Virgin Media TV Shutdown

Looks like Virgin are planning to pull the plug on the original TV service. Not sure what this will entail since they had already converted most of their SD channels to MPEG4 a couple of years ago, with the exception of BBC One and Channel 4 which remained in MPEG2, possibly for PSB reasons?

Here what’s shows up on a Virgin Media SD cable box (Pace DiTV1000 on UK2 software)

A look at Channel 4 on this box, one of the few channels that display video

Lets check the ntl software

I pulled out the Pace Di4000N running the ntl CR3 Bromley guide which dates from 2003

Horizon (HZN) is Virgins next generation TV platform

Same EPG data

I guess when a channel is off air it gives a link to the interactive services

Sadly no video, I never got round to amending the net id for this box, since it requires an SCART RS232 cable which seem of have disappeared off the face of the earth.

ntl Langely?

Last resort lets check the Pace Di4001N running ntl Langely CR3 software, which had a build date from 2004

Well this is a miracle, seems this box was able to locate and set my local netID

What the home screen looks like with actual video feed

Channel 4 still broadcasts in MPEG2 SD!

As does Birmingham TV (Our local TV station, that play Judge Judy all day)

A list of channels which includes the Tivo software update streams

ITV still remains an radio channel, this is because the video is AVC MPEG4, whilst the audio is MPEG2. No idea why they done this

Conclusion

So what will happen? likely the last few MPEG2 channels will disappear completely, leaving the boxes with nothing to receive. Possibly removing the SD versions entirely since all of their equipment would be HD capable, the exception is BBC1 which still has regional news in SD only. A shame since instead of investing in their playout and transmission network, they would rather invest in diversity (No, Not diversity of thought). Meanwhile if you want local news, your stuck with the SD versions for the future.

Radio channels may stick with MPEG2 Musicam, but could easily go MPEG4

Windows NT Hydra (Build 1314)

Windows NT 4 was the next major release of the NT line of operating systems, and was to bring the new Windows 95 inface to the NT platform. Underneath the hood however it is very similar to NT 3.51

Install

The only License agreement I agree to. The first stage of the install is done through a basic blue installer, where the disk volume and storage drivers are selected for install. Once that’s complete the second stage install pick up in a full Windows Nt environment. here the install can be customized.

Drivers

SoundBlaster Install

Unlike Windows 95, NT4 did not feature a device manager or the Add New Hardware Wizard, making hardware instillation more difficult since Plug and Play was not supported in the NT family until the release of Windows 2000. Adding the sound card can be done through the Multimedia applet and adding a new multimedia device, just make sure you have NT driver files available (95/98 drivers will not work)

3DFX Voodoo Install

Installing 3Dfx Glide drivers, as NT4 shipped with DirectX 2 only with limited upgrade capabilities so having Glide support should allow a wider range of games to be played. Instillation was done using the setup wizard which came with the WinZip self extractor.

Iomega Zip

NT4 did not support Zip drives natively, so additional software is required in order to use Zip disc images. However the only version I could find required the instillation of Service Pack 3 in order for it to run. Accessing the Zip disk is done using that software instead of using Windows NT Explorer.

https://archive.org/details/neczipjazz

Desktop

After the is complete the system will reboot and the default desktop will be displayed

One of the preloaded desktop backgrounds, on this build ‘Click here to begin’ appears on the taskbar after a fresh install or when a new user has been created.

The Windows 95 Explorer interface is present in this build on NT

Control Panel

Find

Used to search and find files and folders, this is not an indexed search to the application has to manually search through the individual files

Accessories

Command prompt (Also known as Console) allows commands to be entered that is not converted in the GUI interface and also allows MS-DOS 16bit applications to run. Not sure why the clock application was included here since the clock appears in the taskbar.

Paint

Windows 95 paint with a default background image

Object Packager

Not sure on what this is?

Imaging for Windows

Bitmapped image editor, designed to open an image from a scanner or a digital camera.

Hyper Terminal

HyperTerminal comes bundled with this build and allows for access to protocols like Telnet

CD Player

A regular CD Player, tracks can be played and renamed

Diagnostics

Views detailed system information and the hardware/drivers currently installed

Logon

Windows NT requires you to press Ctrl + Alt & Del in order to logon to ensure the logon screen is genuine, which will bring up the login screen. On some systems this may be replaced by the Novell Client logon screen for Netware networks.

