You can tell I'm excited - I've decided to simply ramble on for a bit. I have also decided to use under-pants at least three times today, and you know what? I'm going to tie underpants into this thing that I laughingly refer too as a review.
The first time, we are talking about pants here, was this morning, when indeed as I always do, I decided to wear under-pants. It wasn't so much a decision as a response to years of social conditioning and careful training. The second and third use of under-pants today is in reference to skids.
Skidding is always cool, unless, and I have to be careful on this particular point, it’s the smudgy type that occasionally appear in the very young or the very old, or indeed everyones, from time-to-time, under-pants . You know the ones. In Britian, when I was 12 years old, they were called 'skids'. And also there was a game called 'Skid Marks' which was considered very funny indeed at the time.
The final reference to under-pants is, under-pants and, I'll get to the point in a minute, cars. Particularly the skidding, drifting and power sliding of cars. It’s a fact! It really is. All men love watching cars drifting and power sliding. And if you don’t? Then check the contents of your under-pants (You see? We got there.) – as you may well be a woman. This isn’t some sexist slur of course. Oh no. The boffins at MIT and Harvard have scientifically proven beyond all reasonable doubt, that if you do not enjoy seeing or participating in power slides, you are in fact a woman – and you must immediately return your extra chromosome. You are not even a good woman, because all the best women love power slides in cars too. Stamped addressed envelopes can be provided upon request. So there we have it. Under-pants, skidding and cars. We got there in the end. Ramble over. Phew!
So, you’re thinking to yourself, where are you going with this 3DO Kid? Well... Just Powerslide for the 3DO by Elite that is all!
You read that right! Powerslide for the 3DO. OH-MY-GOD. YES. IT’S INCREDIBLE ISN’T? YES? -- and no, that’s not blasphemy by the way – but a prayer. I wondered if the Lord fancied a go – because I doubt even he believed we would ever see this blessed day. The blessed day when 3DO Kid gets to play Powerslide on the 3DO. It’s only been 13 years waiting. I may have skidded my pants in excitement! Perhaps not then.
Well sort of played Powerslide to be fair. Don’t get me wrong, we can all play it and you don’t need a 3DO Dev kit to play this game, just a regular common garden variety 3DO, and it’s not a gold disc secret squirrel release that you have to sell a kidney to get hold of, you can buy it now from Oldergames, but sadly, there is a caveat: it’s not a finished version of Powerslide. It’s a beta. Still, I’ll say it again, Powerslide has been released! Personally? I don’t think I’ve been this happy since I got a pristine copy of 3DO Creature Shock for a few dollars.
That was yesterday by the way.
So – what do we have? I guess in a word: potential. Powerslide appears to be a good 3D rally racing game for the 3DO. You race a car from a heli-cam view, which is just above the rear of the car, and steer it around a randomly selected track.
After the Need for Speed, car games that are half-way decent on the 3DO are none existent. The Japanese, and I hesitate before using the word ‘enjoyed’, but they had Autobahn Tokio and F1GP, neither of which set the gaming world on fire. Then there is of cause Megarace and Quarantine – which probably belong on fire. After that there were some others, I won’t bore you with the details. So - amongst these does Powerslide fit?
It’s difficult to say in honesty. We will start with the choice of cars. Powerslide is possibly the anti-NFS in many respects. While NFS offered Ferraris and Porsches, Powerslide tries to tempt us with cars like a Ford Escort and a Rover Metro!
While you can only play 1 car in this demo release, I believe it is the Lancia, an examination of the other drivers that would have been available in the finished game, suggests, putting it mildly, an intriguing collection of cars. Firstly, a Metro. Yep, the new Mini before the BMW new Mini and made after the old Mini – if you follow. The Peugeot 205 GTi, a Lancer, a Escort Cosworth and a Toyota Celica. And as I have said, there was also a driver to go with each car. There is no suggestion of how this would impact the game play, and these characters are all 1994 clichés that I’m not going to dwell on. Besides, the x-man from the Need for speed was no shining beacon for the future of interactive entertainment by any means.
