Ridge Racer 64

Ridge Racer, now 64bit

Released in 2000 and was the first Ridge Racer that was released not on the PlayStation. Very similar to Ridge Racer Revolution but with a different track appearance and a new soundtrack.

There are signs of a limited draw distance, as you can see a billboard-like objects that pops into view when you move close, this occurs on long stretches of the track, mainly near the start line. The N64 exclusive track does not seem to suffer from the issue, possibly due to it being designed for the console’s limitations, the other tracks were designed for the arcade hardware and the PlayStation respectively.

On the actual console itself it is not as noticeable. But on an emulator with an increased resolution, you can definitely see the pop-in.

A minor annoyance is the same replay audio track plays after each race. Why not play another track at random like Type 4 does?

Bootup animation which is reminiscent of the PlayStation boot screen

Tracks

All tracks from Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution appear here and are considered updated versions with some scenery changes. Given this game was released in 2000, that’s 7 years compared to the arcade original released, Let’s see what changed in Ridge city:

The original Ridge Racer track has appears since the arcade original to Revolution. There the city looks similar to how it’s presented in Ridge Racer V, which also came out around the same time for the PlayStation 2. Below is a comparison of the arcade version of Ridge Racer, and Ridge Racer 64, Showing the differences between the track details.

The seaside area has been updated with different shop buildings but remains the same with its palm trees

Hmmm, one of the shops on the left appears to have been removed

Still some construction on the add-on section, you would think this has been completed by now but after 7 years – nothing. Funnily enough, Ridge Racer V shows this to be a grass area, with no construction at all.

Maybe planning permission is an issue in Ridge City?

An exclusive track appears that only appears in this game, set in the desert which is a significant departure for the Ridge Racer series.

Cars

Most cars from the earlier games also appear here and are the main focus of the game as there is a dedicated car attack mode to unlock new cars, which can be used in Grand Prix mode. The teams from Ridge Racer Type 4 also make an appearance in car design form only, it does not feature the managers from Type 4. Car designs from the early Ridge Racer game also make an appearance.

Nintendo DS

The game was ported, or remade somewhat on the Nintendo DS. The graphics have seen a downgrade due to the limited 3DS graphics capabilities.

BT TV Games

BT, or Youview rather have introduced a new games channel/app/services to their selection of apps that are provided with the service. These are in a similar style to the games offered previously to Sky (Gamestar and PlayJam) and the ones offered on cable where they run directly off the STB and have to be loaded each time they are accessed. The games are rather simplistic in nature due to the limited capabilities of the hardware that Youview is based on, which was originally released in 2012.

Still, better late than never. On a similar note Sky also offered a similar service through their Sky Q service, and Virgin Media offered buyable games on their Tivo platform (Unsure if this is present on the 360 box, which is a different software platform)

Tetris

The game we all know and love. The background music plays for a minute, stops, and fails to loop. This leaves you with eerie silence. A leaderboard with high-score is available, and you can enter your own name. This only appears to show personal players’ scores, it does not show scores from other players online.

Rummikub

I have no idea what the fuck this game is about, the instructions are too long and I lack the attention span to even care. I try to put numbers on the board but the thing won’t let me. I guess its like Scrabble with numbers?

Pongal

Football/soccer-themed pong game. The opponent AI seems to have been lifted from Mario Party since it’s possible to win by doing nothing. The options menu lets you change the game’s difficulty and the speed of your opponent.

SuperMaze

A simple maze game where you control a ball that highlight the squares of the maze when moved, The objective is to highlight all the maze squares which will progress you to the next level. Music sounds like a Butlins/Thomas Cook advert

Bubble Jam

Puzzle quest-type game, the objective is to clear the board by popping bubbles of the same colour in segments of three or more.

QuizTV

A bunch of Buzzfeed-style questions that consist of ‘What kind of character are you?’ or ‘How well do you know this show’ – Most of these will appeal to an American audience with very few subjects regarding British TV shows or music.

Carrot Mania Space

A platform game, you have to collect all the carrots in a level whilst avoiding the rival foxes. This game seems to have a few achievements implemented.

Letter Wizard

A countdown/wonderment style game where you have to find a word in a scrambled set of letters. You can swap certain letters out and receive bonuses for longer words or for using certain letters.

Super Collapse

Here you have to try to clear the board of all colours, whilst a new row is added every 10 seconds. You can only delete in blocks of three or more.

Gem Matcher

The controls on this game are a joke, will the up and down buttons being used to adjust the angle, but the left key will quit the game and the right key will bring up the help screen, which takes a few seconds to load. As for the gameplay itself, you have to aim and throw gems in order to clear the screen by adjusting the angle, along with the power of the shot. Some gems take more shots in order to break. Like Tetris, the music on this game does not loop and will stop after a few seconds.

Summary

Overall it’s a good addition to the Youview service, though there are some early quirks present that will hopefully get ironed out within the coming months. There are a few performance issues with some of the games, particularly with SuperMaze. As this was running on the BT TV Pro box, this might be more of an issue with older Youview units.

Still in the future we could see more games being added to the service, in addition to more TV gaming providers like PlayJam (Who still exist) and even cloud gaming services like PlayStation Plus (Formely PlayStation Now), Google Stadia or Xbox Live Cloud. BT already offer Xbox Gamepass as part of their broadband and TV bundles. Still this will require dedicated controller support which will have to be included within the Youview software.

