control during the fishtailing power slides. The new rear-view mirror feature is kind of a bust. On the plus side you can use it to "block" oncoming cars. On the down side, it's kind of big and tends to obscure the scenery.
As in the first Ridge Racer, you can play a Galaga minigame during the load screen, but you can no longer swap in your own music CD. That's a problem, because some of the techno jams sound like a cacophony of noise. All things considered, Revolution is still a fun game with the same arcade sensibility of the original. There are additional options including the ability to save best times for each track. But instead of feeling a big step forward, Ridge Racer Revolution just feels like a big step sideways. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are so outstanding they even rival Gran Turismo (Sony, 1998). While no individual track lives up to the arcade splendor of Rage Racer (Namco, 1996), the courses look a lot more realistic thanks to some phenomenal lighting effects. When the sun sets the sky turns a reddish hue which looks absolutely breathtaking. Namco employed a new "blur" visual effect on car tail lights, and it's certainly eye-catching.
Ridge Racer Type 4 is the first game in the series to support two-player split-screen, believe it or not. But the most notable improvement lies in the controls. This is the first Ridge Racer to support the analog stick and it works like a charm. The "fishtail" physics of the previous Ridge Racer games have been replaced with new powerslide controls that let you effortlessly navigate tight turns.
I own the Limited Edition of Ridge Racer Type 4 which included an innovative Jogcon controller. This oversized gray controller has a little wheel in the center which not only simulates a steering wheel but has force feedback! Hold on tight because if you hit another car or take a turn too quickly the wheel will fight you! I would opt for a regular controller if my life depended on winning but the Jogcon adds realism.
I found the game's background music to be tranquil and relaxing, allowing you to get into a zone while sliding around windy roads. As icing on the cake, a bonus disk includes a 60 frames-per-second (smooth) version of the original Ridge Racer! Ridge Racer Type 4 is one of the best arcade-style racers you'll ever play. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The unintentionally hilarious story mode is a treat thanks to priceless dialog like "So what do you want, mister younger brother of the big boss?" The game's 14-character roster includes a schoolgirl named Sakura that Street Fighter fans should recognize. Some characters incorporate sports equipment into their attacks such as baseballs, bats, soccer balls, and volleyballs (in your face!). The female character models look smooth and clean, but the larger males look downright chunky. The animation is fast and fluid, giving matches an almost choreographed quality.
Rival Schools is easy to play, yet advanced techniques like counters, evasive maneuvers, and juggle moves give the combat tremendous depth. You select two characters and can swap them between matches. Rival Schools combines the crisp, responsive gameplay of a 2D title with the flashy visuals of a 3D game. The elaborate team attacks look outrageous as both teammates toss around their opponent like a rag doll. The "healing" moves are usually good for a laugh (what is she doing to him?!).
The 2D stages tend to be pretty ho-hum, although the snowy town is quaint and that classroom looks huge! The uptempo music is okay, but there's only one or two tunes that really stand out. Rival Schools comes on two discs: one with the arcade-perfect original, and one containing an "evolution" edition with extra modes and characters. There's a lot of bonus material to unlock, and high scores are saved to memory card. Capcom was really on top of their game when they gave us Rival Schools. I don't think I'll ever get tired of playing this one. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Unfortunately the game employs a "medium zoom" which offers little in the way of eye candy and fails to give you a good sense of your surroundings. You can move independently of your aim, but the game was developed before the dual-analog Playstation controllers came along. That's a shame because this game begs for dual joysticks. Using the face buttons to aim is awkward, but the controls are the least of your problems. The screen is so loaded with sloppy polygons that it's hard to tell what the [expletive] is going on! Slowdown and choppy animation are the order of the day, and the collision detection is heinous. These factors increase challenge, but in a bad way.
Robotron X tries to add a few original elements, but the consequences are dire. New robots are continuously dropped onto the screen, destroying any sense of progress or accomplishment. Waves are preceded by pointless intro screens which kill any sense of momentum. They also reveal the main character to be one ugly bastard. The concept of power-ups (like a two-way shot) had potential but is badly underused. The "pumping techno soundtrack" is generic and unimpressive.
