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
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
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
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.
[05/10] Program Size
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer