Ross’s Game Dungeon: Polaris Snocross

Ross’s Game Dungeon: Polaris Snocross


[Subtitles by danielsangeo] Ho ho ho! Welcome to the Game Dungeon. For the Christmas episode, we’re looking at
Polaris SnoCross, a snowmobile racing game. Now this game isn’t especially
Christmas-themed, but it DOES have lots of snow, and
hey, Christmas, winter, SAME THING! I guess winter doesn’t mean much
if you’re in the southern hemisphere, but you’re probably used to northern
hemisphere propaganda by now. So, uh, hope you like snow! Now, Polaris SnoCross is a
pretty standard racing game. You have a tournament mode or
you can race on a single track, but a lot of the tracks are
locked off until you win races. You get to choose which snowmobile
you use with different stats, and in tournament mode,
you get to upgrade it as you go. And for all the tracks, you can
race during the day or night and while it’s snowing or not. Now, the night and day option is
pretty nice, but the weather option is lame. I’ll show that in a bit. Okay! So let’s start racing. Here’s the game. The controls in this is very arcade-style. The steering is a little jerky
but it’s not as bad as it looks. Throughout the course, there are
lots of opportunities to do jumps, and you can perform
tricks while in mid-air. There are a lot of tricks
you can pull off, but the more impressive ones
simply don’t trigger sometimes. Like, hey, that looks pretty cool, even though I think Isaac Newton would have
some problems with how that went down. Here, I’m trying to do the same
thing and it’s just not happening. The complicated tricks only work
when the game wants them to. This happen on the gamepad
and the keyboard. Like here, I’m pressing the
sequence over and over and it’s– Wha…? NO, I DON’T WANT STICKYKEYS, YOU
PIECE OF CRAP! I’M PLAYING THE GAME! I’M PLAYING THE GA–! When you perform tricks, you get
points, but unlike most games, your points actually matter as you can
use them towards upgrading your sled. This creates an incentive to
perform tricks constantly, but there’s no reason to have variety, especially since the complex
ones don’t always work. On the contrary, the easiest
trick to pull off while moving forward is also the fastest one to perform, so I just keep flinging my arms
up in the air over and over again like I’m a chimpanzee
stuffed in a tracksuit. Oo-AHH! The physics are believable
when they want to be. Like here I’m taking a turn too
hard and–Ohhh! Or watch me to try to plow
through a frozen riverbank. But here I’m getting some
terrifying air time from a jump. Let me ask you: do you think a
snowmobile could handle THIS jump landing on mostly flat ground? I should mention now that you
can’t race on the tracks backwards, this jump being a perfect example why. Oh, sure, that doesn’t look so
bad from a distance, but once you get up close… Forget snowmobiles, I’d like to see ANY
vehicle try to make it up this road, even without the snow. So, you can survive jumps that could
paralyze you from the neck down on a bad day. Or hey, let’s hit a column of ice! Or, better yet, a BARN DOOR! No problem! The last time I saw someone ram
a door like that in a vehicle, it didn’t go so well. These must be some good snowmobiles. And, yes, the game does
have invisible walls. So, there’s not much consistency, but the
one thing I do appreciate about the physics is you can RAM OTHER RACERS and
knock them off their sleds! This is the best. MERRY CHRISTMAS! AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yeah, I’ve got some good tidings for ya! I’m not familiar with the rules
to real snocross events, but I’m pretty sure ramming
other racers isn’t a sanctioned tactic. But, hey, if you’re out in the middle of
the woods where no one can see you, it’s just your word against his. He just cut in front of me.
Yeah, see? Let’s talk about the graphics. I both love and hate the
graphics to this game, but it’s not the game’s fault.
Except it sort of is. Even though the graphics are
dated by today’s standards, this game is a perfect example of
making the most with what you have. If you use a little imagination, this kind of feels like you’re racing in the
backwoods out in the country somewhere. After you’re done racing, it feels like
you can head into a warm cabin, have some hot chocolate and
watch out for wolves after nightfall. Awoooooo! I really like the atmosphere;
it’s my favorite part of this game. Another thing is game does right
is the draw distance. Y’know, I called out graphics
