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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Megarace: About the Game

So Megarace came out in 1993. An age when 3D was in it's infancy, full motion video was the current craze, and virtual reality was the future. This game encompasses all three of these and creates a sort of Frankenstein's monster of an experience. At it's core, it's a racing game, The UP key accelerates, DOWN decelerates, LEFT and RIGHT turn, etc. You could also use a joystick if you so chose (I used the ThrustMaster Mark 1 personally). The gameplay appears to be a 3D racing game which in 1993 was a pretty big fucking deal.
My mind was fucking blown by this point
Obviously, getting that in real-time on a home PC during that period wasn't going to happen. Enter the FMV element! The tracks in Megarace are pre-rendered 3D animations that speed up and slow down depending on how fast you move your car, which is a series of 2D sprites rendered from a 3D model. The virtual reality element was really just part of the story. It was effective back then, and I ate this shit up with a spoon, greedily gobbling it up straight from the carton that Cryo shipped it in. It was everything that everyone wanted back then.

The object of the game is simple, yet not entirely like a racing game. It can best be explained by giving you a taste of the "story". You step into the role of "The Enforcer", a contestant on the hit virtual reality TV show, Megarace. Your host Lance Boyle, both chides, and complements you as you attempt to wipe out all of the vicious speed gangs plaguing your universe. Lance makes it crystal-clear that everything that takes place on the show is in a virtual reality world, so nobody really dies. Then he asks how many times someone's neurons can take that kind of pounding after you win a race by killing all of the other racers. So it's pretend murder that can lead to real bodily harm? Whatever. Your goal is to step into the virtual world and wipe out these misanthropic deviants one car at a time. That's right, only one car besides yours is ever on the track and more spawn as you blow up competitors. You have to either blast them with your laser cannon or hit them with missiles if your car can carry them and if you can find ammo (quick aside, I've NEVER found missile ammo), or you can pull up beside them and grind 'em into the sidewall. This is where it sort of fails to be a "race". You can't beat a track by passing your opponents. If you do happen to pass an opponent, their car will explode after about a minute which can, and probably will cost you a victory. To achieve this goal there are multiple power ups that litter the track from energy for your lasers to speed boosts. You can win prizes and shit that don't really matter. They're just gags to keep up the game show theme such as a professor's brain or covers for your car seats. The glue that really holds this bitch together though, is the host.
I still say that virtual TV is WAY more entertaining than reality TV
Lance Boyle, proof positive that a rainbow sherbet suit CAN work. I love this guy. His humor keeps the game moving and gives you a reason to trudge through some of the more aggravating courses. Even better, if you're sick and fucking tired of hearing him say the same old shit over and over again you can totally skip his dialogue and cutscenes! Take THAT Rock Star Games. Maybe I don't want to Watch an animation of John Marston skinning a dead wolf 400 fucking times! Lance says some crazy shit. Anything from calling you a pansy or awarding you with a night out with yourself paid for by Y-O-U, to plugging their sponsor "Bleed, the candy bar homeless people love to be a part of." I'm a sucker for Lance Boyle even now, but that's probably because my 10 year old self thought he was god-damn riot.

Next time on Retronick!
Nick talks about his history playing the nefarious Megarace and chronicles his journey to defeat this beast from another time. Can he prevail over this seemingly insurmountable task that has challenged him for over 17 years? Or will he suckle the acrid cream of failure from the dreaded teat of despair? Read next weeks chilling issue to find out!

The Breakdown

I know I've been gone for a little while and I'm not going to waste any time explaining why. This is the beauty of free entertainment. If you want a sure thing then pony up some bucks for a movie or comic book. Anyway, I'm sitting down to write the first article now, but I thought I would throw this entry in as sort of an explanation as to how these articles are going to be written. If you ever find yourself lost you can refer to it and get back on the path of righteousness.

Here's how this is going to work my lovelys. I'm writing these articles as part review, part log of my experience with the title. I've also taken the liberty of breaking down my experience playing the game into various categories. 

-My history with the title: This is a quick look at how I came to be playing this game in the first place. Details how long I've owned it, and a recollection of my original experience with it.

-Gameplay: A breakdown of the core gameplay (controls, object, style of play, etc.).

-My experience/did I beat it yet?: This is really the meat of the article. It details my experience playing the game either for the first time, or returning to it after a number of years. I also go into whether or not I think it still holds up today and if it still has an audience in this time of cinematic crap and super-scripted, linear bullshit.

Now that that's settled, writing "Megarace"!