I've just spent ages trying to load the first level of Duke Nukem Zero Hour. It crashes when the chopper rises in the training facility. Step 1: try RetroArch. It worked! But the frame rate is horrible, controls hard to configure. Back to Project 64 1.6. My first save for it was way back in 2012, also Duke Nukem. Step 2: mess with the settings in Project 64 even though I don't know what I am doing. Nothing changes. Step 3: download every other n64 emulator. None work. Step 4: google if others have same problem. A guy had an idea to use another emulator to move over a level select into Project 64 in a way he described as complicated. Step 5: look for cheats. That actually worked. Debut mode. But I'd messed with the settings so much its framerate was horrible. Step 6: re install Peoject 64 1.6 or look for newer version. Newer version..worked! It's slow to load, wouldn't recognise the controller for 10 minutes making me tyell in frustration and has now just crashed again. But it worked and now to ask myself if I really wanted to play the game or was it just because I literally couldn't. No I do, I do. The time travelling, Victorian setting, the bloody headshots. I loved it. It got 90% in magazines and i remember that because if it didn't I probably wouldn't have played it.
I've been recently playing Extreme G 2, I really liked the original and can't understand why I skipped it given it was my aim to own every good n64 game and I'd go to my friend's house with a bag full of 50 games. A plastic supermarket bag, it was always ripping. Were you imagining a rucksack? I skateboard in and swing it around as the game cartridges fling out?
I think I was a snob, before magazines i played any game, we rented them and cost didn't matter. We could no longer rent and cost did matter and 2 magazines i religiously bought every month gave ratings to games and I began looking at otherwise fun games suspiciously, as though their fun was tainted by a lack of quality and you're at school too every day, grades being enforced you think it matters. I am enjoying XG2 now sort of lamenting I didn't play it then, as though there were strong impressions to be made by this game that didn't occur. Now the sci fi racer is dead, but then it was like 3 years after Wipeout and 2097, it was a year after F Zero X and Star Wars Pod Racer. And Extreme G wasn't as good as any of those.
The tracks are superb, the music a mixture of repetitive and atmospheric. Music culture influencesd games then, its whole aesthetic is industrial, but not the dry dull harbour in a fps kind of way, it's purples and muddy greens, it's swampy and underground. Genuinely underground. That really changed dramatically in the 00s, if you look at THPS as the prime example; as a teenager you can't really grasp the ruinous nature of capitalism in terms of always justifying creativity through expansion and profit. You just see the essence of something be stretched and trodden on. I played THPS 4 disappointed but mostly confused. It was a long time ago yet typifies the state things are still in.
But yeah anyway I think I skipped XG2 because of its reviews, something like 6.7. Which is like a 90s classic late night film rotten tomatoes score. It looks great, looks at those bikes and those weapons, stop being so moody. I'm more impressed now than I would be then. I appreciate the graphics that attempt to create an effect with clearly limitations on the scale to do that. More money, resources, budget, time, memory, storage, power mostly mean bigger worlds don't they, not necessarily fine details, the little things that pop out. I like the white birds that fly off, contrasting against the muddy greens, I like the basic approximation of a forest, how jarring it is, I like the track twisting like it's entering itself. I've been thinking more about genres and cultures when I watch stand up that's not funny to me but which offers like a different vibe to it.
My one remaining ambition is to make a game, and I've thought about this a lot. I've thought; it'd have to be completely brilliant. But thinking of ideas is not the same as working within design programs, you want to tackle something tangible that's actually there. Now I think that obviously if you're putting stuff on paper you're gonna write: 30 crafts to a race and hundreds of tracks. Because you think those are easy ways to improve it. But the developers then were just working within strict schedules right and if you think; can you not just try to do more with the racing formula of cups and 4-10 races points based tournaments. But did they have time to even look at that. Maybe they did, I dunno. Rare were one of the few developers allowed time and they did it. But even just Rock and Roll Racing, buying parts, planet hopping, buying new vehicles, the sense of progression in that. Really I'm still a child in getting excited by what's next. The game withholds that, and you expect. The third act in a film, the last few episodes of a tv season, the penultimate track in an album. Doesn't always follow.
I also recently played Snowboard Kids 2. The first few tracks are lazy badly designed copies of the first game, everything is off. But then suddenly there's a track in space and it's wild and brilliant as if the developers were just too bored to do much with those early tracks. You can jaded, bored, disinterested, seen it all before. But structuring something so you wonder what's next, I don't think that goes away. In Snowboard Kids 2 it's the never hinting at it, the original had you boarding on grass, sand, but space made less sense. With 100 tracks it lessens the sudden leap. Only so many themes.
I also voided XG3 on Gamecube for fucking some reason. Maybe I tied it to the decline of Acclaim, things were never the same between me and them after level 3 of Turok 2. XG3 and XGRA was all white and slick and generally the sci fi racer has never been the same since. Just playing Beetle Adventure Racing, those mountains, those corners, the impression made, it's convincing, I feel like yes I am racing on a beach and yes I did just leap into a volcano. There's real scale there. Those designers really were good. There's an art to track design and I don't think I've ever read an article, interview, forum thread recognising it. Imagine you're a designer just given a track to design, the thought that goes into seems alien, like er what does it need where do you begin. The racing genre is like a lost speciality. Clearly there's a difference between recreating reality, real places you drive through and condensing places into corners and bridges, jumps to create the impression of being really there. Where did this post begin, how have I ended here, I can't remember.