Thursday, 24 November 2016

Chapter XXXVI: Mean Machine

There was an unspoken rule on game shops that dealt with pirated copies. If you got the shop owner a game he didn't have, you would have a copy on the house. It sounds wonderful, but we're talking about shelves filled with disks, some of them quite dusty and mostly unused.

Since having a game that Mr. Joaquin from the nearest shop didn't was incredibly hard, it can only be attributable to coincidence that both me and Roy Drought had some rare game to trade on the same day. Some people call that fate. I obviously don't believe in it, since she was so mean to me that day. Fate is a lady, right?

I'm obviously losing the plot here. What matters is that Roy had Navy Seals and I had Mean Machines, one of those budget Codemasters games that no one cared because it wasn't Dizzy, and so it was lost in time.

Roy showed his game first. Both Joaquin and his friend were impressed. You could hang from ceilings with your arms! How amazing is that! At least that was Joaquin’s reaction, and that is kind of problematic for a thirty year old man, but maybe I'm just being a sore loser, and you'll see why.

So there it was. Roy was awarded a free copy. One disk only, since that was the number of disks Navy Seals had. I think the shop owner was being quite a cheapskate specially considering that we were his best customers.

OK, after the whole ceiling hanging spectacle of Navy Seals the bar was very high, and Mean Machines wasn't the game for the occasion. I was hesitant to show it as I was pretty much convinced that it wasn't very good, but my cousin Walter pressured me to do it. I guess he was eager to try one of his convincing schemes, and make me choose some boring wargame for him.

Well, Joaquin obviously didn't like it, but he never said it directly, probably fearing that he could hurt some eleven year old boy feelings. He could as well said it instead since it was a little bit patronising. There was another problem though. It was a legal and legitimate copy that my friend Joe Magellan lent me, with a colourful box and everything. Those were like unicorns back then. Maybe Mr. Joaquin knew that it had some copy protection built-in.

Yes, the oil meter is down but missiles are always more important. That also applies to my real life car.
Anyway, I still think he should have given me a free copy out of pity, specially after Roy’s triumph.

I'm sure this game isn't that bad anyway.

I made myself a promise some time ago to only play ADF versions of games instead of WHDload, because the cracker screens can usually provide some sort of either amusement or downright awesomeness. I failed that promise until now, but I’m glad I’m using regular “disks”. This cracker intro doesn’t offer any kind of kickass tune or graphic effects, but provides instead a very cryptic text, or maybe it isn’t cryptic at all and it’s literally about doing drugs. Check for yourself.

Good thing there are these side activities because the game itself doesn’t offer that much. It’s as unremarkable as I remember it. It’s kind of a Spy Hunter clone, but without any kind of clever mechanics or novelties. The car is armed with missiles to destroy any opponent right in front, and can drop some sort of oil in the road that immediately makes any car that touches it to explode. This is pretty much like Super Cars II missiles and mines.

Even with such low ambitions the game could still offer loads of fun, but unfortunately everything is spoiled by how the car approaches the top of the screen when reaching higher speeds, leaving the player oblivious on what the next obstacles are going to be. A game with cars that harshly punishes the player for driving fast is a game that has no reason to exist.

Graphically, it’s definitely low budget, but competent enough. It could have benefitted from a slightly cleaner look, specially being a Codemasters game. The same developers made previously Pro Powerboat Simulator, which is pretty much this game on water. It kind of gives the impression that someone looked at Spy Hunter and thought “Hey, you know what could be a great idea? To split this game in two!”.

I didn’t want to end the article on a low note, specially because I don’t want to give Mr.Joaquin the impression that he was right in not accepting the game. The title screen has a kickass tune by the one and only Allister Brimble that should be reason enough for me to get that free game 25 years ago. The in game music isn’t up to Allister’s high standards, but still is undeserving of this below average game, and reason enough to be favourably compared to Navy Seals.

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