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LONG BLOG

Childhood Classics: Radio Control Is Best Control

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When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to own an RC Car, just like the ones in the commercials of this wonderful capitalist world we inhabit. I begged for months until, in one fateful Christmas, I received a rectangular box containing something light. As I tear the box apart like the good boy I still am, it slowly revealed to me it’s secret. It was a red, shiny, Ferrari-looking new RC Car. It wasn’t exactly like the ones on TV (How could they be, that shit was too expensive for us at the time) but damn, I was happy. I quickly proceeded to take my little RC for multiple spins.

I played with it the until midnight, falling asleep right on the side of that beautiful, red beast. I woke up on my bed next morning. And then mom tells me my little brother broke my new toy. Well, shit. Luckily my father -a man that, at the time, I assumed could see the future; tells me an hour later to check out a new game he just installed on the family’s PC. That moment, the dream of playing with RC cars was, once again, alive. And it still is today. Except now nothing that goes less than 62 mph will suffice (Fun fact: My mom doesn’t drive that fast). But enough of actual real life RCs! Let’s dive into the world of the (much superior) pixelated RCs! First, stop...

Ultra 3D Radio Control Racers Deluxe: Traxxas Edition

*Whistle* SIERRRAA!

3DURCR:TE is not only a damn long title (I’ll abbreviate it to RCR from now on) but it is one of the first games I actually have the memory of installing on my old Windows 97 (The other one being Warcraft II - More on that on another blog). That is until I let the dog destroy the CD (Sorry dad). A fact that made write about this game absurdly hard, because this game is nowhere to be found on the net.

Released originally in 99 by Sierra (RIP) this game is an arcade racing one as simple as it can get. Choose one out of four types of cars and race on a closed circuit with an isometric perspective. You got four types of cars to choose from: A Monster Truck, a Stadium buggy, a regular buggy and the small one that looks like my gramps car (Aka Baja Bug). They all control almost the same, but have one or two things that make they unique, like the Monster Truck turns with 4 wheels, being surprisingly good at, you guessed it, turns or the Stadium Buggy that is light as a feather and therefore, being good at hitting walls. You used the arrow keys to accelerate, brake and steer, with spacebar to use your power-up and shift for a one time per lap boost. Easy, no?

The tracks were probably my favorite part of the game. While not as big as the tracks on the next game on this blog, they were pre-rendered and varied: We had construction sites, backyards, an Aztec temple, deserts and a haunted castle, some with hazards such as water, that drastically slow any vehicle, or a dog that bites your little plastic racer. Even the little garden gnomes hate you, throwing bombs that make you spin. Those bastards! Unfortunately, the cars themselves are not so pretty. Since the game allowed some “modding” (you actually just painted the textures), the vehicles are those polygonal models you’re seeing. Today is kinda ugly, but I couldn’t care less back them. Last but not least, the thing that improves racing games since the dawn of the pixels: Power-Ups! There are six of them ranging from oiling the track to a firework that locks-on on in the person in front of you, and my favorite, ghost, that literally renders you intangible for a few seconds. Lovely.

And there was also multiplayer. Two players on the same screen. Yeah, that’s it. But there was another thing that I completely forgot existed: A soccer mini game! You played in a 2v2 format, with or against a friend (Or AI, if you have none). It is no Rocket League, but it’s something. Looking back today I can see this game for what it is: a simple low- budget title and it shows, and to make it worse, it was released in the same year as the following game. But it is a simple game that hits my nostalgia trigger, and for that, I know I will replay this someday in the future. Maybe it will be to show my kids what games I played at their age. Time will tell. Now let’s move to the big fish!

Re-Volt

 

Hey, remember Acclaim? Of course you do! They made some of my favorite games: Crazy Taxi, Constructor, Burnout, Bust-a-Move, Mortal Kombat and the one that fits in this post’s theme. Also released in 99, Re-Volt was everything that RCR wasn’t. It was one of those games that were hard for me to drop, thanks to a combination of a great sense of speed, level design, cool cars, and frustration. This game also has a story. I did not know that before I did the research for this. And boy, is it silly. Basically, this company called Toy-Volt begun making toys so amazing that they are described as almost magic. Then one day, they created RC Cars with too much of that “magic” and they created a mind of their own and “Re-Volted” (Direct quote from the manual. Also, remember manuals? Those were awesome) against being trapped inside boxes and now are “creating chaos as their enjoy their new-found freedom”. I’m not even gonna comment.

Anyway, also unlike RCR, Re-Volt is in full glorious 3D, with the camera behind your little toy car, while you race in scenarios like the suburb houses, a supermarket, museums and even the freaking Titanic, in tracks that have twists and turns that could only be made in an RC game (Or Trackmania, there’s some pretty crazy stuff going on there). The presentation is also spot on. You pop the game and the after the mandatory logo sequence, you’re sent to the entrance of a toy store and hear this:

This music, oh man this music!! I’m not even a big fan of electronic (techno?) music but this hits all the right spots. It makes the little races feels incredibly large. And despite being all electronic beats, drums, and vocal samples, it has a great variety to it, giving different moods across the tracks, with a special mention to WestVolt, the track used for the Old West track. I never managed to find who is the responsible for this OST, but whoever you are, thank you. Now that I stopped gushing about the music, let’s move on because this game true guts lie in the gameplay. You see, Re-Volt is not an arcade racing game, although it can be if you want.

