Category Archives: Arcade

California Speed

Another racing game for the Nintendo 64 set around California (Along with Rush 2, well that’s just San Francisco) Gameplay is similar to the Cruis’n USA games where you race from point A to B in a single lap, rather than a looping track.

Arcade

Multiple versions of the game exist, this is version 2.1a of the game.

This is one of the few arcade games that runs off a hard disk, thus required a separate CHD file in order for it to run in MAME. Hard disks gave advantages compared to the CD_ROM drive as they were still able to offer a lager storage capacity and faster loading times, important for arcade games since the user does not want to wait for the game to load. Typically most arcade game uses surface mount ROM chips that stored the game data.

The arcade version of the game runs on a MIPS based CPU paired with the 3DFX graphics accelerator. You can race in a similar fashion to Cruis’n USA with ‘Do the state’ – in this mode you complete a series of races

The arcade version is also uncensored, as you are able to hit people in the mall (this can be an optional settings within the games setup mode) hitting them just causes them to scream and bound away down the track in a comedic fashion.

Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 version alters the tracks somewhat, to address the limitations of the N64 hardware. The music was also altered to fit in with the limitations of the Nintendo 64. Gameplay remains the same although car handling can be tricky due to the analogue stick.

As mentioned in the arcade version, some elements of the game have been removed, most notably are the track/trophy girls that appear when you win a race and the removal of people in the mall track.

The game was officially released for NTSC (America) regions, a PAL version was planned and a ROM of it exists but was never released to market, until now.

Comparison

Arcade

Nintendo 64

Start screen, the arcade version had an attract sequence, whilst the N64 version shows a static screen that cuts to a demo sequence

Winning a race on the arcade version causes a group of bikini clad girls to appear to celebrate your win, which don’t appear on the N64 version. On the arcade version, the effect looks creepy because they sometime appear when you can is still moving and since they follow the car, it looks like they are moving at 30mph whilst standing still…

The track selection screen, the arcade version looks similar to the crusinUSA screen. The N64 version is split into different series of racing, known as Light, Sport. Each series has 5 tracks to race accross different weeks, which unlocks cars.

The LSD tunnel in San Francisco track

The start lady appears when the race begins for the arcade version, she does not appear in the N64 version

Entrance to the LSD tunnel, building resembles a workstation PC of the era. Although the front looks more like a PC speaker

Tree are much more detailed in the arcade version

The pier section, just before the rollercoaster part

Inside the LSD building which also simulates parts of a computer, you can see the 3DFX chip in the arcade version, and the Nintendo/SGI chip for the N64

Drving on the rollercoaster, the arcade version has a better draw distance with the sky being visible, the N64 is fogged out

Rave Racer

The third arcade instalment of the Ridge Racer series, and the first actual sequel/spin-off, since Ridge Racer 2 was mostly the same as the original except for the revised soundtrack, a revised HUD and multiplayer support.

The music has also been revised with some completely new tracks covering techno/house and electronica genres, and some familiar ones – rare hero returns as a remix. Sadly this gets ruined by the two race announcers who insist on polluting the sound-waves with their rambling takes. The first one is a female sounding voice who is supposed to be the main announcer and has a tendency to repeat the same lies constantly (Go GO GOO This race is yours!!!) She also voices the attract screen. The second announcer is a male voice who seems to be one of the rival cars.

Namco always put a lot of detail into the track environments of their Ridge Racer games, and there are many references to their other arcade and console titles via the use of track billboards or building signs. A lot of this detail gets missed do to how fast paced the game is, and the arcade nature of the game. Many players are not going to stop and admire the buildings close up, which is where MAME and the no-collision cheats comes in.

Once nice detail that gets over looked, in the demo attract sequence, you can see the brake discs heat up as they are applied!

Novice Track

This is the same novice track from the first Ridge Racer game, but has updated textures which give it a more detailed look. Some buildings have been altered but the layout of the track remains the same.

The crowd looks different compared to the Ridge Racer version.

The end of the alternative tunnel path, which is normally blocked off and inaccessible. Seems to lead into the abyss…

Outside of the bridge in the first segment of the track

Closer view of the shops,

Getting a closer view of the shops near the beach

Driving in the grass, the peds here are unanimated

Hotel Ghost?

