Club Drive

Wow. Just wow. Club Drive is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the strangest, weirdest, most bat-shit insane games I've ever played...and should definitely not be confused with Drive Club for the PS4.

Club Drive is usually lambasted for being a total car crash (excuse the low grade pun), but upon playing it for some considerable time I can't help but love it for how ridiculously bad it is. It's so bad...it's amazingly good! And I can't help but wonder if that was Atari's whole angle when they shat this abortion of a game into the world:

SCENE: Atari HQ boardroom. Several suited EXECS are sat around a large meeting table. The cold, blue light of a mid-winter morning pours through the blinded windows, and onto the grey carpet, grey walls and grey suits. A distant phone rings.

EXEC 1: So what do we have people? We need a killer racing game for our Jagwaaaar console.

EXEC 2: Well, we've got an idea...

EXEC 1: Let's hear it then!

EXEC 2: How about a 3D racing game where you can either collect 'powerballs' or race against the clock?!

EXEC 1: Go on...

EXEC 2: And it's all in 3D! 3D! Polygons and stuff...with no textures, but you can collect 'powerballs' or race against the clock...and one of the tracks is set inside a giant house with a cuboid cat roaming around too!

EXEC 1: Do it.

That's Club Drive in a nutshell. There is no story as such, but then, when do driving games need one unless they're Grid 2? You choose a course (they range from a wierd San Francisco reproduction and a Wild West environment, to...erm...inside a giant house) and then you either go and collect floating multi-coloured orbs, or you drive between two pre-determined 'checkpoints' against the clock. That's it. There are no computer controlled vehicles to race against, and there is no championship or career mode. You can either collect powerballs, race against the clock...or fuck off. You could play against a friend in two player mode if you chose to, but I guarantee they wouldn't be a friend for much longer afterward.

The visual and aural aspects of Club Drive leave me in a bit of quandary. The music I really like - it's so mismatched, and totally unsuited to the style of game - really bouncy and light-hearted; but the sound effects are just plain stupid. The voice sample when you collect a powerball sounds like a Somerset farmer saying "alright," while the engine effects sound like somebody is playing a flute down your lughole. The visuals too, are a bit of a mixed bag - on the one hand I can't help but be impressed by the general 'free roam' nature of the environments, but on the other hand it just looks atrocious. Look at that cat! Look at the flat-shaded horror! If you manage to spin your car - which you will, due to the invisible humps in the flat shaded roads - you can end up facing a flat shaded wall...and have no idea which way you're facing! Club Drive looks like a virtual reality simulator from 1989, frankly. And even in 1994, this looked bad...but these days it has a certain naive charm. There is no doubt in my mind that the Jag wasn't really up to the job of throwing around textured 3D visuals at playable framerates, but good God...did the playtesters and programmers of Club Drive really think Jaguar owners in 1994 would be happy with this?! One look at Ridge Racer on the fledgling PS1 would have told them otherwise.

The thing is, even though it looks like a dog's dinner and has practically no (well, three) gameplay modes or replay appeal, I can't help but feel really drawn to Club Drive. It feels like an unfinished experiment, a tech demo even, and for that I love it. You may have read bad things about Club Drive, and for the most part they are true, but you can't deny that it's original, odd and laughable...but for that I applaud it.






















2 comments:

  1. there is nothing of the kind on any console
    ok graphics resembling hard driving
    beautiful music
    ok gameplay race 1 player mode (2 player framerate low)
    in race mode use the visual n 8 keypad takes me a lot in the game
    I also have Amiga cd32
    although the graphics of this game looks poor and blocks
    the CD 32 would not remotely managed this game
    i love jaguar

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