1998’s Ridge Racer Type 4 is the quintessential PS1 game.
Perfectly embodying the spirit of late ’90s “cool” that Sony was so keen to pursue with its platform, particularly in the West, the game is also a showcase for exactly what the humble PlayStation was capable of in its later years as well as a perfect balance between widespread accessibility and hardcore long-term challenge.
In short, it’s a comprehensive realisation of what Namco had wanted to achieve with the home versions of the Ridge Racer series ever since Revolution, and one of the most consistently enjoyable arcade racers ever created.
Continue reading Ridge Racer Type 4: Real Racing Roots ’99
While the arcade installment Ridge Racer 2 and its home conversion of sorts Ridge Racer Revolution went in slightly different directions, it was the third “generation” of Ridge Racer games where the two approaches finally diverged completely.
1995’s third arcade installment Rave Racer again acted as more of an evolution from the previous games, featuring more detailed graphics and a couple of new tracks as well as the circuits from the original Ridge Racer. Notably, it was also the first Ridge Racer game to put a strong emphasis on a female “mascot” character in its epilepsy-inducing attract mode; some conjecture this is actually the first appearance of longtime series “image girl” Reiko Nagase, though the hotpants-clad polygonal model doesn’t look a lot like how we came to know and love her in later installments.
1996’s Rage Racer, meanwhile, was a complete reinvention for home systems, featuring an actual single-player “campaign” of sorts to work through, with gradual progression and car upgrades as well as the abandoning of arcade game conventions such as tight time limits and checkpoints with which to extend it. The immediacy was still there, but now the game wanted to keep you in your seat for more than five minutes at a time.
Continue reading Rage Racer: Point of Divergence
After the success and critical acclaim of Ridge Racer, it was only natural for Namco to want to build on the series.
It went about this in a number of ways, including a three-screen arcade release for a more immersive experience as well as a spectacular “Full Scale” variant in which you sat in an actual car (a Mazda Eunos Roadster, to be specific, in a pleasing callback to Ridge Racer prototype Sim Drive’s predecessor) to play a version of the game on a massive projection screen with real car controls, functional instruments and fans blowing wind in your face — a setup which Ridge Racer 7 would pay homage to in one of its title screen CG sequences many years later.
A sequel was inevitable. Ridge Racer 2 followed its predecessor a year later, featuring new tracks, new music and the facility for up to eight people to play simultaneously by networking four two-player cabinets. This was then followed in 1995 by a home port in the form of Ridge Racer Revolution for PlayStation.
Continue reading Ridge Racer Revolution: The One That Would Probably Be DLC Today
I’ve always had a soft spot for block-breakers, ever since Arkanoid on the Atari 8-bit, and Puchi Carat makes me happy in all the right ways.
Combining elements of traditional classic block-breakers with mechanics from puzzle games such as the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series, it’s an enormously addictive, highly unusual game that is simultaneously unique and absolutely representative of the time in which it came out.
In short, if you like adorable late ’90s anime style characters, coloured things going “pop” and gameplay that is as much about skill as it is about intelligence, Puchi Carat is definitely a game that you should check out.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Puchi Carat
Cleopatra Fortune is an arcade game from 1997, developed as a collaborative effort between Taito and Natsume.
It’s a falling block puzzle of the type that was fashionable throughout the 16- and 32-bit eras in the mid-to-late ’90s. But despite having a touch of Tetris about some of its mechanics, it’s an altogether unique experience. And, moreover, unlike some of the more well-known names in the puzzle genre, particularly in recent years, it’s not one that’s been endlessly cloned, reskinned and recycled.
It is, however, brilliant.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Cleopatra Fortune
If you’ve been gaming as long as I have, you probably remember an outfit called Working Designs.
Working Designs was an American publisher from the PS1 era that specialized in the localization of Japanese games — particularly RPGs, strategy games and shmups — and quickly gained a reputation at the time for being one of the best in the business.
The primary reason for this reputation was the fact that Working Designs’ Western releases of Japanese hits weren’t just straight word-for-word literal translations — rather, they were genuine localisations that made appropriate use of Western slang, turns of phrase and even popular culture references to give them a unique feel all of their own.
While opinions on this approach to localisation vary today, the effort the team made to make these games as approachable as possible was very much appreciated by the audience of the time.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: On Two Working Designs Classics
Localisation is, it seems, a somewhat thorny issue these days — but it’s one worth discussing.
Before I begin today, I’d like to emphasise that by no means am I attempting to present a “definitive” opinion here. By its very nature, this is a topic that is highly subjective and a matter of opinion, and that means you may not agree with my views. And that is, of course, fine; all I’m attempting to do here is to highlight one possible perspective and provide some food for thought on a complex issue with no “right” answers.
Preamble over and done with, then; let’s talk about localisation, beginning with a little personal context that may go some distance towards explaining why I feel the way I do about all this.
Continue reading Some Thoughts on Localisation