Out of the track and a view of the tower in the background, unfortunately we cannot drive to it since it disappears

A hotel, lets see what the sign says

Laperopter?

Building that reads Nyanta Nyanta, unsure what that means

On the novice track there is a section that is blocked off, which leads to a track on the Advanced course, driving past here just leads to a empty void, since the world here isn’t populated

Another view from a out of bounds perspective

Continuing to drive out, the world here isn’t populated

Namco advertising their TR3 chipset that was Co-developed by Evans&Sutherland. Billboard reads Texture mapping Real-Time Real-Visual rendering system

An advert for that other fighting game Namco is known for

Driving on the sea, a closer look at the boats

City

A new track that was previously exclusive to Rave Racer but has since reappeared in the PSP version of Ridge Racer, This one is set in a more urban environment with a rolling highway.

At the start of the track you can turn around 180 degrees and drive through a highway, you can do this without the use of cheats. You can drive until you reach a tunnel, where the game teleports you back out of the tunnel at a higher speed.

A no-clip like view of the world

A look at the city, and a Pac&Pal store

Another system 22 advert, namco were really pround to show their arcade technology off

Another TR3 billboard

Mappy.png

I don’t know if the transparency was intentional or they just forgot

Another noclip like view, except im nearly colliding with a helicopter. Theres no collision data so your car just clips right through the heli

View of the stadium, where LiberoGrande takes place

A view of the industrial section of the track

Mountain

An alternative view of the mountain track, which normally cannot be seen within the game

Carefull…

I later learnt that this is an invisible wall, but when your collides with it at a certain speed the game teleports you to the bottom section, Driving into it at 10mph would just cause the car to bounce back to the track.

Some sort of casino??

Roadside Sign

A gas station for when you need to refill your car, although this inst a game mechanic, cars in Ridge Racer do not have fuel

Who’s that?

Cup Ball, some sort of bowling center?

Buildings have no rendering data at the back of them, so the textures just disappear

Same Laperopter building in the first track

Better view of the spooky hotel ghost, seems Namco recycled building models to conserve ROM space

The cow wants its milk back

Going up the ramp, however the car clips through it

These tracks would remain exclusive to the arcade, and would not appear in any console version until the PSP version of Ridge Racer, I wonder what changes were made and if any buildings were kept?

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

What a mouthful

A gem based puzzle game, soft of similar to columns, but instead of matching 3 of the same colours, you have gems and crash gems which are used to destroy a gem of the same colour, and sends a counter gem to the rival player. The game does feature various Capcom characters but they are not directly controllable, merely appearing as avatars. The game is over when the players gems reach the top, similar to Tetris.

Arcade

Arcade version uses an arbitrary resolution. One nice feature is when the blocks are beginning to stack up, the music starts to speed up. As the arcade was the original released, the console and PC versions are based on this version.

PlayStation

Supports both memory cards, Seems to have some overscan (Could be due to the emulator), this can be adjusted in the game settings

Sega Saturn

Saturn version seems to run in a higher resolution compared to the PSone version (Could also be emulator related), also in the Saturn version, Dan randomly interrupts a match in arcade mode, which I have never encountered in the PSone version. The loading times are faster compared to the PSone and Windows version.

Microsoft Windows

The game was ported to the PC. The specs required are higher than I thought, which might be an indicator of a poor port. When running on a PCem based Pentium MMX 100Mhz, there was notable slowdown at 640×480 (not the lowest resolution supported) The graphics card was an ATI Mach64 VT2. Running at 800×600 was near unplayable. A Pentium 2 with a S3 Trio64 gave better resolution.

A nice side effect is the music of the game can be played in any media player, since they are wav files, even the sound effects, They are located in the BGM folder. There is also an EMI folder that contains a bunch of files with the EMI extension, which I’m guessing relates to the background and sprite graphics. There is also a goodies folder which contains images that are also in the goodies section of the game, plus a zip file with a Windows theme. The PlayStation also appears to use the EMI format, but the Saturn does not.

