Sega Rally Championship
Windows - 1997
Description of Sega Rally Championship Windows
Colin opened his computer. He was quite happy when he found Sega Rally at the computer store on the way home- he remembered liking it very much seeing it run on a friend's console. He sat in front of his 15" screen, and noted happily that the game required 16 MB. "Lucky to have bought the extra 8 last week", he thought. Inserting the CD into his 6x drive, he hoped that maybe he could have some real arcade fun with his new Pentium 100...
Troy, "cool-dude" to his friends, ran up the stairs, tearing the shrink-wrap from the new Sega Rally package. The clerk from the store called him at work to let him know the shipment came in- but hey, he was a really valued customer. Their best. His excitement showed as he slipped the CD into his new 12x SCSI CD drive. The MMX machine powered up slowly, like a giant waking from a slumber, counting the 64 MB of memory rather slowly, it seemed. "come on, come on", muttered Troy, fondling his grIp pad and felling the empty box to the floor, right next to the Righteous 3D one. The Windows 95 screen came up. "Lets have some fun"...
Do you like Port?
In what is becoming a popular tradition, Sega has ported their hugely successful arcade hit, Sega Rally Championship, to the PC. Being one of the best arcade racers around, I had high hopes for this Saturn port. Luckily, I got it just while I was replacing my system, and so I had the chance to see it from two different points of view- of the normal and power user. And believe you me, they are different. Installing it was a real snap, even on my relatively unstable machine (due to different hardware being replaced while writing the review). No crashes, hassles, or problems of any kind. Maybe Sega is willing to give "PC stability classes"? I know of several companies who would desperately need the lessons...
The game itself runs using DirectX, ships with version 3, and thoughtfully asks you whether you want it installed. It either runs in a window or in full screen mode, with the former requiring the use of a 16 bit color palette. SVGA is the standard, but VGA (320x240) is also supported.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Sega Rally looks either very good or very bad, depending on your hardware. In SVGA, especially with 16 bit colors, its simply fantastic- I had some trouble playing the game as my attention always wandered to all the eye candy. It is really, really pretty. But if you are one of the majority, then you probably don't have the particulars needed to run it at maximum settings. This is where Sega Rally loses big. It is just awful at the lower resolutions, and if you decide that a low frame rate doesn't bother you and decide to run it at SVGA, then you'll have to turn off the sound. The thing is, the developers did something very nice with the sound- its actually affected but what is going on, and actually helps you drive better. You can tell a lot of things by just listening to the engine and wheels- on my system, I could distinctly hear my right front wheel losing grip on one of the tight turns. But since the game tries to lower the frame rate, instead of lose frames, the sound is slowed also. Its like listening to a 45 RPM vinyl record revolving at 33.
It gets even worse then that; Sega has managed to recreate the experience of driving a race car magnificently- for anyone who has the horsepower. On my previous P-90, the car handled just like any ordinary arcade racer- maybe it was a bit more responsive. On my MMX, though, the car transformed into something out of a dream. Your four wheel drive behaves like it should, and you should actually take into consideration whether you are driving over sand, grass, asphalt or whatever. its simply amazing.
A virtual navigator of sorts keeps informing you of the nature of coming curves- things along the lines "long, easy right", or "medium right, medium left" in succession for a tight chicane. Nice, but if you turn off the sound because your computer isn't really up to the whole thing, you'll lose the nav as well. Luckily, these warnings are coupled by on screen warnings in the form of very noticeable colored arrows.
A minor bug does exist, in that the collision detection is not perfect. You may find yourself driving parallel to a wall with one half of your car on each side. No big deal, but not perfect.
Options? you want options?
Sega Rally offers quite a number of options. The Arcade mode recreates the original quite well, and you can additionally choose to practice any of the three normally available courses. The races are normal arcade fare- you have a "timer to checkpoint" combination to beat, with extra time being carried over, as well as 14 computer opponents should you pick the Championship race. That latter mode requires that you run through the three courses, exposing a fourth. Going on to win first place on that will reveal a hidden car you may use from then on.
Before I go on, let me explain. Sega Rally is very weak in terms of the number of courses and cars it has to offer. Only three tracks are available from the off- Desert, Forest, and Mountain- which get progressively harder. The Lakeside track is hidden- it becomes exposed when you fight for championship and run successfully through all the other three. All of the tracks are beautifully designed, and this compensates somewhat for not having any more. Its still annoying having only two (!) possible cars to drive, the Lancia Delta and the Toyota Celica, so you should do your best to win first place on Lakeside. Manage that, and you will find a third car, the rear wheel drive Lancia Stratos. This provides for tons of fun, as you need to completely readjust your driving style, the Stratos being a totally different experience from the two all wheel drive cars. This also extends the game's longevity, by as much as double the playing time. Good.
Back to options; Time Attack mode allows you to try your luck vs. a running watch, instead of a timer. You may race each track indefinitely, improving your skills and exposing each track's secrets. Two player mode means split screen and multiple fun. You may link to another gamer through a modem, LAN, via the Internet, or take turns using the Ghost mode, where you drive against a ghostly previous incarnation of yourself. You can change your car settings, including transmission type, handling and tires (responsiveness), tightness of suspension springs, and the blow off valve (engine sound). You can even save up to four different setups. There are different difficulty settings, of course. In short, Sega Rally offers all the options required from an arcade racer. The interface might seem unnatural for PC users, but anyone with major arcade experience would feel right at home.
The Checkered flag... and the black
What can I say? Sega Rally is a wonderful game, if you can get it running at full steam. It just isn't worth it otherwise- if you have less then a P133, don't even think about it. Get Screamer instead. But if you do have the hardware, and you like arcade racing, then I suggest you run out and buy a copy. Great track designs, numerous options, close to perfect car modeling, delightful graphics and sound, nice hidden features, the list of adjectives is too long to print... if you can handle the demands, Sega Rally easily becomes a winner. Easily.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
J__ 2019-08-27 0 point
Hey Rico, I also had the same problem with the quick bursts of speed on WinXP, making the game unplayable. First, I installed the MMX patch, and ran compatibility mode for win95 and display settings for 640x480 under the .exe file's properties (compatibility tab). None of this was of any use. Then I ran dxdiag.exe from Start-Run and on the Display tab, I disabled Direct3D Acceleration. This worked for me, running DirectX v9.
Lolcat 2018-08-24 0 point
Audio files are corrupted, unplayable and unreadable. It runs but then it crashes, probably due to file corruption. Surprised it almost worked out of the box with not much tweaking.
Rico 2017-11-19 3 points
Pulled out an old Windows XP PC from 2004, installed the game and it runs weird...like normal speed then a quick burst, normal speed, quick burst...repeat. Weird.
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