Ridge Racer V was an important game for Namco.
Not only was it to be a follow-up to the incredibly well-received and popular Ridge Racer Type 4, it would also be the first installment of the series on a new generation of consoles — and a launch title for that system, the PlayStation 2, to boot.
Expectations were high for the new game to be both an impressive showcase for the new format and another solid installment in what was, by now, a well-loved and much-respected arcade racing franchise. The reality didn’t quite match up to these expectations… but it was certainly a damn good effort.
Continue reading Ridge Racer V: Back to Basics
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
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 been intrigued by golf games since Leaderboard on the Atari 8-Bit, and I sank a fair few hours into Microprose Golf on the Atari ST, wowed by its then-revolutionary 3D polygonal courses.
However, the games that truly cemented my love of this genre of games — although not the actual sport itself, which I find impossibly difficult to play and rather tedious to watch — were Camelot’s Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64, and Bottom Up’s Tee Off on Dreamcast. I didn’t play the Everybody’s Golf series on the early PlayStations — my first encounter with it was the Vita game — but I’m certain it would have appealed to me, because it tickled those same happy places that Mario Golf and Tee Off did by providing friendly, accessible and surprisingly fast-paced arcade-style golf action.
With that in mind, then, let’s take a look at the new PS4 installment, the latest in the line of long-running series to ditch numerical suffixes and subtitles in favour of just being called what it is.
Everybody’s Golf, then.
Continue reading Everybody’s Golf: First Impressions
Shoot ’em ups, being one of the oldest genres of gaming there is, have been a pretty constant presence in every major generation of gaming hardware.
The early years of the 21st century were no exception, offering us a wide variety of top-notch shoot ’em ups of all types, including bullet hell, traditional side-scrollers, vertical scrollers and full 3D efforts.
Psyvariar by Success Corporation, a company today primarily known for its Cotton series and puzzle game Zoo Keeper, is a particularly solid example with some interesting mechanics, and a game that remains eminently playable today.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Psyvariar
One of the most interesting phenomena of the early PlayStation eras was D3 Publisher’s “Simple Series”, a range of low-budget — and budget-priced — titles produced by a wide variety of external developers.
The series began on PS1 with some pretty straightforward interpretations of concepts such as mahjong, tennis or racing, but over time gradually expanded to take in role-playing games, dating sims and even enhanced ports of arcade games.
By the time the PlayStation 2 rolled around and the Simple 2000 subseries launched — so named because each game cost 2,000 yen (a little under £14 today) in its native Japan — the range had become a great place to find fascinating (but often flawed) games that, by virtue of their low budgets, could afford to be a bit experimental. Essentially, they fulfilled the function that the digital-only indie scene does today, only you had to buy them on disc because digital games weren’t yet a thing on consoles.
And so it was that we found ourselves face to face (or, well, face to ankle) with Tamsoft’s The Daibijin (The Gigantic Beauty), localised for Europe as Demolition Girl.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Demolition Girl/The Daibijin
In making the jump from the handheld PlayStation Vita to the much more powerful PlayStation 4, Gravity Rush 2 ups the ante from the original considerably in terms of scale, scope and ambition.
While the first game, in some ways, felt somewhat like a proof of concept — admittedly an enormously enjoyable, playable and compelling proof of concept — it’s Gravity Rush 2 where it truly feels like the series has truly hit its stride, both in terms of mechanics and narrative.
What’s rather impressive about it more than anything else, though, is that despite releasing five years after its predecessor, it’s clear that there has been a solid plan in place from the very beginning, making this sequel not only an excellent game in its own right, but a fantastic follow-up that is immensely satisfying for fans of the original who wanted answers to its unresolved questions.
Continue reading Gravity Rush 2: Bigger, Better, Bolder