snobs in the first episode, but I realized, I’m a little bit of one myself. Oops. The difference is,
the stuff I’m critical of, we’ve had solved for
at least 10 or 12 years. Well, one of my pet peeves in games is
objects that just pop in out of nowhere. Even modern games will do this because
they’re trying to cram in too much detail. I’d rather have crude graphics
that are consistent, instead of nice graphics up close but background objects doing
whatever the hell they want. Well, this game does it right. They didn’t have the power to
show you all the details at once, so what they did was hide it
all behind a layer of fog, so you don’t see the landscape popping in. It’s not perfect but they made a
pretty good effort here and it lets me get drawn into the game. I actually didn’t realize just
how good a job they did until I started making this episode. This is the PC version of the game,
but this came out for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 as well. The PlayStation copy has exactly
the problem I mentioned. You can see the landscape
fading in out of nowhere even though you have a
background showing otherwise. The Nintendo 64 version
is even more extreme. It’s like you’re sledding on the
edge of reality here. If the systems couldn’t handle it, they should’ve just scrapped these
backgrounds and thrown fog everywhere. Make this look like
Silent Hill snowmobiling. Or just dial down the graphics some so you
can at least see the road in front of you! But, the PC copy largely
doesn’t have that problem so I’m glad it dodged the
draw distance bullet. Another good thing is,
for a DirectX 7 game, the lighting in this is
pretty damned good. They’re trying to fake some shadows; that’s
a lot more than what I was expecting. So, the atmosphere in this game
I think is great. So, what’s bad? Well, for starters, I think the
snow effect is kind of lame. It’s perpetually snowing only
about 10 feet in front of the camera. If I get some speed up, I can
literally outrun the snow. Look at me! I’m faster
than the speed of weather! I know I’m being nitpicky but I
think there was room to make it better by spreading out the particles out more
without increasing the graphics load. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! But what I really hate is that this game is
a BASTARD to run on a modern system. Long and painful story short– it’s IMPOSSIBLE to run this
game on modern hardware. I had to emulate it and fight
through a lot of bugs. I almost thought I wasn’t going
to be able to make this episode. If you think any of
this video looks choppy, just be glad I stopped the game from capping
the frame rate at 21 frames per second. Yeah, I don’t know why it was doing that. This game is also resolution-capped. It goes up to 1024×768, which isn’t
bad, but come on! This is a 3D game! That’s a totally artificial limit. Well, I tried hacking the executable
with a frigging hex editor, I consulted a programmer AND a
games compatibility expert, there’s no way around it;
this is as good as it gets. It’s not quite good enough, though! How do you like the ski lift that tears
through the planes of reality? Or the reappearing bridge? Or, hey, remember how I was
praising the lighting? Well, check out how the
headlights at night. Oh my God! These headlights! These make the night levels
borderline unplayable, so your only option is
to either play half blind, or else switch to
first person vomit vision. I love the night atmosphere they’ve
created but this is horrible. This crap doesn’t happen in the original; this is just bugginess from
having to emulate Windows. That also means
I can’t force anti-aliasing. I confess, I’m a freak
about anti-aliasing. I love it. I force it in 3D games whenever I can. Most people don’t notice it, but my eye gets
drawn to badly aliased areas like a magnet and distracts me from
the rest of the game. Look at that! That is nasty! This is NOT pixel art. This is the
computer calling it a day early. This bugs me because
it USED to look better! I was playing this game three
years ago and it looked perfect. We’ve had the hardware to get
rid of this since about 2001, 2002, so this game looks worse now
than it has in the past decade. Anachronisms piss me off when
I’m on the receiving end. Let’s talk about the music. I’ve got some GOOD Christmas
music for you this time! This soundtrack is sort of a
generic hard rock music created by the band Point Defiance. Not to be confused with
the band Defiance Pointe, or Point Defiance Park where some fishermen
