Thanks to Ubisoft for bringing Speed Devils Online

Kit out the hotrod of your dreams and go head-to-head with up to four other gamers at a time Bloody Americans, eh?
A bunch of loudmouthed burger-eating imbeciles who abuse the English language, clog up Trafalgar Square every Summer, and think the mullet is still a badge of cool. They elect right-wing half-wits to be president, they think Benny Hill’s a comic genius, and they invented Bon Jovi. I hate them.

Don’t start writing in, Americans. It’s okay, I didn’t really mean any of that. Well, except the mullet part. I’m just a bitter limey, grown twisted and xenophobic after a week of being humiliated by various Yanks through my Dreamcast. Y’see, I’ve been reviewing Speed Devils Online, but since it’s not out in Europe yet, I’ve been racing online against Americans. And they’ve been whupping my arse consistently. Of course, I blame the lag, but it’s still left me with a serious grudge against the Land of the Free. Bah.

Anyway, the game. For us Europeans, Speed Devils Online is our third chance to race online, following closely in the skidmarks of Pod 2 and Toy Racer. As an offline game, it’s pretty average – considerably better than the wretched Roadsters or Buggy Heat, but no competition for M-SR or Ferrari F355. But that’s hardly the point – you should only be playing this offline to learn the tracks and suss out which car you prefer. The meat of the game is the Online mode.

And this is my problem. Having spent the last week racing Americans, I’ve got a fair amount to say about the pros and cons of Speed Devils Online. But they could all be wrong. Here’s an example: the handling is a tad treacly, and there can be occasional lags between D-pad movement and your car’s response, sometimes unfairly sending you slap bang into a wall. Is it the game, or the fact that I’m playing on US-based servers? I’m not sure. What I can say is that even with these factors taken into account, the experience of racing online is thrilling enough to make you almost forget, and certainly forgive.

The first time you connect, you’re asked to customise your character with a name, face and a selection of quotes to taunt your opponents when you beat them. Personally, I was hoping to perplex the Americans with my Frank Butcher-esque “You pilchard! I’m gonna give yer a dry slap, me old son!”, but it hasn’t been used yet. Like I said, blame the lag…

Anyway, after buying your first car, you dive into the lobby system to find some people to race against. Starting initially as a Class D driver, your aim is to win cash to upgrade your car, and points to move up to the next class. Races take place over a range of different courses, and up to five cars can duke it out. And despite the problems I’ve already outlined, it’s fantastic. Competing online means you get truly locked into the experience – your heart lurches as you accelerate into a corner alongside an opponent like it never does when you’re playing offline racers.

You win cash even for coming last, which provides a firm incentive to stay the distance, rather than log off if you’re lagging behind. And the points / cash / upgrades system is immensely addictive, gripping you in a ‘just one more go’ mood that’ll see you hunched over your Dreamcast into the early hours. Fantastic, but it illustrates a wider problem with online gaming under current conditions.

Even at local call rates, can you afford to spend more than the odd hour playing Speed Devils Online – or indeed any other online title? Without some kind of fixed monthly fee system for access to DreamArena, these games just won’t get the audience they deserve. Still, if you can afford it, Speed Devils Online is a great introduction to the potential of online racing. When the game gets a European release, rest assured we’ll let you know how the network play compares.

Shock 2 Ultra Analog – Thrustmaster’s controller

Stiff buttons, funky finish, and ungainly, too. Best to let this one slip through your fingers.
The descriptor “Ultra” is an apt one for the Shock 2 Ultra Analog, but not because of expert control or numerous features. It’s a big, ungainly thing and shaped like a fat black plastic boomerang. The latest PSOne/2 controller available from accessory manufacturer Thrustmaster, it’s an unremarkable pad with one peculiar strong point — which is where the “Ultra” comes in.