So choice of cars and drivers aside. How about graphically? Graphically this is definately a beta release. The frame rate is there, it hits between 20FPS and 30FPS which isn’t bad but the draw distance is. Bad that is. Oh – and there are no wheels on the car. Giving Elite the benefit of the doubt? I imagine the graphics would have been greatly improved, one would hope the draw distance inched out and the car models finished off.
There is no collision detection, well, there are rumours of collision detection, but i didn't see any, with either the objects on the side of the road or indeed the slightly eclectic opponent, who appears from no-where then disappears in the same manner.
Motion? I don’t of cause know what Elite would have done with the sense-of-speed the game has once it had progressed from a beta release to a proper release, but slow feels pretty slow and quick feels pretty quick, again it’s not to bad and shows promise. It’s very NFS in that department too.
Tracks? From what I can see, there was a desert section, a road section, a snow section. …and that’s about it. Which means it is about the same as every 3D racer since 1993.
On to more important things: The physics model. This was always one of the Need for Speeds strong points, and of cause it’s the physics model that counts when drifting a computer car. Well – Powerslide’s physics engine looks and feels very nice. The car rolls around on what appears to be independent suspension for each wheel, but it doesn’t appear that the cars can be completely flipped over or damaged. This is different to NFS, as you could flip a car and smoke would pour from the engine block. Although of cause no physical damage is possible in either game. Having said that, you get the impression that Powerslide had an accomplished physics engine, that given the time it needed, could have only gotten better.
So, that leads us on to the big question – what of actually power sliding? What can I say? There is certainly a possibility that you perhaps can power slide the car in Powerslide. I say that because it’s hard to tell. Occasionally, i.e., once your car is in 5th gear at full speed, you will turn the car and it will veer off to the left or right, and you certainly get the impression you are sliding, but there is no visual clue, other than the car is now bouncing off-of the side of the road, and there is no audio clue, as this beta game is entirely silent anyway. Also. whether being able to adjust the direction of the wheels, to alter the entry angle into a power slide was possible or not remains to be seen, and Powerslide, in this beta state, doesn’t appear to have the granularity of control in a slide as you might find in Ridge Racer. To be fair, the controls are not broken, they just aren’t fixed. I guess we will never really know. Handling is tricky to begin with, but ultimately it offers a hint of satisfying and it's by no means bad.
I should also mention there maybe jumps. The un-numbered rev counter goes past where i assumed the red-line should have been and that usually indicates no traction. As in the wheels have left the ground. There are no other clues. No sound like I said, and no shadow. So - maybe jumps.
Oddly the gear shift is on the up and down of the dpad, and the turning of the steering wheel is the left and right shift buttons of the pad. This is an unusual way of doing things in a 3DO game but it works well interestingly.
…and that’s about it. There is a two player version but the unoptomised code slows to a grind halt, there is no control of the second car and it caused my 3DO to crash - so the less said about it the better.
Ultimately Powerslide is only barely a game. You can shoot around the track and try and get a faster time, marvel at the bouncyness of the car but that's about it.
I don’t want to over sell Powerslide. It is a beta. The potential is there in heaps, but ultimately there isn’t much too it, but, and again I don’t want to overstate this, in this unfinished state one thing is clear, the Need for Speed’s crown as the greatest racer on the 3DO would have been, in my expert opinion, threatened by Powerslide – should it have ever gotten that far. What Oldergames has provided us with is a glimpse of a solid foundation that perhaps would have been one of the best 3DO games ever released.
A final note. I want to thank Elite for allowing this game to be released - but more importantly I also want to offer a heart felt jesture of gratitude to Oldergames. This release, for me at least, was more anticpiated, more welcome, and more exciting than anything being released on the 360, the Wii or indeed the PS3 this year- and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The work you have put into this is greatly appreciated, and wish you all the best in the future.
The final question you must be begging to know – is it rare? The answer? No. You can buy it now from www.oldergames.com
PS: You also get a free game 'Footie' which is coming next!