Shutdown

Shutting down Windows NT, from here you can log off, restart or shut down. If ACPI drivers are installed the system will power off, otherwise a power off prompt will appear instead

PCem Specifications

  • Motherboard: Packard Bell PB570
  • Processor: Pentium Overdrive MMX
  • Graphics: Built In Video – Cirrus Logic
  • Sound: SoundBlaster AWE32
  • Mouse: PS/2 Intellimouse
  • Network: Novell NE2000
  • 3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo Graphics

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

Windows For Workgroups 3.11 Beta (Build 70)

Install

MS-DOS (6.0) must be installed first before Windows 3.11 can be installed. At this point Windows was still reliant on MS-DOS, but were regarded as two separate products.

After install and some graphics drivers. By default Windows will use VGA mode which restricts you to 640×480 and 16 colours. Windows Sound System is not included in this build but can be installed and was required to use the Windows Sound System Soundcard.

Applications

  • Microsoft Anti-Virus: They had their own Anti-Virus application, before Windows security essentials, Defender or Windows Live OneCare. Different drivers can be scanned manually on request.
  • Smartdrive: Disk caching application
  • Undelete: As the concept of the recycle bin did not exist until Windows 95, Microsoft Undelete was offered instead which could restore files deleted by the user that had not been overwritten

Accessories

  • Write: Predecessor to Wordpad, for when you don’t have Microsoft Office installed
  • Paintbrush: Paint
  • Notepad: Text editing application
  • Recorder: Used to record keyboard and mouse commands, useful for automation.
  • Calculator: On screen calculator
  • Clock: Displays the time in both analogue (Face) and digital format
  • Character Map: Insert and remap any characters that are not supported by the users keyboard
  • Media Player: Plays WAV and MIDI sound files supported by the users soundcard
  • Sound Recorder: Records sound from the line input to a WAV file

Control Panel

Control Panel remains unchanged from Windows For Workgroups 3.1

Drivers

Some drivers that may be useful to users of PCem, depending on the machines they are emulating

AVGA2 Driver

The Commodore PC I was using used a Acumos graphics accelerator onboard and integrated to its motherboard, which was based on a Cirrus Logic CL-GD5402. Installing a driver lets you access further resolutions and colour modes that the graphics chip supports.

AVGA2 Driver – Vetusware

Windows Sound System

This build of Windows did not ship with Windows sound system drivers but can be installed.

WinWorldPC – WSS and SoundBlaster drivers

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 has 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)

Windows Chicago Beta (Build 347)

Compiled and made available in March 1995, this was to be the Final beta build of Windows 95, with the release candidates coming soon after.

Installation

Windows 95’s setup procedure which looks the same as the final release. Towards the end of the install procedure, there is an option to use the program manager as opposed to the 95 interface, in practice this retains the default Windows 95 interface, just opens the program manager window.

Stage 2

The second stage of the install boots into the kernel, and prompts the user to enter information. Also, in Windows 95 you were able to select a time zone by clicking on a location in the map, a feature that was removed in the later versions.

Windows 95 Beta boot

Boot screen, which was altered in the final release. The bottom segment is animated to indicate the system is actively loading. The final release replaces it with colour cycling bar

Desktop

When Windows 95 first boots, a welcome screen is displayed which shows useful tips

When a new plug and play device is detected, Windows will prompt for driver instillation. The Windows 95 CD has a moderate library of drivers on the disc, but this is mostly applicable to hardware from 1991-95

Adding additional features in Windows, some features don’t have their own icons and use the default Windows icon

Build Information

Microsoft Network

Microsoft bundled their own internet service platform, similar to AOL, Apple @World or Compuserve designed to get users online

The presence of this and the lack of a web browser being bundled with this release of the operating system signals that Microsoft intended for MSN to the primary way for users to access the internet, rather than using the http protocol that we all use today. Also TCP/IP not installed by default but can be added using the Windows components, you will be prompted to supply the Windows 95 CD to install it.

Accessories

Party Line

Not sure what this was intended for, some sort of multiplayer game like Microsoft Hearts? It seems to just open a blank window and sits there unresponsive.

Volume Control

The volume control, of which it’s appearance will vary depending on the soundcard and the driver installed

Microsoft Fax

Registration Wizard

You have the option to register your copy of Windows 95, which would send a description of your PC hardware to Microsoft, possibly for them to gauge which is the popular configuration of hardware (surely they can get that from the OEM sales?)

