Friday, 6 September 2019

SCREAMER RALLY


Back in the mid-90s, the Screamer series was seen by many as the King of all racers. I remember many a worshipper of the PC master race sneering at anything a console could produce in favour Virgin Interactive's 3Dfx enhanced series. Screamer Rally is the franchise's third game but can the gameplay match the visuals?

While I tended to believe that consoles offered better experiences when it comes to arcade racing, Screamer Rally and its predecessors are an exception. Back in 1997, nothing looked like it in the home market. Even classic console games like Ridge Racer, SEGA Rally or Nintendo 64's Cruis'n series couldn't come close, and they all came out around the same time. The seven highly detailed tracks found in Screamer Rally are varied in their location and their design with more than enough background scenery to gawp at. Catch it all in up-scaled 3Dfx mode and you're in for a nice, crisp image. There's no denying this game is one heck of a stunner.

The controls are just about what you'd expect from the era, with responsive arcade-style controls and handling, even if drifting - which is a necessity on the harder difficulties - is a little unpredictable. In the beginning, you can choose from one of four cars for each race. Two front-wheel drives and two 4x4 with varying stats apiece. Each controls noticeably different and if you spend enough time with the game, you will be able to pinpoint which one is best for each terrain type. Beyond that, the Championship Mode allows you to customise the cars further, altering their suspension, tyres, breaks and handling. I'm no car nut so I didn't spend much time tweaking, but I suspect my lack of drifting skills wasn't helped by ignoring it.

The four angles each showcase the gorgeous graphics and impressive speed.

To begin with, there are only three tracks unlocked - China, Canada and Italy. To unlock the remaining four, you'll have to compete in the Championship whereby finishing in the top 3 in a league will award you with a new course. Once they're available, they can be accessed in the Arcade, Time Attack or Multiplayer modes. Sadly, the online multiplayer is no more and I suspect the LAN serial link no longer works, but there is a split-screen 2-player 'Combat Mode'. Players race one-on-one or with four other racers (change in the options menu) on any of the tracks which have no discernable reduction in detail, frame-rate or draw distance. Such graphical downgrades for split-screen multiplayer was the norm back in the day so this was quite a technical feat.

Enemy AI is decent for the most part, with an attempt to make them appear to be on their own path instead of following a predetermined route. They can be a little dumb, though. On the snow-covered Sweden course, all opponents will comically slide into each other on the first corner allowing you to slip on by if you're lucky. They'll soon catch up, though, with this corner being their only hurdle. They're far more adept at taking corners than you are (or at least the Screamer novice that I am). On the flip side, other cars seem to have no problem dealing with sand on the Arizona track while I couldn't seem to get any traction right up until the finish line. Thankfully, these are the only two tracks where I noticed any issues and even then that could be down to a lack of skill or patience on my part (to claw back some gamer cred, I was something of a Rage Racer and WipEout 2097 guru back in the day - you'll have to take my word for it).

There are a number of options with which to tinker around with, 
saving up to 4 customizations per vehicle.

I've played a good amount of both the standard DOS and the enhanced 3Dfx version of the game, and I must say that there are slight differences to each beyond the obvious graphical fidelity. I found the DOS version to have less noticeable pop-in when rendering the horizon, while the 3Dfx has a small number of polygons searing at the edges on some of the more bumpy terrain. None of this is game-breaking, and may not be noticeable if you're the unobservant type. Nevertheless, both versions remain highly playable, with the 3Dfx having the edge over visuals.

So, how does it compare to the first two, both of which are available to buy on GOG.com? The first Screamer released in 1995 is a little rough around the edges in comparison but is still a great game. 1996's Screamer 2, however, is essentially the same game. The menus all detail the same information right down to the polygonal view of the track before racing in the Championship League. The same modes return - no more, no less - and the gameplay feels very familiar when going from one to the other. In this regard, Screamer Rally feels a little like a fully-featured add-on instead of a game in its own right. Therefore, deciding which one is better comes down to your personal preference over the selection of tracks - and it's a tough call. In my opinion, Screamer 2 just creeps ahead of its sequel with many tracks having multiple paths to the finish line but either game holds up as a great title.

Being the third game in the series, the developers at Milestone (originally Graffiti) knew how to program a racing game by the time production began. In fact, they're still at it by being the current custodians of the MotoGP and Ride franchises. They know their stuff and the result is that Screamer Rally is one of the best - if not the best - PC racing games of its day.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox 0.74 in conjunction with nGlide for the 3Dfx version to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included (note: as the GOG release of Screamer 2 has no manual, I've included that as well). Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 368 Mb.  Install Size: 411 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

3Dfx
3Dfx

DOS

DOS

Screamer Rally is © Virgin Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/international-rally-championship.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/fatal-racing-whiplash.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/monster-truck-madness.html

17 comments:

  1. Alongside with the original Screamer from 1995 (which was probably the first real successful attempt to bring Arcade style racing to the PC), I have not less than fond memories of its Rally counterpart as well when I played it for the first time many years later. And while said game is still residing on my hard drive these days, I guess it's gonna be time now to replace it with the herein featured version of yours, the best ready-to-play version to date, I guess. Well, I wasn't born yesterday (although in fact I was, if taken literally, haha) when it comes to tuning of PC games, but your technical setups always look like the icing on the cake to me, so to speak. So I thank you for a another piece of the (racing) action which I adore, in combination with the associated review, dashing and exclusive as usual.

