Game Over Online ~ Race Fever 1.2

GameOver Game Reviews - Race Fever 1.2 (c) Digital Fiction Inc., Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Race Fever 1.2 (c) Digital Fiction Inc.
System Requirements PalmOS 3.0, Palm III (colour optional), 363KB RAM
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Saturday, June 30th, 2001 at 05:00 AM

Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

Traditionally, most games in the PDA universe have been more or less stationary, with either few things happening on the screen (LodeRunner), or nothing happening on the screen at all (Space Trader). As the power of the PDAs grew, additional things became possible - so a new breed of games started to appear: full-blown action games, where actual stuff happens, and where you can't take your eyes off the screen even for a second. Enter Race Fever.

Race Fever is most reminiscent of the old, old PC Formula 1 racing game by Accolade from the late 80s (which I can't remember the name of for the life of me), because the feel and the look of the game remind me of it immensely - especially the curves of the tracks, which just bring flashbacks of times long past. I'll forgo the usual details like the point of the game and what you have to do - it's a racing game, so it's fairly obvious that the main idea of the game is to crash into other racers and attempt to come precisely last (right).

Where this game fascinated me most when I first saw it was in the graphics department. This was the first time I ever saw a full-blown racing game on my Palm, and I liked what I saw. It looks much more impressive in colour than in grayscale, but that's expected; though even in grayscale it looks quite amazing. The detail of the track is not bad at all, and the background images are pretty neat, as well. The second thing that fascinated me was that it took up 363 KB of RAM space - but I learned to live with it after playing it for a while.

In the demo version, there is only one track that you can play (London), and in it, your race is limited to about 10 - 20 seconds, no more. In the fully registered version, you have access to an impressive 16 tracks (all different! no cheating by reversing directions or anything of the sort). In order to unlock tracks, you have to pass exams, where you are required to exhibit short bursts of skilled driving and fulfill a certain set of requirements in order to pass the exam. In some exams, you are required to drive a lap, and hit as many awkwardly positioned cones on the track as you can; in others, you have to do the exact inverse; yet in others, you have to pass a certains segment of a track in a pre-set amount of time (or less), and so forth. The beginner and intermediate exams are fairly simple, but the expert exam is actually quite challenging. Unfortunately, the actual race is much simpler than the exams - most opponents aren't much of a challenge, except the first 3 positions or so, who are generally somewhat more difficult to beat. What I disliked about the game was that there seems to be no way of genuinely distancing yourself from people following you - while I seemed to drive laps 5 seconds or faster than my nearest opponent, if I ever crashed, he would immediately pass me, as if he were driving right behind me. You do get to lap people, but again, I'm not quite certain why the 2-3-4 and even 5th place runners are so very, very close to you at all times that the smallest mistake can cost you a race.

The control mechanism of the game is most amazing. Since the developers needed an analog control (come on, nobody races with a digital control), they came up with the most ingenious idea I've ever seen: lateral movement of the pen on the graffiti pad is used for steering, and longitudinal is used for acceleration/braking. So you control the car with a pen - and the further you move it in a certain direction on the pad, the more you are "pushing" in that direction (so accelerating more, or turning more, and so forth). You can even do powerslides if you're good (which actually is required for one of the expert exams as far as I know - at least in my case, until I powerslid, I couldn't get under the required time).

The multiplayer mode is another amazing feature of the game. You can race two-player, and it's so, so much fun! It works over IR, in realtime, no less, so you can see your opponent as you pass him, or as he crashes in front of you. It works very well in meetings and in a classroom, believe you me. Since the Palm's IR port range is not too shabby, either, you can actually play across fairly impressive distances, too, so kudos to the team in that respect, as well.

Last, I should mention that the sound is a bit lame, since all you have is the sound of the engine, and even that is a bit annoying - but here, I would tend to blame the Palm sound hardware a lot more than I would the developers. A word of warning, though: the first time you run the game, when the intro logo comes up, there is a sound of an engine revving. So you don't exactly want to be in a place where it would be most inconvenient to hear a sound like that (personal experience). Turn it off beforehand, then you're fine. Aside from that, this is an absolutely great game, and I hope we'll start seeing more games like this over time. Just one thing before I wrap up, though - since it's full-screen animation, and there's a fair bit of CPU involved, the battery is sapped up quite a bit quicker. I do recommend Afterburner for it, as well, because the game plays significantly smoother with it than without it. Of course, that kills the battery even more... but that's why the charger is there.

[ 08/10 ] Addictiveness
[ 18/20 ] Gameplay
[ 15/15 ] Graphics
[ 10/10 ] Interface/controls
[ 06/10 ] Program size
[ 04/05 ] Sound
[ 10/10 ] Multiplayer
[ 05/05 ] Discreetness
[ 14/15 ] Learning Curve


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