See Also

Sky Interactive and game screenshots

Linux Mandrake 7

Here is Mandrake 7.0, an operating system based on the original Red Hat Linux distro. I tried to get this OS running previously last year after trying it in Vmware and Virtual Box – to no luck. Pcem, and 86Box did make some good progress but the PC I was running at the time wasn’t capable of emulating the Pentium CPU that was recommended to run, which resulted in a lot of speed dips.
Fast forward a year and a new PC, and I’d through we give this another try.
Also remember this is 90s Linux, which is a ghetto compared to modern Linux (which I barely understand how to use)

Running in 86Box

First attempt

DataExpert EXP8551 – Had a few failures with this one, the initial motherboard that was chosen had issues detecting the CD-ROM disc, or the drive itself.
As the motherboard lacked native CD-ROM booting, we had to use the included boot floppy disk which would load a basic kernel with a couple of CD-ROM drives. However non of these worked with the DataExpert EXP8551 motherboard, and so we had to change the board to another one, this time a Gigabyte GA-586IP which worked with the floppy boot disk

Second attempt:
Gigabyte GA-586IP – This one seemed to work fine, at least except for the keyboard when in safe mode. Not sure why since we are emulating a regular PS/2 keyboard.

Once we got the install up and running, it was possible to progress through the install as normal, selecting a typical install that would then install the required packages.

At some point, we are asked to provide some details regarding the hardware installed so that Mandrake can detect and install the correct drivers.
The X window system requires a supported video card that can provide some sort of graphics acceleration, here I used an S3 Trio PCI video card with 2MB of video ram, that is supported in 86Box. I had used other video cards which will bring up an error message that the X server cannot start due to the video card being unsupported.
When you make a selection you are advised to test the configuration, where you can select the screen resolution and refresh rate, the colour depth also.

You can do this, but I’m always paranoid the OS will crash if it does not correctly identify or load the correct driver for the video card, even worse on 86Box, where there might be an emulation or inaccuracy issue that causes the OS to crash. If needed you can leave the graphics settings as they are, then change them once we have an OS.

Mandrake will ask a few more questions, like if you have any further PCI devices, network cards, user accounts and admin password settings.
Once you are done, the OS will reboot. Remember to eject the floppy or CD when you are rebooting.

Once booted, you will be at the login screen, remember the username and password you set up earlier, you have to enter it manually here, there are no username icons to click like in Windows XP or Mac OS 9. From here you can choose the desktop environment, two common options are KDE and GNOME that you will recognize from modern Linux distros, but a few others exist also. I recommend KDE, as GNOME & Enlightment looks more like a mid-90s RTS game in this distro. Enlihtmetnt also shows up in GNOME.
First time logging in will be a bit slow as Mandrake tries to prepare the desktop, or workspace as Linux calls it.

OF you don’t see the login screen and only see some weird-looking command prompt screen, type startx to start the X window system, if that doesn’t work then you need to check the video card you installed is supported and installed correctly.

Kudzu

When you add hardware to Mandrake, this triggers the Kudzu utility to run, which detects the hardware and set’s up the correct driver, if Mandrake has one built-in, otherwise you will have to specify where to install the driver from, good luck with that….
The only problem here is the keyboard stops working when Kudzu is triggered, meaning I cannot select anything and Kudzu ends up timing out and then proceeded to boot Mandrake as normal.


I’m not sure if this is an issue with the motherboard or the super I/O controller that causes the issue with the PS/2 keyboard, this motherboard dates from around 1996 whilst this OS came out in 2000, so it should be more or less compatible.
Because of this, I’m not sure if any devices added are actually working, I added a PCI ethernet (AMD Pcnet_) but was unable to perform any sort of network activity.

Sound

On the subject of adding devices, I tried to get the sound to function, since I intended to play a few early Linux games like SimCity 3000 which had native Linux ports.
For this, I had to use a SoundBlaster 16 sound card, which was an ISA non-plug-play card that required
There is a utility that can be used to install the soundcard, but this requires that you know your soundcards IRQ and DMA channel parameters (You can get these from the 86Box settings, and even change them if there’s a conflict)
There’s an opportunity to test the sound by playing a short sound clip, which is Linus Torvalds telling you how he pronounces Linux
The sound did work somewhat, I could playback MIDI files but after the OS was active for a while the sound would start to crackle. I’m not sure how to fix this and am wondering if this is just a glitch with the emulator.

Additional drives

This I also struggled with since Mandrake only detected one floppy drive (I had configured two 1.44MB floppy drives on both the emulator and the BIOS), and had added a ZIP drive. This was detected upon bootup but I’m not sure how to mount or access this from either GNOME or KDE.

Bootup

Another thing I noticed is that Mandrake will check drives for errors every once in a while, this happened because I left the date set at the motherboard default (1994), when I changed it to 2000 and booted it up it performed a check on all drives partitions.

GNOME

One of the desktop environments, this bares a lot in similarity to Microsoft Windows of the era, which isn’t a bad thing and can be customized once you are used to the mandrake interface. Here you have your standard taskbar with a set of icons, the first (Which looks like a foot) brings up a Start-like menu with a list of different applications installed


The second icon is your help button, with brings up the Gnome help browser, which looks similar to a standard HTML browser, not like the Windows 98 help.
The third icon is the GNOME configuration, which will host settings in relation to GNOME itself. Here you can change elements like the desktop background or the default window manager, which by default is Enlightenment. To a regular user, this might seem confusing as coming from Windows you are going to be familiar with the concept of Windows Explorer, which aces as the file explorer and window manager. But in Linux, this has been outsourced to various different components.
Whilst this is supposed to give a lot of flexibility, it is generally considered to be a lot more confusing, and in the end is just another component that could go wrong, what happens if a window manager isn’t fully compatible?
Lastly are the icons for the terminal (You’re gonna be using this a lot in Linux) and Netscape internet browser, and an icon for organizing multiple desktops.
You can hide the bottom bar by clicking either the left or right arrow buttons, which will slide the taskbar away. You can then unhide by clicking on the same button
Overall it’s quite a nice feature-packed environment, not ideal for the basic user but for those who have an advanced workflow, I can understand why some people would prefer this environment.