There’s an exe file in the movie folder on the PlayStation version, but trying to run it on windows 98 results in an invalid Win32 application error, trying tor un it from does gives a ‘Program too big to fit in memory’ error

Desktop Theme

Desktop theme

A desktop theme comes bundled in the GOODIES folder which can be installed

Comparison

Saturn version (middle) is run on the RetroArch Yabause core with default settings, PlayStation (left) is using the BeetlePSX HW core which also with default settings, the arcade version is on the right.

The graphics are mostly the same across the different versions, with the PC version having the ability to run at a higher resolution.

Score Ranking

Main Menu

Demo

Gameplay

Cruis’n USA

Wooo! ahhh! ohhhh – The House Special Lady

A racing game set across the USA, you play from point A to point B with a single lap, giving the impression you are travelling through (Cruising) the USA. Each track has unique scenery and opponents, with rival cars and traffic becoming a hinderance, thankfully the controls are easy to adapt although collision detection can be an issue.

Not to be confused with Cruising in my 64, An Eazy-E song

Tracks

All of these tracks are set around different parts of the USA, and vary in environmental scenery and difficulty.

Golden Gate Park: The first track in the game which features the golden gate bridge. Very easy with only slight bends and wide roads

San Francisco: Featuring rolling hills and an increase of traffic from the previous track, ends with a tunnel.

US 101: Set in a rural desert, the track here is narrower and features a lot more bends, there are also gaps in the road which your car must drive over

Redwood Forest: Continuing from the desert and into the forest, the road here is a lot more narrow which gives little space to navigate through opposing traffic and rival cars.

Beverly Hills: Featuring Bel-Air style houses and mansions along with the Hollywood sign. The scenery here can be distracting so try to focus and concentrate on the road.

LA Freeway: There’s a lot more traffic on this one

Death Valley: Sounds a bit morbid but is set in a rural desert area, this one also features a narrow road so watch for traffic

Arizona: Set in a rural desert in the first half, this one has powerlines as obstacles that can be knocked down but will impact your cars speed.

Grand Canyon: Drive through the Grand Canyon itself, again has powerlines as obstacles that can be knocked down, also features Mount Rushmore

Iowa: Set on rural green farm which looks more like an English countryside, has narrow roads and powerline obstacles and a toll booth which you have to be careful not to hit the hubs in between

Chicago: Features factories and an urban like environment with large buildings and an underpass. Be careful not to hit the overhead railway columns

Indiana: Very similar to Iowa

Appalachia: Track with a bumpy road and a lot of curves and hills, defiantly one of the more challenging tracks.

Washington DC: The final stage with a lot of nice scenery but equally as difficult as Appalachia, Ends with a money tunnel

Completing Cruse the USA mode unlocks a faster car, and the arcade features a very special ending FMV featuring the then current Present and the First Lady

Arcade Version

Released in 1994 on the Midway V Unit arcade board, it was one of the early textured 3D racers alongside Ridge Racer and Daytona USA.

Not much is known about Midway’s V unit 3D hardware, originally believed to be based upon the Nintendo Ultra 64 that was in development at the time, however closer inspection of the specification revels the hardware to be very different. With the V Unit running a Texas Instruments TMS32031 CPU at 50Mhz compared to the NEC VR4300 MIPS CPU in the Nintendo 64. Whilst the N64 is complemented by the SGI Reality co-processor, the V unit uses an currently unknown 3D processor, which accelerates the 3D graphics used. As it was released in 1994, there are a few possible vendors:

  • A PC graphics accelerator like the Yamaha Tasmania 3D or Matrox Millennium
  • SGI (Possible the V Unit is a very early design of the N64? unlikely since SGI have always used MIPS CPU’s, unless they wanted to cut costs and use a TI CPI instead)
  • Or it could be an entirety custom chip Midway had designed…

The boot screen of the arcade version is interesting, the first seems to going into some hardware test routine, whilst the second looks like its downloading something off a remote server, or simulating it. OS-WMS is mentioned, and the next line reads WMS Satellite COMM, CHANNEL 42, which makes me think the game was capable of being distributed over the air via satellite? its not out of the ordinary since that’s how Nintendo’s Stellaview worked, and BSB’s data service allowed you to broadcast data in the early hours of the morning whilst its TV channels were off air. The last command looks like it’s trying to retrieve something off an external FTP server, despite the game being stored in ROM. These messages appear every time you start the game, so its not some first-time utilisation process.

