When the original Ridge Racer was released on the then newborn PlayStation, it impressed me as a graphical wonder and was an excellent showcase for the system. However, I was then a Nintendo loyalist so I didn't admit my opinion of the game too loudly. In fact, I avoided the game and the PlayStation like the plague. But fortunately now in 1999, I have outgrown my devout system loyalty and it seems only fitting that I am reviewing R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 (R4) since it may be the last installation of the series on the PlayStation. The next one is expected to migrate to the yet-to-be-named next generation Sony system.
Over the years, I became an extremely harsh critic of the series' lack of innovation, and when it came time to review R4, I was not a happy camper. Yet this time around, things were different. It certainly helped that it has been a long hiatus since the last incarnation, but I think it had more to do with my own personal maturity, and new-found understanding of the business world.
After playing the game a while, it's not hard to see why Nintendo transposed the Pokémon franchise to this format. Traditionally, pinball games contain various puzzles in the form of complex mouse trap-like contraptions scattered across the playing board.
Mario Golf is filled with tons of features and options (Mini-Golf and Get Character modes were my favorites) to the point where the instruction manual seemed more like an encyclopedia of golfing. There's pretty much something for everyone whether you're entertaining a house full of guests who are hard-core gamers or newbies alike, or if you're just going at it solitaire.
Mario Golf is such a surprise that I feared I couldn't write this review and do it justice.
The greatest accomplishment of Pokémon Pinball was that it made me forget I was playing a pinball game. I have never liked pinball games and even after playing Pokémon Pinball, I still don't like them, but I am always happy to pick up Pokémon Pinball. It must be that organic feel to the game that Chi talked about because Pokémon Pinball certainly feels more personal than the mechanical ones.
The so-called mature premise of Kingpin revolves around a fallen gangster who is now out for revenge and domination over the underworld. No heroic macho lead character or buxom heroine here, just a thug out to do no good. While politically incorrect, it's certainly conceptually interesting and has a similar appeal to films like GoodFellas and Pulp Fiction, which also revolve around bad people doing bad things.
Make no mistake, this is just another FPS with some great ideas (my personal favorite was being able to assemble my own crew) and stunning visuals that ultimately go to waste. Dale pretty much hits the nail on the head when the refers to Kingpin's creative direction as nothing more than 'dressing' with corrupt intentions of exploitation.
With an unparalleled quality of graphics and realism, Driver was supposed to be a marquee release for the PlayStation and extend its life into the next millenium. Unfortunately, Driver fails miserably short of expectations. The graphics are pixelated and everything in the game is a low-resolution mess. In this regard it's a total disappointment from such an accomplished developer.
Surprisingly, despite being in the capable hands of Reflections (the developers previously responsible for the Destruction Derby series), Driver comes up flatter than overnight Coca-Cola. Practically the only thing positive about Driver is the controls. To its credit, the cars handle great.