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5.0 Perfect
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Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: Shooter

Awards: None
You Can Rep Blue Space, Like A Total Lame Nerd Pros: This Sequel Adds a Racing Element and a Boss
Cons: Rudimentary Graphics
Or, You Can Be A Space Pimp and Kill in Black Space and Look Good Doing It


Overview: If Alpha Race sounds like it should ring a bell but it doesn't, it is not because you are going senile. It is an exclusive Atari 7800 homebrew
that is a play on words pertaining to either the vector arcade game Omega Race or one of God's nicknames. Knowing what I know... I'm guessing it has to do with Omega Race. To the unfamiliar, Omega Race was originally an early 80's vector arcade title that had 99% more to do with blowing things up than racing. Although the enemies in Omega Race scuttle in a group around what appears to be a track in the same direction like a slow motion NASCAR event, there are no trophies, checkered flags, or bouncing blondes in bikinis for the winner. Why? There is no winner... because there is no race. But Alpha Race looks to change that.

Graphics: Vector graphics are just the coolest. Sadly, faking vector graphics rarely turns out well, but here, programmer Brek Brixius (my new fake name for dealing with the police) does what he can. It's a rudimentary looking game no matter how you slice it, but Brek and his crew tries, dammit. The enemy ships portray movement effectively, and there are several menu screens that explain the rules of the world of Alpha Racin', and that's a good thing. The rules are a bit different than in Omega Race. The fonts are a bit blocky for my liking, but the in game menu, bullets, and speed of the game looks good. But to make the game halfway decent looking, you have to go to work. This game features graphic customization, which is extremely rare for a 7800 game. Thankfully, you can change the background from that aggravating gross blue to black... make the boss green and then your ship big pimpin' gold... Now, sir. Now... Now you are ready to get to know your enemy in groovealicious style.

Sound: The audio gets the job done. Laser blasts, ricochets, little ditties, and the tense theme that starts when the "Indestructible Omega 3" appears, breaks the awkward silence that plagues so many 7800 space shooters. Player 1 ship explosions sound like polite farts at a church dinner, but overall, sound is not a problem.

Gameplay: There's some bull back story in Omega Race being a fighting simulator for an alien armada or some crap, OH MY GOD- WHO CARES? Lets get in the ship and rock it. In Alpha Race, your enemies do not move like they are in a slow race like OR. It's ships exhibit a bit more free will. They can fly clockwise or counter clockwise, making things a tad more difficult than in the original, but you should be okay because the ships cannot deviate from their paths and only make laps around the track in their own "lanes". Some can shoot at you, some drop mines, some just plod along and pray that you don't see them. Flying your ship is a wild affair, bouncing off the invisible walls like a billiard ball and controlling your own inertia is a blast but actually more difficult than dealing with the UFOs. But really, that's the fun of the game... piloting a ricocheting space ship and racking up many near misses as you annihilate hapless foes. All is well and good until you wipe out all of the racers. Then, in a new twist, you must escape the level. A boss, named "The Indestructible Omega 3" (can't decide if I like the joke or it hurts my soul a little bit every time I read or type it) shows up. He looks like a damned dork, like a fast moving Goldfish cracker, but he is a tough customer. As the title infers, you cannot kill him/it/they/her. You must escape. And just like that, in all of the Omega Race ports in history, we have a race on our hands! At the top or the bottom of the track, a warp to the next level pops up, and we need to get there fast. A timer ticks down, as the pissed off snack food looks to ram you and drop mines like crazy. If you succeed in escaping, the mines from before remain, potentially clogging your desired thoroughfares in the next race. Truth be told, the control over your ship is not as fluid as in other versions of the game. In most versions of the game, your ship handles like the craft in Asteroids. In Alpha Race, its a bit clunkier, but the difference can be managed.

Originality: In my opinion, this really isn't a full blown sequel as much as this is just Omega Race with some funky twists and improvements. For example, this is the first game in the series to include brakes! Brilliant! I played several versions of Omega Race in preparation for this review, and the Atari 2600 version is amazingly the most unique, besides this one. That version actually features a boss enemy at the end of each race but he can be taken out with a single laser blast. The Sega Genesis version features several color options like this version does, but this port/sequel combines it all, and adds an actual timed race element to da' mix. Bully for Brek Brixius.

Value: Replay Value? This is the most challenging title in the Omega Race series. Options? We gots 'em. We can change the hues of our ship, the bad guy boss, the background (you gotta change it black). There are three difficulty modes, and if you go the "easy" route, the game shames you by putting this tiny "E" everywhere. Way to put me on front street with that one, Brek. You can make the warp fields invisible (standard) or not and make changes on how you control the thrust. To me, the most important selection has to do with your ship's inertia, or "drag". I love the free wheeling mode (drag off) where you keep going until you decide to stop as opposed to the default option where you eventually come to a complete stop after firing your boosters for a time (drag taking over). The reason I prefer the former is that on the "drag on" mode (hey Revontuli!) the ship doesn't slow down like it should, it just comes to a complete stop and it feels and looks weird. Trust me on this... get wild and turn off that drag. Goals? If you clear 64 levels, something "special" happens. I'm not sure what that is, but I'm hoping its something to do with me losing my virginity... although right now I can't get past level 24. FINGERS CROSSED!!! I HOPE SHE'S HOT AND NOT A DUDE!

Overall: Brek Brixius goes by Si02 in gamer forums, but he shouldn't. If I were Brek, I would walk around bars and tell everyone while I flip them off, "I'm Brek Brixius and I'm here to make video games and dance with your dates, jive turkey." Then I would crush something on the table with my mind. Why? Because I would have that swagger. I made Alpha Race after all, and its damn good. With the help of a guy nicknamed Atariboy, Brek Brixius took a pretty good arcade classic and made it make more sense. There's now a race element in a game with "Race" in the title! Genius! It doesn't look as sexy as the arcade, c64, Genesis, or maybe even the 2600 versions, and it may not control as smoothly as some of those, but its got style points to burn. The Omega Race line of games are odd space shooters that probably only appeal to a select few, but I think this 7800 version is my favorite version from this series. Good job, fellas.



Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Trebor's Stuff for allowing the use of the screenshots for this review.

WARNING WARNING WARNING

As I write this review, there is only one copy left at Good Deal Games. They must be proud of it, because it's priced to stay put. Whether or not you wanna pull the trigger is on you (of course), but I have played the ROM and it is a bit different from my cart version... let's just say I'm REALLY glad I have it on cart. Good luck!