Game Over Online ~ Racing Days

GameOver Game Reviews - Racing Days (c) Kitt Peak, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Racing Days (c) Kitt Peak
System Requirements Compaq iPAQ H3630, Cassiopeia E-750, 3.5MB free storage, 3MB free memory CPU 200 MHz or more
Overall Rating 65%
Date Published Friday, August 31st, 2001 at 09:55 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Initially, racing games were simplistic creatures, often revolving around the classic concept of time attacks. However, as the customer base grew up and technology advanced, these arcade racers, starting with titles like Pole Position soon turned into true simulations of North America's greatest personal symbol. Indeed, the car has so much developed that it has become an extension of one's identity. The appearance or performance of one denotes who you are or sheds light on your personality. Console franchise giants like Grand Turismo reflect this and even the EA stalwart, Need for Speed series has been forced to include some simulation components. Racing Days can arguably seize the crown as the most visually alluring of Pocket PC racers. Developed by Kitt Peak in Japan, its cadre of Japanese car lineups and tracks are hands down, a winner over other racing games like V-Rally; which had to sacrifice much to simultaneously release on both Palm and Pocket PC platforms.

There is no doubt, that much of the technical prowess behind the Racing Days engine rests on the fact that the game was developed with ARM processors in mind. Racing Days is also a lot more appealing with backlight options on. The question of battery issues will undoubtedly crop up when you have a title that exerts heavy CPU load. Kitt Peak does not recommend anyone with less than 200mhz processors to even attempt to play this game. SH3 users are all but out of luck. It is also to my understanding that the current full MIPS version is only officially for the E-750, which is the newest Casio Pocket PC in Japan. However, I have seen reports that overclocked EM-500 and E-125 models work fine as well.

The developers knew they would be a serious if not genre leader for the Pocket PC and the price they charge at $24.95, is steep for a PDA game. However, the full version allows you expandability normally associated with PC games. With titles like Flux's The Mark, expandable games seem to be the wave of the future. Racing Days has a decent car lineup although a lot of it is understandably of Japanese origin, considering the Japanese developers. The game features two tracks in the United States and Switzerland. Three variations of each track are provided too. You can configure the skin of your car using BMP files and the result is something like the custom skins of original Quakeworld days. There is also a panel to configure gear shifts, brakes, tires and other performance specs. Best times can even be uploaded on the web for all to see.

Back in the PC days, when people said 3D, the term was often misleading. Just as cinematic meant boatloads of FMV, the early 3D engines were nothing more than what people call "rail shooters". A lot of games for the Sega Saturn were like that and Rebel Assault was probably the most famous "rail shooter" of all time. This game is indeed 3D, yet it has the same "rail" feeling as the original Need for Speed. You can't spin out on to the grass or take shortcuts. Although at high speeds, I imagine you would want to avoid this at all costs, the invisible barrier certainly hinters much of the realism that this game is trying to achieve.

As mentioned before, this game was developed with ARM processors in mind and I believe specifically, the iPaq. Care has been given to make the interface work around the iPaq's inherent simultaneous button issue. The result is a different style of ergonomics when it comes to playing Racing Days. For one, the entire gameplay is done in landscape mode. This gives the playing area an immense width that was never before achieved (here, I am thinking of V-Rally). Secondly, you accelerate or brake using two buttons on the iPaq, thereby avoiding the multiple button presses altogether. Steering is done entirely with one hand on the stylus anywhere on the screen. A slight touch to the left and the vehicle will steer left. To steer back straight, the stylus must move to the right. This is probably the biggest change the developers want to make of players. Steering is incredibly sensitive and as speeds go higher, it becomes a very problematic ordeal if you do not have excellent eye-hand coordination. The typical player will be holding their PDA sideways with one hand on the buttons and one stylus permanently stuck on the screen. This approach is innovative and indeed, works once one is used to the sensitivity on solid ground. However, when you are on the go, Racing Days is not the most ideal title to take along. If anyone has commuted on a subway, train or bus, they'll know that exact styli actions are just not possible. In fact, sometimes you can hardly keep the stylus on the screen itself. In the end, I gave up playing Racing Days on the go.

Finally, Racing Days suffers some translation problems being imported from across the pond. Though, arguably, this is not an adventure game, still, the premium price justifies some better translation. With the announcement of Need for Speed by developer Ziosoft, Racing Days has a lot of time to patch up to compete with the former's December 2001 release. Ironically, Racing Days suffers from some of the same problems, the original EA version's Need for Speed had. Chief among them are the restrictive "rail" format of the tracks and the lack of any significant damage modeling. That's why Racing Days is such a dialectic title. On the one hand, we have cutting edge 3D graphics. On the other, the gameplay is not really all that advanced especially in light of things on the PC or console platforms that we consider a given. Still, what has been achieved technically cannot be discounted. Although, the first new expansion car is out, I still thought that with only two tracks and the heavily Asian car lineup, the product was a bit lacking. I wish PDA developers would stop this release first, patch later mentality that seems to be a morose plague on the PC industry. If you are a racing fan and have the patience to try this game out, there's no doubt that you will fall in love with it. As a PDA game on the go or for the casual car aficionado, you might want to wait until some much needed improvements are made.

Ratings:
[06/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[15/15] Graphics
[06/10] Interface/controls
[05/10] Program Size
[04/05] Sound
[01/05] Discreetness
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer

 

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Rating
65%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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