|Publisher(s)||The Software Toolworks|
MegaRace is a racing video game created by Cryo Interactive. It features pre-rendered 3-D graphics and over twenty minutes of full motion video of fictional game show host, Lance Boyle. It was released for MS-DOS in 1993. It was then released for the Sega CD and the 3DO the following year in 1994. There was apparently a version in development for the Commodore Amiga CD32, which was previewed in many Amiga magazines of the time. Microïds, owners of the Cryo brand, made the game available on Good Old Games in 2009. It spawned two sequels, MegaRace 2 and MegaRace 3.
MegaRace takes place in the distant future, where the player is a contestant on a game show, called "MegaRace". MegaRace is on the VWBT (Virtual World Broadcast Television) television channel where contestants compete in a live-or-die race match against Hells Angels-like speed gangs. MegaRace's host is the eccentric Lance Boyle (played by Christian Erickson). He guides the player throughout the game, introducing new levels and enemies, frequently discouraging the player.
The objective in MegaRace is to kill all of the speed-gang members in each race before three laps of the racetrack are completed. The first race starts out with a small number of speed-gang punks, but more are added in each subsequent race. Three ways are available to the player for dispatching opponents: slamming them into the sidewall of the track, hitting them with missiles mounted on the player's car, or passing them, causing the opponent's vehicle to explode after the gap between the two cars becomes too great. Missiles are the most effective way of dispatching opponents; however, they are limited by a finite amount of ammunition available in each race. If all opponents are not killed within three laps, the race is lost and the player must start again from their last saved game. If all opponents are successfully dispatched, the player moves on to the next race.
Megarace is a Vehicular combat game with arcade gameplay, similar to that of RoadBlasters and Spy Hunter. However, it is also a rail shooter, in which the player does not fully control the car; he can move it from side to side and accelerate within a limited range, but cannot turn nor fully stop the vehicle. In fact, the speedway is actually a pre-rendered full-motion video playing on a loop. The player must not only kill the opponents, but must also selectively avoid or run over "symbols" marked on the speedway itself. When driven over, these symbols temporarily improve or harm your car's performance. Almost every symbol on the speedway has a corresponding symbol with an opposite effect, such as acceleration and deceleration symbols. It can be quite difficult to make optimal use of the symbols in some levels, particularly Paradise Valley.
There are a total of 8 cars in the game. Three of the cars (the Enforcer's) are available to choose from at the very beginning.
The Enforcer's Cars
- Ouzbel takes damage well and has good weapons but terrible armour and poor handling.
- Luis is not the easiest car to control, but has good weapons and armour.
- Jose has poor weapons and armour but excellent shields and handling.
- Ramon ("The Vultures") takes hard turns and fires her weapons well but has poor shields.
- Maria ("The Sharks") has average weapons and armor, perfect handling and not-so-great shields.
- Hooper ("Big Bob and the Power Tools") has good armor, shields and handling but lacks good weapons.
- Omega ("King Cool and the Master Class") handles well and has perfect shields but poor weapons and armor.
- Paloma ("The Scabs") has excellent armor and weapons and good shields but is hard to control.
- The Vultures is the first speed-gang the player encounters. Its Packleader's name is 'Jailbait'. It controls the NewSan levels (Uptown, Sunset Boulevard and The Golden Gate Speedway) and drive Ramons. It is a speed-gang with a lot of rage, and its members like to liberate those strong feelings by smearing people across the highway.
- The Sharks is the second speed-gang the player encounters. Its Packleader's name is 'Hammerhead'. It controls the Magical Maeva levels (Atlantis, Aqualand and The Blue Lagoon Funworld) and drive Marias. The speed-gang was actually bought because Maeva didn't have any vicious speed-gangs. Hammerhead wants to either nail the Enforcer to the side walls or bite the Enforcer's legs off.
