Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is the reason I bought an Xbox 360. The beautifully clear visuals really sold “HD” to me, and thus it was that game, more than any other, that brought me into the high-definition age.
I held off playing the Wii game Geometry Wars Galaxies for quite some time, at least partly because I thought the game might lose some impact in standard definition. I was very much wrong, and now I am regretting not having played this much sooner!
It would be nearly three full years between the release of Formula 1 97 and Bizarre Creations’ next game — and that next game was quite a change in style!
Having proven themselves in the racing game sector with the two PlayStation-based Formula 1 titles, the company turned its attention to Sega’s new Dreamcast console and two new projects. One of these, Metropolis Street Racer, would prove to be Bizarre Creations’ breakout hit. But don’t sleep on the other, because Fur Fighters is a fascinating game that is well worth your time — even if it’s not what you’d typically expect to see from the company!
And for those who don’t have easy access to a working Dreamcast, there’s even a PS2 version that came out a year later with some significant improvements such as cel-shaded visuals and full voice acting. It’s that version, subtitled Viggo’s Revenge, that we’ll be focusing on for today.
A year after the well-received Formula 1 hit the PlayStation, Bizarre Creations proved that their apparent skill in creating great racing games wasn’t just a fluke — because they made another Formula One game, and it was even better.
Formula 1 97 hit store shelves in September of 1997, a month before the 1997 racing season came to a close. While development ran fairly smoothly — and apparently legendary commentator Murray Walker was so impressed with the game that he signed an exclusive agreement with Sony to provide commentary for another two years — Psygnosis and Sony ran into legal issues with the sport’s various governing bodies after the game launched, and ended up having to repackage, rename and rerelease the game.
Thankfully none of that matters now, and Formula 1 97 still provides an enjoyable racing experience for both arcade racer fans and more dedicated petrolheads. So let’s take a closer look!
So far here on Fatal Rewind: A Bizarre Creations Retrospective, we’ve seen how Martyn Chudley and, subsequently, a team of able assistants, commanded a solid technical mastery over the hardware they were working on, producing beautiful looking games that played well.
Today, we reach a significant milestone in the history of the company and their games, because it marks the point at which Chudley and his team became Bizarre Creations, the name under which they worked up until their untimely demise in 2011.
It also marks the first time they worked on a type of game that would come to be seen as their particular specialism: the accessible but realistic racing game, straddling the line between arcade game and simulation. Let’s look at Formula 1, released for PlayStation in 1996.
Three years after the well-received The Killing Game Show first hit home computer screens, Martyn Chudley and friends were back with a new title, this time for both Amiga and Mega Drive. I give you Wiz ‘n’ Liz: The Frantic Wabbit Wescue.
Having gone by “Raising Hell Software” for their previous game, some alleged behind-the-scenes trouble with Sega forced the team that would eventually become Bizarre Creations to go nameless for a period; the introductory screens for Wiz ‘n’ Liz credit Chudley and his co-designer Mike Waterworth directly by name rather than attributing the game to a company. The actual name Bizarre Creations would appear for the first time with their next game — but more on that next time!
For now, let’s take a look at Wiz ‘n’ Liz which is, by all accounts, a thoroughly strange game, but another beautiful example of how Chudley and his team were consistently capable of creating exceedingly attractive, highly addictive games that would constantly keep you coming back for more.
A couple of years after his first commercial video game Combat Crazy had failed to set the sales charts alight — despite being an enjoyable side-scrolling platform shooter — Bizarre Creations founder Martyn Chudley was back with another game, this time for 16-bit platforms.
The new title was known as The Killing Game Show, and was published on 16-bit home computers by a company called Psygnosis, which had been establishing a very solid reputation for itself since its inception in 1986. Not only was Psygnosis a spiritual successor to the legendary 8-bit developer-publisher Imagine Software, but it had also demonstrated right from the start that it was a company dedicated to high-quality, well-produced games that oozed class and style — on both the computer screen and on players’ shelves, too.
The Killing Game Show, developed by Chudley and a team working under the name Raising Hell Software, was an ideal fit for Psygnosis’ portfolio, featuring impressive visuals and solid but challenging gameplay to back them up. So let’s take a closer look.
The late Bizarre Creations is, it’s fair to say, a developer that a lot of people have very fond memories of. And for a variety of reasons.
2021 marks the tenth anniversary of their unceremonious closure at the hands of Activision after the disappointing (to Activision) commercial performance of their excellent “powered-up racing” title Blur. And so I thought it was high time we paid them tribute.
Over the course of this ongoing MegaFeature, we’ll look at Bizarre Creations’ complete back catalogue, stretching from the company’s roots back in the Commodore 64 days, all the way through its classic racing titles on sixth- and seventh-generation consoles, and onwards to its sad demise ten years ago. You might be surprised at some of the lesser-known titles these Liverpool lads put out during their time in the business — and I’m sure we’re all sorry they’re no longer around today. So let’s get started by taking a trip right back to the very beginning.
The dearly departed Bizarre Creations were best known for their racing games — Metropolis Street Racer on Dreamcast, the Project Gotham series on Xbox platforms and the wonderful game that would, sadly, turn out to be their death-knell: Blur.
But throughout the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era, they actually fiddled around with quite a few different styles of game. They made a James Bond game, for one — you better believe that will show up at some point in the near future — as well as the delightful “techno-classical” rhythm game Boom Boom Rocket.
Today we’re taking a look at The Club, a Sega-published game that combines gritty third-person shooter action with arcadey scoring and racing mechanics; a modern-day (well, late 2000s) Outtrigger, in many ways. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
If your entire list consisted of Project Gotham Racing games, you just about scrape a passing grade. If you remembered to mention Metropolis Street Racer, take five bonus marks. Including any Geometry Wars games in there (except Geometry Wars 3, which wasn’t them) gets you an additional five marks. Remembering The Club exists gets you a gold star — and hold that thought, we’ll definitely come back to that one.
If Boom Boom Rocket was anywhere in your list, however, you get exclusive membership into the Cool People Club. Benefits include never being able to get a small selection of classical music out of your head, the constant desire to tap your foot any time you see a fireworks display, and optional free hugs. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on…
My revisiting of old arcade racers continues with another blast on Bizarre Creations’ wonderful Blur.
This week, we progress a little further in the game’s substantial single-player campaign, including taking on the first of the game’s boss encounters: Shannon.
Be sure to let me know either here or on YouTube if you want to see more Blur or switch to a different arcade racer for a bit for future installments in this series… and, of course, hit the jump for the video itself.