I’m always weary of claiming that older games are bad as it could sometimes be more a case of me holding them to an unrealistic standard as opposed to them actually being particularly rotten. Gaming has advanced so much as a medium that what qualifies as good or bad to a modern eye can be drastically different to someone even 10 years ago. Graphics are a good example of this. What may have been good, and perhaps even revolutionary, for the time could look to a modern eye as jagged and uncouth. I think I’ve said before that having a go at an old game for bad graphics is like complaining that a milk float drives too slowly. It can only go so fast due to the limitations of its design. An older game is similar in that regard. However, some games are bad even for the timeframe in which they originated and “Hardcore 4×4” is definitely one of those games.
Picture Courtesy of segasaturn.co.uk
I picked this game up for a mere pittance at Retro-Reload in Stockport and I partly did it because to me it looked like it would go one of two ways. Either it would be a hidden gem that I would be able to gush and enthuse over or it would be an epic disaster that I could tear apart. Sorry for the upcoming spoilers here, but it’s most certainly the latter one. I should have known what I was in for when I saw that the game was made by Gremlin Interactive, perhaps one of the worst developers/publishers of the mid 90’s. Gremlin was a company that made one passable game (Actua Soccer) and one actual decent game (Actua Soccer 2) and the rest of their game library was an unedifying buffet of differing levels of mulch. I should have paid heed, but alas I did not.
I don’t think I could adequately explain to you just how bad the graphics are in this game. We’re not just talking bad by today’s standards either, we’re talking the standards of the time when the game was released. Heck, we’re even talking of standards of the time BEFORE the game was released. The graphics are some of the most horrific I’ve ever seen for a game in the mid 90’s. There are some racing games from the time period which are a bit rough around the edges, such as Rally Cross for instance, but they at least aren’t so graphically poor that you can’t see what the hell you’re doing. I’m not being facetious when I say that after a few minutes the visuals actually started to hurt my eyes. I’m not joking or exaggerating the point for additional weight either. The graphics in this game were so bad that they actually caused me PHYSICAL PAIN!
Picture Courtesy of www.youtube.com
Colours meld together like gloopy porridge and the overall aesthetic is one of abject misery. The courses on offer go from your standard off road drive through the mountains to a hilariously bad jaunt around a snowy wasteland, to an active volcano (don’t look at me I didn’t design it!) and even an honest to goodness Desert Warzone. I’m not even being remotely dishonest about this either, they actually have you driving around desert with 2D cardboard tanks in the back ground. So not only is this game poorly made, it’s also in hilariously bad taste to boot!
The courses are nothing more than poorly designed corridors in which you have to get your cumbersome vehicle to traverse. Collision detection is woeful and I passed straight through other vehicles on more than one occasion. In addition to that, corners are overly precarious due to the games poor frame rate. None of this is helped by the fact that 4×4’s are naturally not the nimblest of racing vehicles. With better graphics and control system this could have made the game an interesting break from the norm. As it is, it only serves to make the experience all the more frustrating.
This game is woeful. The graphics are horrid, the gameplay is poor and the music is generic white noise. There’s a reason you can get this game on the cheap, and it’s not because it’s a underappreciated forgotten classic. Quite simply Hardcore 4×4 is one of the very worst games I have ever been unlucky enough to play. Kill it with fire!
As always, I’ll post some game footage below.
Thanks for reading
A quick update on the series. I currently don’t have any other Saturn games to review at the moment. There’s a couple that I am looking at but I’m afraid I don’t have anything to review on the Saturn next week. For that reason, I’ll be console hopping for the next couple of weeks as I put Rings of Saturn on the back burner for a while. Next week, we’ll see the debut of a feature entitled “Retro-Spec” and I have a doozy of a first game to do for it!
Game footage of Hardcore 4×4 can be found courtesy of musicman2047 HERE