>> Friday, April 27, 2007
Racing games are a rare breed on CD-i. The only 3D Racing game CD-i has to offer is Video Speedway, which was rather slow and repetitive, and not really recommended for a cool fast experience. Codemasters produced the excellent Micro Machines, which unfortunately also suffered a low framerate. 2D racing was obviously handled by CD-i better than 3D racing. A Traineeship at SPC Vision resulted in the demo Accelerator, which was bundled with the Gold Club Disc. In 1997 (four years later, mind you!), SPC Vision released the eventual game. Ironically, the title above is exactly what Accelerator is all about. When you first play the game, you'll feel empty thinking this is a bad product. After a while you'll be addicted and forget the game its shortcomings.
The game itself is very simple actually. What mostly bothered me was the car movement which is limited to only 12 frames. You can imagine this does not justify a smooth car movement at all, and every turn feels like a block missing frames. In the beginning your car moves slow, and the races are slow. But this is a key factor of the game. After you win a game, you get awarded with money plus the money you found on the way during the race. It is very important you try to get the money that is lying on the tracks because after every race you are allowed to upgrade your vehicle with more speed, grip or acceleration, or even buy weapons. With the weapons you can shoot at your enemies just like the tanks in Micro Machines. Excellent feature. The game itself has 10 tracks in total and after these you replay the first one. I never managed to finish the game, but I doubt there is actually an end. I've played a double run with all tracks and I admit I don't know what's going to happen after that ;)
Another plus for this game is the animation. Strange, because I just flamed at the bad animation of the character movement. But the rest of the game, including the presentation itself, is handled beautifully. Thankfully the game makes use of passwords which saves memory on your precious 8kb memory of the CD-i player. And they work rather well. After a race you get a generated password which holds up your stats. Remarkable is the soundtrack which is of excellent quality. It seems unlikely SPC Vision put so much attention (or money) to the music, or they just used some tracks lying on the shelf, who will tell. The music is on par with other SPC titles, which all have great soundtracks.
Accelerator on CD-i is small and effective. Those who love the SPC Vision games on CD-i will without any doubt feel the charm and love in this racing game.
Gir Draxa from The CD-i Collective sums up a few bad points in the gameplay in a way I couldn't describe any better: "The often touchy colision detection is still a case for attention, made worse by the enlargment of the vehicles. This makes it so darn easy to dammage your car just for getting close to the wall. Also, if you turn and slide next to it, the minute you try to turn away, the rear of your car will bash into the wall. Stopping you and doing more dammage than if you ran headlong into it. Sad. Adding even more frustration is the fact the computer can drive through some of the walls in the game without getting dammaged. Making the old 'Bash Them into the Wall' technique hit-and-miss at best. Even the few weapons offered for the cars don't make it any more intresting. Cost to get them isn't the overall issue, its really just how easy the sketchy collision detection makes them worthless." Read his full opinion here.
I'll finish with a few words from the original developer: "Accelerator has a very convoluted history. It was initially written in the summer of 1993 during a "working holiday" at SPC. One guy wrote the game and most of the surrounding stuff, but did not finish it. This was done by others at SPC in their "copious free time", needless to say this didn't go very fast! During the summer of 1994 a first version was sent to PIMC for testing. It came back with a load of bugs which was a real problem because the original programmer had long left SPC. So the title lingered for a while. The bugfixing was ultimately contracted out; a fixed version was delivered somewhere at the end of 1995. This was again sent to PIMC and came back with new bugs, but nobody wanted to touch it anymore! Since there was no publisher yet, there was no great hurry and it was shelved for more then a year. The title was ultimately finished internally at SPC in the second half of 1997 and released to the market. I can't remember if SPC published and distributed it themselves or worked with someone else."