First we have the Virtua Cop style shoot 'em up House of the Dead. The game is set in and around a big spooky mansion and sees you testing your light gun skills against Zombies, Bats and various other undead axe wielding homicidal maniacs.
AM1 have done a great job with the graphics, everything's nicely texture mapped rather like 'Time Crisis', but the Sega boys have easily outdone their Namco rivals here and the Model 2 board shows that it still has life in it yet. There's also a bit of a plot which unfolds via little cinematic cut scenes along the way adding to the Horror movie atmosphere. As far as I could work out, it's the usual 'rescue the babe' type situation. The gameplay is very satisfying. You start off in the grounds of the mansion and gradually make your way in to the house itself. The first ememies you meet are the zombies. They take multiple hits, and there's plenty of gore soaked action as limbs fly in all directions along with much spilling of green blood. Taking their heads off with a well placed shot finishes them off nice and quick though.
One particularly impressive graphical touch I noticed is that after blowing a hole in a Zombie's chest or stomach, you can actually see right through. Clever.
It gets tough pretty quickly though and soon your fending off Bats, Gargoyle type things and fat blokes with chainsaws. You also get some route choices along the way a la VC2. AM1 have been clever again though, and the choices are made available depending on how well you've progressed. Overall, House of the Dead is 'frighteningly' good and easily AM1's best game yet. Saturn conversion please.
Next up it's Scud Race from AM2. Here's your chance to drive some of the best cars in the world. Sort of. Choose from a Porsche, Ferrari F40, Dodge Viper and Mclaren F1 and then tear round one of three tracks. Beginner, medium or expert. The stunning Model 3 visuals are, of course, unmatched at present but you won't really notice when the action starts.
If you're playing a two player game, it's best if you both choose the same car, as each has it's own difficulty level, the Porsche being the easiest and McLaren hardest and quickest. Choosing equal cars makes for a more close and exciting race and you'll soon be re-capturing that Daytona spirit as you attempt to push your mate in to the wall or off the track. Daytona style crashes are possible in Scud Race as are full 360 degree spins. You'll probably find that happening quite a lot at first, especially if you plump for the 'lively' McLaren.
Graphical 'niceties' I did notice were the cool sparks that fly up when you scrape the walls and the skidmarks that you can leave behind on the track when you pull away or powerslide through a bend. (Cheap 'skidmarks' joke omitted) At the end of the race the camera pans round to show the driver of each car. The winner (that'll be me then) is shown waving his fists in triumph while the loser bangs on the steering wheel in frustration. I found the Beginner track to be a bit too simple and boring so go for the medium track which has some long bends along with slopes and jumps that see your car flying through the air Sega Rally style.
AM2 have done a good job with the car handling. There's still plenty of tail sliding tomfoolery to be had, but it's all very controlable and realistic. The big question though is does it better Daytona USA? Personally, I still think Daytona rules the arcade Race 'em ups but this is Sega's nearest attempt since (not taking 'Sega Rally' in to account). Certainly a return to form After the disappointing Indy 500 and the quite frankly, rubbish, Sega Touring Car.
A Saturn conversion has already been discussed but I suppose it all boils down to whether we see the upgrade cart or not.
Stay tuned for more of 'Jon's Arcade Reports' in the future.