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Thursday, May 05, 2005
Video Games--- As a new feature on Ivan's Blog that will be recurring once every week or two, I'm going to re-posting some old gems from Master Gamer on the new site. For any new visitors to this site who don't already know, Master Gamer was a video game web site that I ran from 1997 to 2002. In addition to praising the games that deserved praise, I was never shy about brutally ripping into the games that deserved to be brutally ripped into.
One example of this would be Carmageddon 64 for the Nintendo 64, which may very well be among the top five worst games of all time. It's worth pointing out in retrospect that Titus' reputation for releasing horrible, buggy, unfinished games would continue to plague the company until consumers simply stopped buying its games and the company finally went out of business in 2004. Carmageddon 64 may have been the low point in Titus' history, and that's really saying something.
Carmadeddon 64 Review
Originally Published in December 1999 on Master Gamer
The kings of crap at Titus have struck again. Titus, Interplay, and several other companies that want to spread the blame as thinly as possible have turned a great PC game into one of the worst Nintendo 64 games ever created. I can't begin to imagine the mental pain that the developers of this game must feel when they wake up in the morning and look themselves in the mirror knowing that they dedicated over three years of their lives to creating Carmageddon 64.
There are three modes of gameplay in Carmageddon 64, none of which are the slightest bit of fun. You can partake in your basic "kill all of the other cars" scenario, you can race to reach a bunch of checkpoints (which the instruction manual actually refers to as "Boring!"), and you can kill all of the zombies in a level. The original Carmageddon was a very gory game with humans and red blood, not the zombies and green blood of Carmageddon 64. The zombies in this game run in slow motion and sometimes get stuck in walls, making them impossible to hit.
The graphics resemble a first-generation Super Nintendo game, and a bad one at that. Actually, no SNES game ever looked this blurry and all-around ugly. Red cars look just like bombs from a distance, and there's no way to tell what it is that you're approaching until you're just about ready to collide with it. The draw-in that takes place in the backgrounds is absolutely ridiculous. You can easily find specific spots on the levels where it happens, causing background objects to appear and disappear at your will. One of these background objects is a billboard with a clown's face on it that says, "FUN." Is that supposed to be funny?
You've just got to love the creative character names and designs, such as "Batmad" (instead of Batman) with his neon pink, checkered car. It also seems that the developers added a little mini-game to the character select screen, which sometimes requires you to press the A button up to four times before the game finally realizes that you're trying to select a character.
The inconsistency of the entire game can be summarized by the damage model. In theory, you have to worry about your health bar running out if you take too much damage. In execution, you don't have to worry about that because you can replenish your health at any time with the money you earn from crashing into other cars and zombies. Repairing your car costs a couple hundred dollars, and it's not uncommon to have $50,000 or even $100,000 in your pocket. This begs the question: Why have a health meter at all if you can infinitely replenish it?
The water is also very inconsitent. Sometimes crashing into the water does nothing; you just press the L button to "recover" and go merrily on your way. Sometimes crashing into the water will cause you to eventually drown to death if you're out of "recover credits," but not until you've spent several minutes trying to move around in the darkness, occasionally trying to go towards the light of what appears to be land in the distance. And of course, sometimes water will inexplicably make your car explode.
There are three things that you would have to accomplish in order to have any fun with Carmageddon 64, and you should consider yourself very lucky if you're able to do any two of these things at once.
1. See where you're going
2. Control where you're going
3. Know where you're going
You can't see where you're going because the developers of this game decided to put a giant status bar on the worst possible spot on the screen. The only way to get past this is to switch to first-person mode, which is very disorienting in its own right. Also, you're pretty much screwed if you're Player 2 in a two-player game. If Player 1 changes his or her camera angle, yours will sometimes change against your will, but only after a delayed reaction.
You can't control where you're going because any attempt to move left or right at a high speed will cause your car to skid out of control. Therefore, the only way to smash into another car is to face off with it head-on, then back up and smash into it again, and repeat this process until you eventually lunge for the power button.
Finally, you can't know where you're going in the level because all of the textures and level designs are as generic as can be, making it hard to distinguish one area from another. And if you happen to be on one of the darker levels, you can just forget about knowing where you're going right from the get-go. Some of the levels are so dark that your car will be completely surrounded by blackness at times. Somebody give those artists a raise!
Imagine for a moment that you're in your house walking towards your dog to give it a dog biscuit. In one hand you've got the dog biscuit and in the other hand you have a Twizzler that you're planning to eat. Somehow as you're walking along, you're not paying attention to which object is in which hand, and you accidentally take a bite of the dog biscuit. This would be horribly unpleasant, but still would cause you more pleasure than Carmageddon 64 at its best. Both experiences will leave a bad taste in your mouth for days to come.
Carmageddon 64's inhuman sucktitude is made all the more inexcusible by the fact that the PC version of Carmageddon is actually a very good game. You might want to laugh at Carmageddon 64 and mock it with your friends for a while, but it won't be long until one of them asks, "Can we play something else?"
Labels: Video Games