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There was a period, right in the swing of the 16-bit era, where one resounding thought
echoed throughout the gaming industry: WHEN IN DOUBT, MAKE IT AN RPG. Don’t question
it. You can jam in some sort of numbers-based progression system. You can add cute mascot
characters. You can dance if you want to... I’m sorry. Shining Scorpion has the hallmarks
of an RPG: Large, emotive sprites, towns to walk around, crap to buy and sell. But you’re
not saving princesses or collecting monsters. No, this game’s about slot-car racing. Honestly.
I cannot make this up.
Now, slot-car racing could be a really brainless game. You go forward. You can either have
your finger on the “MOVE” trigger or not. That’s pretty much the size of it. After
that, the excitement is in seeing cars fly off the track and hit your kid brother in
the head, which is awesome until the crying starts and then you have to defuse that situation
before mom finds out. In Shining Scorpion, though, this crap is taken UPMARKET. There’s
a whole league of Mini-4-Wheel-Drive vehicles - because the first thing you do to take yourself
upmarket is come up with a new name for the sport that no one recognizes - and each machine
is fine-tuned for performance. You can install new batteries, new motors, new wheels, and
new bumpers, each with a different weight, output, radius in some cases, coefficient
of friction... This is some hardcore number crunching. And that’s really the game’s
saving grace, as the control after you actually get into a race is just “on” or “off.”
By and large, the results of the race are determined before the engines are turned on:
You either have a statistical advantage or you don’t.
But that’d be missing the real purpose of the game: to generate interest in Tamaya’s
existing line of Mini4WD cars, which they’ve been making since 1982. That’s right, not
only is this a weird, eclectic video game, it’s based on an actual, weird, eclectic
hobby! A quick internet search indicates that, yes, people still do race these things. They’ve
outlasted the Super Famicom, that much is for certain. So it’s not very interactive,
there’s not much action, and it’s largely a marketing ploy. But it invites experimentation
and design, and if you really like it, there are apparently other people in the community,
driving little motorized things and hoping that their stabilizers hold up. So while it
might not be the best racing game of the 16-bit era, it may just be the best racer-designing
game. Which is a whole ‘nother kettle of transmission fluid entirely.
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CGRundertow SHINING SCORPION for Super Famicom Video Game Review

2436 Folder Collection
阿多賓 published on April 11, 2013
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