Just like the real RC cars, they are fast and hard as hell to handle. Remember when I said frustration back there? This is why. One tap too much and you can go flying in the wrong direction and crashing into other racers more often than not will result in a pile of toys scattered all over the place being just one white dude away of being a Mad Max poster and boy, you better become acquainted with the breaks. If this is too much for you, just select Arcade instead of Simulation to have slower cars and a more forgiving physics. It takes a while to know the twists, turns, power-ups and sometimes shortcuts on the tracks and take full advantage of it with your little racer. Speaking of them, we have 28 of the most diverse toys around, varying in speed, acceleration, handling and 4 or 2 wheel traction. You have buggies (Love you RC Bandit), monster trucks and even a car that can run both on the upside and downside and can’t turn for shit (I hate you ROTOR!), you’re bound to find your playstyle in there. You unlock them as you meet certain conditions but let’s be honest, you’ll just use the CARNIVAL cheat and unlock everything. They are also divided into classes, Rookie being the lowest and Pro the highest.

 The toys are in the hood!

But victory in Re-Volt doesn’t come from skill alone. You need weapons and luckily the game got you covered. You have a choice of 10 types of powers, including but not limited to guided fireworks, water balloons, a boost, oil spills, bowling balls and the awesome Star that shuts down every car on the track for a few seconds. Re-Volt also has more going on in game modes than RCR. For starters, we have Cup Mode. It’s a championship: race, get points, win. You unlock the starter cars for each new league and the basic tracks (you can later unlock mirror and reversed versions). Single race and time trial are exactly what it sounds like. Then there’s the stunt track. A little playground resembling a skate park, with a lot of loops and jumps to test your driving skills. The objective is to collect all 20 stars scattered throughout the track, with the reward being probably my favorite mode of the game: The clockwork carnage! A race with 30 of those cute little wind-up cars. It’s so silly and I love it!

Today the game is sort of a cult classic, being kept alive by a small and passionate community, having received one fan-patch and a shit ton of custom content, including recreations of real life cars and custom tracks- including a track that was exclusive to the Dreamcast release. The game comes with a track editor, but it’s extremely simplistic only allowing for simple, pre-determined track pieces to be used. All of that stored on this fan site, that has everything you can possibly need to play the game (They even have leaderboards!) Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to play with online, so I’ll have to talk about said multiplayer from memory. You can have regular races online or in LAN, but those can get boring. And when that happens we jump to “Battle Tag”. In this mode, players are tasked with finding the star on the arena and holding on to it until for some time. Other racers must steal it from you. It is a chaotic game of search and destroys/hide and seek that usually ends with a really clutch escape.

Re-Volt had a continuation planned from Acclaim, but it was ultimately so different that they changed the title. It was supposed to have boat races as well as the regular car races. But it was inferior in every aspect: It ran like a power point presentation, it looked ugly even for PS 1 standards and the music might as well not exist (Go to 10:53 on the video above). Today WeGo Interactive owns the IP, so we saw a nice mobile release that has all the official content ever released for the game. It controls surprisingly well and the cheat codes work! It’s just too bad that the only form of multiplayer is a global leader-board. I still recommend to play on PC for all the custom content and not to mention, it’s free. Oh, also that same company made two “sequels” that are freemium pieces of shit that don’t deserve to carry the Re-Volt logo. Stay. Away!

Overall, Re-Volt aged incredibly well, playing pretty much like I remember it in 99, with a great soundtrack and graphics that are easy on the eyes. The only thing that changed is that today I can actually get past Silver Cup (And I believe I speak for everyone when I say fuck the second museum level, in special the last turn before you finish the lap). Given that it’s abandonware these days, you have no excuse to not try it out, especially if you happen to have friends to join the chaos. The fast-paced toy racing is a recreation of that childlike imagination on a computer screen, and I could not ask for a better game to take me back to a simpler time. Thanks for the memories Acclaim.

Helpful Note: If you want to play the game with music (why wouldn’t you?) you will need to have the CD inserted (either the real CD or an ISO). But what I recommend to do instead is to apply a non-CD patch and download the soundtrack (Link here) then use this method to insert the music in the game. Enjoy!

- Wine, videogames and top hats.


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About Niorone of us since 5:29 PM on 12.15.2014

Writer for fun, professional amateur and 16-bit dreamer.

Brazilian man born and raised, under the hot sun where I spend most of my days. Currently working on a series dedicated to the documentation of the local gaming culture and landscape, that I call Brazil Of Games. I took the name from an old TV series that aired a long time ago here but no trace of it exists on the Internet.

The Brazil Of Games:


[*] The original blog about Nintendo's departure from my country that planted the seed for everything that's to come, all the way back in 2017.

[*] The first real installment, where I explore the origins of the world's first digital-only console, the Zeebo. And why it failed.

[*] Meet the Locadora, the parlors where we got our first contact with gaming!

[*] A follow up of sorts to the previous blog, where I explore Brazil's most revered game: Top Gear!

[*] The SEGA Genesis might have been born in Japan, but it was Brazil that made it its home! Here's how it happened.