(Thanks to Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report for the tip)
We have done plenty of retrospectives this year as many notable games celebrate 30 or 40 years on the market and today I want to take a look back at something that doesn’t have a particular “milestone” anniversary but is cool nevertheless.
Now the arcade industry has had a thing for racing/driving games that goes back to electromechanical games and we’ve never seen that die out. IAAPA was a pretty good indication that the love for such simulators, whether they are basic and straightforward or are full-blown simulators continues to burn bright. The number of professional style simulators seen at the show which try to exactly mimic what it is like to drive in an F1 vehicle was higher than usual so everyone is trying to carve out a piece of that sweet, sweet F1 pie. To be honest however, I couldn’t tell you which particular setup was any better than another – it would have been easier if a little more creativity on the software side was used (there are other cool vehicles one can control other than F1 or rally cars, I’m just saying…). Now if one of them had decided to use this old idea from Sega, then I could probably recommend it as using modern technology I’m sure an experience like this would be much more interesting.
(Photo via System16.com)
That idea comes to us from the great 80s, 1989 to be exact and the name of the game was Sega Super Circuit. It’s not the most well known simulation device they might have made but certainly it is among their more interesting ones. By using 5 or more (some sites say there were 8) specially modified Deluxe Outrun cabinets, it allowed the players to control a real R/C car on a large track that was setup next to the units. Using cameras mounted to the front of the R/C cars, players had a first person view of their vehicle to view the action with and judging by the video, the input lag wasn’t too bad either, making for the best racing experience you could get aside from using full-sized cars. Due to the size of this it was not a very common setup to find, according to this blog that dug up some information on it, it was at the Tokyo Roof complex in Yokohama but whether any other place had the space or capital to install one, I haven’t been able to find that out. Here is a video of it in action though to salivate over. Looks like one problem was the video feed garbling up fairly often, something that I imagine could be avoided with more recent technology.
This also reminds me of a setup we say a couple of years ago called Racer by a team called Sputnic, which used a slightly less elaborate setup but with a similar idea. I imagine that there are other ways one could pull off a similar setup with some twists as R/C cars are not the only types of vehicles out there – you have tanks, trucks, helicopters, airplanes, boats, robots, etc. I imagine that a tank game using something like this could go a step further to have overlaid CG graphics on the players screen to represent shots or explosions. Of course helicopters and airplanes are probably too complicated and easy to break but the boats, tanks, or robots could make for some entertaining arena style games controlled through arcade cabinets that would draw attention in venues that could handle the space/capital problem. Enhance it with crowd multiplayer asistance through use of smartphones as controllers and things begin to get really interesting.