found human bones not long ago. [“So, Roger Garrett found those two bones [“about a half a mile down the beach
this way, and then around the Point [“and now detectives want to
know where these bones came from.” [“I w-I was at a loss for words;
I didn’t know what to think or say.” [“Roger Garrett tells me he found these
two bones a couple of weeks ago [“while fishing on his favorite
beach at Point Defiance Park.”] Actually, I’m just ASSUMING the band has
nothing to do with finding human remains out at Point Defiance Park. The band is from that area. Seriously, they’re like 20 miles
away from the crime scene. Also, I read on their site that
they used to have five members, but now they have four. I mean, I’m sure they didn’t just kill him
and dump his body out in the lake at Point Defiance as a sacrifice
for the band or something. No, I don’t think their music is
quite hardcore enough for that. I think if they decide to do
a cover of “Them Bones” then police will have reasonable suspicion. [“And I looked on the Internet and
I Googled, y’know, bone–human bones…”] The music DOES fit the game quite well. While I personally like rock
with a little more bite to it, this gets the job done and won’t scare off
everyone who just wants to ride a snowmobile. The music comes as
CD audio tracks on the disc, but they’ve done some processing to it
to try and mute out most of the vocals. (muffled vocals)
[“I’ve contemplated all those past sensations (muffled vocals)
[“that I beat down long ago”] [“I’ve contemplated all those past sensations
that I beat down long ago”] I’m not sure why they did this. At first I thought it was because
they were dropping F-bombs in the lyrics, and that would make sense; you don’t want
language like that in a snowmobile game. I mean, how old do you have to be
to play a snowmobile game? Five? But, no, the lyrics seem clean from what
I can tell, so I don’t know what happened. Also, even though the
CD has ten audio tracks, each song is a copy of another one,
so there are only five actual songs. What the hell was going on here? Maybe it was a trick to get you
to buy the actual album, although that doesn’t quite make sense. This brings me to the most
noteworthy aspect of Point Defiance, and that’s they’re actually
composed of time travelers, as their first albums came out
years after the game was made, the later one being
six years after the fact. Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, Ross,
they just released that music later is all.” See, I thought of that too, but Polaris
SnoCross was released on February 18, 2000 with a soundtrack by Point Defiance, but, the band Point Defiance wasn’t
even formed until a year later in 2001. After discovering the
secrets of time travel, I guess they decided to get a
head start on their careers and figured getting their music
into a budget racing game wouldn’t disrupt the timeline too much. But they probably weren’t
counting on me pointing this out. So, wait, does that mean I could be erasing
this timeline and replacing it with another– Tfel eht ot pmuj a tsuj sti. What did I hit? Did you see it? I didn’t see it. Ohhh. So, that’s the music.
As for the rest of the sound, beside the engine noise and impact
sounds, it’s completely wasted. Between the rock music and engine
noise, you will hear nothing else in this game. Like, hey, did you know there
was a banner flapping here? [flapping sound] The only time you can hear anything
else is when you fall off your bike and curl up in a fetal position. [“That’s no good!”] BRAAAAAAAAA–! Okay, so I like the atmosphere,
it’s a competent racing game, but there’s something about Polaris
SnoCross that I found truly noteworthy: the artificial intelligence. Polaris SnoCross uses what’s
called “rubber band AI”. This means that if you’re falling
behind, the racers slow down a little bit so you can catch up. If you’re ahead, the racers behind you
speed up to make it more challenging. I think that’s a good concept. It keeps you in
the game and makes the finishes more close. Well, if this is a rubber band, it is the
stretchiest rubber band I’ve ever seen. These racers are VERY considerate
when you get held up. “Oh no! Your sled’s having trouble? “Well, don’t worry, we’ll keep a nice
slow pace so you can catch up, buddy!” But, wow, you get close to that finish line, they will make sure you’re
breathing their exhaust. Here’s a secret tip about this game: There are three laps,
only the LAST lap matters. It doesn’t matter what you do,