Enlightenment

Looks to be a standard window manager used with GNOME.
This isn’t much on an environment on its own, although you can select it from the login screen and it will just bring up the Enlightenment elements. This seems to tie in with GNOME, and when logging in with GNOME, Enlightenment will start
The pager acts as a way to manage multiple desktops and windows and lets you move between the different window environments, it will also create and display a snapshot thumbnail of the running application
There are menus that can be brought up, left-clicking opens the User Menu, which lets you open most KDE or GNOME applications. This has to be done on left-clicking on the desktop, without the cursor hovering over an icon. It’s a bit fiddly to access and isn’t much use when you have a full-screen application running.
Right-clicking will bring up the settings menu, which is just for Enlightenment. Here you can change the various elements and preferences, like setting the default theme to be used for Enlightenment or the desktop background.
As mentioned, several themes are available which can be changed, the default is BlueSteel which you can see above, others available are Apple Platnum which gives a Mac OS 8/9 feel, Aliens which is just creepy for an OS, Absolut_E, BeOS which is styled after the OS itself, Blue_OS which gives the OS a nice shade of blue, GTK+ and lastly minEguE which actually looks sleek and modern despite the name looking like someone had just mashed the keyboard.

Lastly, you can set animations and effects for when you open or move a window, like when you open an application, it can slide in quickly from the side, this will depend on how powerful your computer is and what effects are supported by the video card.

KDE

The default desktop environment that comes with Mandrake, you can log in to this by changing the desktop environment on the login screen.

A few default themes, including a MacOS knockoff, a BeOS knockoff & an Alien Xenomorph skin (Who asked for this nightmare theme?)

Applications

There’s a lot to cover here, although not all applications were functional. I’m not sure if it’s due to missing dependencies that didn’t get installed or if something went wrong when selecting the applications to install.

  • ENU emacs: Popular text editor with a few features added on
  • gEdit: Commonly used text editor, it’s like the Windows Notepad but has a few more features packed in for software development.
  • Gnumeric 0.46 : A spreadsheet application, not sure how well this deals with a regular Excel formatted spreadsheet. This was before the advent of OpenOffice, or LibreOffice.
  • GtimeTracker: This seemed to crash the entire system when used? I would guess this is some sort of timer or an alternative to Microsoft Project.
  • Gxedit: Another text editor, this seems more geared for HTML instead.

Multimedia

  • CD Player – Plays standard redbook CD audio, for 86Box make sure you mount a BIN/CUE file with its CUE file intact and it should work fine.
  • kmpg (Audio MPEG Player) – This one was unreliable, some files would playback albeit in a garbled form, sometimes it would playback just fine. Also occasionally throws an error message that your decoder has gone to nirvana, Kurt Kobain has my decoder?

I’m not sure how the MP3 codecs were implemented on early Linux distros, since MPEG Layer audio was a patented format that required royalties. Unless it’s using the SoundCard to decode, but I doubt the SoundBlaster 16 has any MPEG decoding capability, let alone MP3 support.

My guess is there is some sort of free reverse-engineered package that does the decoding, and the application simply taps into it to play back the MP3 codec file.

  • XMMS – The default audio player. This is hard to see since the user interface was too small and I couldn’t get it to play anything
  • kMP3 – Managed to get an MP3 player to playback in this application, but it was also unreliable. Some files would play a garbled sound at the start of the file, but would then play back normally, others would play back just fine. Perhaps it doesn’t play back well with Mp3 files that are encountered with a certain bitrate, or encoder?
  • AudioMixer (GMIX 3.0) – This allows you to change the different volume control settings for your soundcard, along with the MIDI, Microphone and CD audio output.
  • kModBox: Opened but then froze the entire system?

Games

  • AisleRiot: Some sort of card game, like the Windows Solitare
  • FreeCell: Another card game, also very similar to its Windows relation
  • gataxx: Did not work, the game would not start
  • Glines: Another game that refused to run
  • Gnibbles: it’s a snake clone, similar to the Nokia versions but has a few extra features like multiplayer (Local only, use different keys on the keyboard) and different levels. Different pills have can have certain effects, like the yellow ones increasing the length of your snake considerably, whilst the red one reduces it (some sort of diet pill?)
  • GnobotsII: An interesting game with bizarre movement controls, here you have to move in a certain direction to avoid the enemy robots from killing you. The controls are a pain here since they are mapped bizarrely on the keyboard, i.e Y is up and left, N is right and down, L moves you right. Help file loads in Netscape browser, and is written using size 8 font making it difficult to read
  • Gnome Chess: A regular chess simulation game, played from a 2D view.
  • Gnome Mines: Its just the Windows minesweeper
  • Gnome xBill: The infamous game where you have to prevent Bill gates from installing Windows on various systems, sadly this refused run
  • Gnome-Stones: Have no idea what this game does, and there is no help file or any listing or instructions
  • Gtali: Some sort of poker game? I had no idea how to play this one either
  • gTuring: What in the fucking fuck is this?
  • Iagno: Some sort of boardgame where you have to flip what looks like checker pieces.
  • Mahjongg: A typical Mahjong clone
  • Same Gnome: You can change the pattern of the objects to planets, marbles or stones
  • xsolider: Looks like a space invaders game, I couldn’t get this to start even under the KDE environment
  • xhextris: Not Tetris, HEXtris played with hexagon symbols using another weird keyboard layout, you have to use J to move left and L to move right, instead of using the keyboard arrow keys or WASD
  • Kpacman: a pretty good Pacman clone, looks almost like the arcade original
  • Ktron: My favorite game so far, probably because it’s the only one that isn’t a mindfuck to play. It’s Disney’s Tron
  • Smiletris: Some sort of Tetris with small 3-piece shapes?

