Monday, April 11, 2011

Radical Psycho Machine Racing

Radical Psycho Machine Racing is one of those games that is more historically interesting than it is fun or interesting to play. I bought RPM Racing because it had a stupid name. I played it for a little bit and decided it was bad and forgot about it until I was looking through my carts for something to write about. The wikipedia page for RPM Racing held my attention for longer than the game did. The game is just an isometric racing game with tank controls like R.C. Pro-Am. The immediate game it reminded me of was Micro Machines for SNES because I guess that was the only tank controls-having racing game I ever played much of, but that was just top-down and not isometric.

Anyway, to that interesting history. RPM Racing was the first of a lot of thing. It was the first game for the SNES developed by Americans. It was possibly the first to use a graphics mode for SNES that allows a game to run at higher resolution by sacrificing color palette diversity and reducing the amount of sprites allowed on screen. This can be seen easily in the large and boring screenshots.  And most surprising to me, it was the first game developed by Silicon & Synapse, the company that would in three years become Blizzard Entertainment. I guess everyone has to start somewhere.

RPM Racing is a remake of an earlier Commodore 64 game called Racing Destruction Set, though I would term it as an updated port, considering how the game was made. The game's logic actually runs on assembly code ported from the Commodore 64 game, revised to work in a 16-bit environment. So, if it weren't for the updated graphics, which were sprites based on 3D renders and new backgrounds, it would have been a mostly straightforward port. Apparently, almost all of the programming was done by just one guy, who went on to work on a bunch of Blizzard games and ended up as Lead Designer on World of Warcraft.

Sadly, this game just isn't very fun. If you're looking for some pre-Blizzard games, I suggest the vastly superior Rock N' Roll Racing, and of course The Lost Vikings.

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