By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on September 25, 2015
Yes, we're back, once again, with the Big Red Timemachine. And let me tell you about the two weeks I've had. Well, I say two weeks, but what I actually should say is: ten years! Yes, fellow time travellers, after our last encounter, I went back a few years in time; not to research games but to look out for a different location for our Big Red Headquarters. It's not that our old headquarters is old or too small or anything like that. No, it's just not exciting enough! Upon return from my last mission, I first hired a new on-site staff and then decided to kick back and watch some episodes of one of my favorite old TV shows: The Thunderbirds. Seeing the various Thunderbird machines take off from their respective hiding places gave me a fantastic idea: Let's move to Mexico!
Because, no matter how cool time travel may be, it would be even cooler to see my timemachine erupt from some spectacular hiding place. I remembered reading about a place called Chichen Itza, an old Mayan settlement, and more specifically about a temple there, called El Castillo. I remembered reading how the temple was built on top of an underground lake, which gave me a fantastic idea. What if I was to excavate and drain this lake and build my top secret lair beneath the temple? At first I hesitated, but the promise of this extremely cool underground base made me decide to go ahead with my plan and start construction. Then, when my underground base was complete, I drilled a hole to the top of the temple, replaced the roof with some cleverly disguised sliding doors, thus creating a launch tube for my time machine.
Some of you might be wondering why I chose this particular site. Well, the answer to that is quite simple; Originally, I wanted to build my base squarely in the center of Atlantis, but I couldn't find the damn place! So now, when sending my brave crew on a new assignment, I just stand on top of the 91 steps on either side of the temple and watch as my Big Red Timemachine majestically rises from the bowels of the temple and hovers momentarily above its peak, before disappearing into the night. Each time I watch this spectacle unfold, a tear comes to my eye, it's just so beautiful... So nobody tell me that I'm no good at leading this company. Just look at the lengths I will go to in order to keep things moving!
Another thing that is all about moving is the game we're going after in today's Big Red Timemachine. It's a high velocity thrill ride, centered around speed, survival and Lance Boyle! If you're as old as me and have been playing videogames since you were a kid, you might recognize that name. Yes, ladies and gentlepeople, Lance Boyle. All-round funny man and host of that legendary fuel injected game show: MegaRace!
Released in 1993 for MS-Dos by Cryo Interactive , MegaRace transports players into a distant future, puts them in the driver seat of an armored racecar and makes them race for their lives. In this dystopian future, violent and bloody entertainment is king. One show in particular is the preferred means of entertainment for the meek masses: MegaRace. This program is aired by the Virtual World Broadcast Television, the largest entertainment entity in the world and hosted by the incomparable Lance Boyle.
In MegaRace, you are drafted into joining a violent TV show where the objective is simple: don't die! And when we say die, it's not to be taken too literally, according to presenter Lance Boyle, who keeps assuring us that deaths in MegaRace are virtual and therefore, not real. Is he telling the truth? Is he lying? That's something you'll have to decide for yourself! The MegaRace contenders are given an armored race car, in which they aim to come out of the race victorious. MegaRace featured a total of eight cars, three of which are available to choose from at the start of the game. The player has to complete a series of races to win the game. The objective of each race is not so much finishing first as it is to be the only one who makes it to the finish line by obliterating your opponents, either by slamming them into the side rails, blowing them up with rockets or making their cars self-destruct by passing them and getting far enough ahead of them.
The opponents in MegaRace are all members of violent Speed Gangs that control certain race tracks throughout the world. When entering a race, you start at the back of the grid and steadily make your way forwards, dispatching enemies left and right, until you reach the leader of the current Speed Gang. After defeating him, you win the race, claim his customized car as your own and move on to the next track. This is, however, easier said than done. The Speed Gang members will do everything in their power to stop you from overtaking them, which is quite logical if you think about it. I mean, criminal or not, no one likes to be blown to bits and smeared across the asphalt.
To help you make it through a race, the creators of the TV show scattered glowing symbols across the track which, when driven across, provided you with a temporary bonus, like speed, armor or damage. But, where there's a good, there's bound to be a bad; some symbols adversely affected your cars performance and should be avoided at all times. So, MegaRace wasn't just another high speed chase game, it also forced the player to keep his eyes peeled for symbols to either use or avoid.
Although it is a vehicular combat game / racing game, MegaRace limited the control you have over your car. You could steer your car from side to side and decelerate or accelerate to a certain point, but you couldn't turn your car around or come to a complete stop. Now, you may ask yourself why, so let me explain; MegaRace wasn't a 3D game like racing games today. Instead, it featured speedways, rendered in Full Motion Video (FMV), which basically means that the track moved, instead of the car. This may sound weird in this day and age, but let me assure you that in 1993, this was really cool and looked absolutely awesome.
It was mainly these FMV graphics, combined with the live action sequences featuring Lance Boyle that made MegaRace the success it is today. The game looked and sounded fantastic, featuring cool cars and fourteen cool tracks across five different worlds. Next to looking really good, it was really fun to play! MegaRace even spawned two sequels: MegaRace 2 & 3 and to my delight, a reboot of the series was even announced by Zoom Projects! So maybe, just maybe, new generations of fans can enjoy the vehicular carnage that is MegaRace and chuckle at the wit of it's already legendary presenter, Lance Boyle. I for one, will be keeping a close watch on the developments surrounding this game and will keep my fingers crossed for its release!
Well, that's all the time we have for this week and the only thing left for me to do is to leave you with some wise words of Mr. Boyle himself: "Hey! Welcome to MegaRace: the action show where violence only happens every few seconds!"