Category Archives: PlayStation

Driver: You are the Wheelman

A classic game, Shame about the tutorial level…

  • Undercover – The main story mode of the game, you complete a set of missions which can range from driving from point A to B within a set amount of time, to escaping or pursuing another car
  • Take a Ride – Sandbox mode, only two cities are available with the other two being unlocked as you progress through the story.
  • Driving Games – A set of activities to choose from, Pursuit, Getaway, Cross Town Checkpoint, Trail Blazer, Survival and Dirt Track. Carnage is a mode exclusive to the PC version.
  • Training – Introduction to the came and the various mechanics and techniques to mastering Driver
  • There are no two player or multiplayer modes, Driver is a single player game.
Desert training level

PlayStation

The version that most people have played and are familiar with. This was the first version of the game to be released. Main attraction was the sandbox Take a Ride mode where you could drive freely until you caught the attention of the police, who would then proceed to ram you to death.

Cop car went vertical, a common occurrence

The game occupies on memory card block per story save, and two blocks for replay data, you can easily fill a memory card with this data, thankfully the game

PAL-land version

Thankfully this game runs in full PAL resolution, no top/bottom bars, likely since the studio that developed the game was based in Europe. There is a difference in the logos, with the NTSC version having a altered blue version of the logo with the works ‘You are the wheelman’ which is also present in the games title. The PC version adapts this for both Europe and US markets (Makes sense since the PC isn’t regionalized compared to the PlayStation releases, PAL/NTSC does not exist on PC)

Windows

Despite this version running in a higher resolution and a capability of having a higher framerate there are a few drawbacks compared to the PlayStation version. there was also a Mac version, although I believe its very similar to the PC version.

Screenshots here are running on an emulated PC (PCem v17), running an Intel Advanced/ZP with a Overdrive MMX processor with a 3DFX Voodoo Graphics card. The operating system is Windows Me. The graphics here will depend on the 3D video card an API, as 3DFX cards used Glide, the Direct3D version may look different.

Differences between the two

One of the main differences is the background music which was changed in the PC version. Also unlike the PlayStation version, there are no separate themes for when you gain felony, in the PlayStation version the music would change when you attracted the attention of the cops, but the PC version remains the same throughout. As someone who grew up on the PS1 version, it was kind of jarring to play Miami without the familiar theme, and for the game to not change when catching the cops attention.

Comparison screenshots below, the PSX version is running in Duckstation at twice the native resolution (640×480) with bilinear filtering and 2x anti-aliasing enabled. With these enhancements we can try to bring the PSX version up to the PC version, which is running at 640X480 resolution with ultra graphics present.

One thing to mention with the PC version, as with all PC games of the era the game is reliant on using Redbook CD audio for the background music, where the games streams the music from the disc itself, like an audio CD. For this to work you had to have an audio cable connected from the CD drive to the motherboard or soundcard, in addition to the IDE cable. On modern systems (with SATA drive onwards) this is no longer supported, and modern Windows versions / soundcards its no longer possible to stream analogue audio from the CD drive, instead being delivered through the IDE or SATA interface, which this game won’t support. The game itself will still run and you can still hear sound effect like the car engine, but you wont hear any music.

  • The spawn points are also different for each of the maps/level, again not sure why these were changed
  • The map layouts were also changed, with some areas being remodelled completely, Dodge Island had a massive change, possibly since it was designed around the PlayStations limitations initially.
  • The cop radio voices were also changed, with some lines being completely different
  • A speedometer is present which gives the speed of the players car in miles per hour
  • The car models themselves had change and I cant say I prefer the PC version of the cards, which are lacking certain details from their textures, the back of the cards look like a blur compared to the PlayStation version.

Upgrading the PlayStation version

Modern emulators are capable of running the game in a higher resolution with additional smoothing effects. Unfortunately there is little we can do for the framerate, that’s stuck at 30fps, or 25 for Pal-land copies. Still at least there’s no boarder, and you can overclock the PlayStation CPU on some of these emulators, which helps with the slowdown when there’s a lot of cars and particle effects on screen.

The game can be upscaled to 640×480 or 800×600, which the PC version also natively supports. Depending on the emulator, higher resolutions can be used but I don’t recommend it unless the emulator supports perspective correction, otherwise those polygons will be jittering aggressively. This video will help explain further on why this occurred on PlayStation games.

Texture filtering can be hit or miss, whilst it helps smooth out the textures, due to the way the PlayStation handled 2D, it can affect the HUD display too, causing excessive blurring on the HUD, making it look like an N64 game.

