Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Chapter II: Street Rod 2

I will share something with you that is known to my close circle of friends and family as my biggest talent or “famous” trait. My memory. Seriously, I can remember little details on meaningless things that happened so long ago that my reputation as a human hard drive has been superseded by my reputation as a liar. All these close people are starting to think that all these anecdotes were made up by me and never happened.
I assure you not. I’m an honest man, with a talent that sounds much more useful than it really is, and I will share this story exactly how it happened almost 25 years ago.

Me, my cousin, which from now on will be known as “Walter The Baptist”, and his friends went out to “buy” games. And no, the quotation marks don’t mean that we went to steal them, even though many companies try to make us believe that pirating and stealing is exactly the same thing, but I digress. Anyway, Walter “bought” (I’ll leave the quotation marks from now on, I think you got the idea) Street Rod 2, and I bought Ghosts n’ Goblins. I don’t remember which games our friends bought, probably none as they were basically leechers of people who bought cracked games which is kind of ironic.

When we got to my cousin house to try the games, the first game we tried was Street Rod 2, because it was his house and his computer, so it seemed fair. After a while everybody was really getting into the game’s 60’s atmosphere and ability to customize the cars. I guess the greaser look appeal never went away, even for early 90’s kids who were getting into grunge. Even though I could see the appeal of the game, what I really wanted was to try my game, and time started to pass.

Jim Morrison was also way cool in the early nineties
I was getting restless, and keep in my mind that I was 2 years younger than my cousin and all his friends, which at the time meant a lot in centimetres (yes, I’ll keep using the metric system through all my posts). I kept asking and asking to try my game and everybody started to shush me. My aunt probably listened to all the commotion and made my cousin let me try my game. I was looked upon as the biggest traitor by my peers, but finally I could try my game.

If this Ghosts n' Goblins Amiga conversion is good or not is another matter, which I’ll probably get into in another post. Anyway, after 10 minutes or so I was pushed aside and the Street Rod 2 gaming session resumed. Copies were made for all the other kids and in the next few days everybody was playing this game obsessively.

I remember being in the street with my cousin, probably playing football or marbles, when a friend of his came screaming at us “I defeated the King! I defeated the King”. This friend, which from now on we’ll call Roy Drought, had his face in absolute glee. The King you see, was the game’s boss. A mixture between Fonzie and Meat from Porky’s and it was a bitch to win against him in a street race.

He doesn't look nothing like Fonzie after all.
Obviously we were not as impressed. Roy had to defeat the King in front of everyone to prove that he could do it. This was something that was usually done when someone boasted that about finishing a game. He did not falter with the pressure and could defeat the game’s boss in front of everyone.

After that, the short reign of Street Rod 2 had ended. Everyone of these kids turned to other games and this one was eventually forgotten. Now, after all this time, I will face my personal demons and see if this game was worthy of humiliating Ghosts n' Goblins, but most of all, me.

Johnny Depp once said something along the lines of ‘I don’t care for critics or awards, it’s much more important for me to hear from a kid “I like Jack Sparrow”’. Well, Johnny Depp was wrong. Kids have an awful taste in everything.

Mulholand Drive. I preferred the movie.
Well, I don’t want to get too harsh on Street Rod 2 and make it sound like I have some kind of vendetta against it just because it didn’t let me play the game I wanted more than 20 years ago. First impressions were excellent, and the memories I had about the authentic sixties atmosphere are kept intact, not that I know much about that anyway, being born in 81. Well, I saw the Porky’s trilogy at least. Or were the Porky’s movies set in the fifties?

This atmosphere is attained by the cool soundtrack and colourful graphics that while not being technically impressive, do their job just fine. Another thing that separated this game and its predecessor from the other racers at the time was the tuning aspect of it, since it’s possible to buy spare parts and customize our vehicle. This proved quite a challenge for me, as I’m a car illiterate, and don’t know much besides checking the tires pressure and the engine oil. Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing to be having as opponents in this game an imaginary gang of ten year olds while I look baffled at the newspaper ads in the game and wonder what all these spare parts are for.

I hear that a lot.
Well, not that it mattered, because I knew right away that I wouldn’t be making much progress to be able to buy that much of spare parts. The problem is that while everything else in the game is pretty cool, that part that mattered most, the racing, is pretty dire. Not only there’s not any sense of speed whatsoever, but the graphics are also awful, contrasting with the rest of the game. Besides, the car almost disintegrates the minute we step a little bit outside of the grass. I honestly don’t know what is this grass covered with. Judging by its colour, maybe it’s that kind of acid goo that was so popular in eighties cartoons and movies.

I feel miserable.
By the time we got our hands on this game back then, we had most certainly played good racing games like Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge and Stunt Car Racer. These kids should have known better. I don’t know if I should admire Roy Drought for beating the King or for his stubbornness on keeping playing this awful game.

Seriously, Ghosts n’ Goblins is better.

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