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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!
Continue reading Formula 1 97: Racing, Refined
Sony’s PlayStation 2 was a landmark console for both the games industry at large — and for many individuals of a certain age, too.
The console turned 20 years old on March 4, 2020 — assuming we’re going by its original Japanese release date, anyway — and thus that provides as good a reason as any to look back on this wonderful console, share some fond memories and explore how this remarkable machine is still relevant in my daily gaming life even today.
Grab a slice of cake and get ready to party, then; it’s time to celebrate.
Continue reading Happy Birthday, PlayStation 2
The PS2 was a delightful period of experimentation for a lot of developers. And the fact that the only option for distribution was on physical media helped these titles get both noticed at the time, and fondly remembered long after the fact.
2000’s Sky Odyssey isn’t a game I ever played back in the day, but having familiarised myself with it for the first time recently, I have discovered it to be one of those titles for which a simple, offhand mention tends to trigger a gushing torrent of effusive praise from anyone who was there first time around. This is a game that people loved back in the day — and yet it’s mostly unheard of today. The very definition of a hidden gem; a forgotten classic.
The advantage of its underappreciated status, of course, is that it means you can pick up a copy for 50p down your local CEX, enjoy a fine, fine addition to your PS2 collection and still have change for an overpriced cup of shopping centre coffee. Let’s take a closer look. At the game, not the coffee.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Sky Odyssey
Yes, it’s that time when we strap in and go for a bit of a drive, once again in Capcom’s beautiful 2002 “Gran Turismo lite” affair, Auto Modellista.
Today we take on some tougher challenges, and either start to hit the limits of what my dear little Yaris has to offer… or perhaps my own skill ceiling. Hit the jump to see what happened.
Continue reading Sunday Driving: More Faster Than I Was – Auto Modellista #3
Even today, Capcom’s 2002 racing game Auto Modellista stands out as a bold and striking experiment.
By combining relatively conventional arcade-style racing gameplay with an eye-catching cel-shaded visual style, the game successfully distinguished itself from many of its peers — though sadly, relatively mediocre reviews, mostly focusing on the game’s handling and its attempts to straddle the line between deep simulation and arcade racer, meant that it sold fairly poorly.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out by any means, however — particularly if you are someone who, like me, enjoys the customisation aspect of deep sims but hates “realistic” handling. Let’s take a closer look — and keep an eye on Sunday Driving for the next few weeks to see the game in action for yourself!
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Auto Modellista
This article is one chapter of a multi-part Cover Game feature!
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How do you follow an impressively creepy horror game about ghosts in the Japanese tradition? With more of the same, but different and/or better, of course.
Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly began development shortly after its predecessor was completed, and eventually released for Japanese and North American PlayStation 2 players in late 2003, and for Europe the following April. This was then followed by an enhanced Xbox port, which released in Japan and North America in late 2004, with Europe once again bringing up the rear in February of 2005.
Interestingly, the game then got a complete remake for the Nintendo Wii in the summer of 2012; this released simultaneously in Japan, Australia and Europe, but skipped a North American release. It’s this latter version that we’re primarily concerned with today. But first, a bit of history…
Continue reading Project Zero 2: Float Like a Butterfly
Although there’s still a bit of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed to go, we technically “beat” the game (or saw the staff roll, at least) last week.
With that in mind, I thought I’d change up the format of Sunday Driving a little for greater variety: instead of focusing on one game exclusively, I’m going to cycle around a few games a bit, try out some new things and also act a bit on viewer feedback if there is any.
With that in mind, today I grab something random (but arcade racery) from my shelves and fire it up for the first time. If you want to see more of this particular game, let me know in the comments here or on YouTube! Hit the jump to see the vid.
Continue reading Sunday Driving: Flagrant Disregard for Civilian Safety – World Super Police
At the time of writing, Sony has just announced that production of the PlayStation Vita will be ending in 2019, with no plans for a successor.
This follows news from earlier this year that we’re counting down the days until the last Western physical Vita release, with many of the last releases coming in limited form from boutique publishers such as Limited Run Games and Special Reserve.
With all that in mind, I think it’s about time we looked back over this remarkable and vastly underappreciated system’s life… and celebrated the things it did really, really well.
Continue reading Reflections on PlayStation Vita
A core part of my gaming “diet” in the 16-bit home computer era and onwards into the early days of mainstream PC gaming was the military flight simulator.
I have many fond memories of piloting numerous pieces of military hardware around the virtual skies, dropping bombs on filthy commies (this was the height of the Cold War, after all) and dictators in the desert — but for me, it wasn’t necessarily the action-packed parts of these games that was appealing. No, it was the simple satisfaction of remaining in control of several tons of metal that really had no business being up in the air and not immediately plummeting to the ground.
This was a feeling I hadn’t really experienced for a while, to be honest; the Ace Combats of the world have their considerable appeal, but they’re not exactly realistic. Taito’s 2003 release of Energy Airforce, on the other hand… well, let’s take a look.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce
One aspect of gaming we’ve lost sight of a bit over the course of the last couple of console generations is the idea of a game that is “nothing but fun”.
I’m talking about mechanics-centric games where the aim is to just have a good time and challenge yourself; games that aren’t trying to “say something”; games that aren’t trying to be artistic in a narrative sense.
This kind of game hasn’t died out completely, of course, but at the time of writing they remain primarily confined to the independently developed, digital-only sector. Capcom’s Under the Skin for PS2, meanwhile, reminds us of a time not so long ago (2004) when this type of experience would get a full retail release and no-one would bat an eyelid.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Under the Skin