Graphics

  • Electric Eyes: Some sort of image/photo viewer
  • gPhoto: Looks to be a photo editor, I tried to get it to open a GIF file but it ended up crashing. An application on Mandrake simply quits to the desktop, no error message, illegal operation or error reporting notification.
  • Gqview: Seems to be an image viewer, although this had issues reading from the CD-ROM. It does give shortcuts to popular image editing applications that are installed on the system for editing.
  • The GIMP: Popular and well-known Photoshop alternative
  • xPaint: Functions like MSPaint on Windows, a bit difficult to get used to, but once you get used to its interface its quite feature-packed.

Internet

  • Netscape: The popular web browser
  • KRN: Looks like a newsgroup browser/reader? Sadly without any network access were unable to test further
  • Kbiff: An email client

Do you see it Neo?

Shutting down Linux Mandrake

Windows Chicago Milestone 4 (Build 58)

One of the earliest Windows 95 builds

Install

An existing Windows 3.1 installation is required to launch setup, and this release can be considered an upgrade of sorts. However very little gets transferred over, likening it to a fresh install

Results of the hardware detection, our SoundBlaster 16 is not detected, and neither is our network card.

A crash towards the end of the setup, this left the VM unbootable and we had to reboot into MS-DOS to launch the Chicago installer again. Providing you told setup to install in a different folder (Chicago instead of WINDOWS) then you can easily boot back in Windows 3.x

Installing again fixed it, no hardware change was done. Could just be a random bug in the install?

Upon first boot, Windows ‘explorer’ will convert your program manager groups to the ones that Chicago will use.

You will see that what we know as Windows Explorer will be known as File Cabinet.

The File Cabinet looks a lot like My Computer from the final builds of Windows 95.

The Main program group, it seems there are still elements of the old Program Manager present.

Windows Metrics, also known as just Metrics lets you adjust various user interface components, and lets you save and apply certain themes. There are currently no themes included by default.

Disk drive information for both floppy drives and hard disk drives, looks a lot better and more detailed than the final release.

System Information, shows build version and the amount of memory installed. Resourceses refers to the Windows GDI.

What looks to be device manager, a lot of things here are incomplete and show up as blank dialog boxes.

A heavily dithered graphic.

Right-clicking and bringing up the properties pane.

The full file browser, known as the file cabinet. An issue I found was this build does not show more than five drives, which is possible if you attach multiple SCSI drives. Since the floppy drives are useless in this build you might as well get rid of them.

Viewing and modifying the screensaver. All of these came from Windows 3.1

Modifying the desktop background

A list of games, and a look at Minesweeper game that comes included

The task pane, also you can customise the size of the taskbar. This seems like a docking area where icons can pinned for quick access, instead of displaying the active windows like Windows does today. Instead the tasks window serves this purpose.

Software Compatability

Seems to be a very mixed bag in terms of what works and what fails to run. The full Win32 API has not been implemented so 32bit applications will not work and existing Windows applications seem to have a mixed compatability with some programs refusing to run or crashing.

Microsoft BOB

Installs but does not run. Instead a Dr Watson error comes up

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office 4.3 installs and runs without issues

Netscape

This is odd, it installed but then claims not to find the exe file when we try to open?

Opera

Opera browser, installs fine (in another language for some reason, despite English being selected)

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 3 had a 16bit release for Windows 3.1 which should work on Chicago build 58 but it’s unable to run

Simpsons Cartoon Studio

The application tried to run in full screen, but the task bar on the bottom remains visible. Alos the Office toolbar (From the Office 4.3 install) remains visible. Another thing to note was the game failed to start using the shortcut provided by the installer, and only worked instead by navigating to the CD-ROM drive and launching the CD-ROM executable from there.

Adobe Reader

Installs and works fine, but it looks like a few graphics are missing from the installer and are replaced instead by a white box. This could be a driver or emulation issue with the Cirrus Logic video card used.

Mac OS X Jaguar (10.2)

The third release of Mac OS X, let’s hope the bugs from the last version were fixed in this build. Some screenshots come from QEMU (4:3) and off a real PowerMac G4 (16:10)

The desktop, not much has changed from Puma, aside from a few new icons in the dock.

QEMU has a few issues running this build of OS X relating to the finder, where the main Finder window will not open correctly. As a workaround, you can click on the Go menu and then select the window you wish to open.

The emulated IDE controller also has a few issues with a blank/duplicate hard disk.

Install

Install procedure remains the same as the previous versions, with the ability to modify what components are installed. Print drivers were removed since we are never going to use them in QEMU, and we also dont need any additional languages.

Setup

After the install we are presented with the registration wizard.

Desktop

Appears mostly the same as Puma, although you lose the pinestripes out of the dock. Finder window appears to be the same as Puma, with some elements of Windows explorer included which gives it a browser-based feel with the back and forward buttons.

Rendezous is a feature that you will come across in OS X, this allows for local network devices to discover one another, typically used for media devices like DVR (Digital Video Recorder), and Printers. This was later renamed Bonjour, although the technology remains the same. In Safari you can view any local webpages offered by supported devices, such as the configuration webpage of certain routers, and in iChat you can use it to discover other users that have Rendevous enabled. Many OS X applications make use of this technology.

Sound: Works somewhat if you use the screamer audio builds from emaculation. It’s not very good quality audio with stuttering and crackling when playing mp3 audio via iTunes (This might have more to do with the emulated CPU running at 200MHz. Eventually the sound just gave up one time and I had to reboot the OS to get it back.

