Thursday, August 2, 2012

World Rally Fever: The Road to Victory Finale

 Part 1 Part 2Part 3

31/08/11 - Currently banging my head against Kyoto in the Pro Cup. If I don't make some progress soon, I think I'm going to throw in the towel here. - JiliK's Backloggery

I'll level with you guys here. A few days after I scrawled this on my Backloggery, with no progress to show, I did throw in the towel. When I started writing this feature up, I hadn't actually touched this game in almost nine months, and as much I saw the need to finish it now that I'd started this, I really didn't think I was up to the task. The Hawaii tracks aside, this cup started off with easily the two most insane courses I'd encountered in the game up to that point, and as much experience as I had playing this game, I just wasn't able to crack them.

I planned to take on the Pro Cup again at some point before I finished this feature, but then something happened that not only got me back playing the game immediately, but also kept me motivated all the way to the final chequered flag: someone beat me to the punch. Out of the blue, another YouTube user started, and finished the game over the span of like, a week, handily beating my efforts and leaving my precious nerd cred in tatters. :D There was only way to redeem myself now: I needed to beat this fucking game for once and for all, no matter what it took.

France (Pro)

Remember how I mentioned this game's love for putting walls where they just don't belong? Well, this track's the poster child for that. The four interlocking walls halfway around the track are the main culprit in this respect, requiring some very tight, careful manoeuvring to take at speed; something that only came to me after a lot of trial and error. The sets of walls jutting out from the side of the track look harmless enough in the video above, but I found myself being rammed between them much more than I'd like by the the AI, loosing precious acceleration in the process.

Being the first track in the cup and as such, the first one I managed to master, it was pretty much vital to grab first place here before proceeding in order to have any hope of winning

Kyoto (Pro)

The Pro-Am version was bad, but this is that on crack. As if the tricky area with the indoor wall wasn't difficult enough to squeeze through the first time, in fine Human Centipede fashion they grafted another identical area onto it, giving you twice the walls to weave around and exponentially more opportunities for the even more aggressive AI to ram you into them. If I came out of the starting grid anywhere in the top three, I could be guaranteed to be slammed into the first wall by the cavalcade of turds behind me, coming to a dead halt and spending the next half a lap in seventh or eight place if I was lucky and a distant eight place if I wasn't. Eventually I adopted a strategy of stopping outside the area and waiting for the AI horde to pass me by before going in. It might have left me in eight, but at least I wasn't so far behind the pack that I wouldn't make any progress for half a lap.

The sliding doors also returned from the Pro-Am track, this time in greater numbers. But after racing on the track a few times, I noticed something interesting that helped me negate a lot of the frustration they previously caused: I noticed that every time an AI racer passed through them, they immediately flung open for them. Rather than setting the disc on fire after learning the game was even more cheap than I had previously imagined, I used my new-found knowledge to piggy back on my adversaries through the freshly-opened doors as much as I could. Something I couldn't do if I got left behind after that first bloody indoor area.

New York (Pro)

16/06/12 - Time to take this one home. Feeling pretty good about the France and Tokyo Pro tracks now. Working on New York at the moment. - JiliK's Backloggery

As a returning area from the Rookie Cup, I was hoping that this track wouldn't be too bad and really it isn't. The trickiest section is by far the the one with the three gaps in quick succession. I had a lot of trouble here trying to nail down the timing of the jumps here. After a lot more trial and error, I managed to finally suss it out, even discovering that if if I ignored the final gap, my momentum at that point would take me across it. With the AI's penchant for leaving that bullshit confusion power-up (that only they have access to btw) right in the path of my jump, that was quite a helpful discovery.

Other than that section, the only problem with this track is its relatively short length. Without long laps to catch up after making a mistake, there really isn't much room for error here.

Himalayas (Pro)

22/06/12 - Still working on the Pro Cup. I'm pretty close to beating it now, if only I could avoid being constantly screwed over by the AI characters. - JiliK's Backloggery

And here it is, folks: the end of my winning run through the Pro Cup. A run I only discovered I wasn't recording a few seconds after this race started. Eleven and a half years after my only glimpse of this track on the back of box, I was finally hurtling towards victory on it.

For the last track in the game, this is an astonishingly straightforward one. With the Himalayan setting too, you could easily see them cramming all sorts of bullshit into this one from falling rocks to avalanches to narrow, twisty paths with falling rocks and avalanches collapsing onto them. That's what I was expecting anyway. In reality though, the obstacles here come in the form of trio of jumps more generously spaced out than in the previous track, and a cave area that may be narrow and may have some rocks to manoeuvre around around, but it's in no way as insane to get through as sections of the first two tracks in this cup.

The gaps early on do take a little practice to get around successfully, with rocks placed in some quite evil positions within their vicinity and a cliff on the left side of the track, but once you don't screw up there, it's not too hard to grab at least second on this track. Whether that gives you enough points to wrap things up is another matter of course. I'm not sure if it's noticeable, but I cut out a part here where I paused just before the finish line to try and figure out just that. Even though I'd had a blistering run through the previous tracks, and I was pretty convinced second place would be enough, I had to be sure; I was too close to finally beating this to screw up now.

26/06/12 - Done and dusted. In your face, Chuckie J!

Indeed, second place was more than enough; I had a whole extra point to spare! Having crossed that finish line, I'd finally laid the first entry in my backlog to rest. Almost a year after starting this campaign, having spent a solid week of playing this for hours, night after night after night, I couldn't have been more excited about that fact. Who ever thought an obscure racing game I picked up at random a decade ago would turn into such an ordeal? :D

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