Disk Defragmenter

CD Player

Windows Explorer

The main Windows Explorer interface which gives a tree view on the left sidebar. This replaces the Windows 3.1 File Manager

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer wasn’t included in this build, but was in development from around that time. To install I had to use the installer from oldversion.com, the WinWorldPC version failed to install.

This one failed

But this one worked instead, not entirely sure of the difference between the two installers but it could be due to this OS being a pre-release build.

Once installed a few changes need to be made before you can ‘browse’ the world wide web. Windows 95 did not include TCP/IP by default but could be enabled by installing it thorough the Network applet via the Control Panel.

The first version of Internet Explorer was based on NCSA Mosaic and incorporates various technologies that originated from Mosaic. Attempting to use these browsers on the modern web results in a bunch of garbled html, assuming the browser will even connect to a server. Most times you will gets an unsupported protocol since these browsers do not speak https. Here’s where theoldnet comes in

Trying to install Office 95 on Windows 95, which failed since it checks the OS build number

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: AMI WinBios 486

Processor: AMD Am5x86/P75

Video: Trident TGUI9440

Audio: SoundBlaster 16

Network: NE2000

Mouse: Serial Mouse

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

Ridge Racer 2

Ridge Racer 2 was a slight update to the series, adding linkable multiplayer, a revised soundtrack with several new tracks in addition to remixed versions of the original.

The announcer voice has been altered slightly, and has several new links in response to the players driving ability.

Some graphic effects have changed, whilst the textures are mostly similar to the original, the lighting effects have changed with RR2 using a hue/fig effect to simulate the day to night cycle, rather then the original which dimmed and changed the Sky texture.

Lastly a rear view mirror has been added, which required a redesign to the HUD.

Boundary break

Thanks to MAME and a few cheats (Drive Anywhere), the car can escape the track, allowing us to get a better view of the scenery.

Another look at the audience at the start of the track, exactly the same as the first Ridge Racer

A look at the buildings outside the track

The fake cars in the other side of the tunnel have changed slightly, they seem to have more detailed textures, but are now lacking wheels. Unless these are floating. anti-gravity cars?

View of the city at night, the game simply swaps the textures rather than apply lighting effects, and the skybox has changed

Microsoft Plus! 95

Sort of like an expansion pack to Windows 95, this adds additional features that enhance the Windows 95 experiences such as desktop themes, maintenance utilities and some bundled software like Internet Explorer which would be its debut.

Install

Looks like your typical Microsoft installer of the era

Post Install

The boot screen has changed!

Desktop Themes

A selection of themes from the Plus pack. Users of Windows 98 will find these themes look familiar as these themes later appeared in Windows 98 (Along with the Space and Underwater themes). These themes change everything, from the desktop icons to the toolbar layout and fonts (that carry over to the programs that you use), to the sounds and mouse cursor. Science and Inside Your Computer where my personal favourite, used to rock those a lot back in the day.

Utilities

DriveSpace: Compresses the entire dis to allow for more efficient use of hard disk space at the expensive of performance, only works on FAT16 volumes

Internet Starter Kit: Designed to help get users online

Task Scheduler / System Agent: Allows you to schedule certain tasks, such as programs being run at a specific time. Useful for maintenance tasks like Scandisk or the Disk Drefragmenter but also for anti virus programs. Also useful if you wish to run a program at a reoccurring time.

Visual Enhancements

These were designed for high performance systems of the time that supported graphics acceleration

High Colour Icons: By default Windows 95 only supports up to 256 colour icons, with the Plus! pack you can have icons with up to 65536 colours.

Window Dragging: The contents of the windows can be seen when the user drags the application window around the desktop. Previously only an outline of the window could be seen

Anti-Aliasing: Softens the edges of screen fonts and UI elements, similar to ClearType in Windows XP, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Wallpaper Stretching/Scaling: Desktop wallpapers can be stretched to fill the screen if the image resolution does not match the display resolution, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Product Catalogue

The multimedia catalogue, this isn’t installed onto the user system, instead its run straight off the CD-ROM. A showcase for other Microsoft consumer software and products.

Microsoft BOB, which was released from around that period.

Microsoft arguably made the most ergonomic mouses, and loved to show them off

Pinball

The Pinball game was originally developed by Maxis (Yes, the SimCity and The Sims Maxis) makes it debut here although the actual retail game had a lot more levels/machines, in plus pack only one level is featured.