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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games

Racing Days, by Kitt Peak, $19.95
Reviewed July 2002

While you're waiting for Need for Speed to make its way to the Pocket PC, why not get in the cockpit of Honda NSX in Racing Days. Developed by Kitt Peak in Japan, Racing Days will give you a glimpse of what a real 3D racing game looks like on the Pocket PC.

The looks of the car and courses will not disappoint you, but the limited selection will leave you drooling. The game comes with two circuits: Swiss and America. A new India circuit just became available for downloading. The Swiss circuit is set in the Matterhorn mountains where you will see snowy alpine peaks, villages, meadows and lakes where you see boats floating. In the America speedway, you will see desert scenes, the Grand Canyon, and you'll pass through some tunnels. The background graphics in the distance look like photos; the moving graphics like the billboards, spectators, cows and road signs are clear to see and read. The new India circuit seems to have packed more scenic landmarks and structures than the other two circuits. You won't see shadows in this game though.

You have only one car to drive, a Honda NSX. According to the website, more cars will be added in the future. But you can customize this car and turn it into a very different race car without getting your hands greasy. The first thing you get to choose is the bodywork. 8 .bmp files come with the game, which you can select to give your car a different look. What's even cooler is that you can use your own .bmp files to decorate the car, and submit them to the developer's website. There are already more new skins to download. Next comes the car modification: you can customize you gear ratio, brakes, tire types, suspension, steering and wings. The game gives you nice graphs to help you your customization decisions.

There are three race modes (Sprint, Time Attack, and Simulation) and three levels of difficulty. The courses are the same, but in higher difficulty levels, the courses are extended in length, and look for the sharp turns and curves at higher levels as well. In Sprint and Time Attack modes you race with 8 other cars and must finish first to get to the next level. The Simulation mode is a training mode where you can sharpen your skills behind the wheel. You can replay the race after you finish it and the game keeps your best time laps, and has buttons for submitting your high score and looking at the World Ranking.

The controls in Racing Days are a combination of hardware buttons and stylus. The hardware buttons are mapped to Change Camera View, Accelerate and Brakes. The stylus controls the steering. There is a Steering Assist Bar in the game to help you adjust the control. It takes a little bit of time to get used to. But once you get over the learning curve, the car is a joy to control. At level 1 and 2, you almost don't have to move much of your stylus other than a few turns. I often like under-steering racing games than over-steering ones.

There are no sound effects, which means you could do "donuts" in your victory lane but you won't hear the tires squealing. The background music is nice, but there is only one track. The game can be displayed in landscape mode, for lefties and righties. It supports both ARM and MIPS. On Toshiba e740, the game looks great and runs very smoothly, but it crashes very regularly required a soft reset. The game takes up 3.5MB and supports both English and Japanese.

Playing Hints and Tips

Don't tap at the direction you want to steer, but drag your stylus to steer. The trick is to not move your stylus too much or too fast. Try to keep the stylus pointing at the middle of the racetrack and keep your eyes on the horizon.

Racing Days screen shot

Racing Days screen shot

ARM

 

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Both background images and close-ups are beautiful to look at.
Sound It's disappointing when you can't hear your horsepower at work. Very limited sound track as well.
Fun Meter Other than wanting more circuits, you will thoroughly enjoy the driving experience.
Addictivity To advance to level 3 can be tricky on both tracks. It may require many tries and patience if you're not Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr. Good replay value. And again, it'd be better to have more tracks.


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