they won’t get TOO far ahead. In fact, only the last 10 seconds
of the last lap matter. Everything else is just a long warm-up. I would have games where I would
be in first place the entire race, but at the finish line, the computer
would ALWAYS pull ahead. So, I figured, “Oh, I get it. This is the
gimmick to get me to upgrade my sled.” Okay, fine. I’ll do some grinding
since the game is fun anyway. So I got my snowmobile upgraded all the way. I would even experiment finding
the absolute fastest ways to get through the track so I could
tear ahead and I finally made it. But then, on the next level,
I COULD NEVER BEAT IT! I’m probably not quite as
good now as I used to be, but I remember playing this
track flawlessly and the computer would ALWAYS
PULL AHEAD at the finish line! Look at that! Did you see that? You may have missed it.
Let’s watch it again. Look at the radar. There! Right there! That’s some impressive
snowmobiling he’s doing. I didn’t know his snowmobile was
capable of pulling Mach 1 on the course, especially on the hairpin turn! I think Polaris might be overselling
their snowmobiles a little here. Now, the slap in the
face is if this happens on the last course in the tournament
circuit, you don’t just redo that course, it ruins your whole standing. That means you have to redo twelve laps and have a good standing on the other
three courses just to try this part again. This is about the part
where I start breaking things. Who the hell tries to pass somebody on the
outside of a curve going uphill in the snow? Are you kidding me?! Damn! THAT IS SO CHEAP! YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT! ZOOM PAST MY FULLY
UPGRADED SLED THAT’S GOING AT TOP SPEED! IT’S CHEATING! THE COMPUTER IS CHEATING! I found this really annoying because it essentially meant
that I couldn’t beat the game. But, it is just a racing game. So what if
I’m not the winner? Who cares? But, wait a minute! Remember how the tracks
were locked off earlier? Well, guess what?! Some of
them are still locked off because I haven’t beaten the tournament! I’m not even halfway through! AND I CAN’T BEAT THE TOURNAMENT
BECAUSE THE AI IS MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE! WELL, NOW I CARE! I WANT
TO SEE THOSE TRACKS! They are just sitting there mocking me
because they know I’ll never see them. This game doesn’t have
any cheat codes, either. Oh, sure, the console ports have
cheat codes but not the PC. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that NO player has EVER
seen these tracks on the PC. Except for me! And I’m going to show you! When I got this far before, I did not want to take “no” for
an answer on seeing these tracks, so I started screwing around with the
system files hoping I would get lucky and could edit a config file
to unlock them. No luck. Now I am not a programmer by any means, but I was able to find some
.csv files for each track with one of them named “Bots”.
So, I took at them. “MaxCatchupSpeed”. Yeah,
whatever that is, it’s WAY too high. But changing this by itself
didn’t actually fix things so I decided to change a bunch of numbers. That did the trick! Remember the intro from earlier?
Check it out now! Aw, yeah! This guy looks bad ass
on his snowmobile now! Vroom! That’s right! I figured out how
to lobotomize the bots and I was able to win the
tournaments to unlock the tracks. And here they are! What you’re looking at right now, I think no one outside the development
team has ever laid eyes on. This is a lot of extra content
to have locked off. This track is kind of lame but
the rest are good. I like roller coasters. This is practically the
other half of the game. I’m sure the mappers really appreciated the
other developers burying this so thoroughly that no one would ever get to look at it. I mean, that’s why people create things,
right? So no one will EVER see their work? It would’ve been nice to figure out how to
have the bots give me a fair challenge, but hey, this works just fine. Even now, you can see the computer
trying to pull some fast ones on me. If I have to choose between a
game so hard I’ll never see the end, versus one that’s too easy, I’d rather
play the one I can, y’know, play. So, that’s Polaris SnoCross, a budget
racing game with broken difficulty that I think was meant to be a
shovelware game, but ended up resembling
something good, instead. That’s it! Have a merry Christmas,
from my lobster sled to yours. [hard rock] Lobsters like water!