Features are as extensive as most gamers will need, which means that there’s a turbo button (and — surprisingly — an analog/Negcon Mode button). Otherwise, the Shock 2 is laid out just like the Dual Shock, but replaces the D-pad with a blue disc, which feels a little clicky, doesn’t respond well and is a little too large for most thumbs. Selecting items from save and load and in-game menus can be an irritating affair, as the pad makes maneuvering in four directions unwieldy. The control buttons are a little better, but the triggers are as stiff as the D-pad. Worse than that, the bottom left and right triggers are recessed, which is a perfectly valid aesthetic move, but not so hot for ergonomics. Gamers who use their forefingers for both the front and back triggers, in particular, may find this to be an annoyance. The analog sticks are a good size, and have sufficient snap — but like everything else, they feel light and hollow.

In fact, the whole thing feels light and, well, whatever the plastic equivalent of “tinny” is. Which is odd because this joystick is really big — “Ultra” big, you might say. Placed side by side with Sony’s trusty Dual Shock, the difference resembles that between men’s and women’s wristwatches. Even the gently curved grips on the handles are big – all of which makes this a joystick for game players with particularly giant hands. The satiny finish and extensively curved surface don’t help those of us with littler mitts hold on, either.

Naturally, we don’t think that this was Thrustmaster’s intent, but it’s interesting to think that as the numbers of gamers grow and diversify, so too will the need/market for targeted accessories — such as that for game players with abnormally sized digits. Which brings us back to the “Ultra” thing — the Shock 2 looks cool enough, and we’d recommend it to friends with mega-meaty paws, but that’s about it. Shock 2 is a good game but if you want something portable, you can try Call of Duty Heroes. It has unlimited free resources that you can use to upgrade your base into a much better one. This is one advantage that Shock 2 don’t have.

Sega Master System

A Taiwan-based company is releasing a region-free DVD player that includes hundreds of classic games, all for a remarkably low price tag. Is it the deal of the year, or is it just piracy? Taiwanese company, Dulux DVD, has developed a DVD system that will play Sega Master System’s games. Dulux’s All In One DVD 2000 player is a single-disc, region-free DVD player that will also play MP3 recordings, CDs, VCD and CD-R/W. To top it all off, the DVD 2000 is a karaoke machine. Amazingly, the system retails for only $249 (US). The DVD 2000 has an enormous pile of features, but here at Daily Radar we were interested in only one, the promised ability to play Sega Master System games. Sonic the Hedgehog and Alien Syndrome would be at our disposal in all of their obviously pixilated ’80s goodness.

According to the website, the system will include over 700 games spread across just a few CDs. Each disc has seven pages of games with 50 games per page, making 350 games per disk. Choose the game, and it will install to the internal Sega Master System within a few minutes. According to the ad, game pads can be plugged into one of two COM ports on the DVD player. The games are classics and have their own appeal, but with S-video in and digital surround sound capability, one can expect the Sega Master System never looked or sounded so good. Sega, is one of the counterpart of Nintendo as far as gaming is concern. But the thing with the latter is that it has this Pokemon Omega Ruby on 3DS where you can download the rom. It is free and easy to use.

Look here for the impressive list of features on the DVD2000. Or check out a partial list of games here.

The publisher holds the rights to games, and not all of these games were published by Sega, bringing to doubt the legality of including the games on CD. To print them, Dulux would have had to contact each publisher independently, unless Sega Japan, or some other company, has already made agreements with all of the parties involved. Sega of America was not previously aware of the DVD 2000 system, and did not know of any agreement with Sega of Japan allowing the reprinting of Master System games. However, the company was not willing to discount the possibility that Sega Japan had made such a deal. Rest assured, Daily Radar is on the case. Should we find out how Dulux is bringing Sega Master System games to market, our loyal readers will be the first to know.