    Bye for now,
    Thomas

    P.S. Just as you describe yourself being a "Rage Racer guru" back in those days, I've been a definite sucker for Namco's best racing game they ever created (in my humble opinion) as well. And which is the only PS One title I'm still playing today (via ancient ePSXe emulator, due to my old Nvidia laptop). So, any doubts that my version could hold up with yours are certainly not unfounded, once you would decide to honour this well-deserved racer at the holy retro gaming grounds of your one and only TCC! :-)

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    1. Thanks Thomas! Rage Racer and WipEout 2097 were the first racing games I owned on my PlayStation and I played them to death. I completed both multiple times on all difficulties, though I haven't gone back to them recently. I doubt I'd be so good at them today.

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  2. Big big big thanks for fulfilling that request! Keep up the superb job! You are saving the day for many gameologists! :)

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  3. Am I being a noob, as I can't get a controller to work unless I use JoytoKey. And last time I tried that with this game I got an epic crash to desktop lol
    I have an xbox 360 pad, so not sure if you added in xinput or not?
    Either way, another solid release dude ;)

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    Replies
    1. Generally speaking, I don't include support for modern controllers in PC games (console emulation has it implemented out of the box so it takes no extra time). My main aim is to get them working well instead of adding features that weren't necessarily in the original release.

      If you want to configure DOSBox yourself, you can use its own Mapper tool by pressing Crtl-F1. (see DOSBox's own documentation for more info). Be aware that nGlide may affect DOSBox's hotkeys and perhaps even the config itself in the 3Dfx version. You may need to map the keys in the standard mode so they take effect in the 3Dfx one.

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    2. Apologies on the late reply, thanks for the info dude, I'll def look into this!

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  4. I know this comment section might be a bit unrelated to what i'm about to type out. But i'm of interest if you have ever looked into the possibility of making Capcom's Dino Crisis 1 PC port playable on modern systems?

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    Replies
    1. As good as that game is, it won't appear on this site. The PlayStation version is still sold on PlayStation Network so it won't be considered.

      https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP9000-NPUJ00922_00-0000000000000001

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    2. Just want to point out that you can play Dino Crisis on Windows 10 by trying to install the game and then copying the files on the CD to the game directory and then launching the game from the launcher on the cd.

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  5. I used to like this site but whole summer you uploaded only abysmal games,hope can came up with playable titles soon.

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    Replies
    1. Christ, what a rude, entitled attitude.

      Firstly, he doesn't have a window into your brain. How is he supposed to know which games pass your measure of good? Maybe he should check with your first whether these games he works for free to make playable on modern systems for everyone pass your illustrious standards?

      Secondly, pleasing you (and only you) isn't the site's objective. It's to archive lost games from previous decades. If you happen to like them then that's nice, but I'm sure it's precisely zero skin off his nose whether that happens or not, so kindly wind your neck in.

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    2. Thanks for the defense asdasd.

      I've been very busy with work and life the past few mosths so I've mainly chosen games that take little to no time to get working or to play and review. On top of that a number have been requests - Screamer Rally, the Sim games, Wrath of the Gods and a few others. I'm sorry they're not to your liking anonymous poster but I enjoyed a great number of them.

      I'd also note that by the end of July, I'd surpassed the number of posts in any of the previous few years. That's over 60 games in 7 months with a number of them being quite tricky to get working. That's a lot of work for a hobby that I don't really get paid for.

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    3. Yes, I've been haunting your site for a couple years now and want to thank you for your efforts in getting these old gems working on modern systems. I appreciate it immensely. Nakatomi Plaza and Blackstone chronicles are two that i'd missed playing. Keep up the good work.

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  6. Wow, what arrogance from the poster!
    This is Biffman's site, not yours. It's up to him what games he uploads.
    He puts a lot of time and effort into getting these games to work on modern machines,
    and I, for one, am very grateful to him!
    There's a lot of great games here, but I'm especially thrilled with Blade Runner and Kingdom O Magic.
    Thankyou Biff!

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I pressed the wrong button, and made a new comment instead of replying to 'Anonymous'

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    2. Thanks Frodo, I appreciate your support. There's no pleasing some people.

      Delete