- The Power Tools is the third speed-gang the player encounters. Its Packleader's name is 'Big Bob'. It controls the Factory Land levels (Industrial Park, The Snake and The Big Zero) and drive Hoopers. Its members don't like robots (because they are putting humans out of employment) and they don't like robot-lovers (like the Enforcer).
- The Master Class is the fourth speed-gang the player encounters. Its Packleader's name is 'King Cool'. It controls the Fractalian Space levels (Belly Of The Beast, Particle Accelerator and Paradise Valley) and drive Omegas. Its members come from the finest families; they are rich kids with attitude, and are tired of the ugliness that they see all around them, to the point that they want to blow it all away.
- The Scabs is the fifth and final speed-gang the player encounters. Its Packleader's name is 'Rabies'. It controls the Terminal City levels (Wasteland and Orbital Junkyard) and drive Palomas. Its members are a degenerate bunch of people that want the Enforcer to put them out of their misery.
There are at least two other speed-gangs that are not named, these two control The Skyholder and The Can levels. The former appear to drive Luises, the latter Palomas. Of course, both of these speed-gangs could be completely virtual, controlled only by VWBT.
In the Sega CD version there is a Packleader on the Hall Of Fame with the name of 'Wolfgang' with a score of 20,000 on the Orbital Junkyard track.
There are fourteen speedways in five worlds. This does not count two extra races, The Skyholder and The Can. The tracks' appearances differ between the 'Novice' and 'Hard' difficulty levels; races on outdoor tracks instead take place at night, the colors of indoor tracks differ, and the placement of symbols on the tracks also differ.
- NewSan - (Futuristic San Francisco)
- Maeva - (Submarine levels, also known as 'Magical Maeva' or 'The Aquatube')
- Factory Land - (Various Construction Sites)
- Fractalian Space - (Various Extraterrestrial Locations)
- Terminal City - (Landfill, Suburb of NewSan)
- Industrial Park
- Belly Of The Beast
- Sunset Boulevard
- Particle Accelerator
- The Snake
- Orbital Junkyard
- The Blue Lagoon Funworld
- The Big Zero
- Golden Gate Speedway
- Paradise Valley
If the player beats Lance Boyle's score (120,000 points), plays for a sufficiently long time, and comes in second, third or (occasionally) fourth, Lance will let him move on to the next track. Usually, coming in any position other than first either ends the game or forces the player to play the "Last-Chance Speedway" (a.k.a. The Can, Tokyo). In this situation, Lance says, "You were lucky to finish that race alive, Enforcer. If I let you drive another one, you'll get splattered all over the track!"
- The Skyholder - An entirely virtual speedway where the Enforcer's brakes have been removed, resulting in high speed, and he must dodge oncoming cars. Your opponents appear to be driving Luises.
The purpose of The Skyholder is to score bonus points. As usual, the Enforcer scores 100 points for driving over a light-colored "bonus points" symbol, or loses 100 for driving over a dark-colored "penalty points" symbol. The Enforcer also scores points by causing an enemy to crash other than by passing them, but the Enforcer also crashes in this situation, since no weapons are available in this level.
- The Can (Also known as 'The Last Chance Speedway' or 'Tokyo') - A circular speedway in Tokyo. Your opponents drive Palomas.
The Can (a.k.a. Tokyo) is a speedway serving only as a last chance; if the player does not win this race, the game ends. In order to race in Tokyo, the player must:
- Finish 'Belly Of The Beast' in second place.
- Finish 'Particle Accelerator' in second place after finishing first in all other races.
- Finish all 14 speedways on both difficulties and select Tokyo in the level select menu.
- Play from beginning and beat Lance Boyle's score and come in second place on any track without losing.
(Note: to reach these milestones, a new game must be started; the above options are not available via a saved game).