Graphics-wise its similar in vein to the other arcade racers of the time, Ridge Racer and Daytona USA, however this is clearly running on lower-end hardware with the framerate and resolution being reduced. Winning first place nets you a free race (adjustable in the games test modes) otherwise you will need to add credit to progress onto the next track. Completing the game gives you an ending cut-scene set on top of the White House.

Nintendo 64 Versions

Released early in the N64 life, Cruis’n USA took a downgrade in the resolution and censored a few aspects of the game. The former caused critism since this was one of the first racing games on the Nintendo 64, and the game was promoted as being built on Nintendo 64 technology, so it was expected to be a perfect port of the game. Meanwhile the PlayStation enjoyed a satisfactory port of Ridge Racer, however by that point it was already two years old by the time it was released in 1996, had the N64 came out in 1995 as originally planned, the port may have been better received.

NTSC

Graphics took a reduction in this version with the textures being downgraded to fit into the Nintendo 64 memory limitations. The framerate is also inconsistent, since having many cars and track objects on screen to reduce it to a crawl, which can frequently happen when you crash into another car, CPU cars will also crash into you and have no awareness of the track, often resulting in a slideshow when there are a lot of cars and track objects on screen. Saying that, the N64 does benefit from perspective correction, which means no warping polygons or textures, and there is also bilinear filtering for the textures, although for this game the arcade unfiltered textures look better.

The sound has also been altered, since the Nintendo 64 didn’t have a dedicated sound processor and had to render the sound on either the CPU or the reality co-processor, depending on how the game was designed, the arcade version has extra fidelity since it was done using the Midway DCS sound system.

One other thing to mention was the saving issues on the Everdrive64, as the game uses the gamepak in order to save data, but upon starting the game it complains about the pack being corrupted/invalid and will not start, removing the gamepak results in another error messages instructing you to insert the pak back into the controller. The only was to start the game was to boot without the controller-pak connected, which results in the game saving to the cartridge memory, which the Everdrive can emulate.

Comparison

Left: Nintendo 64 – Right: Arcade, which has the indicator on the bottom

Textures are generally more detailed on the arcade release, but the Nintendo 64 makes use of texture filtering with the arcade being unfiltered.

N64 version looks more blurry, whilst the arcade version looks sharper.

Transmission select screen

Heads up display of both versions, the N64 compensates of the PAL/NTSC overscan by creating a buffer for the HUD design. The arcade cabinet has illuminated lights which indicated the games status which MAME emulated as an on screen display which can be seen at the bottom.

An example of censorship of the N64 version, either that or the woman must have felt cold. A nice feature with the arcade version was you got a free race if you came in first place (dependant on that feature being enabled in the games settings)

I wonder if that’s the same Matt Booty at Microsoft Studio’s?

Ridge Racer

One of the first textured 3D racing games, and mostly known of being a launch title on the first PlayStation console. However it appeared a year earlier in the arcades. The arcade version runs on much more powerful 3D hardware, runs in a higher resolution, a higher framerate (60fps vs 30fps on the PS1) thanks to it’s Evans & Sutherland 3D hardware, which was previously used to power their simulations and CAD hardware.

Arcade

Released to the arcades in 1993 and running on the System 22 hardware, which was in direct competition with Sega’s Daytona USA and Midway’s Crusin USA.

PlayStation

The game was ported to the original PlayStation in 1994 as a launch title, and was considered to be an acceptable port of the arcade despite the downgrade made in order to run on the PlayStation hardware. The PlayStation port has support for the Namco neGcon controller, that allows the player to replicate analogue steering by twisting the controller as at the time the dual analogue controller wasn’t available.

Ridge Racer Hi-Spec

Runs in a resolution of 320×480 which is higher than the original release but less than the arcade version. The main attraction to this version is the 60fps upgrade and the gouraud shading, which enhances the graphics greatly. However there are only two cars on the track, with only 1 in time attack, and the texture quality has been reduced slightly. I had to disable texture filtering and display then unfiltered since it just looked like an N64 game. The polygon count of the cars and track may also have been educed, since the guide mentions optimised textures and polygons.