Applications

iTunes – Version 3 comes bundled with this release and serves as the default music player. This release predates the iPod and the iTunes store, and thus cannot sync without an update.

iChat – Apple’s alternative to MSN Messenger, which supports AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) accounts. works to some extent, whilst the online service will no longer allow sign-in from this client, we can enable Rendezvous chat to communicate with other compatible users, at least on the local network. iChat was originally intended to be used with AOL Instant Messenger.

DVD Player: Plays back DVD movies if your Mac is equipped with a DVD drive or a Combo (DVD Player with CD-R capability) or a Super drive. Also blocks screenshots when using the built-in grab tool.

iMovie: A basic video editor that lets you create home movies, complete with special effects using clips stitched from various video files, typically from a digital video camera. You can also add your own voice effects, allowing you to add commentary to your video. This is one of those apps that runs in full screen, hiding the dock.

iPhoto: Import pictures from your digital camera and organize them into various different albums, Different effects can be applied, and features a printing utility if you have a photo printer.

Address Book: Appears to have a brush aluminum appearance which would later influence the Finer window interface for Panther and Tiger

Sherlock: opens but refuses to load any channels, possibly its no longer online.

Photo Import: is a tool that transfers photos from a supported digital camera connected via USB, and can transfer files to your Documents directory. You can choose to import them all or manually select which images to transfer and if they need to be rotated. YOu can also set to delete the photos from the camera itself to free up space. A good utility but surely this could have been integrated into iPhoto.

Bundled in later updates:

Safari – Although mainly introduced in Panther, one of the OS X updates introduced Safari as an alternative browser. This was to replace Internet Explorer and would include its own rendering engine.

AirPort: Additional drivers are included in later releases of Jaguar, third-party cards are supported providing they are using a specific Broadcom-based chipset (The wireless card in my G4 is actually a BT Voyager branded PCI card). But you are still limited to WEP support, no WPA or WPA2.

Third-Party

RealPlayer: Popular video streaming application, before Youtube was king video clips and music videos were streaming using RealMedia .rm files. RealPlayer later evolved into a full-fledged MediaPlayer similar to iTunes or later versions of Windows Media Player

Opera: An alternative browser using the Presto rendering engine. This was from the era when Opera was a browser you had to pay for, but a free version existed that would show adverts.

Camino: A fork of Firefox designed to be built for use on Mac OS X, making full use and integration into the Finder.

Appleworks: Apple’s own productivity suite of applications that consists of a word processor, spreadsheet and desktop publishing. Technically this is first-party, but is not included with the OS install. Appleworks was never really popular, and many mac users would opt for Microsoft’s Office which had full compatibility with the mainstream file formats. In contrast, the CWK format was used to save text documents.

Norton Utilities: A must for early versions of Mac OS X, includes a set of tools to keep OS X running smoothly.

Fantavision

A PS2 techdemo turned into a game

It’s a simple game where you set off fireworks by combining various flares of the same colour together to set off a chain. You are limited to chaining flairs of the same colour together, but you can use the rainbow-colored flairs to combine flairs of a different colour. Bonus can also be combined to increase your score, and some will help spell out the word Starmine, which is used to enable a special mode to increase your score.
If you fail to set off a flare, you will lose a certain amount of life, which the game ends when this has been depleted, You can lose life even by chaining a few flares and have them go out since flares will last on screen for around 10 seconds. This does give a risk element when combining flares of multiple colours and means you will have to gamble between setting off your flares or waiting to see if you can increase your chain combo.

There is also a two-player mode which is similar to the single-player mode, but players have the ability to swap the screen with a unique powerup.

Red/Green/Blue: Common flair colours
Wild flare: this will be white and is one of the flairs that allows you to combine flares of different colors
Star item: Adds a letter to the Starmine meter below, appears as a star
Energy item: Replenishes your life meter, appears as the letter E
Bonus point: Multiplies your bonus score, appears as a letter B

After you complete a level, the game will automatically save a replay to your memory card which you can replay later, and can apply different effects and change the angle and the weather whilst you watch the fireworks.

When you complete all eight levels, the extra section is unlocked.

Music and Region differences

Each region has its own unique soundtrack which was meant to reflect the popular genre of the time. Europe as dance/trance-like music whilst the US has NewWave/Pop music. These also carry over into the cutscenes of the game.

On the topic of sound, this is one of the games that does not output audio over the PS2 Optical audio connection (sometimes known as S/PDIF) and you have to revert to the AV Multi out audio, I’m not sure why this is, or if the game is outputting audio my AV Receiver (Yamaha RX-V481D) does not understand.

Cutscenes

I’m not sure what relevance these have to the game, they seem to appear after every few levels showing a sub-urban family playing and talking with one another, set in a 1950s period,, yet you can see them playing with PS2 controllers. Since the later levels feature you being in space, maybe it’s a reference to the 1950s space race.

I’m more confused why the main menu has phonetic pronunciations of the above text?

A PS2 classic

Sony later re-released this game onto the PS4 as part of the PS2 classics, which is a collection of PS2 games running in an emulator. Here the game benefits from improved graphics as the emulator runs in a higher resolution and trophies.

Depending on your PSN Store region, you will get either the EU/ US or Japan version of the game with its own soundtrack. This can also mean if you’re in Europe, you’re still getting the PAL version of the game, complete with its 50Hz goodness, although it’s very hard to notice on the emulator (The PS4 will output 60Hz regardless of when the game is running)

Conclusion

Considering this was originally conceived as a tech demo, it’s a good title if you disregard the wacky cutscenes, and its music makes it compelling to play. Fantavision would be the only game of its type to be released on Sony, no sequels or ports to other systems were developed, shame since it would be ideal on the PSP or as a PSN exclusive title, a simple puzzle game that’s easy to get into.

