Driving games on the X5000
For those of you who read one of my previous posts on Rick Dangerous would have spotted a request for more driving games on Amiga OS4. As I use the online moniker of Outrun1978 on various Amiga forums, it should probably come as no surprise that I am a big fan of the racing game genre having been mesmerised from a young age by that big red Ferrari arcade cabinet that was Outrun by Sega.
Now for those who are expecting for there to be a version of Forza Horizon, Mario Kart 8 or the Asphalt series on Amiga OS4 a little reality check is in order. Truth be told the Amiga have had some great driving games over the years. Since the days of the A500, Amiga users have been treated to classics like Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, Stunt Car Racer, Super Monaco GP, Test Drive II and Geoff Crammond’s Microprose Grand Prix. Moving forward into the AGA generation and A1200/A4000 machines were blessed with conversions of Top Gear 2, Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix, Xtreme Racing, Street Racer, Virtual Karting 1 and 2, Flying High and Virtual Grand Prix.
The good news is that for all these games bar Virtual Karting 1&2 can be played with just one click on your desktop via RuninUAE. I did try Virtual Karting as I had this originally on my A1200, but sadly the game was designed specifically in mind for use on an A1200 with output via RGB to a television, so on the X5000 and indeed any other next generation machine, there is a loss of colours which renders the game unplayable.
So what is there that is Amiga OS4 specific? Well today’s post aims to uncover exactly what there is about for you to download and play.
Super Tux Kart
Super Tux Kart is like many of the games that I will be reviewing today an Open Source effort which first appeared on Amiga OS4 back in 2010 and is a port from Linux. Featuring Tux which is the Linux mascot, Super Tux Kart as its name suggests is a Super Mario Kart clone.
A good place to get the full version is over at www.supertuxkart-amiga.de where there are also a number of extras that you can download such as extra tracks and karts. For owners of not so powerful Amigaone machines there is also a slower version that you can download to run, which is limited to 4 tracks and a smaller number of karts, however for the X5000 you will need to load the standard version.
One word of warning however. In order to run this version you will need to ensure that minigl and mglut libraries installed into your Libs folder.
The first time you run the game it will open up in a window main screen allows you to amend things like the resolution and if you would like to run this in full screen mode.
However you will need to be careful here when selecting full screen mode as there appears to be a bug as you can see below will render the background in white. Full screen mode has worked here, it will just be a case of shutting down and re-opening and everything should then be ok.
So what does Super Tux Kart play like, well its makes no apologies for being a Mario Kart clone and seeing as the various Mario Kart games are some of the most playable games of all time this can only be a good thing right?
In the standard version you have a number of vehicles to choose from, although I recommend if possible that you try to download one of the extra character packs which are on the download website as this will open up a whole host of wacky looking characters from the standard Tux Linux penguin mascot, to a huge octopus who seems to struggle to fit inside his car with his tentacles hanging over and to top it all off for weird characters there is a dog in his basket. Suffice to say the dog in the basket will be a little harder to navigate all the twists and turns on the tracks.
So how does the game play on the X5000, well some good news and bad news here, some of the tracks are actually quite playable and run at a great speed in full-screen, however some tracks depending on how much scenery there is on the screen will run a little bit slower. The Tux Tollway certainly is one example of a track which doesn’t run as fast as it should do.
Now there is an extras track package that you can download which will give you all sorts of extra tracks, however it should be noted that some of these actually don’t work too great on the X5000 and in order to get these to run at a reasonable speed, you may need to sacrifice the full screen mode and the running of the game in a higher resolution.
Super Tux Kart is a nice enough looking game, you certainly will be gawping at the graphics on tracks such as the one where you are riding around in outer space on the rings of Saturn which just seem to blur and warp into some sort of intergalactic acid trip.
However game play wise, i think it could do with better controls. Using the joypad with the triggers for accelerating and decelerating, I find some of the corners a little too tight at times especially on tracks such as The Island where you feel you have no option but to slow right down to get out of a tight corner.
Overall this game does get a thumbs up and it would be nice to see an update to the Amiga version as the Linux versions are far more advanced in terms of the version number and features.
The next game I will be looking at appeared on OS4 Depot in about 2015 as a demo version and has morphed into an official release through numerous updates and tweaks to the gameplay through its development process. Programmed by Michael St. Nietzel, Amiga Racer pays homage to the most famous of Amiga racers Gremlin Graphics The Lotus series which appeared to great fanfare on the Amiga back in the early 90’s.
Drawing inspiration from whole Lotus series of games, there were three in total, Amiga Racer can be best described as a Lotus 3 for the 21st Century. Similar to Lotus 3 you are presented with a similar menu of options where you can configure the various input settings and gear settings.
As per the Lotus series (well except Lotus 2 because sadly you were forced to listen to just sound effects during the driving sections) you then have the in-car jukebox and this actually is one of the highlights of the whole game. 19 different tracks ranging from a specially composed vocal of Amiga Racer and a number of Techno/Eurodance inspired ditties.
Gameplay wise on the standard tracks is where i feel this game is at its weakest. The collision detection isn’t the most advanced in the world and it certainly doesn’t feel realistic to be bumping into roadside furniture without any satisfying thuds or spins, in fact in some cases you seem to just ride through them, but hey I guess if you are going at 200 mph in real life you are going to just ride through things?
I’m not going to knock the game too much as I have been watching this game develop with great interest since its inception and its clear the programmer has put in a lot of effort into re-creating the essence of the original Lotus games and by and large he succeeds very well with this offering.
