LGR – Mag Racer – DOS PC Game Review

[fizz, sip] Aahhh! Take Mag Racer, for instance. Made by Infinite Dreams UK. Translation: a teenager in a bedroom. Probably. I found this, or rather, a friend of mine back in the day found this. Yeah, sometime around 1990… I think it was Walmart. It came in a plain jewel case like this. Mag Racer for Windows 95. Ten free hours inside of CompuServe. Value for your money, I’ll tell you that. “Enter a bizarre world of towering TV’s,” “skyscraper speakers and monolithic books.” What the balls, man? “The miniature Mean and Green Racers from Pod”– [record scratch]
Wait. THAT Pod? Hmm. Coincidence, I’m sure. –”from Pod have crash landed and built
an exciting life in their new table-top world.” [record scratch]
Wait, you mean like Micro Machines? Wait– you know, never mind. “The MAG Racers–” “the elite of their alien Pod species–” “gear every moment around their
passion for racing their Magster’s.” Their Magster’s what? Why is there an apostrophe there? “The competition is fierce and
only a few make it to the line.” Of… cocaine? The system requirements are a Pentium 90 and Windows 95. I’m only mentioning that because that makes absolutely no sense. The game does, in a way, install through Windows, but the icon leads directly to a DOS program, which is the game itself. This is a purely DOS game. There’s nothing Windows about it, except for the shortcut icon they place on your desktop. So, let’s see what we have here. I’ll just go into Practice Mode here. [sexy music, deep voice]
Practice… Mode…. No, not THAT Practice Mode, Mr. Rock-Climbing Guy. There’s several different types of cars to choose from, like a Bugatti EB 110, Jaguar XJ220, some muscle cars, a Lamborghini, those kind of things. and for some reason, there are about…
six cars that are exactly the same. All the different Bugatti colors. They just change the palette. So I’m going with the Jaguar. Or “Jag-u-ar.” Whatever. You can also choose different drivers. Which are all made of clay. Yeah, that’s another one of these, um, games that does that. Using digitized artwork like
Mortal Kombat and Depth Dwellers. Of course, all the drivers really are the same. They’re just something else, I guess, for you to pick from to make it feel like you’re getting more from the game. There’s also several tracks. Which all end up looking about the same, really. The shapes of the tracks do differ, but it really does not make much of a difference. And don’t ask me why, but for some reason the PC speaker is used for the startup sound effects. The rest is all done through Sound Blaster. The music never changes.
It’s the same dance, electronica beat playing over and over. The driving itself is… completely horrendous. I can’t stand it. Imagine Mario Kart where you can’t turn. There you go. The graphics themselves, uh… well, you can see they’re not exactly great. Well, especially considering this
was 1997 when this was developed. You do have to drive almost completely perfectly. If you run off the road even in the slightest, your car will explode after only a few seconds. It makes sure to punish you. And it will say “stop exploring and start racing.” Ha! Okay. I only find that funny because I’m not exploring. There’s nothing to explore. Although, I might like to explore. This looks like a nice place
to take the family for a picnic. It just handles so bad, I can’t stay on the freakin’ road! So let’s try a league race here. It does have sort of a… career mode,
which is the league mode. Whatever. You race against a bunch of other ugly cars, which look just like Hot Wheels cars. With really bad, like, GIF images or something converted over into sprites to make these look like they’re turning. It’s a really, really bad effect. It’s similar to what was done on
the Super Nintendo for Mario Kart, or even on the earlier PC game Wacky Wheels. If they were trying to copy the kart games, they didn’t do the greatest job. There is a high and a low gear. And I did not realize that for a while because I was going so slow and
everybody else was like, vroom! So I don’t know what happened. And then, ah, okay. I figured out, I think it’s A and Z, that you can shift up and down like in OutRun. So… that’s useful. Except that it just makes the
handling that much more sensitive and that much more over-the-top that you just end up flying everywhere,
bouncing off of everything. I don’t know if you’re noticing all of
this horrendous jerkiness to the video. I wish I could say that was just
an encoder problem or something. No, that’s actually the game. You’ll end up flying through the geometry or sometimes you’ll just jump over it. There’s different little things that will make you jump. And of course, there’s random
power-ups here and there. Which you can press spacebar to use. Half the time they don’t do anything but screw you up, so I don’t recommend using them. There are upgrades that you can purchase later on, but I’ve never really gotten them to do anything that is worthwhile. So I don’t recommend doing that either. In fact, I don’t recommend playing this. Unless you just like being tortured by bad games. Which I will admit that I do from time to time. Hence the reason for this. It would be interesting if you explore around slightly, because some of the track
designs really are interesting. You know, the top of a table, the kitchen sink, underneath the couch, things like that.
They’re kinda cool, but it won’t let you explore at all. Then again, half of the track design set pieces look like something out of an
expressionist artist’s nightmare, so maybe they’re actually doing us a favor. And then when the handling isn’t bad enough, the track just gets so complicated and full of crap everywhere that you just can’t navigate anything at all. It seems like it would be easier just to be able to go… taking shortcuts or something like that. But no, you can’t. You just have to deal with all this junk in the way. Probably the most fun I had in this game at all was this one or two tracks where you could actually run over the different pod people. You can just straight up blow
them up. I mean, they explode into very nicely animated piles of pod people… gore. It’s actually more graphic than
Carmageddon in that respect, so… It’s interesting that they didn’t rate this game at all. There is no ESRB rating. So I’m surprised Walmart and
other places even carried it at all. Still, I’m glad they left it in there, as it is about the only redeeming quality
of this game that I’ve come across. They could have made it more
like Stunts or something where… the jump and things actually did something. But all they do is make your
car hop around and look weird, while simultaneously throwing you off-course and completely ruining your day. Or even like Bump ‘n Jump on the Atari where maybe you could land on top
of the other cars and crush them or… just… ANYTHING! Make the weapons work, perhaps? It would appear that this is one
of those strange events where, for some reason, a student project was turned into a retail game in America. In some cases, that’s not bad. Look at Portal. That’s the same kind of thing. But at least they took that and polished it. So maybe if Valve picked this up,
it would have been awesome. I could see the pod people replaced by Vortigaunts. And, you know, you’re Alex, racing around a combine landscape, running these things over, while giant Gordon Freemans are smashing your television sets all around you. And your opponents are all the
different characters from Team Fortress and you have to run over the G-Man in order to get his briefcase power-ups. Maybe in another reality. Mag Racer for Windows 95. Such an extreme disappointment, I don’t even know what to do with myself.

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