Saturday, November 27, 2010


Hello world!

Thank you for sticking around. Last post was a bit of feel around to get the hang of Blogspot. Today I will find out how to write a post which today will be about: Motorhead. Not the rockband (that's spelled with 'motör'), I am talking about the racinggame from 1998.

Motorhead, beautiful and awesome

Motorhead was released by the now defunct Gremlin Graphics for Windows 95. The game was set in a sort of near future and let you race in 10 different cars devided over 4 classes on 8 different tracks. It was praised for being "futuristic, but realistic", but the main feature of the game, in my opinion, was the whole ambiance it threw you in. No track was the same and they were all beautiful to behold. The whole world was given extra life with the soundtrack which was all tailored to fit with the corresponding track's theme. The creators even went out of their way to come up with a story for it (if you read the manual, that is) making the championship mode some kind of epic journey all over the world. That was a good thing too, because you really had to play the championship. Where Need for Speed in the same decade gave you practically all cars and tracks with a few unlockables, Motorhead gave you 3 cars and 2 tracks and expected you to unlock everything else!

I could play this game for hours when I had it. You get through the first part of the championship very fast, but to get the last 2 tracks and the ultimate 'serpent' car was a bit difficult. To get the ultimate car, you had to win on the first 6 tracks, then it gave you a 7th track just to single race on and then it expected you to win from the ultimate car on an unknown track with a weaker car. If you lost, you had to win again on the first 6 tracks before you could try again. I cheated by backing up my savegame when I was at the ultimate car challenge and every time I lost, replacing the savegame with the backup. When you eventually do win, you get a movie with the credits and a lot of thank-yous from the developers.

Although I had trouble with the championship, it wasn't the only way I was entertained by the game. I had a Pentium 166 with a Voodoo1 card which gave sparkly lighting effects in real time. I saved my replays and tried to shoot the most prettiest screenshots when putting it in cinematic camera mode. A lot of times I just parked my car to just gaze at the scenery at my favourite track. I had hundreds of awesome screenshots, but sadly I lost most of them. The main reason being "Oh noes! Two screenshots take up a whole floppy disk!", so I have some ugly JPEGs left. The screenshots you see here are the ones I have left from ten years ago.

This was a lucky shot, the horde and the plane are
never at the same place in the track

One thing I will be asking a lot on this blog is: did it age well? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because despite having very few polygons (or very blocky objects in laymans terms), the colors, themes and lighting effects are used as they should be: to make something pleasing to the eye and not to show of the technique. Any bad feelings around bad graphics that are left are swept away by the the awesome music. If you are talking about the experience, Deus-Ex did a lot worse. No, because the coding was way to specific for the Windows systems at that time. If you own a Win 95 or 98 the installation and execution feels like a well tailored fedora hat. Sadly, Microsoft switched to the NT kernel which leaves the game to work less than perfect on an XP machine and I've always seen it crash on Vista and 7. It was also released for Playstation, but that takes away the screenshot fun.

Furthermore, the phrase "Futuristic, but realistic" was not really deserved. People called it realistic, because it was tricky to get around a corner. The reason it was tricky, was because the game was made in a eastern Europe country where nobody had heard of Anti-lock Breaking Systems yet. When breaking for a corner, the cars would get in a hopeless drift making steering impossible if you wasn't prepared. Nowadays almost every stock-car has ABS, so much for predicting the future...

The odd thing about Motorhead is that it is known only to a select group of people, those who got a hold of a copy. It's sometimes to be found on E-bay for next to nothing, but I even found a mod for it. The marketing was non-existent, but everyone I spoke who had it was all praise about it. It's one of those weird instances where a good game is not spoken of, because people like to keep it their own experience. Needless to say, for ten years I was one of those people.