A trio of PS1 games on the Ouya.

With most of my retro gaming machines all packed away whilst we redecorate, my Ouya is becoming quite the star with it’s small footprint, one lead setup and some rather slick emulators. Tonight, I’ve got the pleasure of three Playstation One games – two from my own gaming library and another on and loan from my friend (cheers Seb!).

Colin Macrae Rally.

Colin_Mcrae_Rally

Not my first choice when it comes to rally sims (Colin Macrae 2, 2005, Richard Burns and Rally Trophy please) , but despite the clipped and chunky graphics, CMR1 on the PS1 is bags of muddy fun. There’s eight countries to compete in providing a variety of  road and off-road surfaces as well as varied weather conditions and day/night driving. You get a choice of four 1998  WRC cars to drive including Colin’s winning Suburu Impreza and (by far my favourite) Tommy Makinen’s Mitsuibishi Lancer E4. There’s also four novice cars to zip around in including the nippy Golf GTI and the Renault Maxi Megane and, my favourite of the lot, four unlockable historic rally cars including the Ford Escort Mk11 and the (probably) rocket fuelled Audi Quattro S1.

I’ve been a rally sports fan for a long time now and really got in the the World Rally Championships during the  late nineties when drivers like Macrae, Sainz, Burns, Gronholm, Auriol and Makinen were all juggling for the win whilst future talent was being introduced with the likes of  Solberg, Leob and Martin.

I’ve not really been following it as much these past few years, but after reading about  increased live coverage on one of the digital sports channels we get I thought I’d take a look at again this year. I wasn’t disappointed, last weekends Monte Carlo rally was hugely entertaining and the unpredictable weather there brought about some real drama and an ever changing leaderboard. Sweden next, my favourite of them all.

It’s with this renewed interest that I sought out CMR1 from my Playstation collection and with the Ouya’s analogue controls playing quite nicely under emulation (FPse) I’m looking forward too some of my own armchair rally action.

NHL 99

NHL '99

Of all the sports games I’ve ever played, EA’s NHL series has been the one that I’ve purchased religiously each year right from the beginning up to when the EA big wigs  decided not continue releasing them on the PC…idiots! NHL ’99 is certainly not the best edition there is but it’s this version (PS1 and PC) that I hold dear for many reasons. I play this and I remember a friend (who happened to play ice hockey for our local team) stopping by and not leaving for hours as we played endless vs. and co-op matches, repeated many many times over the next few years. I play this and I remember leaving my PC on overnight to download the whoppin 56mb demo only to find CRC errors in the archive – back in the days of dial-up internet and billing per the minute,  quite an expensive download!  I play this and I remember the wow factor when my new shiny Nvidia TNT pro graphics card smoothed out those pre ’99 pixelated hockey players. I play this and I remember the Zamboni which didn’t seem to appear in any of the later editions. I play this and I remember trying to amass a whole host of user mods to update the player gear, ice centre and boards (again, quite a feat on crappy dial-up services). And lastly I play this and remember the very best NHL game intro that in my opinion has never beaten.

Take it away Dave!

and lastly (thanks once again Seb!) – Xevious 3D.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of the original arcade game, preferring something like 1942 for my vertical schmup fixes back then. The air-air and air-ground  weapon systems in Xevious was quite a novel feature but, I dunno, I just found Xevious to be a bit….well, a bit boring.

xevious

 

 

Whilst wandering around the console area at Play:Expo last year I happen across a Playstation running this rather funky looking 3D(-ish) shooter. I sat down for a while and absolutely loved playing it not knowing that, until my lives had been spent, I was actually playing Xevious 3D.

Unlike the original, this is much more fun to play with plenty of  power ups and some truly outstanding boss attacks. Check out the spider robot for example at the 1min:55 mark in this long play video by betamanATstage6.

This 3D version also has the original (and super arrangement) games included to so maybe I’ve been a little too hard on the original game and it’s time I gave it another look?