Throughout the game prizes awarded for winning races. To win a prize, you must win the race and score at least 8,000 points from that race. Any score from 8,000 to 11,999 points from a race wins a prize from Gallery #1, and a score 12,000 points or more from a race wins a prize from Gallery #2. The prize is random; the player cannot anticipate which prize he is going to receive. Prizes have no effect on the final outcome of the game; these sequences are just for show.
MegaRace has so-called "Symbols" scattered throughout each track. The player must attempt to utilize any positive symbols, while avoiding the large swarms of negative symbols which generally pollute each track. Nearly every symbol in the game has a counterpart with an opposite effect. Enemy cars are not affected by symbols; consequently, enemy cars will unintentionally drive over negative symbols, forcing the player to cease his attack.
- Booster+ - Gives the player a boost of speed for a short amount of time. Some tracks, such as the Golden Gate Speedway, utilize this symbol as a trap rather than a benefit.
- Booster- - Applies the car's brakes causing it to suddenly lose speed. Also causes the player's car to jerk involuntarily, disrupting the player's aim.
- Points+ - Gives the player more points. The amount of points is determined by the amount of point+ symbols hit. This is the only symbol that can be found, other than the point- symbol, on the Skyholder track.
- Points- - Takes points away from the player, the amount being determined by the number of point- symbols hit one right after another.
- Energy+ - Gives the player more ammunition.
- Energy- - Takes ammunition away from the player. It is one of the most common symbols in the game.
- Weapon - Adds a weapon to the player's car, allowing the player to fire multiple laser guns at once.
- No Weapon - Strips the player's car of all weapons.
- Missile - Changes the car's weapon from lasers to missiles. The car must have missile support in order for this symbol to affect the car.
- Rails - Holds the car to the rail symbol, also adds a burst of speed for the duration that the car is on the rail.
- Shield - Grants temporary protection against enemy vehicles. The player's car must have shield support for this symbol to work.
- Radar Jam - Jams the player's radar so he cannot see the location of enemy cars.
- Blinding Zone - Causes the screen to ripple and wobble, throwing off the player's vision.
- Command Inversor - Reverses the car's steering controls (such as the keyboard, mouse, or a joystick). It is very dangerous when taking curves in the track.
- Panel Off - Disables the player's warning monitor, and causes all information on the status bar to vanish temporarily.
- Skidding - Causes the car to involuntarily jerk left or right.
- Skidding Turn - Causes the car to spin 360 degrees. Interestingly enough, this has no effect on the player's speed or traction with the road. The only thing that is disturbed is the player's aim.
- Warning - Activates the warning indicator on the player's car, allowing the player to see upcoming symbols on his status bar.
The actor who played MegaRace's host was Christian Erickson. His previous acting experiences were very small roles in movies such as Fun with Dick and Jane and Dangerous Liaisons. MegaRace was Erickson's first starring role, and after that he has appeared in many other video games (in addition to MegaRace 2 and MegaRace 3) including Atlantis: The Lost Tale, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, XIII, Syberia II, Fahrenheit (better known in the USA as Indigo Prophecy) and most recently (as of 2010), as 'The Doc' in Heavy Rain.
MegaRace features a techno chiptune soundtrack composed by Stéphane Picq of Dune fame. The music uses an AdLib sound card for playback and unfortunately due to the sound card's lack of support and little documentation on Cryo's file extensions, the music cannot be loaded into an audio player. However, the raw musical data for all the songs in the game have been captured and saved into the RAW file extension, which is playable in AdPlug, a plug-in for Winamp. The RAW files are available for download here. The MegaRace music can also be heard on the Kohina online radio station.
MegaRace was a success when it first came out, selling over 100,000 units. MegaRace also spawned two sequels, MegaRace 2 in 1996 and MegaRace 3 in 2001, the former using the same pre-rendered method introduced in MR1 (albeit with 3D polygon car models instead), the latter featuring full real-time 3-D graphics. Lance Boyle also returns for both sequels. MegaRace also came included with some Packard Bell, Quantex computers, and Gravis Joysticks during the early to mid-1990s.