This build of the game was bundled on the Ridge Racer Type 4 bonus disc, and was not a standalone version of the game. It was meant to showcase a 60fps game on the original PlayStation hardware, and what sacrifices were needed no be made, as Namco were keen for later Ridge Racer titles to be running in 60fps. Ridge Racer V for the PlayStation 2 would be the first home game to be running at 60fps.

Zeebo

The game was ported to the Zeebo, a home console released in Brazil by TecToy and QUALCOMM, graphics have been slightly altered and the music is rendered entirely in MIDI.

Comparison

PSone on the left, using moderate enhancements in the Duckstation emulator with the Mame emulation of the arcade in the middle and the Hi-Spec version on the right, I wanted to see if I could get the PSone version to match the arcade in terms of image quality by upping the resolution to 640×480 and enabling texture filtering, something with System 22 lacked.

Arcade emulation seems to have issues rendering the flag, which is supposed to flap freely, maybe a physics issue with one of the Texas Instrument DSP?

The game isn’t a straight port and some design changes had to be made, the HUD has been changed around and the track objects have also changed. Some buildings have also been changed to be in line with the PSone limitations. On the right you can see the effects of the shading which affects the art style slightly, giving a more realistic look. The ground textures have also been altered.

It’s worth mentioning that System 22 also supported gouraud shading, but Ridge Racer did not utilise it until Rave Racer in 1995.

Sunset differences between the two ports, The Hi-Spec mode does not have a night time version.

Game over is rendered in 3D for the arcade version, a static image on both PSone versions.

Comparison of the night sky, In the middle of a race the sun will set on the intermediate and time trials courses, to simulate a Le Mans race, the arcade shot is taken from one of the attract demos.

Boundary Break (Arcade)

With the help of some cheats in MAME, we are able to disable the collision detection, allowing us to move outside of the track. This gives some interesting close ups of some in game environment buildings.

Ridge Racer System 22

A look of the city from a different angle

Ridge Racer System 22

In the first tunnel, there is a path that is blocked off and is inaccessible

Ridge Racer System 22

A closer look at the other tunnel, with a view of the cars, normally these aren’t directly accessible. Namco used lower resolution models of the cars, since you typically see these driving in a distance.

Ridge Racer System 22

Another closer view of the cars, the tunnels ends abruptly to the outside, and the cars just disappear, and respawn at the other side after a few seconds.

Ridge Racer System 22

Before the end of the tunnel, theirs an intersection to another tunnel, which leads to a dead end

Ridge Racer System 22

The ground near the bridge, you can see the low detail textures, since System 22 didnt support texture filtering, giving a minecraft appearance

Ridge Racer System 22

Another shot of the beach, sometimes if you break out of a track early on, your car remains on a higher evaluation allowing for a top down view for later sections of the game

A look at the buildings near the beach

Ridge Racer System 22

A closer look at the crowd at the start of the game

Tire Garage Starblade, one of the shops near the overpass. Starblade was a 3D rail shooter

The buildings lack modelling towards the rear, since this view would not be available normally in the game. Also note the gap in the Sky where a bit of the blue sky is visible. Seems Namco displayed an overlay across the sky when it was night time, something the MAME emulator has issues replicating accurately.

Italian tomato, some sort of resturant or obscure namco game?

A closer view of the construction site, the trucks are levitating…

Ridge Racer System 22

View of the city, some of the building’s are quite long

The boats in the beach section

One of the many restaurants near the beech, this building appears multiple times. Also this game predates lightning effects, as the game is supposed to in night time mode but the building appear as if its daytime, however in the starting section, the buildings do change to a night time effect.

A distant island, near the marina

Another restaurant building

Ridge Racer System 22

Alternative view of the dead end tunnel, I’d like to try and do this to the PSOne version.

Todo: Mjlonir emulator was capable of running the system 22 versions of Ridge Racer with graphics acceleration, but as it was based on an older version of MAME it suffered from a lot of emulation and graphics issues, and uses an outdated rom set. Vivanonno was another emulator that was worth a look at.