Sega Rally Championship
Hands up who hasn't had a go on the Sega Rally arcade machine. Come on, come on. Aha... just the one then.
What's your name, son?
Wee Willy McTavish, sir.
I see! And you've neither played Sega Rally nor seen it?
That's the truth, sir.
Hmm. And I expect you'd like me to explain exactly what it is, purely for your benefit, regardless of the fact that all these other charming ladies and gentlemen would be bored shitless?
Aye, I'd be much obliged sir.
Tough luck. Now feck off!
(Wee Willy McTavish slowly leaves the room with his tail between his legs, to cries of Aaaaaaah from the more girly members of the audience.)
We've all seen it...
Yes, we've all seen or played it. And even those who haven't have read about it until they're blue in the eyes. Let's face it, Sega Rally is one of the most famous arcade games of recent history... and so bloody groovy that I actually shelled out a zillion quid on a Saturn last year - and, thanks largely to the fact that top-notch Sega titles aren't exactly abundant, I've pretty much played the thing to death. I know it intimately; upside-down; inside-out; and all the rest. This, while being very handy in some respects, also makes my life rather difficult at this precise moment in time: you see this is a PREVIEW, and I'm actually armed with enough knowledge to write you a definitive REVIEW. So... er, what do I leave out? What do 1 put in? How much should I tell you? How much do you want to know? I'm buggered if I can work it out, as it happens, so just close your eyes if you see something you didn't want to.
Corks o-blimey guv'nor!
The pc incarnation of Sega Rally looks and plays exactly the same as the Saturn version, which in turn was pretty much exactly the same as the coin-op. (They said it couldn't be done, but it was.) However, as Jimmy Cricket would say, there's more.
Yup, the home versions of Rally piss on the coin-op in certain areas. The first benefit, obviously, is that you don't have to play the game in an amusement hall. In other words you don't have to put up with some snotty smartass kid standing by your right ear, making tutting noises as you plough for the third time into the bank of the gravelly hairpin on the Ceasy' course. You also don't have to put up with the same smartass kid jumping into the machine next to you and challenging you to a race (which you then lose, only to discover that a large crowd has built up behind you during the contest). Another benefit which springs to mind is that you don't have to go and get change from the booth, which invariably contains a tasty, slinky chick, who you can clearly tell is thinking, Get a life, geek as the pound coins clatter down the chute.
Shrouded in anonymity by pico-photons from a 20 watt lightbulb, Sega Rally on your pc will be a far less embarrassing affair. What the hell, you can even select the Cmanual gears' option with no cringeworthy repercussions. The tracks, as you'll probably know, are Desert, Forest and Mountain, which contain increasing numbers of twists and turns. Select Arcade Mode, and you get exactly that... with the same two choices from the amusement hall experience.
Either simply practise any of the tracks against the clock, or instead go for the so-called Cmeat' of the game: ie. taking the courses in order with the ultimate aim of (a) coming first against the computer-controlled cars and (b) not running out of time as you do it. (These facets are pretty much mutually inclusive, but you know what I mean.) If you manage to win in this mode on the Chard' game setting, by the way, you're in for a surprise, because there's a Csecret gift'. Yes, an extra track. Oh, and if you then beat the whole thing again, including the bonus track, there's... da-da: an extra car!
What I found to be the most enduring challenge on the Saturn was the Time Trial mode, in which you get to race a ghost car, or, if you prefer, yourself. Race yourself for long enough and, in theory, you should eventually become Cinfinitely good'. It's a hoot, and makes a rather smart alternative two-player game as well - unless, of course, you choose the split screen mode. (Or the ipx or modem modes, should you have the kit.)
It's a set-up...
