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 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
Magical Drop III, first released in 1997, is widely regarded as the best installment in Data East’s series of frantic puzzlers.
The series as a whole is noteworthy in that it provides a distinctly more fast-paced take on what is typically regarded as a relatively sedate genre, but Magical Drop III took the core mechanics established in its early incarnations, polished them to a fine sheen and created one of the most addictive puzzle games of all time… not to mention the origin of the “Fairy Bounce” meme.
Magical Drop III got released on all manner of platforms, but today we’re primarily concerned with the European PlayStation release, which includes a port of the Saturn version, itself somewhat rebalanced from the arcade and Neo Geo versions, as well as a port of Magical Drop Plus 1!, an enhanced version of the first game in the series that was originally released in the West as Chain Reaction.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Magical Drop III
Although the abstract nature of the puzzle game genre makes it theoretically possible to make a game out of pretty much anything, we tend to see a lot of the same sort of thing.
In particular, over the years, we’ve seen a lot of “match dropping things so that their colours match”, “swap things around to make lines of three like-coloured doohickies” and “shoot bubbles at precarious arrangements to make groups of three like-coloured blobs”. As such, it’s always rather pleasing to come across a game that does something a little different from one of these common conventions favoured by the most popular titles in the genre.
Starsweep, a game that originated in Japanese arcades and was subsequently ported to PlayStation and Game Boy, is just the ticket to refresh the jaded puzzle fan.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Starsweep
The original Gravity Rush was an important release for Sony’s Vita handheld: it was a high-profile, first-party release, which the system has not, to date, seen all that many of, and is unlikely to see any more.
It was positively received at the time of its original release by press and public alike, but Sony’s consistently poor marketing of the platform — coupled with a general sense of apathy by the more “mainstream” parts of the gaming community — meant that it passed a lot of people by.
And that’s a great shame, as it was an excellent game. Thankfully, Bluepoint Games managed to give it a second chance on the much more popular and widespread PlayStation 4 in the form of enhanced port Gravity Rush Remastered, so a whole new audience can discover the joy of swooping around Hekseville.
Continue reading Gravity Rush: A Hero is Born