Exploring the disc

In the NFMV folder there is a exe file called NFMV.EXE however this does not open even in older versions of Windows

Rugrats: Search for Reptar

A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do

Sony’s best exclusive

One of my favourite childhood games from the PlayStation, objective of the game is to find Tommy’s Reptar pieces that are scattered all around the house by completing various mini games. Rugrats Search for Reptar was only released for the Sony PlayStation

First we need to talk about the Pickles Home, what has been rendered entirely within the games engine, and servers as a gateway to the mini games that need to be completed. It’s a pretty nice house consisting of 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living area, kitchen and a study room, along with a garage. Its very faithful to the TV show, at least from the episodes I’ve seen, a lot of cartoon shows tent to remodel the house to suit the plot. It’s probably one of my favourite cartoon house alongside the Simpsons house which I got to explore in Virtual Springfield. Whilst rendered in a 3D environment, the art style tries to be faithful to the shows animation.

Some areas of the house are locked out initially, but when you enter a specific level they are available like the garage, I put this down to memory limitations of the PSX because some rooms that were previously explorable are disabled in some levels. An example of this was the Chuckie’s glasses level which opens the garage area, but removes the basement and garden area for that level. Some objects of the house can be interacted with, mainly Tommy’s toys which can be thrown or picked up.

Activities

Easy

Chuckie’s Glasses

Its raining outside and Angelica decided to play Hide & Seek with the babies, volunteering Chuckie’s to find them. However to make it fair, she takes his glasses, using Chuckie, you have to find and tag the babies (Phil, Lil, Tommy) and race them back to the play pen. It’s fairly easy and you get to explore the Rugrats house as you play, there’s no time limit and if one of the babies win you simply have to find that Rugrat again, although its gave over if they beat you three times.

Ice Cream Mountain

Stu wants to go golfing, he take the kids and promises a huge ice cream mountain, based on an episode in the show. There are 10 levels and to play, you walk to the ball, press the triangle button to start the power meter and press triangle again to hit the ball when the meter is in the right spot. Some require a power shot, others only require a small amount.

Grandpa’s teeth

The level starts off in a playground where you and Chuckie can play on one of the slides/rides. When your done, you can progress through the level into some sort of maze where the goose is hiding with grandpas teeth. Once you navigate the maze, a second segment starts where you have to chase the goose that has Chuckie, using Spike to catch up to it. The third stage concluded with you throwing hockey pucks at the goose (Hopefully PETA didn’t play this game), whilst trying to avoid Chuckie.

Cookie Race

You just have to race and beat Angelica to the kitchen. The house has been slightly altered and some areas have been blocked off, meaning you have to go the long way round. This is fairly easy since Angelica is quite slow but the controls can be a hindrance since its easy to run into an object.

Medium

Visitors From Outer Space

You control Angelica in a spaceship where the babies have been abducted. Avoid the TV robots/aliens and navigate to the lower levels (you can still explore the ship) where you will meet an alien fish thing, who will disable the gravity. Angelica can then float through the air vent and navigate to one of the pod escape ships where she meets the babies, somehow? Based on a real Rugrats episode.

Mr Friend

This one sucked, basically you have to throw objects at Mr Friend and destroy it. First you have to deal with one, then three will spawn. Its challenging since the hit detection is very inconsistent and the controls are digital which makes it hard for Tommy to aim, also some of the throwable objects will just clip through Mr Friend.

Let There be Light

Stu overclocks his Amiga and causes a power cut, so its up to Tommy to restore the power. This level has the pickles house in darkness, with the textures being darkened for effect. There are ghost’s that roam around the house that can drain Tommy’s health, use the flash light to zap them away. First part see you navigating the house in near darkness to the kitchen where you find the Pickles fridge, but Tommy is unable to open it by himself so he needs the help of Spike to open it for him, which starts the next segment when you have to find Spike.

Circus Angelica

The Rugrats are tasked with performing with Angelia’s Circus, and have to perform a variety of tricks. This isn’t really difficult but the controls can be a major problem since you have to be accurate when it comes to Chuckie’s part, and if you fail twice the game is over.

Hard

Hard basically means long, as there are multiple objectives that have to be completed for the activity.

Incident on Isle 7

Set in a supermarket, Grandpa takes Tommy shopping for some Reptar cereal, Tommy breaks free and is left to explore the store. First section sees you exploring the different sections of the shop, until to reach the seafood section where a bunch of lobsters get loose. You then have to avoid or kill the lobsters and navigate through the various areas that have spillages that can cause Tommy to fall. Lastly you will reach the boss section where you have to stun the main Lobster in order to hit a switch.

Toy Palace

Set in a toy store, Stu loses Tommy and Chuckie after they decide to go solo. They explore the toy store zone in the hope of finding Reptar. Everything seems to cause damage in the first part, and the last part can be frustrating since you have to collect the blocks in order to reach the switch, some of which are located on shelves. The jumping is inconsistent as there is a delay before Tommy jumps, resulting in him falling a few times. Tommy and Chuckie also have a habit of repeating their dialog endlessly.