DirecTivo

DirecTV partnered with Tivo to produce DVRs for the digital satellite TV services, alongside the UltimateTV. This would become the standard DVR for DirecTV subscribers from 1999 to 2005, when DirecTV introduced their own custom-developed units based on NDS middleware, similar to Sky+ in the UK. The last remaining Tivo DVR was the THR-22.

Typical Tivo units were manufactured by Humax, Sony and Hughes

Tivo channel banner

The channel information banner that shows what is currently being watched, a description of the current show, and icons on the right allow quick access to Tivo features

Tivo uses the thumbs Up/Down rating system for the user to provide feedback about the programs they prefer watching and the ones they prefer to avoid. This influences the Tivo suggestions that the DVR will record.

An iPreview icon, Pressing select or the thumbs up icon takes you to a Tivo Central message advertisement

The main EPG interface, Showing channels in a grid interface

Most of the Tivo menu are straight vertical lists and are easy to navigate with the remote control. You can customize the guide interface and set any additional filters

A list of recorder programs, when they were recorded and the channel they were recorded from

Tivo gives additional options when playing back a program, you can archive to a VCR instead, and you can prevent the Tivo from deleting the program if it needs more space.

DirecTV Tivo was integrated with DirecTV’s pay-per-view services, and movies/events could be recorded to its hard drive

You can add an additional buffer for recording TV programs to prevent them from being cut off in the event it overruns into the next program, similar to PDC (Program Delivery Control)

List of upcoming programs to be recorded

To Do List shows the programs Tivo is about to record as scheduled

You can filter to a specific genre of program

Choosing a channel and listing all the programs broadcast

Setting up a manual recording

Recording history for a show that was deleted.

Tivo will alert you if a program will not be recorded due to a schedule conflict, due to the limited amount of tuners

Tivos Recording history shows what was recorded, anything that didn’t record and what was deleted

Season passes are akin to series links, where the Tivo will record a series of episodes of the same show automatically. You can modify and remove these at any time

Upcoming episodes to be recorded, as part of a season pass

The time bar, shows how long you are into a recording, this appears when you pause, fast forward or rewind during a show.

The search feature, cab be used to find upcoming shows or movies

Wishlist main menu, you can set a Wishlist for a specific actor, and keywords (like the show title), you can then set a season pass to record any program matching that Wishlist keyword.

The results window when searching for a specific actor, any upcoming shows are listed that feature that actor

Again, very similar to the title keywords

Tivo showcases are like interactive apps containing clips that can be downloaded to your Tivo, they also serve as promotions for subscribers

Virtua Cop

An on-the-rails arcade shooting game, here you only have to worry about aiming and shooting and all the movement is done automatically. There is still a challenge though and fast reflexes are essential to get a good score in Virtua Cop. If you’ve played Time Crisis you will be familiar with the concept, but Sega have implemented different mechanics.

Don’t Shoot! Proceeds to run in front of player

By default you start off with the revolver, which is a standard pistol. Over the course of the game other weapons can be picked up like the shotgun or an automatic, which holds more ammunition and can fire more rounds without being reloaded, but can only be used through one ammo clip.
You will lose the additional weapon if you get shot by an enemy or if you hit a civilian, when this happens you will revert back to the standard revolver.

The whole objective of the game is to shoot the bad guys, whilst avoiding the civilians. Shooting a civilian will cause you to lose a life whilst shooting and disarming an enemy gives you a justice shot bonus. You can use the environment to help you, by shooting the red barrels you can create explosions that can take out several enemies.
Occasionally enemies will pop up on the screen and will throw an axe, you will need to shot them before their axe makes contact otherwise you will lose a life. These can take you by surprise, but remain consistent through multiple playthroughs, so over time you can memorise the enemy sequences.
Some enemies will also throw a grenade, you must shoot the grenade before it lands.

Levels:

There are three stages in total, at the end of each stage is a boss fight where you will need to shoot both the boss enemy and their projectiles.

Stage 1: Arms Black Market, Starts off on a shipping yard, where this is suspected criminal activity going on with the illegal import of weapons. The end boss is Kong, who uses a rocket launcher.

Stage 2: Underground Weapon Storage, Takes place on a construction site. Here the enemies start to become more frequent, with many popping up on screen, and environmental hazards involving vehicles now talking place. End boss here is called King (No, not the one from Tekken), and uses a flame flower that shoots balls of fire.

Stage 3: Gang Headquarters, We’re here in the EVL corporation headquarters. You fight shoot your way through the Skyscraper, through the various offices (equipped with Apple Macintosh Quadra 900s, guess we know what computers Sega was using back then). Here the enemies are a lot more quicker to react compared to the previous stages. At the end there are two gang bosses, Boss and Fang. Boss desk transforms into a mecha-suit that fires missiles, whilst Fang is an attack helicopter.

Versions

Arcade

Virtua Cop debuted on the original Model 2 arcade board and was a light gun based game. The player uses the gun to aim at targets to fire and shoot enemies. Reloading is done through aiming the gun away from the screen and shooting.
In total there are 3 stages, and can be played in any order. By default you have 5 lives, which can be amended in the games test mode. After all your lives have been lost, you need to insert credit in order to continue, but the game does allow you to pick up where you left off instead of starting from the first level again.

Sega Saturn

Sega ported the game to the Saturn in 1995 and was one of the fist games to be developed using the Saturn Graphics Library, which was intended to make it easier to develop games for the Saturn. Like other Model 2 to Saturn ports, the graphics quality has been reduced in order to adapt to the Saturn’s graphics hardware.
The Saturn does make use of pre rendered FMV for some of the opening sequences, however the arcade opening sequences is rendered in engine, although modified to account for the Saturn’s design.
The Saturn compensates for this with the addition of a couple of features like the training mode which helps you get used to the shooting mechanics by shooting a set amount of targets under a time limit. There is also a two player mode that can be access through the training menu.

