Sunday, April 3, 2011

Story Time: Uniracers

There is a lot I could say about Uniracers. It's a really strange game, and there are a lot of really strange stories to be told around it, let alone just transcribing the experience of playing it. Uniracers, Unirally in other parts of the world, has the distinction of being the last game developed by DMA Designs before they created the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series. Before they were Rockstar North, DMA Designs made weird shit like this game about sentient unicycles racing, for which they were sued by Pixar. I guess Pixar had made some animation in the 80s that starred some sort of animated unicycle, so in spite of having good initial sales, being critically well-received, and being a pretty fun game, Uniracers' initial production run was the only one it got.

As a kid I had a copy of Uniracers for some reason. I don't remember how it came into my family's SNES collection, but that's not important. In spite of the fact I look back on the game fondly now, I didn't care much for it at the time, and I actually traded the cart for some other game. I don't remember the game I traded it for. Luckily, I still had the manual laying around, and I read it many years later, and it is amazing. It is an epic tale, and a perfect example of how amazing game manuals used to be. Instead of actually writing about the game itself, I will just post the story here. So, props to whoever originally wrote it, and thanks to whoever transcribed it.

The Sun didn’t rise, the Moon didn’t set. Fluffy clouds failed to make any sort of appearance and the night wasn’t dark and stormy. Nobody was silhouetted against a backdrop of stars and the burning fires of the dawn sky somehow never had a chance. There were no such things, you see. Not in the Universe of the Uniracers.
But heck, that’s the way it goes sometimes. There were far more important things to work up a sweat about than some pretty scenery. Racing for one thing, for another....well that was it, just racing. It was the whole purpose of the Uniracers. And it happened sort of like this:
Far in the past, or what passed for the past, some great and powerful Unigod looked across the abstract Universe and realized that his boredom went right off the scale. He was through with creating a planet here, an asteroid there. What’s more he was trying to impress a young goddess who thought that he lacked a creative imagination. After all, you can only say kind things about a newly created world so many times without giggling.
This wasn’t a fun situation for the Unigod, as you can well imagine. So after a timeless interval locked in the celestial equivalent of a cupboard, with an endless supply of Turbo-Strength Coffee, he came up with the idea of a race of Unicycles who would compete in the ultimate games! What’s more, it would really break the ice at parties. Such is the legend told by Unicycles when they slow down enough to talk to each other (well sometimes), although no-one seems to know whether the Unigod actually won over the young goddess and lived happily ever after. In fact if you stopped a Unicycle and asked, you’d find that none of them really cared. It’s RACING that’s the thing.
So the Uniracers came into being and, boy, were they racing machines or what?!?! An entire race of dedicated cycles. Sure enough they got right into their role and raced all the time in the abstract days and neon nights of their Universe. And so it went for a long, long time. But there is something else, too. Even when a Unicycle couldn’t find a racing partner, out of the abstract blue would turn up a Ghostly cycle to provide a race by which to measure themselves. The Ghosts never talk, never hang about to see what happens. Some call them the free spirits of cycles that lost important races and were condemned to race forever to prove themselves. Others claim that they are the personal cycles of that old Unigod, used to make sure the rest of them keep on track.
And at the very end of the “day” in whispers, is told the tale of the Anti-Uni, the ultimate racer whom no-one can find, no-one but the very greatest of all. Become the very height of racing excellence and the Anti-Uni will come to challenge you...
 Maybe write about the actual game one day.

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