7 Voyages of Cynthia

You control Spike (Poorly) in this level as you navigate the sewer, Spike is very vulnerable to damage and will take a hit over every minor collision. The second stage isn’t any better since you have to avoid the mud which will reduce his health. The final stage is easy as you just need to find Cynthia before the time runs out, except she spawns in a random place.

Activities

Cookie Race – Same as the main version

Egg Hunt – Also in the main game, Angelia wants to hog all the easter eggs, so its up to Tommy to find them all before the time runs out, I guess the cookies weren’t enough for Angelica?

Gold Rush – Also available as a bonus game, Phil and Lil need to collect all the coins before time runs out, Same as egg hunt really

Mini golf – Can be played with multiple players, but instead of split screen, its more of a pass the controller for each turn kind of affair. There are 10 courses to play through.

Emulation

Recommended emulator: BeetlePSX or Mednafen, Duckstation works just as well.

One of the issues that occurred when playing this game in Duckstation was some cutscenes not playing, or the ones that did play would end early, and some of the Rugrats would be played randomly around the house, like in the screenshot below where Angelica is present in the kitchen, and cannot be interacted. This would often happen if you start the game in training mode first, then exit via the door which starts the main game. Angelica’s model is in the training map so maybe the game forgot to remove her from the world?

Angelica has seen some deep shit…

The hide and seek game is mainly affected, with the Rugrats randomly appearing around the house once they have been beaten to the playpen

Not a very good hiding place Tommy…

Tommy and Phil have been found, but instead of being in the play-pen, they are in the living room. This issue also occurred with the older builds of ePSXe where rugrats would randomly appear around the house, and issues with cutscenes playing. I’ve not tested it in modern ePSXe (this was around ver1.6)

Rugrats untextured object

An untextured toilet? Found in the cookie race level. I remember something similar occurring on the actual console itself so possibly not an emulator issue. The light above the mirror is also affected in both the cookie race and Chuckie’s glasses.

Navigating the Disc

Opening the SLUS_006.50 in Notepad++ and scrolling to line 168 reveals a few menu name strings, one of which references a Debug Menu, wonder how we activate this?

All the game data is present in the DATA folder, and each of the levels are broken up into different DB folders, with DB00 being the Pickels family home. Inside each folder are multiple BIN folders that follow the name convention. DBxxANM.BIN might refer to the animations for that level. Unfortunately these formats are likely built using proprietary game tool exclusive to N-Space, so there isn’t really much to play about here. Maybe we could rename and swap a few files around and experiment what happens when the game tries to load data intended for another level?

External Links

Rugrats coming in November for PlayStation! (archive.org)

n-Space, Inc., Developers of interactive and innovative video games. (archive.org)

THQ | United States | Title | PlayStation (archive.org)

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

Looking at the PlayStation BIOS interface

The purpose of the BIOS for the PlayStation was to provide an interface for the end user to manage their memory cards and the option to play an audio CD and was automatically displayed when the console was turned on without a disc inserted. Not all games provided a way to manage the memory card so the BIOS was often used for this purpose. Like the hardware, the BIOS went through various revisions and designs which we will look at.

SCPH1000 (Original Japanese launch)

The very first BIOS version, this one has a different cursor appearance and the CD player cannot be accessed unless an audio CD is in the drive.

SCPH1001 (Original US Launch)

Initial BIOS version for the NTSC lands

SCPH1001 (Revised US Model)

A revised version of the US model, the option colour has slightly changed

SCPH1002 (Europe Launch model)

In PAL-land we got this menu instead, using icons and symbols instead of text due to the different languages used in Europe and to reduce the ROM space. This is the BIOS I remember growing up with. Also the Europe Cd player can have different sound effect applied to it, which I couldn’t find in the NTSC BIOS?

SCPH3000 (Japan)

Japans SCPH3000 is equal to our 1001/1002, with their 1000 being a different revision with a buggy GPU. Model numbers would be synchronized with the 500x series.

SCPH5000 (Japan)

SCPH5001 (US)

Sony would continue to revise each hardware

SCPH5002 (Europe)

No visible difference from the 1002?

SCPH7001 (US)

This model introduced SoundScope, this BIOS would remain the same for the SCPH9001 models

SCPH7002 (Europe)

Seems like Sony wanted to unify the BIOS designs worldwide and change Europe to look like the US/Japanese versions

SCPH101 (US PSone redesign)

Or maybe not, since the NTSC versions used the PAL design albeit with different icons, you can briefly see the Soundscope effect in the BIOS before it fades to a black background

SCPH102 (Europe PSone redesign)

Same as the US version

Soundscope

This was a feature from the SCPH7000 models and up, and introduced a visualizer that appeared in time with the music by pressing SELECT on the controller.

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.