The Saturn version also makes use of the Virtua Gun which is a light gun that functions only on CRT TV’s or the Saturn mouse.

Windows

Sega also ported the game to Windows in 1996 and makes use of DirectX X
Like the Saturn version it also features a couple of features. However it still lacks the visuals of the arcade, even though some high end systems of the time were capable of Model 2 like graphics. It’s likely Sega assumed most players would be using software rending as opposed to a dedicated 3D card, and designed the game as such rather than targeting high end hardware.

Settings screen in glorious Comic Sans, and when 640×480 was considered high res

The PC port does suffer from a few issue’s in regards to how it is controlled. Navigating the menus is a pain, as you have to use the keyboard arrow keys and the enter key to select, the mouse cannot be used at all. Seems like the game was designed to be used mostly with the gamepad. The mouse can be used to aim and shoot, with reloading being done by double clicking the right mouse button quickly.

In terms of support the game was meant to be used for Windows 95, but will also work with Windows 98. No support for NT (Not tested yet). The game makes use of DirectX 2 for its 3D API. There is also support for the Nvidia NV1 accelerator, which Sega’s early 3D PC titles had support for, this also makes use of a special executable that runs on that graphics card only. No modern API wrapper for that card exists, and many emulators (PCem/86Box/QEMU) have no support for this unique card.

As with all CD-ROM based games from this era, this makes use of CD Audio for the games background music. In order for this to play back you must have the game in a BIN/CUE format since this preserves the audio subchannel data. PCem and 86Box do support this form of audio when mounting those images directly into the emulator, providing the correct image format is used. On an actual system an IDE hard drive with the CD Audio header must be connected to the CD Audio port on the soundcard, otherwise the music will not play, modern SATA drives and onboard soundcards will likely lack this interface.

Ridge Racer Type 4

Widely considered to be the best in the Ridge Racer series, its soundtrack and the opening FMV are defiantly most memorable. This would be the last Ridge Racer game released for the original PlayStation.

The game improves on the mechanics from Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, complete with eight brand new tracks and a soundtrack that’s a complete departure from the drum & bass themes from the previous instalment. Graphics-wise the game sees a shift that pushes the PlayStation hardware to the extreme, thanks to the use of Gouraud shading that gives a shade of depth to the polygons, giving the game a realistic appearance.

To keep a stable 30FPS, which was the game’s target framerate, certain changes are made to the enemy opponents, where you only have up to 4 cars on screen at the same time, of which the AI-controlled cars are more spread out across the track. In contrast to the early titles where you will pass multiple cars in the same area, in R4 the opponents feel spaced out and you pass by them in a linear fashion.

Grand Prix

There is a story mode of some sort, you can choose from four teams that will have their own unique manager representing the company. Here you have a direct dialog that gives more detail into the backstory of the teams and how they tie into the Ridge Racer Grand Prix. After every race you will have a meeting with them and their dialog is dependent on how you perform (which place you finish in). There is no dialogue for when you lose or fail to qualify, as the game will prompt you to retry or will go straight to a game over screen.
The team choice will also affect the ending epilogue (although on some emulators there is a bug that causes only the MMM epilogue to play)

The Teams

Four teams come with Ridge Racer Type 4, all of which are some reference to another Namco arcade game franchise.

Conversation with your team representative

Micro Mouse Mappy: A French racing team led by Sophie Chevalier. The easiest team in the game which is recommended for new players.
R.T.S: Lead by Enki Gilbert, He starts off as a perfectionist, expecting you to come in first place in every race but eventually softens u after learning of the Pac Racing Club’s entry. Its implied the manager looks to the player as a second son, due to his actual son being involved in an accident that cost him his life. Towards the end he wants the player to take the race easy, fearing history could repeat again like the death of his son.
Dig Racing Team: My favorite team since I like the underdog teams, They’re a struggling team that is under budget and as a result will enable to provide fast cars from a majority of the races, meaning you will need to rely on skill in order to get ahead of the competition.
Pac Racing Club: Lead by Shinji Yazaki, seems to only care about the results of the race, but will open up over time about a past Gran Prix where Enki’s son died during a race in which he was involved in.

The Cars

There are lots of cars included in the game, over 320 in fact. Many of these are unlocked by beating the Grand Prix modes across various teams and car manufacturers.

Garage cars are the cars you unlock during the Grand Prix events and can come from four manufacturers, across four different teams, giving 16 different design variations. However the game will reward you with a different car depending on your performance of the early events, ie, if you come 1st 2nd or 3rd during the first heat, will influence the type of upgrades you have, which the game counts as an additional car. Therefore in order to unlock all cars, you have to play the Grand Prix with the same manufacturer/team combo several times, coming deliberately in 3rd/2nd and 1st place for each run.
The garage can only hold a limited amount of cars, and will you have to swap out locked cars in order to play them in time attack or link/multiplayer.

There are also a few preset cars that are already unlocked for use in time attack or for two-player mode, these are also in grip or drift varieties. These don’t seem to have any defined name, other than Preset G3, Preset D4, etc. Most players will refer to them by the color, which comes in (red, black/Grey, white or yellow)

And then you have the cars unlocked using the extra trials, you can only unlock these by winning a Grand Prix with a specific manufacturer, although the team does not matter much, except for the performance tuning.