The highlight of Amiga Racer is of course the ARCS system or RECS as it was known on Lotus 3, which allows you to construct an infinite number of tracks of varying difficulty, specifying the number of curves, hills and roadside furniture that will appear in your specially created tracks. More importantly you can then upload them to a central database which is a really cool feature.
This game is one which is constantly receiving new updates which are activated on the first occasion you open up the game, so the next time you play you may find a new track or a new car has appeared further adding to the games longevity.
The game is available commercially from Amiga retailers such as Vesalia, Amedia Computer or Amiga On The Lake for around EUR 30.00 for a special collectors edition. I would recommend picking up a copy especially if you are a fan of the original Lotus series.
Speed Dreams and TORCS
The following two are open source efforts which will need to be downloaded from the following website. http://bszili.morphos.me/ Please remember to donate a small tip for his efforts. Now for each of these you will need to download the Amiga OS4 executable and then create a new folder for each game this to be extracted into. Then following that you will need to download each of the game data files and extract the Speed Dreams data files into the respective Speed Dreams folder you have created and it will be the same for TORCS.
So what are these two games, well similar to Super Tux Kart, they are open sourced efforts, Speed Dreams takes on the theme of a Super Car racer similar to Grand Turismo on the Playstation as you can see from the screenshot below.
I find the controls on Speed Dreams the hardest thing to get used to, personally it does feel like you are trying to run a car on a skating rink which for me takes away a lot of the enjoyment.
TORCS or The Open Racing Car Simulator to give its official title, handles better, but sadly will not run in a true full screen resolution due to a limitation in the GLUT library according to the supplied documentation.
However as you can see from the below screenshot, it is possible to get as close to a full screen by expanding the window size
In terms of gameplay, i do find it more playable than Speed Dreams and it runs at a decent speed too. Control wise you really do need to get to grips with the acceleration and braking before you can start heading around the circuit. There is less of a skating rink effect on this game, but it still isn’t perfect. I do wonder if on both these games given the calibration process that is required for the set up of joypads are better suited to the use of a steering wheel for small precise movements.
Saying that look at games like the Forza Horizon series on the Xbox or Grand Turismo and they work just as well with a pad as they do with a steering wheel.
The next game I am going to look at was a MSX title back in the 80’s under the name of F1-Spirit and was made by Konami.
This one differs from the others that I am reviewing today in that the action is viewed from the top looking down on the cars as opposed to the 3D viewpoint of the other racers
This game also requires Warp3D for it to run properly, so this means that if you do not already have it installed and have a Warp3D Southern Islands compatible graphics card (remember I am using a Radeon HD 7750 which is rebadged as a Club 3D 250E LP card), you will need to purchase the Warp3D Southern Islands driver from the Amistore.
Gameplay wise, its quite fun to play, although i do find the cars a little on the small side compared to the rest of the objects which appear on the screen. It is possible to control the game with a joypad although configuration of this can be a little bit tricky. This type of game actually works best with a keyboard control rather than with a joypad.
It’s an ok game, as a 2D racer, I am not sure why it needs Warp 3D to run and i certainly wouldn’t buy the Warp3D driver just for this game, you will however need it for much better goodies.
I guess having owned a Commodore 64 since a teenager, I was spoiled by the best top down racing game in Slicks by Codemasters and truth be told as a 2D top down racer this comes nowhere near the fun offered by Slicks, or the classic Amiga top down racer Roadkill which can be played from the desktop via RuninUAE.
The last option I am going to look at today looks very familiar, indeed look here if it isn’t that red Ferrari that mesmerised me from a young age. Yes its a version of the Sega Classic Outrun.
Now first a little bit of history. See the picture below:
This was the Amiga version of Outrun which was released by US Gold back in 1988 and truth be told it kind of looked nice, but it was a very lazy port of the Atari ST version, so much so that the Atari ST version was actually a lot better and ran quicker. Once the game moved, it was quite jerky, the sound was an adequate re-creation of the arcade version, but in truth this version sucked big time.
Sadly a lot of the home versions were not much cop either, I remember playing the Commodore 64 version where you couldn’t even select a fork in the road to make your way to the end as the way it was programmed was that each set of tracks A to E were a separate load. The Commodore 64 version did however have a cracking SID rendition of Splash Wave and Musical Sound Shower.
Out of all of the home versions, probably the PC Engine and the Sega Saturn were the best ones, until now that is that we have the Amiga OS4 version which uses the MAME Arcade roms for data. Ok i know that is cheating a little, but we Amiga users deserve to have the best home version out there.
So how does it look on Amiga OS 4.1, well the version is pretty much arcade perfect
The game can either be run in low or high res modes with or without scanlines and either at 30 FPS or a very quick 60 FPS at which point you really notice the game fly.
You also have the option to select the Japanese version of tracks although you will need to obtain the Japanese romset which is numbered FD1089A 317-0019. Google will be your friend here if you do not already have the roms loaded from elsewhere,
Gameplay wise it is still the classic this was 30 years ago with the added advantage of that you have a native OS4.1 version which leaves the competition standing although I have to say the Sega Saturn version remains one of my favourite ports.
Cannonball has also been ported to 68K classic Amiga machines, so the good news for those with a Vampire accelerator card powerful enough to run it, means that they too can get the Amiga version of Outrun we so desperately wanted to see.
Cannonball can be downloaded from OS4depot.com free of charge.
So in conclusion, for Amiga OS4 specific driving games we have a few options but aside from Cannonball/Outrun nothing too outstanding . I personally would like to see a few more games make an appearance, perhaps something along the lines of the Asphalt series or a port of one of the Need for Speed series of games. I wonder if anyone would be up for the task of porting such games over?
Till next time have fun with your Amigas and I’m off for another round of Super Tux Kart before my bedtime.