100 Replies to “Ross’s Game Dungeon: Polaris Snocross”

  1. Did you ever try using WINE on Linux to play old Windows games? Runs old Windows stuff better than current Windows can run it in my experience.

  2. "Winter probably doesn't mean much if you're in the Southern Hemisphere". Unless you live or are on Christmas holiday in Antarctica at least. Just watch out for crevasses and be very careful if you want to ski down Mt Erebus. That latter one would be a pretty metal last level for That Ski Game. (Freakout:Extreme Freeride)

  3. If this game ever comes to GOG Ross, we will need documentation of your bot lobotomisation process so everyone else can also beat the game.

  4. Oh XP, how I miss thee! It was the best post-DOS pre-Windows 10 OS I have experienced. Too bad Microsoft doesn't want to update it anymore. Oh well, at least Windows 10 is pretty solid.

    From the looks of this video, it looks like a well-made arcade game done right, except when they threw in that extreme version of the Mario Kart 64 effect at the end. I love to have a well constructed, well crafted game with smooth controls and transitions than very high graphics with cumbersome controls and depth of view.

    And speaking of arcade gameplay done right, this "Rubber-band AI" is similar to the AI featured in the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune series. I noticed various videos where the player's car was purposely way behind the race, and far ahead it was as though the opponent racers were waiting for him all this time. XD

  5. That guy driving into the barn door is supposed to be funny but it freaks me out. Like, it gives me a fear of decapitation. It leaves me wondering if that guy actually broke his neck and died from it. Hopefully he had no seatbelt, so he could bend his whole body and not just his neck.

  6. In my opinion, rubberbanding in a RACING game is always bad. Nothing can justify it. Yeah, sure you might get those neck to neck finishes and may think it's so awesome – but that's only because you're unaware oh the things happening behind the scenes. And then, when like every single race ends like that, it gets really old, and you know it's not happening because it was a close race but rather because their rubberband triggered a little bit late to ruin your day.

    Rubberbanding is basically a lazy excuse for not wanting to make a competent AI. Why bother making a good AI when you can just make them cheat to match or even surpass human skill. It makes upgrades pointless, it makes your own SKILL pointless, not to mention it can actually derange your skill, since you might think the opponents are catching up because YOU'RE the at fault, while it's not the case, causing you to try to drive differently, and basically mess up your own good driving style.

  7. This game really needs to be on GOG. I haven't found any abandonware copies except the shitty console ports and I don't have space for an XP virtual machine. Why can That Ski Game be on Steam but not this on both GOG and Steam? Anyway, the Southern Hemisphere also counts if you count Antarctica. That continent is covered in snow and it's on the very bottom of the planet. Tons of ice too; whole canyons of the stuff, coated with a thin layer of snow, like a pit trap, literally.

    Speaking of snow, at time of writing it's snowy as hell outside here in the UK and has been for the past few days. I've been sent home from college and work experience because of it and I have to stay home until Monday due to snow as well. And thank fuck for that as I finally get proper snow days for the first time in years.

  8. I love all of these, but I think this is my favorite Game Dungeon. I've watched it like, six times or something. I think I have a problem…

  9. This video came out 4 years ago as of today. That is enough time for someone to graduate highschool in the US. Where is the time going.

  10. I remember the tournament, it took an eternity to eventually beat it (it was possible) but the only way to beat it is to trick the AIs. You see, if you start getting perfect laps over and over again, the AIs will start following your pathing, and copy your shortcuts over time, one of the reasons I liked this game, is the AI looked like it was learning. So I tricked the AI into doing good for the laps, but at the end do a risky move that caused them to bunch up and crash, so I passed them, and won. My favorite tracks were some of the last ones that had the really high ramps, and don't forget the secret lobster snow mobile (that's what I call it, I remember it looking like a lobster) which you get for upgrading all the snowmobiles and winning all tournaments and tracks backwards, forwards night, and day. The lights at night weren't so bad, and the rubber banding wasn't so bad on the 97, I think it might be a hardware accelerated based code, causing them to go through the "unloaded" sectors faster than they should compared to the original windows 97 system.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts and experiences. ^.^

  11. This may be the most entertaining review I have ever seen, and it's for some otherwise unheard-of game that no one should care about.

