NFS-logo-small.jpg [After a break - he apparently nearly 32-bit gamed himself to death, having played and completed over 60 3DO titles in 2006, 3DO Kid is back. He's updating his blog. He's written a new entry for his GameSetWatch column, and all is well with the world - except, of course, the Angels of 32bit retro gaming that talk to him, and disturbingly, only him, through the medium of his 3DO controller... racing games this time, apparently!]

It is good to be back.

“What? What was that you said? Back to the 3DO games cupboard to pluck another game to duel in the endless war between 3DO Multiplayer and Atari Jaguar? Oh, OK! Back to the cupboard.”

[3DO Kid stuffs hand inside ‘3DO games’ cupboard, followed by the sounds of rummaging]

Megarace? No, sorry, the Atari Jaguar doesn’t have any streamed from CD racing games – lucky for it.”

[Rummage. Rummage.]

Autobahn Tokio? Nope. It doesn’t have any arcade street racers either.”

[Rummage, rummage.]

Crash ‘n Burn. What the!? Angels? ANGELS!!? Oh-there you are. What’s with the racing games? The 3DO and Jaguar had different types of racing games - they can't be compared!”

[Short eerie silence as the voices were communed with.]

“Oh – OK, I get it. Racing games for Round 2 then. The Atari Jaguar's best racing game versus 3DO's best racing game. Easy - when it's explained.”

3DO Vs. Jaguar - The Racing Game Overview!

The Jaguar, despite sharing its name with one of the most beautiful brands of car on Earth, was somewhat bereft of any decent racing titles.

Virtua Racing, no, sorry, I mean Checkered Flag leads the Atarian field, just ahead of Pro Rally Drive which hobbles in a 16-bit fashion semi-impressively across the field, with Club Drive bringing up the rear. Which, in many ways – is very appropriate.

Stil,l the 3DO offerings aren’t that great either. Megarace or Mega-stream-from-CD-athon, Autobahn Tokio, which despite my rose tints and the fact it does share some tracks, in my honest opinion (Retro Gamer Magazine, I’m looking at you!) with Gran Turismo – isn’t all that great. Crash ‘n Burn? It’s loved, but I don’t know why. So nope. F1GP – easily the worst F1 game eve. Hmm - too close to call, isn’t it?

But then hold on. What’s that? Oh yes. I remember. The 3DO Multiplayer delivers epic Atari smashing grandeur with Need for Speed. Oh yes. So it did.

Ha! Ha! Ha! [It’s good to see an unbiased attitude, isn’t it?] Easy one. 3DO has already won round two. Nothing. Not one Jaguar game can compete with the Need for Speed on the 3DO.

3DO: The Need... For Speed!

NFS-RX7-small.jpg The 3DO version of a Need for Speed is probably the only version of the Need for Speed you’ll ever need to really worry about. In contrast to many of the later sequels that EA spews forth each Christmas, NFS 3DO is set in broad daylight. It has cars that looks like cars, and offers a passing nod to the laws of physics.

The Need, in 1994, was not to glue bits of oversized Airfix kits to the car, or for that matter strap bits of fish tank lighting equipment to the underside. No indeed it wasn’t. The Speed, in ’94, was about Porsches, Ferraris and Lambos. With a few American and Japanese cars thrown in to make the numbers up!

Oh yes. The Need for Speed – born out of developers that had been bringing us 16-bit racing joy with the likes of Test Drive on the Amiga. 'Twas EA Canada – the Lord bless them and keep them – except, of course, we know he didn’t. Git.

There were three tracks broken into three sections each. It had coasts, hot air balloons, cities, snow, hidden scooters. Everything and more. No circuits, mind. Circuits were introduced when Satan had finished modifying NFS to run on the Sega and Sony machines.

Back in Nov ’94, The Need for Speed was accused of a couple of things that initially appear to be insane. Only on closer examination are they very actually insane. Firstly, it was accused of not giving the player the impression they were actually in a race. (Edge magazine – I’m now looking at you!) Well, that’s rubbish for a start. The only way to play NFS is from the in-car view. The sense of urgency you get when you hear that damned whine from the 512TR coming up from behind - or indeed, from that black and white car with the blue flashy things on the roof, filling the rear-view, certainly made me feel like I was in a race.

The second accusation was you were unable to explore the environment. Explore? What is this? A 4X4 simulator? Still, fair is fair - I explored my need to watch a Mazda RX7 pirouette across the road with smoke pouring out of its engine - that was all the exploration I needed. Explore? Really? Who writes this stuff? Even the graphics stand up today and the X-man – your ‘A’-merican FMV opponent, wasn’t half as cheesy as I remember. In fact, I kind of liked him. A role model to look up to, in my opinion. Who need 50 Cent when you have a Porsche 993? Replays? A horn?

It’s just a shame that NFS turned up when it did. If it had been delivered a year earlier, I think things would have turned out better. For 3DO anyway. If it had been a launch title for the 3DO – the world may have been a different place. It didn’t and it wasn’t. Trouble was, you see, NFS slid up to the lights, revving the hell out of its engine, only to peer across and see Ridge Racer and Daytona on the far side, running on the more powerful PSX and Saturn. It was a race that was over before it started.

Jaguar: Time To Take The Checkered Flag!

chkflag2.jpg However – pausing for a second today, a little older and a little wiser, we sneak a glance out of the nearside window – and lo what is that? My – my, it looks like a Japanese racer, a Sega Japanese racer – but what’s that? Just a minute - Oh no it’s not. It’s Checkered Flag on the Jaguar. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery – but in my opinion they should have just sent flowers.

To put things into context. If NFS is a Porsche, Ridge Racer a Ferrari and Daytona a Lamborghini, then Checkered Flag is a Kia. No really – it is.

I like textureless 3D models. I really do. I’ll be honest; I preferred Virtua Fighter's graphics to the textured Tekken graphics. I liked the graphics of Virtua Cop and Virtua Racing. So, I do like the clean lines of the graphics in Checkered Flag – sure, compared to the NFS on the 3DO, these bald polygons look somewhat dated – but there is a cute nostalgia. A warm glow. And it’s not from me wetting myself laughing at the ‘best racer on the Atari Jaguar’.

The sale must have been an easy one. Virtua Racer was a popular game and making a clone for the burgeoning next generation of machines must have made sense. Once that sale was made, it’s clear the developers sat and looked at Virtua Racer and analyzed its weaknesses. More tracks, more weather, more options. Sure. Great. Yes – well done. But there must have been either a sales or marketing pressure to make Checkered Flag appeal to two gaming demographics, where Virtua Racer only really appealed to one. Arcade racing fans. The addition of simulator elements made Checkered Flag rubbish, and it stalls as a game. Somewhere, hidden, I’m sure there is a game. Some claim to have found it. But in my opinion it’s the Osama Bin Laden of hiding, not the Saddam Hussein type of hiding. I doubt I could find the game play even with the help of 250,000 US troops.

The frame rate is jerky, pop-up - something that normally I don’t even notice - is really chronic, the handling is really bad; it suffers from awful under-steer. Trying to pit in is a real challenge, regardless of how slow you are going. It’s all a bit of a mess. Trust me when I say it is rubbish.

Thrilling Conclusion?

So that’s it. Easy round two for the 3DO then. The best news is that Freedo has released an updated version of their 3DO Multiplayer emulator, and NFS never looked better on your PC.

So where are we? Oh yes.

3DO 1: Atari Jaguar 1:

All to play for in the next round, then!