Robotron X is constantly showering you with unwanted "bonus" lives, turning the game into a never-ending ordeal. It's possible to save a game in progress, but it's not possible to save the contents of the high score screen. My friend Chris summed up Robotron X like this: "Let's make it 3D because we can." It's too bad because the original Robotron was one of the most addicting, intense arcade games of all time. Midway wisely did not include it on this disk, probably because it would have really exposed Robotron X as the ill-conceived 3D rehash that it is. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are extremely polished and attractive. Stages tend to be dark but make excellent use of color, lighting, and pyrotechnics. One track winds through an island with a gorgeous sunset while another looks like Gotham City at night with burning oil drums and industrial scenery. Most tracks are nice and wide, but a few have a tendency to screw you over. On the red Mars track you can get hopelessly stuck in a dead-end if you miss a key jump. The sense of speed is exciting but the analog steering is touchy.
When you get struck by a missile or glance off scenery you often find yourself facing the wrong direction. It's especially bad when you're soaring through the air, watching your car slowly rotate in the wrong direction! The game can be so disorienting it dedicates the O button to an "auto correct" function. But instead of instantly pointing you the right way, it spins you around a bunch of times first.
One thing I love about Rollcage is its brisk pacing. The menus are a breeze to navigate, the load times are short, and even the race countdown is brief. A challenging league mode lets you unlock features and the two-player split-screen mode is also exciting. Rollcage is a lot of fun to play and frankly I wonder how I missed out on it the first time around. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
New modes include a two-player tournament and head-to-head combat. The combat mode is a bust but working your way through the campaign is compelling stuff. The knock-out rounds are so intense you'll forget to blink! The action becomes especially exhilarating when the finish line is in sight and missiles are whizzing by and cars are being tossed all over the place. I like how the game lets you enter your initials to save the best lap times.
Sadly, not only does the game suffer from similar maladies as the original game, but the developers seemed to double-down on them! The tracks are darker and more claustrophobic than ever, and it's still quite possible to get hopelessly stuck in a dead end. Certain weapons are remarkably annoying, like the "time warp" which wobbles the screen in a nausea-inducing manner. Rollcage Stage II is an impressive futuristic racer, but all things considered it's not appreciably better than the first. Note: While playing on my PS2 the menu highlighting did not work correctly. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Rush Down's controls feature responsive steering, using the L1 or R1 buttons initiate tight turns. The X button is used to speed up, and it might as well be an accelerator pedal, because it provides an instant boost! You're always racing the clock, and there are frequent checkpoints that tack on additional seconds to the timer. The courses are interesting and exciting. The snowboarding and biking trails offer scenic mountain views, while the kayak stages boast amazing cascading water effects and majestic waterfalls. The locations span the globe, and high scores are saved for each course.
As much as I enjoyed Rush Down, the game does reveal some technical limitations of the PS1 system. The snow courses show a lot of seams, and there's significant "draw-in" on the horizon. It can be hard to tell which way the track is turning, and even the arrow signs can be hard to make out from a distance. And what's up with the signs that have nothing but exclamation points on them? I hope I never see one of those in real life! The characters are blocky and one appears to be wearing a thong! I hope that's not a dude!
The collision detection is clumsy at times, making it easy to get hung up on a rock or log. The split-screen mode is a little on the choppy side, but still fun. I enjoyed the game's techno beats, although its voice samples can get on your nerves. It has some flaws, but I enjoyed Rush Down's high speed thrills. I find it hard to believe this was panned by critics, because I regard it as a hidden gem in the PS1 library. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Rush Hour is more Virtua Racer than Ridge Racer. Its high camera angle offers a nice vantage point, but prevents you from getting a good look at the scenery, composed of textured polygons. You can zoom in slightly via the shoulder buttons, but you're basically limited to "far" and "farther". The tracks snake their way through snowy railroad stations, seaside resorts, and a nighttime metropolis. Despite directional indicators that warn of upcoming turns, the tracks are difficult to navigate, especially when they veer off-road or contain sharp turns.
But Rush Hour's biggest downfall is its poor steering controls. Designed for use with the digital pad, your turn radius is extremely tight, so wild oversteering is a constant problem. It's not unusual to plow directly into a wall while attempting an easy turn. Another huge issue is how you need to hit periodic checkpoints before a timer runs out or your game ends abruptly. Even on the novice level, you'll need a flawless run to hit every checkpoint.
A two-player split-screen mode is provided, but it's really hard to follow the track if you're not familiar with it. The best times are saved automatically for each track. I like the concept behind Rush Hour, but poor controls and excessive difficulty really take the air out of its tires. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Moby Games, Gaming Age Online, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, GameFAQs.com, Playstation Museum, YouTube, Video Games Museum, Game Fabrique