The car handling - not surprisingly seeing as everything else is as good as the Arcade/Saturn version - is also on the button. In fact it's here that Sega Rally excels when compared to, say, Network (I RAC Rally - you really do get rewarded for being Cnifty'. And what's more, both the Toyota Celica and the Lancia Delta (and the Csecret' car) are rife for fiddling about with... change the suspension heights, brake bias, that sort of thing. I could go on, but then there'd be nothing to say in the review, so 1 won't. I suppose all I can really add is the usual preview outro spiel, which is as follows: Sega Rally looks to be the Corgi's Coconuts, tune in next month for the final say. (Which'll probably be at about the same time that I get my hands on a copy of Manx TT for my Saturn, ho, ho, ho.)
Download Sega Rally Championship
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
When I was in high school around 1985 and '86, I had a gold '78 Volkswagen Scirocco. Even if it were all stock, it would have been one of the coolest cars in the student lot, but I did what I could to "trick it out" by putting a bunch of cheap, superficial junk all over it. But my job at McDonalds never really provided me with the kind of money to do what I really wanted to do with it: I got the HotVW magazines and drooled over Bilstein struts and Neuspeed sway bars I'd add before I shipped it overseas and drove the Paris-Dakkar Rally. Though I never followed through on that dream, that vehicle had the lineage to be a contender.
So I was pretty excited when Chad asked me if I'd check out Sega Rally Championship for the 'Zilla. I played it the night I got it and emailed Chad the next day, saying: "You won't believe this, but I think this time I can actually write a positive review. It's a pretty cool game." So there you are. Keep reading if you want the details, but if you want it in a nutshell: "It's a pretty cool game."
Why "pretty cool" instead of "really really really really really cool"? Well, it's because there are only three tracks and two cars, and because we're only on this earth for a short time longer before some comet puts a hole in Kansas City and blots out the sun with its dust cloud, there are only so many hours you can spend trying to shave that extra tenth of a second off your best time.
My pre-release copy of Rally Championship included a pretty narrow selection of cars -- both automatic and manual-transmission versions of a Toyota Celica GT and something called a Delta that looks to me like a Volkswagen Golf. The final release copy of the game will include more. You can customize them a bit (making the suspension tighter or the tires stickier), but it's hard to feel any real difference.
The three tracks, in order of difficulty, are Desert, Forest, and Mountain. What separates these courses and makes one more difficult than the other are the sharpness of the turns and the amount of variation in the road material. For example, coming off a grassy embankment into soft sand is your surest way to do a 360.
The menus and all the controls are simple and intuitive. With the keyboard, you only need three fingers to play this game: left turn, right turn, and gas (the only time you'll ever use the brake is on the hairpins). I preferred my Game Pad, though.
Absolutely the silliest part of this game is its replay feature. There's no fast-forward, no rewind; all you do is sit in a helicopter and watch yourself drive your car. The thing is, really cool things don't happen in this game. There are no gnarly crashes to see, no explosions, nothing that really makes a difference that you could possibly want to see again.
The graphics engine is pretty good. I wouldn't say Sega has taken us to the next level of game design, but they did an adequate job of making fast look fast by putting in lots of road textures and landmarks for you to speed past. One of those landmarks is a zebra. No, you can't run it over.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of this game was what sounded like a barbershop quartet singing "Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinissssshhhh." I swear, the first ten times I heard it I thought they were singing "Deeeeeeeeelishious." You also get to hear some pretty cool soundtracks while you're driving, and the effects -- from the whine of the engine to the sounds of tires on the different road surfaces -- are quite good.
Supports two-player network, serial, and modem play.
Windows: Pentium 75MHz or faster (100MHz or faster recommended), 16 MB RAM, Windows 95
This game, though it excited me for a couple days and brought back my long-lost dreams of Paris-Dakkar, didn't turn out to be interesting or robust enough to totally ease my pain at not yet having accomplished that goal. After week one I changed the difficulty setting to the highest level, which makes other cars faster and gives you less time to finish the course. That kept me interested for a little bit longer, but unless you're the type of person who can shovel quarters into an arcade game for weeks on end, I'd bet that the limited variety of this game will cause you to archive the CD before you're good enough to get first place.