Nyko Blob Light Review

Nyko has been making excellent accessories and peripherals for a variety of consoles for a long time. The company is best known, however, for its excellent Worm Light, an attachment for the Game Boy that has become a necessary part of most gamers’ Game Boy accessories. Nyko has just released the Blob Light, a rather different light-generating add-on. Like the Worm Light, the Blob Light takes its power from the game link port on the side of the Game Boy, drawing its power from the Game Boy itself. The device hugs the top of the Game Boy and is shaped like a strange blob creature. The light is centered in what appears to be an eyeball. It’s quite cute, really, but there’s a problem — the light puts an extreme amounts of glare on the screen.

When the Worm Light was first released, it was gold for Game Boy owners — the small size, lack of batteries and easy use made it an instant must-have. The only problem with it was that it tended to put a lot of glare on the screen — the LED light was a bit too intense. Nyko fixed this with the Diffused Worm Light. The new light had a light plastic cover over the LED light, which reduced the brilliance of the light enough to soften the glare while keeping it bright enough to illuminate the screen. The game that has made its name over the past year is non other than is SimCity Buildit. The next one is Blob. The Blob Light has this same type of covering to give it a softer light. The problem is, where the Worm Light is on a coiled, movable wire that lets users place it just about anywhere they like above the screen for optimal viewing, the Blob Light’s shorter distance from the screen means it’s less maneuverable. Also, because the light is so much closer to the screen, the cone of light it projects is much narrower. In order to get the entire screen illuminated, the light must be manipulated until it shines directly in the center of the screen. Because the light is so bright, the bulb becomes a bright spot of light right in the middle of the screen, greatly distracting from the visuals in the game and rendering the light more frustrating than useful.

The Blob Light was definitely created with fun in mind — the malformed creature with an eyeball shining light down on the screen is certainly playful, and its release around Halloween reflects its tongue-in-cheek nature. We were instant fans when we first saw it. But that playfulness doesn’t work too well with the Game Boy’s portability. One of the things we loved most about the Worm Light was the fact that it was basically just a wire with a light bulb on one end. It fit perfectly in the pouch we use to carry our Game Boy around with additional Game Boy games and power packs. The Blob Light, however, with its strange shape and more unwieldy size, doesn’t fit anywhere in our carry case, and so must be thrown into a backpack separately, making it a bit more of a pain to pull out and play with. But this is a minor complaint.

Hardware Helping Hand – Oldschool PC Way

You’ve got a 3GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 35″ monitor running at 4800×2400, 10-speaker digital surround sound speakers, a Voodoo9 Xtreme 2+ (with the latest drivers), and mad, even bitchin’, gaming skillz. For some reason, though, your Quake 7: Fleshfest stutters on occasion, and even Solitaire seems to lag. Even worse, you sometimes get the dreaded “blue screen of death” (BSOD). Your best friend, on the other hand, has a 386, 1MB RAM (including the Extended RAM), a 12″ green screen monitor, and he uses the PC speaker for sound. His machine will run Q7F just fine, though, and it never, ever crashes. What’s the frickin’ deal?!

It’s time to optimize your machine for better gaming performance, and just better performance overall. Before we delve into this, some assumptions have to be made. We are assuming the following as your minimum system:

– Win 95/98
– 300MHz or faster CPU
– 64MB or more RAM
– The latest drivers for your hardware (sound card, audio card, etc.)
– 1.5GB free hard drive space
– Virus-scanning software with up-to-date virus definitions
– A basic knowledge of how to use a computer
– A day or so to do all this stuff

If your machine does not meet these requirements, then it’s probably more important for you to upgrade first. Upgrading may very well solve several of your game-related problems. Also note that this article is geared toward users of Win95/98. Some of the suggestions we go into here will simply not apply to users of Windows NT.

We’ve put these optimizations in the order that they should be done. Start at the top, and skip the steps that don’t apply to you. Note that I’ve done all the things listed here to my own PC; I wouldn’t tell you to do something without trying it myself first. However, if weird things begin happening, it’s possible to undo all of these steps (except the FAT conversion) by reversing the instructions.

OK, it’s time to go play tech nerds! (At least our machines don’t crash.)