The Tracks

  • Helter Skelter: The first track you will probably play, set in Japan Yokohama and shares with Out Of Blue. A good track that serves as an introduction to the game’s drift mechanics and style. The song Pearl Blue Soul always plays on this course.
  • Wonderhill: The second track that is played on a late spring afternoon that gives a sunset sky. This track shares with the Heaven and Hell track that appears later in the game. The music on this track can differ if you are racing with the RTS team (Revlimit Funk plays), otherwise Naked Glow will usually play, and it really suits this course
  • Edge of the Earth: Set at night in an airport that leads into a small city, one of my favourite courses since you can go full speed, but also must be mindful of the courses.
  • Out of Blue: In contrast to the previous track, this one is set very early in the morning and shared with Helter Skelter, with OOB separating into its own path, which features locations near a shipping dock. Some of the scenery here reminds me of the original Ridge Racer track. The corners on this track can be brutal, so make sure you are used to the car’s handling.
  • Phantomile: It’s a very short course in comparison to the others, and the corners are rather savage. The Motor Species song always plays for this course. Also just so happens this race is set on the same day as my birthday.
  • Brightest Nite: Another course set at night time, this one also shares with Edge of the Earth. This one is set later at night and features a huge drop towards the end of the tack
  • Heaven and Hell: Shares with Heaven and hell, although it’s set earlier in the day which gives off a different feel of the track, being much brighter.
  • Shooting Hoops: The last track to race and it’s a good and simple one, set at midnight of December 31st 1999 on the eve of the new millennium. The song Movin’ in Circles always plays for this track and on the last lap you can see fireworks being set off as the new millennium is upon us (Cue airplanes falling out of the sky due to the Y2K bug)

Vs and Link Battle

Link battle adds the ability to play with up to four different players, across two consoles. This is similar to how early titles handled multiplayer where two consoles are connected together using the official link cable, along with two displays and copies of the game.
If the game detects another console connected using the serial link cable, the link battle option will appear in the main menu. Sadly in PCSX-R whilst we are able to establish a link between two instances with a Linux Virtual machine (running Ubuntu & Pop_OS), the speed is incredibly slow and unplayable, and whilst we can navigate the link mode menus, the game will display an error message when we try to start the race.

The regular VS mode can also be accessed by having two controllers connected to the console, where the game plays in a split-screen mode allowing for both racers to race at the same time through one console. You can combine this with the link battle to have a total of four players in a single race, with two players per console.

The multitap is not supported here, only a maximum of two players per console.

Further Information

Decal Editor

Like in Rage Racer, a decal can be created and applied to your team’s car which can be any pattern. Here the PlayStation mouse is best used

The Namco NeGcon is fully supported for steering and acceleration, in addition to the DualShock analog sticks.

A visual blur effect can be applied when a race is being replayed, activated by pressing the L1 or R1 buttons.

Tekken 3

The attitude era of Tekken

Taking place several years after Tekken 2 and featured several new characters and a few from the previous instalment. Tekken 3 introduces several new gameplay mechanics that take advantage of the 3D fighting environment, with the ability to sidestep

Versions

Like earlier installments, Tekken 3 was released to arcades first in 1996, then ported to the PlayStation in 1998

Arcade

The arcade version ran on an upgraded PlayStation based board, known as Namco System 12 which featured a higher clocked processor (48MHz vs 33Mhz) and slightly more VRAM (2MB vs 1MB) This game Tekken 3 had the ability to run at a higher polygon count allowing for more detailed characters, along with its background stages to me more detailed thanks to the increased VRAM. This gives a 3D-like effect to the background, and you can see them being more vibrant, especially on Howoarg’s stage. On King’s stage, there is a helicopter that does not show up in the console released, and on Xiayou’s stage, a moving carousel can be seen.
Sound is provided by the Namco C352, accompanied by the Hitachi H8 3002 processor. A unique feature of the sound is that the background music progress depending on the current round your character is on, reach round 2, and the sound changes to another verse/segment, round 3 and another segment plays before looping back to the start segment for round 4 onwards. This all depends if you have configured the game to have 3 or more rounds, by default Tekken 3 is set for two rounds (A third is possible if the opponent wins).

At the start, there are only a few characters playable, with the rest being locked/hidden. Namco implemented a time-based unlock that would unlock characters depending on the amount of time the arcade machine was left on. Thankfully there is a MAME cheat to unlock all characters instantly, so you don’t need to leave the emulator running. Also, all hidden characters share the same background music, due to how uncommon they are and the limited ROM storage, whilst the PlayStation port gives them their own unique music as part of the arranged soundtrack.


The arcade release would later be ported to the PS2, as part of a bonus feature of Tekken 5, This one retains all the graphic enhancements from the System 12 version.
The original Japanese arcade release had Jun as her own character, with her own portrait panel. But her character model uses Nina’s and has Jin’s move set. She will appear in the attract screen character usage statistics once you have completed arcade mode as her. Sake is another unused character but this one is more incomplete. Later arcade releases remove her and Sake as playable characters, and they do not appear at all in any home console release.

PlayStation

Compared to other Tekken arcade to console releases, Tekken 3 required some conversion time as the home console was a lot more contained compared to the arcade version. One notable difference was the change in the stage background, opting for a more flat box-like look compared to the detailed arcade background, The character models also went to a polygon diet and a minor reduction in resolution to keep the game running at 60fps.
However Namco made up for it with the added content, with a newly arranged soundtrack that remixes samples from the arcade original soundtrack, plus each unlockable character has their own background audio track.

Tekken Force is a new game mode that puts you in a beat-em-up environment. Your character has to progress through a series of stages (4 in total). Each stage has a boss character which will be one of the playable Tekken characters before they face Heiachi at the final stage.


Additional game modes include team battle mode, time attack mode, and a movie/music player that can playback ending movies for unlocked characters, and also supports Tekken 2 and the original Tekken if an unlocked save file is found.

Tekken 3 remains one of my favorite fighting games and is a joy to go back and play every now and then, for both the arcade and home versions. Whilst I still enjoy the modern Tekken games, they seem to be a bit too heavy and take a while to load and to get into a game. Tekken 6’s load times were horrible, even after installing it to an SSD.

Quick Comparison