November 8, 2006 1:01 PM |
[Having gained a mid-week day pass from his 3DO-specific blog, 3DO Kid peers up from his sordid quagmire and passes judgement on games no sane man would consider. Free now to explore beyond Hawkins' dream machine, he drones incomprehensibly on... now proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that free thinking should require a license.]
The privilege of being handed a column on GameSetWatch has not escaped me. I mean to say, the scale of opportunity has not missed my attention. What, I had been wondering until very recently, am I to do with it, though? It would be a shame to waste it.
After pondering this question for weeks, I have finally come up with an idea. Like a bolt from the blue, I, 3DO Kid, 3DO fanboy extraordinaire, have had an epiphany.
The answer to the question now seems obvious: What should the worlds biggest, only and probably last 3DO fanboy do? Of cause. Settle the big one. The final fight. The old grudge. Yes - you have guessed it. I will answer the question most people thought unanswerable.
Which is better? 3DO Multiplayer or Atari Jaguar?
…I can tell without looking you are not as excited as I am about this.
...but it’s perfect! Don't pull that face - it's perfect! Clash of the Titans. The epic timeless battle continues: 32Bit vs 64bit, well 16bit, well, maybe 32bit – hmm - what ever the Jag was vs the 32bit 3DO.
Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!
I also figured I had better lay some ground rules. You know – to look fair and all. One thing did worry me as these thoughts formed in my brain, you see. How can the people trust me and more importantly trust my judgement on this? I call myself 3DO Kid – I’ve obviously backed a horse in this race.
So – in the spirit of fairness, I have decided some basic ground rules. Firstly I’ve decided to steer away from such things as: who had the coolest CEO? Sam Tramiel or William ‘Trip’ Hawkins?” And no, not because chubby, badly dressed, balding Tramiel wouldn’t stand a chance against Silicon Valley slick Trip with his Miami Vice coolness - but because it wouldn’t be fair, and not in the true spirit or the knowing of which machine is the best. In my opinion, this titanic match of ex-next-gen shouldn’t be a slagging match. Well – not initially.
Likewise I’m not going to embroil myself in the 64-bit or 32-bit debate. Again. Or which system had the most games? Or which one was it easier to play a CD on? Which console makes best use of the number ‘3’ and the letters ‘D’ and ‘O’ in its name. Oh no.
Basically, I’m not going to victimise the Jaguar because it only had 70 something games, initially no CD, and a 16 bit CPU. What I am going to do is pick games that have a rough equivalent on the 3DO and compare them.
So - ultimately fair. And fair because it’s important to be fair, and not because I’m afraid that an unfair bashing of the Jaguar will result in the unleashing of the mighty anger of the Atarians. And they will use their geek-rays on me or something.
For that you dear, dear, readers must put your faith and trust in me. Me 3DO Kid, and the voices in my head.
Each week – I’ve decided to do it weekly – ‘cos, well, I’m dead excited about the idea, I will pick two like-for-like games and compare them. “Mano a mano”, as the wise-man from Need for Speed on 3DO might say.
First problem. Where to start? Racing games? Pinball games? RPGs?
The fairest way I could figure was to close my eyes, and stick my hand in the drawer I have, a drawer marked ‘3DO games’ and pull one out at random.
Well, first time out - what happened? BC Racer. “Oh Damn!” I thought. I tried to stuff it back in but the words “Be fair” resonated in my skull. “Sod that” I thought and I tried harder and with a bit of desperation to lodge BC Racer back in the draw, but due to the mess, it fell out again – “Fine” I shouted to the ever constant voices. “So. Be. It!”
BC Racer versus Atari Karts.
Having already played BC Racer by Goldstar, I was under no delusions. The 3DO was in trouble in this very first round. BC Racer had been slated on its release for what it was, which was a cynical, utterly rubbish, Mario Kart clone and very little more. Meanwhile, having never played Atari Karts, a quick bit of research revealed it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as BC Racer.
So with some rapid eBay account usage and having clicked through PayPal for a few minutes, I purchased the only Buy It Now copy available and waited its arrival.
So - having now played both games for as long as I could bear – about an hour and half each, my criticisms of BC Racer remain the same as they were when I put it up on my blog.
3DO Round 1.
It’s awful. Really, really, awful. The most delirious, insane 3DO fanboy ever, couldn’t rose-tint his way out of this. The only way to describe BC Racer by Elite is depressing. Not in a glib comedy way, like “Ohhh, this game is so bad I’m depressed” way but depressing in a very technical, very precise kind of way. The colours are depressing. The lack of visibility is depressing. The erratic controls are depressing. The pop-up. The fog. Oh heavens the fog! The jumpy frame rate. Nothing is good. Not one thing.
It is all very much, if not exactly like, a nightmare. You can’t quite see... The whole thing feels like it has been dipped in syrup. You can’t quite move. It just needs a sequence half way through where you turn up to an interview with a duck, after applying for the role of Prime minister. Only to realise you’re not wearing trousers.
Even now, as I sit and type this in, looking back, the faint memory of BC Racer feels closed, confined and restricted. I’m happy not to be playing it. The world seems a better place when it isn’t loaded.
In its defence, well, OK - the opening titles are extremely enjoyable to watch. The animated sequences are fun. The audio takes advantage of CD, the sound is actually very good.
None of which should detract us from the overwhelming tragedy of playing this enormously difficult game. Everything and I mean everything that was good, no, sorry, everything that was exceptional about Mario Kart was missed in BC Racer.
Ultimately it is a damned game and I don't say that lightly.
Atari Jaguar. Round 1.
So - on to Atari Karts then. I had played BC Racer first and then switched channel to Atari Karts. It is like a breath of fresh air. It immidiately feels lighter. Breathier. Responsive. O.K - the Italian plumber won’t lose any sleep. Certainly, the track design wasn’t as good as Mario, the sense of being in a race wasn’t as good, the characters not as engaging, yada-yada-yada - but it felt nice – in comparison to the utterly appalling BC Racer. Atari Karts, having been trapped in the spongy world of BC Racer, made me happy. I could see. I could move. The power-slides, while clumsy and lacked the elegance or the point of its Nintendo counterpart, were at least consistent. Early on I won a couple of races and even in the later games I felt I was in a race.
It wasn’t perfect. One thing I want to mention about Atari Karts is the flat power-ups - the little collectible icons that give you the chance to have better grip or go faster. They are flush to the floor. What was that about? It’s dreadful. Especially since collecting these icons seems to make no sense and seems to have little or no real effect.
Add to that the music. It was tinny and chippy. The whole Atari Karts experience benefited from the volume being turned to ‘min’. Atari Karts also lacked a pretty rendered CD only introduction – yet the game doesn’t seem to have suffered any because of this. (Didn't make sense to me either!)
Still – it was better than BC Racer. Much better. Better by about a country mile.
I should mention that neither the 3DO controller or the Jaguar controller made either of these games any better. And having used the Jaguar's controller for the first time for any real length of time, this battle of the consoles is not going to be fought out on joypads - that is for sure.
So what is left? A painful, bitter defeat. Like a 32-bit Samson, I can feel my mighty powers of 3DO being cut away. Diminished. Faded. What lessons are the Angels of Retro Gaming trying to teach me? Why have their voices gone from my head? I feel quite weak now. I need a nice cup of tea, a biscuit and a bit of a sit-down. It’ll be OK next week…
Round 1 to the Atari Jaguar…
Jag 1: 3DO 0.
[3DO Kid runs the only active 3DO blog on the Internet, with the self made goal of reviewing, in one manner or another, the entire 3DO back catalogue. He's a bit crazy, really.]
Categories: Column: Beyond 3DO