Just a quick word on the PS1 emulator ‘FPse’ on the Ouya. It can be purchased and installed directly from the Ouya Store, is a breeze to use and supports .iso files directly from either your Ouya (limited space)or directly from a USB stick. It also detects your game files and auto downloads the cover art for you. There’s plenty of options to play around with for graphics and audio and both digital and  analogue gamepad emulation is available (including vibration) as well as on screen controls and emulated memory cards for save support. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you’d need from a Playstation emulator and has run everything I’ve tried so far without a single hitch or slowdown.

ouya_icon

 

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Netbook Gaming: Colin Macrae Rally 2.0

Another older game that now perfectly suited to playing on my low spec Netbook is arcade rally sim, Colin Macrae 2.0 by Codemasters.

colin-mcrae-rally-2.0

CMR2 was such a huge improvement on it  predecessor with graphics that looked absolutely stunning back in the day and even today still look pretty darn good. I remember seeing some early screenshots of the game featured in an issue of PC Format magazine and hoping that my mid range PC at the time (P3 533mhz and Geforce 3 5oo Ti) would be powerful enough to run it. Today and on my Netbook, I can happily zip around the stages at a descent framerate with  much of the graphics options still set reasonable high although turning on  things like quality shadows and environmental mapping is a no go. It’s also one of only a handful of rally games that you can still play using the keyboard  without fishtailing your car. No need to lug around a separate controller with this one.

There are many things to like about CMR2, one being that Codemasters  had got the car handling physics just right to cater for the rally sim fan and the arcade racing fan. For example, you can thrash around the stages just like you would in Sega Rally and still come away with impressive times, or approach the game as a driving simulator with the cars perfectly answering to steering via the  accelerator or  allowing you to pull off the odd Scandi-flick to great effect 🙂

CMR2 2013-02-11 08-54-26-00

 

Sound it spot on to with a fairly descent engine noise that doesn’t become annoying and has all the engine whistles and pops you’d expect from a rally car. You also get a  sound digitised co-driver in the form of Nicky Grise to keep you abreast of what’s coming up as you progress along the stage.  – Gotta love those tight number 80mph type three corners with rock on one side and 100ft drop on the other!

I really started to get  into the Rally Motorsport and the World Rally Championship around 1995 and have been a follower and spectator ever since then.  Locally we have a few rallies each year and and i try to attend those that also feature a historic class…Suburu’s and Lancers are o.k but nothing beats seeing a MK1 or 2 Ford Escort, Stratos or Chevette getting a bit sidewards.

For me, the WRC was at it’s finest around the year 1999 – 2001 which is roughly the period when CMR2 was launched and contains some of the cars of that period such as the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer,  Suburu Imprezza and Peugeot 206 and although not an official endorsed product of the FIA, a simple modification could change the fictitious driver names to match  real life counterparts enabling you to re-enact epic battles between Colin Macrae, Richard Burns, Tommi Makkenen, Marcus Gronholm and Carlos Sainz.

This could almost been a scene from outside at the moment as we had another dumping of snow last night…although compared to the US east coast, ours was a just a light dusting :-O Should be a rally-tastic commute into work this morning!

ford

 

CMR2 has all the usual driving surfaces for a Rally game which suitably effects you car handling depending on the options you’ve chosen when setting up your car. Rally stages  include forest dirt and gravel stages of Finland, Snow and ice in Sweden, a muddy and wet UK (typical!),  boulder strewn gravel stages of Greece, smooth twisty tarmac stages in France and Italy and sun baked stages in Kenya and Australia. Add in variable weather elements and stages being run as various times of the day all provide a great challenge for the armchair drivers (night time driving in a blizzard anyone?)

There’s also a great arcade mode which places you a five or six other cars on a looped  track. Finish in the top three to progress to the next track.

CMR2 2013-02-11 08-56-20-17

Start winning some rallies and you get access to some of the bonus (classic) vehicles including the Ford Escort, Stratos, Metro 6R4,Lancia, Peugeot 205 TI, Mini cooper and the mighty Ford Sierra Cossworth

Retro rally, Cossi style.

Cossi

 

 

And like all good PC racing games it’s the modding communities  that spring up around a great games and CMR2 certainly had it’s fair share. Back in the day there were many websites hosting addon game textures, new cars and skins and tools to allow you to extract the game files to produce your own.

I used to spend ages with the tools like ‘BFL-Works’ that would allow you to extract the car textures and edit  them with a paint package. I think I did quite a few skins at one point, I wonder if there still lurking around on one of my CD archives?

Changing the Lancer texture so that it matched Tommi Makinens Evo.

tomii orig1

 

Recreating the classic Paris-Dakar rallies of the 80’s with Peugeot 205 Turbo 16….and as you can see from the slightly bent roof line, I’ve had a bit of a mishap!

205

 

So, whether you’ve have a low spec netbook/laptop or indeed monster rig, hunt down CMR2 and give this old classic another test drive, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.