  12. This is such a fun review, I've re watched it several times! I felt like I had to post that and here I am still typing……for some reason……….

  13. Holy hell this is funny, dude! I worked on this game early in my career. I was updating my resume and decided to take a trip down memory lane and found your review. Hilarious and accurate commentary. Thanks for making the video and giving me a good laugh!

  14. I read the title for this game as Polarosis Snarcosiss. I have no Idea how I misread it that bad.

  15. 2:49 Well, I live in a place where there are two GIGANTIC hills and after you drive up, you get alot of air and then hit the ground some-how lightly then fling back up but not as tough.

  16. used to play this on the computers at my after school center. shit was lit. i also never knew there were tricks ingame until right now lmao.

  17. Voted game of the year in Canada in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

  18. annnnnndd we're almost at 2019 and tha game still won't run on any Windows newer than XP but was better optimized for Windows 98 and no Virtual Windows or any patch or emulation fixed tha night time issue

  19. I've always hated rubber banding in racing games. If I suck, let the AI lap me. If I'm really good, let me lap the AI. Rubber banding makes your skill level feel irrelevant. Which is no fun at all for the player.

  20. Where can I find the PC version? I've only been able to find the crappy N64 one and I want to play the PC version. Fingers crossed I won't have to get virtual box again.

  21. If only you could Anti-Alias power cable lines when they cross paths. you could literally SEE it happen before your eyes in real life when driving.

  22. and now we're 2 months in with 2019 and there's still no real fix to get tha game to run or run properly on a modern OS, looks ike i would hae to hold on to my dedicaed Windows 98/XP until further notice :/

  23. Oh man, Ross…. You should try out The Crew 2…. Good god does that AI cheat. Doesn't matter how far ahead you get on a straight away, they will always pass you on the next corner. Doesn't matter if your car is 2x as good, stat wise, and you do a beginning-level race. They will ALWAYS pull ahead!

  24. you have a good announcer voice. you should look into making some dough off that. even a narrator

  25. RE: Snowmobiles, and incredible physics — 2 things. (A) It is essential IRL to LEAN INTO THE TURN on a snowmobile, to keep it from rolling over onto you, on the opposite side. Much easier to appreciate this, if and once a person has actually driven a snowmobile. (B) Snowmobiles are high performance engines with a high-speed track system, and a pair of skis to do the steering. As such, this is all it takes to make the snowmobile an all-purpose WATER craft (and hey, snow IS water). To see more about what I mean… watch this!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-QzE_i0qwE

  26. Just had to do a quick check if windows STILL does sticky keys. Yep. Whoever uses sticky keys, fuck you, sincerely, the entire personal computer fanbase.

  27. Just running Game Dungeon on the playlist while playing games. Your theory on the rock band, the bones and the missing member made me laugh.

  28. That Green Guy AI reminds me of a video I saw where someone hacked League of Legends to let them use the teleport skill with no cooldown. He's like something out of another game where it's a plot point that he's cheating or enchanted or something and you have to ruin however he's doing it before you can win the plot coupon from him.

  29. I know this video is a bilion years old, but I just wanna point out that as a kid I actually completed the whole game without any cheats. I had the polish version though, which was a bit different, and perhaps it was somehow less difficult. I don't know if that's possible, but maybe.
    I remember one race being almost impossible, but I had nothing else to play so I just kept restarting it until I eventually won.

  30. reminds me of MX Unleashed on the PS2.
    but dude, if you use an old timey windows OS, delete stickykeys.exe.
    you will regret it if you don't!

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